That Place of Nothingness
Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Like many others, I was amazed that the vilest villain in the Buffyverse could be played by the same actor who gave us the greatest hero. This was supposed to be a funny piece about how Mal became Caleb. I guess my own misery at the loss of "Firefly" just took over. This fanfic is written in shooting script form.


Disclaimer: “Firefly”, “Buffy” and these characters were created by Joss Whedon. *******




EXT. Wide shot. Planet at night. Zoom into scrapyard, full of rusting spaceships, some whole, others in pieces. Zoom in closer to reveal straggle of people carrying torches and baskets walking between the old vehicles, apparently looking for something.

Close up onto SERENITY. Looking very much the worse for wear. Big hole blown out of her side.

Close up on MAL's distraught face as he recognizes her. Pan to ZOE watching him carefully, then KAYLEE who crumples into tears, covering her face with her hands. WASH looks stunned. RIVER clings to SIMON whose eyes speak of losing home for a second time. BOOK closes his eyes in a silent prayer as JAYNE spits angrily onto the dusty ground. After a moment's hesitation, INARA approaches MAL from behind and touches his arm. He looks her in the eye for a few seconds, like he's about to say something, before blinking hard twice, and stepping away from her. He stalks off purposefully towards the partly open cargo bag door and after exchanging anxious glances the rest of the crew follow him. One by one they squeeze onto the ship and disappear from view.




INT. CARGO BAY. Almost pitch black, except for torchlight which picks out the skeleton of stairs and walkways. And the enormous tear in the hull.

MAL switches off his torch and bounds up the stairs, two at a time. He doesn't need light to find his way around his boat but is illuminated from below by the others' torches.

RIVER (face ghostly white in the half-light, eyes round with terror, in a halting whisper to SIMON): Don't ... let him go... first.

SIMON (reassuring): It's OK, River. He knows his way.

The rest of the crew follow MAL cautiously up the stairs.

INT. THE MESS. Also very dark, except for torchlight.

MAL places two wine bottles on the dining table and pulls out his chair at its head. Sits down.

KAYLEE and WASH unpack hampers containing vast amounts of fresh food, not that processed protein mush. Lots of fruit. Long loaves of bread. Glistening yellow butter.

BOOK enters and puts an enamel plate on the table. On this he places a thick church candle and lights it, and a warm golden light immediately spills across the room. Close up on the candle and bottles, the labels of which read “White Zinfandel” and “Oaky Chardonnay.”

Pan out to faces of crew, softened by the candlelight as they take their places around the table. All solemn, eyes darting about waiting for someone to break the tension.

BOOK (warily): Mind if I say grace, Captain? Just this once?

MAL (bitterly): Well, it ain't like you're gonna be makin' a habit of it now. (shrugs) Go ahead, Preacher. Since it's our last supper 'n'all.

All close their eyes, except MAL. KAYLEE folds her hands together like a child at prayer and RIVER copies her, as if it's a game.

BOOK: We thank you Lord for this our last supper together on this ship which has been our home and our refuge for so long. As we give thanks for the friendships we have made on her, help us remember that you are our one true home and only safe haven. Amen.

MAL snorts derisively and begins piling food onto his plate. The others follow his lead and do likewise. Especially JAYNE, who keeps taking second and third helpings even though he hasn't even started eating yet.

KAYLEE (brightly, hopefully): She don't look too bad, Cap'n. There's a lot of spare parts lyin' around outside. I bet me an' Wash could fix her up good if we.....

MAL (interrupting): Sometimes when a thing's broke, it can't be fixed Kaylee. Ain't that what you told me? (She looks down sadly) No. Serenity's beyond repair. No point in denyin' it.

BOOK (kindly, to MAL): Have you decided what you're going to do next, Captain?

MAL (stroppy because he's hurting bad): None of your business, now, Shepherd. Anyway, it ain't all bad news. I finally get rid of you an' your ruttin' God. Get rid of all of you. (Blinks hard and flashes fake grin to hide his despair at the loss). Tell you the truth, I was kinda hopin' it would go this way.

WASH (aware it's all just bravado): You can always come visit us on the farm, Mal. Sure we'll need some help with the farming thing. (to ZOE) Why exactly is it we're gonna be doing the farming thing, honey?

ZOE (pats her obviously pregnant belly): Because my options in the military are a bit limited just now, husband. An' you've got no desire to be off seeing the 'verse when we've got a tiny helpless little person comin' into our lives (pointed look at WASH) have you? (to MAL) You know you can always come with us, Sir...(ignoring WASH's grimace}. For as long as you like. We'd love to have you.

WASH (under his breath): Love to, love to. More husbands in this marriage, the better.

MAL (to ZOE, touched but pretending not to be): No. Best I strike out on my own again. You gotta think of your family – your real family – now.

Cut to KAYLEE's hand as she laces her fingers through Simon's. Pan up to see tears welling in her eyes agaiin.

KAYLEE (mumbling): Thought we was your family, Cap'n. An' families oughta stick together.

MAL (shutting down): Why you still arguin' what's already been decided?

RIVER (gazing off into the distance): Father. All in black. Death. Father Black.

JAYNE (still chowing down noisily): Huh? What she on about now? Downright unsettlin' she is.

SIMON (trying for the rational explanation): I think this talk about families has reminded her of our father. He used to have a black....

RIVER (impatiently): Boob! Not him. (turning to MAL) Mal. Bad, in the Latin.

MAL (petulantly): Yeah. An' River's crazy in every language. (silly voice, pulling a face) Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

RIVER pokes her tongue out at him and turns her back.

SIMON: Please don't be angy with her, Mal. She's upset. Serenity's been more of a home to her than anywhere she's ever been.

MAL: I am NOT angry. I am calm. You should see me when I get angry.

SIMON quirks an eyebrows since he knows all too well what Mal's like when he's angry. There's an uncomfortable silence for a while until

JAYNE: Cheer up there, Kaylee. T'aint all bad. At least you'll get to play doctors and nurses with Simon now. (Leering at Simon) Think you'll be needin' o' them there drugs o' your'n to keep up with that one, Doc! (Continuing with a touch of envy) She's like to wear your John Thomas right off, from what I've heard....

KAYLEE blushes furiously and twists her hair around his fingers in embarrassment.

MAL (glaring): Jayne, mind your manners. I do believe I did warn you once already.

JAYNE grunts angrily but shuts up.

MAL (conversationally to Book, but trying to provoke him): So, Shepherd, not for the first time your God has deserted us. Destroyed our home and scattered us to the wind. He surely is a safe haven, ain't he?

BOOK (totally unphased): Well, Captain, given how hard you've worked at trying to keep him out, would you really be that surprised if he'd abadoned you? But God draws closer at our darkest hour .... It says in the Bible ... (off MAL's expression with a shrug) But you've haven't much regard for the Bible, have you?

MAL (shaking his head emphatically): On the contrary. Bible has its moments. Paul has some good stuff, for instance. (giving up on trying to annoy BOOK and turning his attention to INARA). Don't you think? An' all that stuff about the whore of Babylon. Guess you'd know all about that bit ...

INARA (swift, sarcastic smile): I'm not ashamed of my job. At least I have a job.....

MAL looks stung for a brief moment, then goes back to eating. INARA bites her tongue. The meal continues in silence.

Finally the crew start getting up to leave.

ZOE: We're going back to the inn, Mal. Be back here, first thing in the mornin'.

He nods but doesn't reply. RIVER, SIMON and KAYLEE start moving off together, but KAYLEE comes back and drops a kiss onto the top of Mal's head.

KAYLEE: Sleep tight, Cap'n. Don't let the spacebugs....(breaks off embarassed at foolish rhyme and runs after the others)

Everyone leaves, except MAL and INARA.

INARA (leaning towards him placing a hand on his arm): Well, you did a great job of pushing them all away. This is absurd, Mal. You don't have to be alone ...

MAL (seriously): We're all alone, Inara.

INARA (impatient): Well, yes, in your bitter and twisted view of the universe. (drops voice to husky whisper, eyes glowing. A beat) I meant tonight.

MAL looks shocked and tempted in rapid succession. Gazes into her eyes, down at her lips. Long moment of UST. Then he shakes himself out of it.

MAL (bitterly, removing her hand from his arm): Well, now. You offerin' to do anythin' for me? Don't want your pity, 'Nara. 'Sides, thought I'd already made it clear you ain't got nothin' I want to explore.

Her pain is visible only in her eyes as she puts on that fake Companion's smile.

INARA (haughtily over her shoulder as she leaves): I thought it only polite to offer you a free thrust, what with it being your last night on Serenity.

MAL is left alone, sitting at the head of the table, surveying the debris from the meal and the empty seats. Expressionless, he stands and goes to commons area where he picks something fairly large up. We can't see what in the poor light.

INT: THE BRIDGE. Suprisingly well lit by moonlight. MAL enters and we see he's carrying his old army blanket. He wraps it around his body and sits down in the pilot's seat and gazes out, up into the Black.



EXT: KAYLEE, RIVER and SIMON walking along side by side, the scrapyard still just visible in the background.

SIMON (sarcastically): Well, yet another enjoyable evening on Serenity. At least no-one got shot or punched. Civilization must be catching up with Mal.

KAYLEE (hopefully): You really think he could cope with civilization, Simon? He's real clever an' brave. Maybe he could. Get a job. Fit in.

RIVER (bringing her hand up suddenly and slapping KAYLEE hard across the face): Gorram bitch! You've abandoned him and now he's lost forever....

KAYLEE (clasping her hand to the cheek RIVER struck, in shock and dismay): River, I ain't abandoned...

SIMON (grabbing RIVER and shaking her): River! What are you doing? No-one's abandoning the Captain. He doesn't want to come with us. It's his decision. (to KAYLEE) I'm sorry. I still haven't got her meds right.

RIVER (unrepentant, pointing accusing finger at KAYLEE): She put the light out. And now the darkness will take him. Pandora's box is empty. Empty, Simon and it's her doing!

SIMON: River, stop it. Kaylee hasn't done anything. The Captain will be all right. When we see him in the morning, you'll see.

RIVER (looking back over her shoulder for Serenity): See him. Tomorrow. First thing. First things first.

Cut to INT: Cozy bedroom in inn. WASH is already in bed. ZOE is sitting at the little dressing table, combing out her hair.

WASH: Could have been a lot worse tonight. Think you calling him 'Captain' helped. He's gonna miss that.

ZOE (seriously): Yes. Yes, he is. I'm worried about him, Wash.

WASH: I know. And it's about time you weren't. He's a big, muscular man, Zoe – he can take care of himself. And he's survived worse than this.

ZOE: You didn't know him back then, Wash. Not when he'd lost everything, even his hope. You can't imagine what he was like. So bitter and angry and .... dangerous.

WASH (trying to cheer her out of it): Actually, I don't think he was that angry tonight. Well, not much more than usual. Maybe it's easier the second time round.

ZOE stands up and goes over to the bed. She pulls back the covers, her face still a picture of concern.

ZOE: And maybe it's worse, Wash. Ever think of that?

FADE TO BLACK. _____ .


EXT: Two figures sitting on grassy bank in early morning sunlight, looking down into the same scrapyard as before. Zoom in to see it's MAL and BOOK. They're in the middle of a conversation.

MAL (never taking his eyes off 'Serenity'): Don't think they'd take too kindly to a heathen like me at the Abbey, Preacher.

BOOK: Oh, you won't be the first through their doors, Captain, believe me. Nor the last, I'd wager. They're good men. They might surprise you. (following MAL's gaze) My, oh my. I'd forgotten how much damage a full yield photon cannon can inflict. It's a miracle none of us were killed.

MAL (sarcastic): Oh yeah, a real miracle. Hallelujah and praise the Lord.

BOOK (evenly and giving MAL a penetrating look): You must have been a really religious man once. Maybe still are, underneath.

MAL (turning to look him in the eye): An' jus' how d'you come by that crazy notion?

BOOK (smiling confidently as if he's trumped him): Wouldn't be so angry with the Lord if you hadn't laid all your trust in him at some point. Want to talk about it?

MAL (narrowing his eyes): I surely would not.

They've been so intent on this conversation that they didn't notice ZOE and WASH approach. ZOE sits down next to MAL with difficulty.

ZOE: Battle of Serenity Valley was enough to make any man question his faith, Shepherd. (a beat). Waiting for the medships was more'n enough to make him lose it.

BOOK (nods): But we don't always understand the Lord's purpose. He works in mysterious ways.

MAL: And also some pretty simple ones. Face it, Preacher. Your God wears Alliance colours. Got no interest in us out on the Rim. Pretty much up to us to save ourselves. Every man for himself.

BOOK: And yet you live by a pretty strict set of rules, from what I've seen.

MAL: Yeah. Well... A man can't turn his back on where he came from entirely. An' rules matter more out in the Black. Only thing separating a man from nothingness. Don't wanna end up a Reaver.

BOOK (pressing his point home): And what are Reavers but men with nothing left to live for? We all need something to cling to Captain. Something to believe in, something to hope for.

MAL grunts and looks up at the sound of female voices.

KAYLEE and INARA appear, arm in arm, followed by RIVER and SIMON.

KAYLEE (gives fluttering little wave to the others): Hello. (It's clear even she can't think of anything cheerful to say on a day like this).

INARA glares at MAL who glares right back.

RIVER (scrutinizing MAL closely): Mal's gone.

MAL (indignant): Hey! I'm right here. Something wrong with your eyes now?

RIVER (ignoring him): Apple won't stay down. Eden is lost to us. (screaming) Simon!!

He takes her in his arms and makes soothing noises, just as JAYNE, looking like it's the morning after the night before, appears. He scowls at SIMON.

JAYNE: Listen, Doc, I had me a whole bottle of cheap brandy an' a couple of lively whores las' night, so I ain't hardly gonna be responsible for my actions if she keeps screamin' fit to make a man's ears bleed.

RIVER (incoherently, hugging herself and rocking back and forth in agitation): She's bleeding. Father cut her. Fire and steel and blood.

JAYNE (sneers at Simon): Sounds a real gent, your Pa.

MAL (standing up suddenly): Bizui! It's started!

From down in the scrapyard there comes an awful grinding noise of metal on metal. They all look down in horror as 'Serenity' is slowly winched up into the air by an enormous crane, whose profile against the morning sky look like a cross between a praying mantis and a bird of prey. Everyone stands up reverently. All faces deadly serious. Serenity is hanging vertically, propped up on her open cargo bag door. There's a sudden blue flash as a workman starts up an oxyacetylene cutter.

KAYLEE (horrified): What are they doin' to her, Cap'n?

MAL (emotionless): Takin' the door off.

JAYNE (mystified and scratching head): What for? They plannin' to clone her?

BOOK (strangely knowledgeable again): That battlecruiser found it a whole lot harder to bring her down than they were expecting. By rights she shouldn't have lasted as long as she did. Door withstood a direct hit. Must be asking themselves how.

They continue to watch in shocked awe as the door is removed, loaded onto a Blue Sun truck and driven away. Then 'Serenity' is winched clear of the ground and the crane swings round, holding her over the scrapyard crusher.

BOOK (to MAL): We're coming up on the end, Captain. You might not want to watch.

MAL says nothing but stares fixedly at his beloved ship as she drops into the crusher's gaping maw and disappears from view for ever.



“A year later”

EXT: Night. Dusty road in barren landscape. Couple of scrubby bushes. Lots of rocks. Not much else, except a beat-up station wagon. Zoom in to look through grubby windscreen where two men are sitting side by side laughing and joking. It's MAL and BOOK.

INT: Station wagon cab. MAL driving.

BOOK (laughing): Not sure it was entirely wise to question basic tenets of the faith. Especially not the way Our Lord's blood turns into wine. Not when Father Holmes bases his whole life on that premiss!

MAL (laughing): He does at that, don't he? Man's at Communion day and night. So damn full of the Holy Spirit he can hardly walk straight. Anyway, all I said was maybe sparklin' wine was the result of the Lord bein' in a really good mood. (laughing again).

BOOK: It's good to see you smile again, Mal. Was a time I never expected to.

MAL (very wide grin, possibly too wide): Yeah. Was a bit weepy back then, wa'n't I? Damnably weak. But then the brothers showed me the light. Put me on this new path.

Passing vehicle's headlights illuminate the cab interior and we see MAL is wearing clerical clothing, black top high at the neck, white dog collar barely visible.

BOOK: Oh, I don't think it's that new to you. Sounds like your Momma gave you a good grounding in the Scriptures back on Shadow. You just lost your way for a time.

MAL's eyes cloud over a little with bitter memories, but he blinks them fiercely away.

BOOK (not noticing the change in MAL's mood): All the same, never thought you'd wear the outfit.

MAL (cold laugh): Well, black is slimmin'. Everyone knows that.

BOOK (laughs warmly): That it is! (peers out of the window). Should be there soon. Good of you to give me a lift when you're in such a hurry to be getting on with your mysterious mission...? (his look inviting MAL to tell him more is ignored)

MAL (ironically? Perhaps): If I can help somebody.... like you helped (he gives the word a strange emphasis) me find my way back to God.

BOOK (smiles): Oh, I think you would have got there eventually even without me. I always thought you were searching for Him.

MAL (another broad, flashing grin): Maybe. But in all the wrong places, that's for certain. Don't be so modest, Book! You deserve all the credit for the man I am today. (turns head to look BOOK in the eyes).

Close up on BOOK's face as he smile fades to be replaced by a very serious, questioning look.

BOOK (carefully): The credit belongs to you, Mal. You and...God! Mal! Look out!

BOOK breaks off in alarm as a huge tanker crosses their path at break-neck speed and MAL spins the steering wildly to avoid crashing.

EXT: station wagon zig-zagging about like crazy, throwing up clouds of dust. Racing engine sounds, squealing brakes.

INT: Close up on BOOK looking frazzled and nervous, watching MAL with something like fear.

Close up on MAL, now wearing demonic grin and whirling the steering wheel rapidly backwards and forwards.

BOOK (nervous): Mal. Stop it. Pull over.

MAL ignores him, just laughs maniacally. BOOK attempts to grab the wheel but MAL pushes him violently back into his seat.

MAL (wagging forefinger): Now, now, preacher. I don't like back seat drivers. Or front seat drivers, in your case. (tilts his head on one side, considering). Don't think I like you much, neither. All your lectures about God and the Special Hell. Well I'll tell you somethin' (BOOK looks really worried now) I'm already in that Special Hell. I've lost everythin'. Family, friends, ship, crew. So, don't you be talkin' to me about God's goodness. He's a little man, in my estimation. Petty, even.

BOOK just stares at him, trying to make sense of what he's saying.

MAL (leaning across him and opening the passenger door): Here we are! Your stop, I think. (Gives him mighty shove and pushes him out).

EXT: BOOK rolling awkwardly across the track. Pan up to see station wagon heading off into the distance at speed.

INT: MAL staring fixedly ahead, driving like the devil's on his tail.

EXT: Station wagon gradually getting further and further away. Zoom out to show vast emptiness of landscape. Out again to take in immensity of moonless black sky, studded with a billion stars.

MAL (V.O.): The darkness. Kind of darkness you can't even imagine. Blacker than the space it moves through....A man comes up against that, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it. Follow the only course left to him...But there's nothing so bad it can't be made better with a story. An' this one has a happy endin'. Although maybe not for a certain girly-girl all ablaze with righteousness.....




Tuesday, March 16, 2004 7:24 AM


Whoa--that was downright creepifyin', Kis!

Just the thought of Serenity broken beyond repair makes me sad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 1:17 PM


This was good but oh my, how I ached at the demise of our Cappy's beloved boat. Sniff. And neat to have that reminder of Reavers right at the gorram end. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, March 23, 2004 6:47 AM


morbid and creepifying I got no problems with.

Good work!

Sunday, May 9, 2004 10:19 AM


This is in the wrong genre. It should be in 'horror' instead of 'parody'... I thought it would be funny and then it's all creepyfying instead...

I like it!

Sunday, May 9, 2004 10:59 PM


entertaining,short and quite good.
needed a bit more darkness in mals turning into caleb, other wise good.

Friday, October 21, 2005 8:41 AM


oh shut up, the lot of you. this was good an' there is such a thing as dark humour, so quit yer bellyachin'!

Friday, March 9, 2007 6:14 AM


*claps and cries* That was the best thing i have ever read!


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HOLDING ON: Ch 2 - Tangential
Much to his annoyance, Sanzo's urgent quest to find Goku gets diverted. Meanwhile Mal meets someone from Inara's past. WARNING - slashy but not graphic

The Wheel Never Stops Turning
Mal meets a blonde in a bar. Violence ensues. And Mal discovers religion has its uses.

This is primariy a <i>Firefly</i> fic, but the character Mal ends up doing a job for is from the manga/anime <i>Saiyuki</i>. It's also <b>PG-13 nothing-explicit SLASH</b>. Because that's who I am!

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 7: 'til the day you die.
Inara leaves Serenity for a new life. Mal gets a job with a couple of new employers, but sinks further into despair.
Slash so lite you'll probably scarcely notice it.

MAKE ME A STONE: Chapter 6: You just learn to live there.
Another job goes less than smoothly. Meanwhile River takes matters into her own hands and Mal has a brainwave.

SLASHFIC. SPOILERS for the comics, novelization and movie.

Make Me A Stone: Chapter 5: Chickens come home to roost.
Mal has to accept Badger's offer of a job. Meanwhile old enemies seek to take advantge.
Spoilers for the comics. Very light slash.

Make Me A Stone: Chapter 4. Some residual heat.
SPOILERS for the comics/BDM. Mal has to accept Badger's job offer. Not much else in his life is going right either.

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 3: It's complicated.
Mal decides to pull a job of his own. Simon offers to help. It doesn't go smooth - but that's not entirely Simon's fault.

Non-graphic SLASH.

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 2: And who exactly could fix you?
Simon'a altruism leads to a job going wrong. Mal's not happy.

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 1: Pray there ain't any more surprises.
Warning: SLASH, but not graphic. Mal and Simon both find that the other has hidden talents. It kinda piques their interest ... *g*

TRAUMA MEDICINE: Chapter 23. Two by two.
Four years have past since Mal was forced to blow up Serenity and Simon disappeared with River and Book. A lot has changed since then. But a lot has stayed the same. The CONCLUSION to this series.