Everyone is sitting down at tables and getting ready for the main ceremony. Nigel enters, trying not to look too much in a hurry, a look of desperation on his face. Meanwhile, final interviews are carried out. Caption: DAVID RESTAL.
DAVE: Well, I had my submission accepted, but the editor asked me if I wouldn’t mind bumping it up by another hundred pages. Apparently, all the tables were wobbly here at Vermin Publishing and the management are too tight to fork out for proper wedges. In order to make up the page count, I ripped out several pages from other novels and glued them in, hence all those characters that kept appearing and disappearing. Still, no one noticed, since no one has actually read the book.
Caption: EVELYN MARKSON.
EVE: It would be no exaggeration to say that this book will MAKE the range Vermin is publishing. Well, after I walked into their office with a shitload of cash, they have to do what I said or else.
Caption: ANDREW Z. BEEBLEBROX.
ANDREW: [GROGGY] Um... hello? Uh... Ever since I was little, I really wanted to write a book about... What’s that, Zoë the penguin? Zoë’s very cross. [SQUEAKY VOICE] ‘Where is my fish?’ [NORMAL] ‘In a minute, Zoë,’ I reply. ‘First I have to talk to this nice journalist about my book.’ [GRUFF VOICE] ‘Book?’ asks Mr. Jones, the nosy Gibbon. ‘I wrote a book once.’ [NORMAL] ‘I’m sure you did,’ I reply, ‘but my book is much better.’ I was, however, taken aback as Mr. Hissy the snake wrapped himself around my throat, crushing my windpipe. [FROWNS] Oh, the voices...
Andrew sways and passes out, collapsing over a table. Nigel sees this and brightens. He crosses over.
NIGEL: [TO REPORTER] I am really, REALLY sorry about that. My bad! It appears that a few weeks without sleep have finally caught up with the author. A great pity. But I suppose you’ll be interested to learn that I myself actually ghost-wrote Better Not Fight Monsters, Better Take Care or whatever it's called. I’ll be unveiling it tonight, and, between you and me, I think it should shake things up.
The ceremony starts. Dave and Nigel sit down on either side of the unconscious Andrew. Nigel surreptitiously shifts Andrew and slides out the manuscript.
DAVE: So what's the plan now?
NIGEL: Well, it's positively diabolical in its irony, David. Andrew was using me to pave his path to glory, and so I shall do him. I'll pass off his book as my own. Which it is, if you think about it.
DAVE: You'd have to think about pretty stupidly, dude. The book's completely different to the one you wrote. How are you going to convince everyone you wrote it when you don't even know what it's about?
NIGEL: I'll bluff it. We only have to read out excerpts for this bit anyway.
DAVE: I can see one mighty flaw in your otherwise thoroughly mediocre plot, Nige.
NIGEL: You see nothing and understand less...
He finally frees the manuscript and flips through it. A look of absolute horror passes over his face.
NIGEL: Oh no. Oh no. Please. Please, no.
DAVE: [UNSURPRISED] That'll be that one mighty flaw I mentioned.
Nigel shakes the manuscript furiously. We see it is not written in English but various symbols.
NIGEL: I forgot the stupid bastard can read Wingdings!
ANDREW: [GROANS] It's a good night for dying!!
NIGEL: Shut the fuck up, Andrew! This is all your fault!
Guests nearby shush him.
DAVE: Remind me, what's plan Z?
Nigel flips the manuscript over and starts to scribble furiously on the blank sides of the paper.
NIGEL: Simple, young man. I just re-write my novella top-to-bottom.
DAVE: You've got less than ten minutes before your time! Reality is at the front door and will likely to kick it down...
NIGEL: Enough time to work out a plot... I can bluff the rest.
STAGE HALL (A FEW MINUTES LATER)
Nigel is still writing furiously.
NIGEL: Just have to modify the story slightly...
Up on stage, Cuddles is reading his story.
CUDDLES: It was a seamless mating, without any of the nervousness or uncertainty that plagues human sex. With almost deliberate precision, Anja enveloped Steve’s rigid member. They began thrusting away, guided by timeless instinct. Steve had certainly enjoyed the human women on Earth he had known; (before the screaming) but with Anja, he felt as though he had realized his biological destiny.
NIGEL: You see, now it revolves around Legin’s reaction to a slug which invades his house. He throws a ladle-full of fat at the slug, the slug is able to feed and gain powers and become... a super slug!
Dave stares at him.
CUDDLES: When the inevitable orgasm came, it was so overpowering that Steve collapsed into unconsciousness. SPLOOOSH!!…
People in the audience are exchanging doubtful looks. Some are sniggering.
STAGE HALL (A FEW MINUTES LATER)
As before, but now Eve is doing the recital.
EVE: ...and it's said that he was the most beautiful person ever to be seen on this world As a rule, beauty earns little esteem on that planet, but Verne was so startling in his good looks that others wanted to be seen in his company. Soon he had been elevated to the rank of Councillor by his rich and powerful admirers, but some said, perhaps jealously, that he was as stupid as he was beautiful...
NIGEL: You see, the slug’s henchman is called Vile, because he carries the slug around on his nose. (See, people ARE how their names sound!)
EVE: Unfortunately the reincarnation process was not as kind as it had been before. What emerged was a very plain face which housed a voice a full octave higher than is normal for a guy. And such was its sing-song quality it caused those around him to involuntarily snigger when he spoke. And that is where Chris Lilly came from...
STAGE HALL (A FEW MINUTES LATER)
As before, but now the man is doing the recital.
NIGEL: There’s also a fantastic new conclusion when Legin sprinkles a load of salt over the slug, causing it to shrivel up. AND I LAUGH AT ITS AGONY! But, Detective Bitch is also included. Whilst looking for her little sluggy friend, she eats what she thinks is a Liquorice Allsort! Ha ha ha!
MAN: And as she recoiled in horror at the sight of the liquefying, decomposing baby, she knew that there was no future. Not for her, not for anyone. All mankind had achieved was to give its survivors a long, lingering pointless death, the one world of life in the universe a burnt cinder hanging in space. A legacy of death and futility that would outlast humanity itself...
Dave is reading what Nigel is writing. He has yet to finish a page.
DAVE: Nige, about the slug?
DAVE: You know how its wearing a spangly silver costume? How did it put the costume on? Does it have magic powers or something?
NIGEL: Well, it does have a spangly silver suit...
MAN: And then Ruth woke up and it was all a dream. The world hadn't ended, and nuclear war was avoided for another decade! The end!
STAGE HALL (A FEW MINUTES LATER)
The ceremony is nearly over and the compare is talking into the mike.
CELEBRITY: I would just like to add that there is a rumor that John Marsden has been dead for 13 years and is being brought back to life every couple of years to write a book. This is true. They’ve got him locked in my basement, too. Bastards! Now, let’s see... the final entry in the Vermin Publishing corporation competition is a Mr. Andrew Beeblebabble. Unfortunately, Mr. Beeblebabble is feeling very, er, tired and emotional, and on his behalf his close companion and ghost writer Nigella Verkoff wishes to do the reading.
Focus turns on Nigel, who is still writing furiously - but this time holding the pen in Andrew's hand as he forges a signature. He laughs evilly, before noticing everyone is looking at him. He stands up, waves and accepts some applause. He takes the podium and speaks in a forced (but not stupid) American accent.
NIGEL: Hahah! Hello, and, hello, America. Yes, I am Nigella Verkoff and I ghost wrote the novel that young Andrew was trying to pass off as his own in a lighthearted prank that I shall take him to court over. Here I have his signed confession that confirms absolutely everything I say. [WAVES PAPER] Right, now, folks, huh...
A long pause. He clearly has no idea what to say next.
NIGEL: I'm not an arrogant man.
Dave starts shrieking with laughter in the front row. Nigel rolls his eyes.
NIGEL: I'm not an arrogant man, I've not been published before. I don't pretend to know all the ins and the outs. [WINKS, SNAPS FINGERS AND POINTS AT AUDIENCE] I'm just an incredibly talented newcomer. Do you the youth of Australia have any interest in my work? Is it better than Looking for Alibrandi? Hahah. Of course it is. But... [WAVERS] ahm... I honestly don't know which part of my wholly remarkable book I should read out. The plot is so tight and intricate that reading out any old bit at random could ruin the plentitude of plot twists that I have cunningly woven. Is my prose enough that a single sample could enrapture you? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, and especially in the "maybe not" demographic, it would be plain old unfair on both myself and the other contestants if I tried to follow the guidelines for submission. My completed work will be on offer as soon as I write [QUICKLY] as soon as MY right of authorship is confirmed. Thank you, New York!
EVE: This is Canterbury you retard!
NIGEL: [COOL] Whatever.
CELEBRITY: Ah. Yes. Well, er, Mr. Verkoff can you at least tell us the plot of your novel.
NIGEL: But of course, Raymond.
CELEBRITY: My name's not Raymond!
NIGEL: Shut up. [TO AUDIENCE] My story is a complex pattern of lines through infinity, as summed up in the ethnographic Australian present. It tells the tale of an incredibly charismatic central character with a stunning sex life and a criminal genius when it comes to 1970s science fiction pop culture, and his one-man battle against something that stands and acts against everything that we, the Australian public, composed of every different land on this planet, combined and unified in our diversity, stand against! Something that no man, no woman, no child and no cabbage can condone: slugs. Slugs in silvery catsuits. Holding all night raves.
A gasp. Nigel urges the crowd on with his hands, as if conducting them.
NIGEL: That's right! Disco! Disco slugs! Evil slime-soaked SCUM! FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!
A distinguished looking old man stands up, red-faced with fury.
OLD MAN: This is slander!
Nigel drops out of his 'character'.
NIGEL: Oh, shut it, wrinkles!
OLD MAN: A slug like the one you describe is utterly impossible! I am therefore able to proclaim the entire publishing company sacrilegious bastards and sue the lot of them!
Murmurs of approval from the rest of the audience. Nigel leans on the lectern, sneering.
NIGEL: And just what’s wrong with it?
OLD MAN: Mr. Verkoff! Have you ever seen a slug? I must have missed the ones that go around in silver jump-suits and can talk and hold parties...!
NIGEL: Well, look who it is? The dictionary definition of ANAL RETENTION! Just who the hell are you, anyway?
OLD MAN: I, my dear, am Sir Peter Sanderson - president of The Mollusc Society of New South Wales! Bring down Vermin! [SHOUTS] Bring down Vermin!
CROWD: [BEGINNING TO JOIN IN] Bring down Vermin! Bring down Vermin! Bring down Vermin! Bring down Vermin! Bring down Vermin...
The crowd softens enough for him to be heard. Nigel gives everyone a dangerous look until total silence falls.
NIGEL: Now, before this gets any more out of hand and yet more law suits are made against me, I wish to clarify one thing.
A long pause. Nigel suddenly grabs the mike, frantic and desperate.
NIGEL: I hate slugs! That is why the slug in this book is horrible! It is evil!
Disgusted, the crowd start screaming again. Andrew looks around, half-awake from all the noise.
CROWD: BRING DOWN VERMIN! BRING DOWN VERMIN! BRING DOWN VERMIN! BRING DOWN VERMIN! BRING DOWN VERMIN! BRING DOWN VERMIN...
This chant continues in the background.
NIGEL: BEWARE THE EVIL SLUGS! DON’T LISTEN TO THEIR VOICES! THEY MAY SING, BUT DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!
A couple of MIBs and Dave grab Nigel and try to haul him off-stage. A lot of people in the audience are now charging the stage, shouting, booing and throwing rotten vegetables at Nigel.
OLD MAN: I’ll tie that sassenach bastard to a radiator and beat him round the head with a pipe!
Nigel is mobbed. He screams hysterically.
NIGEL: THEY WANT TO STEAL YOUR CHILDREN! LISTEN TO ME! LISTEN T--
Groping hands haul him out of sight. Slowly bring up harsh, electric documentary-style music as we slow down the images. We mix from shot to shot showing the crowd is ripping the hall to pieces. We should be able to spot Andrew merrily joining in the mayhem.
RADIO: [FADING UP] It has now been confirmed that Mr. Verkoff is one of the forerunners in the campaign against slugs. Often seen at anti-slug rallies, the wannabe author used his book as an excuse...
NEWSREADER: [VO] Verkoff’s book, ‘For The Love Of God, Why?’ was used to reinforce the fact that slugs are totally evil and act without remorse...
NEWSREADER 2: [VO] Public opinion turned against him immediately. Only a few months ago, it was only thanks to the heroic actions of three teenage slugs that the planet was saved from domination by cruel alien overlords.
TONITE SHOW HOST: [VO] That Verkoff bastard hasn’t been seen since, but then he’s been unable to raise his head in polite society, so, uh, duh! [CANNED APPLAUSE] He’s in retreat, apparently.
Fade to black.
RUN END CREDITS
GUEST 1: Doesn’t hold a candle up to my vastly superior work.
MAURICE: This is very clever, but it doesn’t fool me. All the people are - are just actors! You think this show is written by a new writer? It’s an utter lie. Every single piece of TV material is written by Tim Winton under a series of ingenious pennames, in order to control Australian minds!
GUEST 2: It’s a great episode in the series. Excellent, even. Well, no I haven’t SEEN it per say, more than I burned the master tape and stomped on the ashes.
GUEST 3: I’d like to thank the writer for lending me a copy of his episode. So soft and absorbent... now where did I put that head of mine?
NIGEL: [FRENCH ACCENT] One urv ze finarst waks of Eeenglish televwisual culerrrrrr... ze auther as zurpassed imself.
GUEST 4: To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, ‘This is not a TV show to be discarded lightly. It should be thrown with great force.’
DOCTOR: [WEEPING] It is so unfair! It is SO FUCKING UNFAIR! WHY DID THEY HAVE TO DIE?!
CHAMBER: [VERY DRUNK] Vila Restal did not fucking deserve that! All he wanted out of life was a bit of kleptomania and the love of a good lady gunfighter with a personal hygiene problem... THAT MAN WAS A FUCKING SAINT! HE COULDA BEEN POPE!
DOCTOR: THERE IS NO GOD!!!
GUEST 5: Christ, how weird are these TV writers? You’d think they were part of the group sprung from The North Sydney Hospital For The Insane back in ’91...
CELEBRITY: I could do much better.