Friday, December 2, 2011

Booyah Bitches (Xmas Edition)

Yes, the next installment is out and all the signs are that C---------n Blue will be finished sometime before the Mayan apocalypse, proving that the production schedule is still ten times more efficient than anything starring Eve Myles and John Barrowman. (And please remember to delete that semi-colon at the end of the filename. Otherwise it just don't work. Tch, amateurs I have to deal with...)

0:04 - Oh, "pure evil". I though you said "you're evil" and was surprised how well Vlyn took it, all things consider.

0:36 - what a prick tease Gelver is when it comes to teleport duty. Unless maybe it's the Evil-Dead-style supernatural delay. Hmmm. Can you tell someone else came up with this cliffhanger?

1:19 - I love how the theme music has that last, wailing note that sounds like Murray Gold keeling over and sighing "I am SO freaking stoned..."

1:33 - "You should really try this self-harm stuff more often." Hah! You can tell I wrote this before slashing my wrist open, can't you? Again, huge props to Gelver. He and Palleen should get their own Will/Grace style sitcom! Only, you know, funny.

2:07 - I'm being way too visual again. Damn.

3:22 - Try and spot how many lines I knicked from Harvest of Kairos for this single scene. I mean, "keel section". Never heard that anywhere else in the English language, and here it is...

4:04 - The cast are making this a lot funnier than it was written down. I seem to have written this bit solely to be used as exposition in Next Time... trailers.

5:23 - Yes, you might be able to spot where I come down on in that Nightmare of Eden dialogue debate.

6:14 - Whoa. I totally stole that from Moffat and the Weeping Angels. I never even noticed it before. Well, the explanation. The whole "disappearing out of sight" business was mine from the start. Ahem. Moving on.

7:03 - Gosh this makes me sound clever...

9:13 - I did mention this episode would be 90% explanations, didn't I? That might be why the Doctor goes "GOODY! I LOVE EXPLANATIONS!" very loudly around this point.

9:31 - Oh yes. Alexis. I'd forgotten he was in this. Bugger.

10:31 - Vlyn, are you phoning your performance in? Or is that a cutting Vincent Savage impression of being hastily edited from poor stock footage? Or is she talking over the communicator? Hmmm. Let's go for the latter.

11:41 - Brilliant acting from the imposters, I think you'll agree. Convincing. But slightly off.

13:14 - Emma's explanation of the TARDIS = hilarity. "It's... nice." LOL.

14:33 - No, the Transfer Scoop does NOT resemble Amelia Pond's backyard. No matter what the music may indicate.

15:37 - Isn't odd that the bit Amber bigs up as funny is the most tedious bit of the plot? I'll just say that this is cunning characterization. Because it is. HAHA.

16:38 - Aquitar! WOOOHOO! Up yours, B7 Enterprises!

17:32 - "Why not?" "Because they want to kill us. And are very goal-orientated." Heh. I wrote that.

19:27 - Nigel, stop stealing the scene! It's my own fault, but really...

21:09 - Amber stumbling over her words isn't in the script. But, hey, it's not Richard Briers (or even Dude-Playing-Alexis) levels, so we can live with it.

23:03 - Wow. Alexis delivers a joke properly. That showed me.

23:22 - Eep.

24:15 - I have no idea where that music comes from but it's... very excitable...

25:12 - "I missed those." Smooth.

25:46 - And now the long awaited cliffhanger to part two. Slightly better in my head, but the Doctor has good reason to sound bored. Alexis, however, doesn't and Vlyn still seems to be represented by a dodgy mobile phone connection. Oh well. At least Emma sells the moment.

25:57 - MY APOTHEOSIS IS REINFORCED! MWAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH!

26:34 - Um... Dio wasn't in this episode. Hello? Hello?!?

Well. That was nice, all things considered (though killing off Eljay and leaving Alexis alive does rank up there with clicking on a sparacus thread in 2005 as "Biggest Regrets of the 21st Century"), and I can be proud of making a shitload of exposition and monster chases at least mildly diverting and a few mysteries left unresolved. Certainly, hand on my heart, this is better paced than a few Pertwee six-parters and the comic performances here might have made Night Terrors bearable if they were in the cast... but maybe not. Night Terrors WAS weapons-grade shite. Hopefully Jared will like it if nothing else.

Now, let's all just pray that the next two parts are released before anyone else important dies. You realize when part one came out, Lis Sladen, Nicholas Courtney and an iota of respect for Mark Gatiss were still alive?!?

Oh well, at least in quality not quantity, Darker Project delivers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

48 Years of Space and Time... Or Something.




The Doctor slumped down into the pilot seat and managed to fumble his numb, blistered hands into clipping the safety belt around his person. The purple flight deck of the gun runner ship seemed to be tumbling and spinning around him, and everything sounded two rooms away.

Fighting off the warm blackness of oblivion, the Doctor reached out and began to tap commands into the flight computer. Ignoring the spasms of pain shooting up and down his arms he programmed the ship to leave geo-stationary orbit and return to plateau where he'd left the TARDIS. But his fingers were growing more and more clumsy, making mistakes he was finding it harder to correct. The engines hummed as the ship spun down towards the bleak grey-brown sphere of Androzani Minor.

The Doctor dimly realized the entire ship was shaking without the auto-stabilizers to keep the ride smooth. Stotz and the others would have realized what was happening and come to stop him... panic gripped his hearts for a moment, and then the Doctor giddily realized he'd already locked the hatches. They couldn't get him now.

The vibration was lulling him into a doze, like being on a steam train... one of the trains he'd always wanted to drive when he was a child... the Doctor grimaced, focussing on the pain in his flesh and bones, to drag him back to the present. He had to get back to Peri, get her the cure. The enormity of the task loomed over him. He had no idea where she was, or even if she was still alive. And he was on the point of total collapse, himself. How was he going to save her?

A violent jolt slammed into his back, and the Doctor opened his eyes to blackness. Had there been a power cut? Weakly he tried to rub his eyes to clear them, but to no avail. Sluggishly, the Doctor realized his optic nerves were burning out - the poison was blinding him as it slowly killed his nervous system. The beatings, the burns, the Spectrox Toxaema was squeezing the life out of him. He wasn't even sure he'd be able to survive the landing.

Unless...

As the last of his strength slipped away, a strange sensation rippled through him. His body was struggling to cheat death one more, to regenerate and purge itself of its increasing injuries - replacing, renewing and rearranging every cell in his body. His synapses were realigning themselves.

For a moment, the Doctor considered trying to abort the regeneration. The transformation would splutter to a halt, partially healing and repairing his body - enough to survive a few more hours, perhaps even restore his sight to him once again. But he would weaken all too soon, especially with gun runners, army troops and androids on his tail. No, he needed every advantage if he was to save Peri.

There should have been another way, but as usual, there wasn't.

"Sorry, Peri," he croaked weakly. "Can't... make... it..."

Light was appearing before his blind eyes, a rapidly expanding vortex of colours shattering into fragments... rushing towards him, faster and faster and faster, building to a devastating crescendo... oblivion was hurtling towards him...

The Doctor felt the tsunami overtake him, flooding every pore, every cell, every last atom of his being. His skin tingled. His bones itched. His very essence began to shift. His mind was shifting, flooded with strange thoughts and desires. Then there was a sudden, shocking roar of sound somewhere between a nuclear explosion and a coffin lid slamming shut.

And it was all over.

* * *

Stotz ran up the passageway to the flight deck, smacking his hand onto the hatchway control. To his combined surprise and fury, the hatch remained stubbornly closed. A quick check showed the flight deck's hijack protocal had been engaged, every entrance shut and deadlock sealed - from the inside.

There was only one possible candidate.

"Doctor, unlock this door!" Stotz roared at the top of his voice.

There was no reply, just the growing rumble of atmosphere against the hull.

"What are you doing in there?" Stotz shouted, but again no reply. "Are you going to open this door or not?" Silence. The Spectrox must have rotted him away, Stotz realized - not only was the Boss going to be even more irritated than normal, there was no way to stop the ship's death-dive into the atmosphere. "Krelper, go and get the cutting gear!" he snapped as his fellow gun-runners caught up with him.

Krelper turned and lumbered off as Stotz slammed his fist against the bulkhead in fury. The Doctor was cursed, he decided. Since the strange blond snoop had appeared in the caves, everything had gone wrong - two of his men dead, Jek refusing to pay full price, the Boss ordering them to stay in orbit...

The ship shuddered around them again. They could only be a few minutes away from the surface, and without someone to manually land the ship - or engage auto pilot - they would be smashed to pieces on the surface. "Damn it, Krelper!" he heard Stark grunt, the first thing the other man had said in hours. "Hurry up!"

By the time Krelper finally arrived with a thermal lance, the entire shuttle was shaking like a tuning fork around them and the roar of the engines was now so loud they couldn't speak. Krelper and Stark struggled to keep the lance steady as it cut a crude oblong through the metal, while Stotz began to pray that the Doctor was only unconscious - thereby allowing Stotz to brutally murder the troublemaker. Using the snoop's corpse as target practice just wouldn't be the same...

Finally the segment of hatch fell away, letting the magenta glow of the flight deck to fill the passageway. Stotz reached in through the hole, howling in pain as the bare flesh of his forearm sizzled on the molten edges of the gap, but he managed to smack the emergency release on the other side of the hatch. The warped metal scraped as the hatch slid back, finally allowing the gun-runners onto the flight deck.

Even as Stark and Krelper ran around to the raised pilot throne, the howl of the engines became a deafening scream. The ship was now through the atmosphere and hurtling out of control at too-high a velocity to the craggy wastelands they had taken off from a few hours earlier. The rocky landscape rushed up into the scanner even as Krelper tried to reach around the Doctor's body to hit the retros.

Stotz knew it was too late to avoid the crash. He knew the ship and all aboard were doomed and his remaining life would be counted in seconds. He knew he would never be able to seize control of the Spectrox supply and make himself so reach that not even Morgus could use him in future. He was going to die in a ship full of idiots in the middle of a war that hadn't even made him a decent profit.

But as the ship struck and his life ended, all Stotz could think of was...

...who was the strange man in the pilot seat wearing the Doctor's clothes?

* * *

Morgus slipped his private planet hopper into beta-drive, accelerating away from Androzani Major towards its bleak and desolate twin. In the admittedly-cramped luxury of the cockpit, Morgus fiddled with the controls. Everything was computer controlled, requiring next-to-no piloting skills and while Morgus was quite capable of take-off, landing and docking his ship, plotting a course was rather difficult. He set the scanners again for Stotz's stealth freighter and again found nothing.

"Why has he disobeyed my orders?" Morgus asked himself. "I told him to stay in orbit. Stotz is no fool, he would not risk angering me on a whim. No, the Doctor must have made him a better offer - perhaps a free pardon on behalf of the Praesidium, a plea-bargain to testify against me?"

Morgus brooded for a moment. "But there is no way the Doctor and Stotz could reach Androzani Major in so short a time. There is no evidence against me at the moment, and always the possibility that the President was the only one to suspect my part in all this. If that is the case, with the President dead only the Doctor and Stotz will be any danger to me."

Morgus nodded. "I shall merely have Krau Timmin alert the ground forces on Major to destroy Stotz's ship should it enter orbit. There will be no proof of my activities. My hands will be guiltless. The only question is whether or not the President shared his suspicions with anyone else - and if he has, I may not be able to return..."

The computer chirped at him. Androzani Minor was looming on the scanners, and the detectors had picked up the energy shadow of an exploding ion drive on the planet's surface. A few keystrokes and the computer identified the cause of the explosion.

Stotz's ship, smashed to pieces on the magma plateau.

Why had the ship crashed? Had there been a fight? A malfunction? Had Stotz chosen to end his life rather than face justice? Either way, Stotz's untimely death was to be regretted - there was no way he could tell Morgus about his lead on Jek's hideout...

Morgus considered his options. With no secure fix on the Spectrox supply, there was no real reason to continue to Minor. On the other hand, returning to Major would be quite difficult if he was suspected. He adjusted the communicator to the secret frequency to his office and opened the channel.

A familiar blonde woman was sitting back in a chair, her booted feet rested casually on the table before her. Morgus was already speaking his bland platitudes before his brain confirmed what his eyes were seeing.

"Ah, Krau Timmin, I would like you... Are you sitting at my desk?" he gasped. After the chain of disasters he had suffered already today, Morgus was in no mood for insolense or excuses. "How dare you! I'll have you punished for this, Krau Timmin!" he warned her with cold fury.

On the screen, his trusted secretary yawned at him. "I don't think so, Morgus. You're finished. Washed up. Kaput."

Morgus stared at her coldly. "What do you mean?"

"The Praesidium has issued warrants for your arrest on seventeen counts," Timmin said lazily, "ranging from the murder of the President, to treason, grant fraud, embezzlement. Oh, and that little business at the Northcawl copper mine? They know about that."

"Falsehoods, fabrications, malicious lies," Morgus said, not wasting any energy on sounding upset. "They can't possibly have any proof."

Timmin threw a folder of print outs on the desk. "It's all fully documented," she assured him. "And they have an excellent witness."

Morgus smiled. The President, the Doctor and Stotz were all dead. No one else could possibly know or even suspect enough to be a danger. "Who is this foul slanderer?" he asked her flatly.

"Me."

For once, Morgus was speechless. "You betrayed me? After all these years?" he eventually mumbled.

Timmin laughed at him. "Think of it this way, Morgus: I... deposed you. I," she continued with grand cruelty, "am now Chairman and Chief Director of the Sirius Conglomerate!"

"I will be exhonerated of all charges," Morgus predicted. "My conscience is clear: I had to keep the supply of Spectrox flowing, and if I hadn't provided Jek with the arms, he would have found some other source."

"The Praesidium will find your actions treasonable, and you know it."

"Yes, well, I have a contingency plan," Morgus sneered. "I may not be able to return to Androzani Major but I have a considerable private fortune invested in other planets in the Sirius system!"

Timmin giggled. "Oh, yes, that reminds me: the Government have also sequestered all your private assets, including those secret funds you'd salted away on the outer planets."

Morgus was trying to keep his breathing level as his mind raced, trying to find something to wipe that smug smile from his former assistant. "I'm not beaten yet. I will soon have the key to unlimited power: Jek's private hoard of Spectrox!"

Timmin laughed in his face. "Good luck with that, Morgus. By now the army will be attacking Jerk's headquarters in strength. Even if you got to Androzani Minor before the night's over, and assuming the Major doesn't execute you on sight, the mud bursts are starting as we speak. But then, being boiled alive in that mud would be poetic justice, would it not?"

"Justice?" Morgus spat. "I am Morgus. I am no cowardly, miserable gutter trash - I'm descended from the first colonists, the great 900..."

Timmin was bored. "Goodbye, Morgus," she said with a final cruel smile and shut down the communication link.

"I'm not beaten yet. My plans may have to change drastically but I am not beaten yet," Morgus insisted, and set the flight computer to land on the plateau - as close to the entrance of the caves as possible.

* * *

General Chellak and his troops were moving through the caves of Yellow Level. Despite Major Salateen's promise to have memorized the route, he seemed more and more uncertain. While part of Chellak was glad his ADC wasn't so sickeningly perfect, he was also furious that Salateen was letting them down right now when things were so important.

Salateen looked around the cave yet again. The vaulted roof and the pillars of dried lava stuck in his memory, and they could only be a few minutes away from Jek's headquarters but which direction? Trying to keep one eye on the girl Peri meant he wasn't entirely sure which tunnel he'd come from. Had he dragged her over that rockfall to the tunnel on the left? Or the one to the right?

Chellak had had enough. "Safety catches off," he barked at the troopers, who armed their machine pistols. Plasma rifles didn't so much as scratch the android rebels, requiring cruder (but cheaper) weaponry. The General remembered the cave from their first campaign months ago, when they had recaptured the old Spectrox refinery from Jek's robot troops. However, when the androids managed to snatch back the refined Spectrox, the army hadn't bothered much with this patch of the caves. It would be typical if Jek was hiding right under their noses all along.

"You go forward and recce," the general told Salateen. "I'll call Red Force to get them to hold their advance; I don't want them leap-frogging us..."

A shape stepped out of the shadows from the left-hand tunnel. A black-clad figure with a blank egg-like head with a single glaring yellow eye. The troopers tensed, and Salateen did not. "It won't fire at the belt plate," Salateen assured them.

The android raised its machine gun and opened fire.

By the time Chellak and his men had managed to return fire and destroy the android, half the squad lay crumbled on the hot stone ground. The general crouched down beside Salateen's still body as blood pooled around his chest. Chellak felt a stab of grief that turned to fury - Salateen was the crux of which the campaign depended, not to mention his efficiency was the only thing keeping the army together. Worse, he would never recieve the gallantry citation Chellak himself has recommended to the President, all those months ago (ironically the feat of surviving a deep penetration mission had been a trick allowing an android duplicate to replace him.)

Another part of Chellak was glad he no longer had a threat to his career, and it also meant the Android Salateen could no longer fool anyone. It didn't matter how good a copy it was when he knew the original was dead.

"Forward!" Chellak shouted at the survivors and they advanced down the tunnel the android had emerged from.

No sooner were they inside the tunnel than a second android emerged from the darkness, lifting its rifle. The soldiers, already on alert, opened fire instantly. After a few moments of bombardment, the android exploded in a burst of flame. As the gutted robot collapsed in ruins, the glare illuminated a further two androids advancing up the tunnel towards them.

Diving behind cover, Chellak swapped his ammunition clip for a fresh one, and then fired a burst down the passage to the twin androids. He heard a third, satisfying explosion and fired again.

Jek only had a dozen androids to his side and four had already perished tonight. Their belt-plate advantage might have been lost, but the army were in the right place and sheer force of numbers would overrun the remaining robots. "Jek can't stop us now," the general laughed, and snatched his communicator. In the excitement he had forgotten to contact Red Force after all.

"This is Flag Carrier to Red Force, do you recieve me? Over?" he called, but there was no reply. "Our support group must have hit trouble," he realized lamely. The other troopers would have been slaughtered by the androids, taken by surprise when the belt-plates failed to function.

Suddenly the rocks behind Chellak began to shake, the black ground beneath his boots rumbling loudly. A mud burst was coming. The only chance now was to press on to Jek's HQ and get behind the mud barriers before everything in the caves was boiled by the outrush of primeval mud...

There was another explosion as the last android was destroyed.

"Follow me," the general shouted, leading what few survivors he had left further down the passageway, towards their destiny.

* * *

The realignment was complete.

The Doctor blinked awake, taking a deep breath and glancing at his surroundings. He was strapped down to a pilto's seat, the laser-gyroscope the only thing holding up a series of twisted girders and broken metal. Around him was the ruins of a flight deck, looking as though it had been torn to shreds and crudely shoved back together in the middle of a desert. There were pools of blood and chemicals everywhere, and a crumbled body of one of the gun runners - there was no way of telling which one - lay in a heap nearby.

Struggling from the straps, the Doctor idly noticed that his cricketting gear was now slightly too short and quite a bit too small for him. He winced as the seams at a sleeve tore around his larger build. Oh well, it was a small price to pay considering he was alive and in much better shape than he had been... whatever shape he was now in, anyway.

It took him a few minutes to climb out of the wreckage through the widest hull breach he could find. The sky above was full of smoke and glittering stars, a strange beauty he wished he could enjoy for longer. But he had to hurry. Tegan was depending on him. Or was it Nyssa? In any case, she needed help.

Wiping the perspiration from his new forehead (and noticing his hair was now shorter and very curly), the Doctor ran off across the plains to where the dirty blue police box was waiting for him. It looked old and hideous, he reflected. Once he was out of this mess, he'd half a mind to finally repair the chameleon circuit.

First thing's first, though. Leela needed help.

* * *

Sharaz Jek paced his headquarters. The displays showed the same. The sheer amount of troops attacking from all sides had overrun his androids. As he studied the display, the last two androids to his name were falling back to their final defence posts - but they never made it. Their indicators blinked out.

He was alone - bar Peri, who was lying unconscious on the nearby table.

Jek hugged himself tighter, focussing on the pain. Peri had told him she had Spectrox Toxaemia and Jek could no longer ignore the symptoms. The blisters of her infection had ravaged her beautiful legs, cramps and nervous damage was leaving her in agony and a fever was pushing her into a coma. He had done all he could to ease her pain but in a few hours she would be dead. He had not had time to equip his hideout with the antitoxin, and felt a strange morbid desire not to do so, to increase the chances of his misery ending.

Another subterranean rumble shook the base with enough force to revive Peri. "What was that?" she asked groggily

"It's the start of a mud burst," Jek assured her casually. "You'll be safe here."

Inspiration struck. In a few minutes, the cave system would be flooded as the mud erupted its way to the surface. Anyone outside the mud barriers would perish - including General Chellak and his troopers. All they needed to do was delay him for a little longer. Jek snatched up a rifle and strode out of the base. He'd repaired the androids before, he could do so again. They only had to last long enough to occupy the enemy for a minute or two...

Jek emerged into the cavern which was littered with bodies. The android stood over the dead troops like a triumphant warrior - the impression ruined by the burning stump where its head should have been. Jek examined the damage hopefully, but knew that it would not be a simple repair job.

Already a scalding breeze was blowing stronger and stronger as the tidal wave of mud rumbled its way up from the core of the planet. Jek turned to retreat to his base when a loud shout echoed across the cave. "All right, Jek! The war's over!" roared a figure from the shadows. It was General Chellak, who's obsession with victory and a strong cowardly streak had allowed to survive the massacre.

He aimed a machine gun at Jek. "Will you surrender?" he demanded.

Jek didn't bother to answer. Instead he just opened fire.

Chellak dived for cover and Jek sprinted for the doorway. Rivulets of black-brown mud were creeping up the cave floor, steaming hot. The rumbling of the mud burst was getting louder and louder.

Jek bumped into Peri as he entered the base. The beautiful girl was dazedly getting to her feet, seemingly unaware what was going on. Grabbing her waist, Jek heaved her away from the doorway. He had to seal the hatch before the...

Chellak was standing behind him, machine gun at the ready, a crooked grin on his face. "I wanted a bloodless victory, Jek," Chellak sneered. "But I suppose your blood will make it all worthwhile..."

Jek stood in front of Peri, unafraid. The idiot General had not closed the hatch. Death by bullet was preferable to the boiling mud, Jek knew that from bitter experience. Let Chellak do what he will, he'd be dead in a few seconds.

But as Chellak's finger tightened on the trigger a strange noise filled the chamber. For a moment it seemed the mud burst was early, and then a rectangle of blue began to manifest in the middle of the chamber, turning into an upright blue box surmounted by a light flashing frantically.

The distraction was all Jek needed. Swinging down his arm, he smashed the gun from the general's grasp and shoulder-charged him out into the tunnel. Chellak hit the ground, now ankle-deep in steaming liquid, and screamed as it burnt through his grubby uniform. Jek sneered and heaved the hatch shut, deadlocking it as the rumble of the approaching mud became a volcanic screech.

There was a muffled thumping on the hatch. Chellak was screaming for Jek to open the door and spare his life, the coward. The rumbling became even louder and Chellak's screams and thumps suddenly stopped. The base grew uncomfortably as the white-hot mud surged past them and on the way to the surface.

"It seems the war has ended in my favor," Jek reflected smugly.

"It seems that way, I grant you," agreed a mellow, distinguished voice.

Jek spun to face the strange blue box that had appeared in the base. The door was open and a man was emerging. He wore the Doctor's strange cream-clothing, although it was tight fit, but this man was nothing like the Doctor. His curling hair was blond with dark roots, his mouth wider lips fuller.

"How did you get in here?" Jek demanded, raising his rifle.

"My ship," the man replied arrogantly. "It's how I arrived on this planet, and how I intend to leave - and I'm taking Peri with me."

Jek was tempted to shoot the man right there and then. "Who are you?" he hissed.

"We've already met," he said casually. "I am usually referred to as the Doctor."

"The Doctor?" Jek chuckled. "You will have to do better than that."

"We're wasting time," the man insisted. "Peri has Spectrox Toxaemia and she's dying even as we speak. She needs the cure." He strode over to the chair Peri was slumped in, tearing off the vegetable from his lapel and crushing it beneath his fingers. He held it beneath her nose. "Come on, Peri. Wake up."

"Celery soup," she slurred, blinking her bloodshot and baggy eyes.

"Peri, listen to me. You must not give up. You've got to keep fighting it."

Peri peered up at him. "Leave me lone," she grunted, sliding back into a doze.

Jek peered suspiciously at the crushed vegetable which the man threw to the floor in disgust. His old medical learning made him curious. "What was that?"

"Supposed to be a powerful restorative where I come from," the man fumed. "Unfortunately it appears that the human olfactory system is quite feeble in comparison. We must get her the cure as soon as possible!"

"We'd need the queen of a milk bat, but the dormant queens are too deep for us to reach," Jek wailed. "There won't be any oxygen in those levels by now."

"Can't you send your androids to collect it?"

Jek waved bitterly at his empty operation screens. "I have no androids! Those not destroyed by the army will have been washed away in the mud-burst by now." He groaned. "Salateen might have survived, but he couldn't get down there and back in time to save her life..."

"Don't get emotional," the man snapped. "Hystrionics won't help anyone. Now, Jek, do you actually know where the queen bats are?"

Jek fumed. "Of course I do!" he shouted. "My androids surveyed and mapped the whole system when I first came here." He pointed to an outline of the route. "They are there, two hundred metres down - no one could get that far without collapsing."

"I am not no one," the man told Jek frostily. "I am the Doctor, whether you believe me or not. Since your obsession for Peri won't make you risk your own miserable neck, you can stay here and look after her."

"There is nothing I can do for her!" Jek protested. "If there was, don't you think I would have done it for her by now?"

The Doctor brushed some more sweat from his brow. "You can turn the air conditioning on for a start! Keep her temperature down, do everything possible until I return with the milk - and I will return."

Jek nodded. He wasn't sure if this man was the Doctor, but his identity didn't matter - as long as he saved Peri's life. The man's blue, cat-light eyes stared at Jek for a long moment, then he turned and reentered the blue box. Seconds later it had disappeared with its strange shriek of displaced atoms.

* * *

Morgus waited for the mud burst to abate before daring to leave his ship. He had heard that the mudbursts were a beautiful sight, but had no interest in natural phenomena, especially when they could kill him. As soon as the tide had spread thin enough for him to traverse, he emerged into the choking heat and - pistol in hand - ran for the nearest blowhole.

The cave was stiflingly hot, reminding Morgus of the last time he had been there, supervising the chaos followed by an "industrial accident" that should have rid him of Sharaz Jek and left him with a fully-working android-run Spectrox refinery. It had gone rather differently, but Morgus had made the best of a bad situation - he had made a neat profit from selling arms to Jek, while the ongoing conflict raised the prices of existing Spectrox and made him even richer.

As he struggled through the steamy gloom, the ground fell away from him and Morgus was plunging into infinity...

...he bounced twice and landed in a heap of stinking, fuzzy muck.

A Spectrox nest.

The Spectrox nest that Jek had had his androids place there to ensure no wandering passer-by could use this entrance and live to tell the tale. Only Jek and the gun-runners knew about the nest and how to avoid it, and Morgus should have remembered it. Desperately he tore away the cobweb-like bat excrement, the skin on his face and hands already stinging from infection.

He, Morgus, now had Spextrox Toxaemia.

The self-inflicted injury all Federal Forces were warned about. Morgus thought of the first-aid kit in his ship - a heavy dose of sulphadione at this early stage would slow the progress of the condition down, buy him a few days to get a supply of the cure. Bat's milk wasn't easy to get, but with his fortune he could buy some from somewhere... once he had the Spectrox. He needed to find Jek's stock before the next mudburst. If he returned to the ship for drugs, he'd lose valuable time.

There was no choice.

Ignoring the shooting pains ripping through his upper body, Morgus threw himself into the dripping, roasting depths of Androzani Minor.

* * *

The TARDIS listed at a worrying angle on the sloping ledge. The light from its windows barely illuminated the rock walls around them. The heat was like a furnace and any perspiration on the Doctor's skin evaporated almost immediately. Delicately, he clambered down towards the shaggy black shape spread across the rock face like some strange hairy moth. Although called a bat, it seemed more reptile than mammal - though like a mammal its lactic fluid was full of the antibiotics required to survive the toxic chemicals the bats produced.

His new lungs beginning to ache from deprivation, the Doctor gripped a glass phial and began to milk the bat - trying to focus his thoughts. Dimpled dairy maids and hay-scented cow byres filled his mind at this beucolic scene.

And then the queen bat's eye slowly opened, glowing a fierce green.

The Doctor tensed.

The bat closed its eye, returning to its sleep.

Carefully, the Doctor placed the full vial into his coat pocket and then began to try and milk out another vial's worth...

* * *

The base was humming loudly as cool air was blasted through the complex. Jek had found some ice water and soaked a cloth in it before bathing Peri's forehead. Her breathing had steadied but her temperature continued to climb. Even with these measures it would not be long before she reached thermal death point.

Jek began to weep. Peri didn't deserve this. She was better than anyone else on this stinking ball of super-heated mud. The callous and cowardly soldiers, the cynical and corrupt rulers of Major... the entire Sirius system was unworthy of her. And now she was being taken away from him, all thanks to Morgus and his cowardice. If he had accepted Jek's demands at the start, none of this would have been necessary. If he had shown remorse, accepted punishment, Jek might even have allowed him to live.

Actually, no, he wouldn't have.

But Morgus had allowed all this carnage to take place, for the innocent to suffer.

"She's so beautiful, so very beautiful," Jek realized he was singing, as if to a frightened child. "So beautiful, so beautiful..."

Then, to his amazed delight, she opened her eyes.

"Hey..." she croaked weakly.

"It's all right, Peri," he assured her. "Please don't be frightened. It's just the two of us now. We're the only survivors. Chellak and those pitiful fools in his army have been swept away to their deaths. My androids survived the mud burst intact, though they aren't functioning..."

Peri gazed up at him emotionlessly. "Water..."

"You want some water?" Eager to please he snatched up the bowl and helped her sip from it. Jek continued to talk, glad for conversation. It was one of the reasons he'd kept Salateen alive. "I can repair the androids," he told Peri cheerfully, "Their synaptic links may have burnt out, but I promise you - within a week, everything will be back to normal. They won't send another army. They daren't!"

Peri said nothing, still drinking the water.

"I'll reopen the refinery," Jek decided after a moment's thought. "Begin trading again, and you can have anything your heart desires. Furs? Silks? Jewels? Stay with me, Peri, and I will make you a princess!"

Peri finished drinking and licked her lips. "Sweet ice water," she said dreamily. She took the bowl and tipped it over her head, soaking her hair and shirt.

Jek gazed at her adoringly. There was none of the disgust and fear she'd shown earlier. Hopefully, he continued, "I shall ask for nothing in return!" he promised. "Just the sight of your beauty is reward enough for me."

Peri smiled at him.

Jek had never felt happier.

"Waiter," she croaked. "I'll just have the double peach melba and choclate soda."

"Peri?" asked Jek uncertainly.

The girl's head rolled on her shoulders. The ice water was already drying on her overheated skin. "What's that tune?" she asked, frowning.

"Are you all right?" Jek asked pleadingly.

Peri groaned. "Tell them to stop," she begged him. "Please tell them to stop! I don't like it!"

Jek touched her forehead, wincing at the burning fever. Her temperature had risen higher than it was before they had started. She was approaching thermal death point rapidly. Jek began to hyperventilate.

"Why is it so dark, Doctor?" Peri asked weakly. "I can't see anything."

Blindness. The final symptom as the toxaemia destroyed her nervous system.

With his shaking gloved hand, Sharaz Jek closed her eyes. Peri didn't react, continuing to shudder and gasp with heat. Even as he watched, her shuddering came to an end and she was still - slipping straight into the coma that lead to death.

"No, no!" Jek screamed, leaping to her feat. "You cannot be taken from me!"

Furiously, he grabbed her shoulders and shook her violently. She remained limp, a dead weight in his hands. "You cannot die, Peri!" he screamed at her, but she was beyond his grasp any more.

He ran to the communicator. The chances of any of the androids still functioning were slightly below zero, but he didn't care. There had to be some one or something out there to help Peri. There had to. Otherwise she was dead.

"This is Sharaz Jek!" he growled into the microphone. "Are there any units still functioning? Any android units still functioning report immediately?"

There was nothing but static from the speakers.

Just as Jek felt despair about to claim him, a voice rang out.

"I hear you, Master."

It was Salateen.

* * *

Once again, Morgus cursed Stotz for dying without telling him the way. The former-executive wracked his brains, remembering Jek's rendezvous was supposed to be on yellow level, a cave in the late twenties. Morgus brightened - yellow level wasn't too deep below the surface, and since the first wave of bursts had come and gone there would be a decent amount of time before the major eruption. And while the army and Jek were fighting each other, he could locate the Spectrox store and grab whatever he could. If he timed it right, he might even be able to make a few trips...

Refusing to accept how insanely optimistic his plan was, Morgus plunged deeper into the caves. He barely paid any attention to the corpses sprawled around the place, roasted beyond recognition by the mud burst. He had heard no gunfire, so presumably the fighting was over. But which side - if any - had won?

The stinging pain in his face grew worse and he scratched at an eye. His face was tender and misshapen with blisters. Already he was starting to get painful cramps in his arms and a sickening nausea in his gut.

Normally people might get raw Spectrox on their hands or fingers, and he had practically bathed in it. His immune system was under seige. He might only have hours before the poison burnt the life out of him.

Hours...

Long enough, Morgus decided. Long enough to get the refined Spectrox and make himself rich to get a cure. He thought of all the tonnes of Spectrox and the effort of having to carry it. Spectrox was going up by a factor of 50 every month. Soon even a few kilos of the substance would make him a fortune.

Maybe just two bags. As long as they weren't too heavy.

Morgus forced himself into the stifling heat, ignoring the agony in his limbs.

* * *

The Doctor popped his head out of the police box door and looked around. The TARDIS should have returned back to Jek's headquarters, but instead it had materialized in the middle of a tunnel. As he looked around he noticed that a strange shape was sticking out of the muddy sludge - some kind of measuring tool, maybe something that had once been a theodolite. Obvious the army had been trying to survey the area, and abandoned it for some reason.

A reason that seemed to have slipped the Doctor's mind, even though it was clearly obvious.

There was a primeval roar behind him.

The Doctor spun around, the quick movement tearing fresh holes in his battered and muddy frock coat. Before him loomed one of the other native life forms of Androzani Minor, a huge armored reptile able to survive the heat that turned melted rock. Magma creatures that ate flesh.

The creature advanced on the Doctor.

Snatching up the theodolite, the Time Lord swung the broken mass of metal frames straight into the gaping jaw of the monster as it lurched closer. It roared again, this time in frustration as it realized its jaws were jammed open by the theodolite. It swung a savage claw with long talons towards the Doctor, who managed to duck and throw himself to the ground.

The mud had cooled but was still slippery and suddenly the Doctor was scooting across the tunnel floor into darkness. The Time Lord grabbed an outcrop of rock and managed to halt his path, even as his legs slipped into the darkness. There was nothing beneath them but a gaping abyss of billowing, hot steam.

The roaring magma creature was charging towards him. Before the Doctor could do anything, its elephant-like stubby hind legs lost control on the muddy surface and it began to skate down the slope towards the Time Lord and the abyss.

Gritting his teeth, the Doctor curled up his legs to his chest.

There was nothing to stop the creature blundering straight past him and over the edge of the abyss with a final, helpless roar.

The Doctor managed to haul himself to his feet, grimacing at the muddy stains that coated most of his clothing. He half wanted to return to the TARDIS and change, but he had to find Jek and Peri. Then he saw someone shuffling down the tunnel, seemingly unaware of the altercation.

It was Morgus. His fine clothing and pony tail were matted with mud and angry grey-pink blistered coated his face and hands, until he was barely recognizable. His breath rattled in his lungs as though he had tuberculosis. Gripping the gun tightly in his hand, the Chairman struggled down the tunnel. Ahead there was the distant whirr of ventilation systems.

Curious, the Doctor decided to follow him.

In the distance there was another rumble. The main mud burst wasn't far away.

* * *

"Peri, can you hear me?" Jek pleaded.

She was struggling to breathe now, forcing one breath after another into her failing lungs. He gripped her hot little hand in his own, feeling helpless and useless. Where was the Doctor? Where was Salateen? If Peri died, what was left?

The answer crashed through the hatchway, which Jek had opened to try and help reduce the heat.

It was Morgus.

"Jek," he rasped, "where's the Spectrox?"

"Morgus," purred Jek, getting to his feet.

"Where is it?" he demanded.

"Spectrox cannot help you now, Morgus," Jek sneered. "You have contracted Spectrox Toxaemia. Soon you will begin to boil. In a few hours you will be dead."

"You work down here!" Morgus rasped. "You must have a cure!"

"Must I?" Jek laughed. "If I had, there are those more deserving of it than you."

"Give me the Spectrox!"

"Convince me," Jek hissed, advancing on him.

Morgus swayed unsteadily. "You take one more step and I shoot!"

"Do you think bullets could stop me now?" Jek asked lightly.

Morgus fought against the groggy fever and saw the girl lying on the table - the one with the Doctor. The one Jek had been fussing over. The vain little monomaniac had upset quite a few of his "featherheads", a reason why he'd been forced to give up his career as a medic. Complaints of harrassment... and worse.

Morgus aimed the pistol at the girl. "I can kill her with a single shot."

Jek froze.

"I don't think that will be necessary, gentlemen," boomed a voice from the doorway. A curly-haired man in strange mud-crusted clothing was entering, holding a vial of murky green liquid. "I think I can resolve matters."

"Who are you?" Morgus coughed.

"You know, I don't think you'd believe me. But by a staggering coincidence, I happen to have a vial of pure, undilusted bat's milk in my hand," the Doctor replied, waving the glass tube and sloshing its contents. "The one and only cure to Spectrox Toxaemia, assuming Professor Jackijj knew his stuff. I think it's an anti-vesicant that does the hard work..."

"Give me the cure!" Morgus ranted.

"Now how did someone become Chairman of the Sirius Conglomerate with such poor manners?" the Doctor tutted. "You can't have been any good at it, considering you need to moonlight as an arm's dealer, can it?"

"What are you talking about?" Jek demanded, not taking his eye off Morgus.

"Didn't you wonder who was supplying the weapons that Stotz and the others brought to you at such cheap prices?" the Doctor asked, carefully inching towards the table where Peri lay. "The whole of the five planets should have been knocking down your door, but someone very powerful managed to make sure you only had one option. Someone who wanted the Spectrox War to go on for quite a while, for their own ends. Limiting the supplies the great unwashed got, but keeping his own stockpile growing. Rather ingenious, wouldn't you say? The politics of power."

"That isn't true," Jek hissed. "It can't be."

"Can't it?" the Doctor asked. "Your worst enemy is your greatest ally, helping you slaughter his own soldiers to keep the stock market prices just the way he wants them. Your daily irony supplement, Sharaz Jek."

"You owe me, Jek," Morgus spluttered, sounding even worse. "I've helped you."

"Helped me? You stinking offal, Morgus! LOOK AT ME!"

Jek tore the patterned and moulded mask from his face. Beneath it was a hairless skull, devoid any facial flesh above the nose. One mad yellow eye glared out from the ravaged face, what little skin was there looking like mouldy green cheese.

"You did this, Morgus. Look at what you did. Look... and die!"

Morgus stared, slack-jawed at his former partner. Jek lunged at him, knocking the gun aside and clamping both hands around Morgus' blistered throat. Morgus stumbled back, beating his weak, bloodied hands against Jek but to no avail.

Wasting no time, the Doctor dived over to Peri and emptied the vial's contents into her open mouth. She gagged, spluttered, but eventually managed to swallow the liquid. The Doctor glanced up at Jek and Morgus, now both stumbling around the room in a grosteque ballroom dance.

Then another figure stepped into the room. It was Salateen, or rather the android Salateen, who had answered his Master's call. Seeing the situation, the android raised his rifle and opened fire. For a moment, both Jek and Morgus were frozen in mid-struggle, and then they collapsed in a bloody heap.

"Jek!" the Doctor shouted, rushing over to him. Dark, arterial blood was gushing from wounds across his chest. The Time Lord tore away the black leather coat, wincing at the hideously pale and tender flesh beneath. It was amazing Jek was alive at all, let alone surviving the bullet wounds.

"Too... late..." Sharaz Jek rasped.

"I'm the Doctor, I'll tell you when it's too late," the Time Lord retorted, but there was nothing he could do.

"Save her... save Peri..." Jek whimpered.

The room shuddered, making Jek moan in pain.

"Another mud burst..." the Doctor realized.

"Salateen!" Jek growled. "Help them!"

The Doctor frowned sadly. "Thank you. It doesn't absolve anything you've done, Jek," he told the dying madman. "But thank you. Even so."

Jek couldn't hear him any more. His ravaged skull had lolled to one side, allowing him to gaze up at Peri, who was coughing and spluttering - and now almost conscious. A strange rictus grin tightened what was left of Jek's face.

The Doctor got to his feet, only to be knocked off them by another tremor. "You heard your master, Salateen, help me!" he shouted.

For a moment the android stayed where it was, staring down expressionlessly at Jek's body. Then it turned and wordlessly assisted the Doctor in picking up the semi-conscious Peri and steering her to the open hatch. Stepping out the base was like walking into a furnace, and the gale of displaced air was almost enough to blow the trio off their feet. Nevertheless they somehow managed to make their way into the next gallery where the TARDIS was waiting for them.

Leaving Salateen to support Peri, the Doctor darted over to the door of the police box and unlocked it. Salateen helped the Time Lord carry his companion into the cool white interior of the TARDIS. The android showed no interest in the impossibly huge control room, already turning and heading out the doors.

"Where do you think you're going?" the Doctor demanded.

"You must leave," the android said flatly. "The final mudburst is only seconds away. It will destroy everything here."

"Even the Spectrox?" the Doctor asked idly.

"If I lower the mud barriers around the depot."

"You don't have to go back there," the Doctor protested. "You can come with us."

"I was created by Sharaz Jek," the android replied. "He would not wish to be alone."

The Doctor thought for a moment. "No, he wouldn't. Good luck."

The android nodded, frowning. Then, looking back at the Doctor, smiled sadly, and turned and strode back through the shaking inferno outside. The Time Lord watched him go, then closed the doors and powered up the TARDIS.

A few moments after the time machine had vanished from the caves of Androzani, the mudburst ripped through the tunnels destroying everything in its wake. Only the queen bats and their hibernating young survived the disaster, as it had happened before and it would happen again.

Sharaz Jek's base, the refinery, the army base and every last trace of human occupation was utterly annihilated. Even Morgus' ship on the surface was annihilated in the holocaust. As the tides of mud receded, there was no sign anyone had ever been there...

* * *

Peri coughed and spluttered, trying desperately to get the horrible taste out of her mouth. Her legs felt as itchy as if she'd been attacked by a thousand mosquitos, her joints ached as though they were rusty, and her eyesight was so blurred she could barely see. Eventually it occured to her that she was actually feeling better than she had for some time. Her sight cleared more and more, enough to see the blisters were vanishing from her legs.

She realized she was back in the TARDIS, which was flying through time and space once more. There was a blond figure in a muddy cricketing outfit moving around the console, adjusting controls. "Doctor," she rasped thirstily, "what's happening?"

"Ah, Peri," the figure said in a deep, unfamiliar voice. "I see Professor Jackij knew his stuff. Good old Jackij..."

Peri struggled to her feet, peering at the man before her. The clothes were right, but the build, the hair, they were all wrong. Her eyesight fully returned and she realized the man before her was a complete stranger.

"Doctor?"

The curly-haired man glanced up from the controls. "You were expecting someone else?" he replied with a smile. "Oh, that reminds me," he said, taking a vial of green milk from his pocket and daintily swallowing the contents. "Ugh. Still, that should take care of any lingering toxins in my system, that could lead to some dangerous abnormalities." He realized Peri was staring at him. "Oh, I kept the spare vial around in case you needed another dose."

Peri continued to stare at him. "What are you doing here?" she asked shakily.

"Setting coordinates for our next destination," he replied. "I would have taken you to the Eye of Orion - wonderful place for a holiday, and we both need a rest. Unfortunately, the specific coordinates elude me for the moment, so we're heading somewhere else. Somewhere peaceful, somewhere tranquil - a panacea for body and soul, they call it Joconda the Beautiful... what's the matter?" he asked as she continued to stare at him.

"What's happened?" Peri wondered, sounding lost.

The Doctor considered his answer.

"Change, my dear Peri," he concluded. "And it was just in the nick of time!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meanwhile, during Easter 2009...

(Changing Room.)

Nigel: I don't believe this! This isn't a changing room, it's a storeroom!
How am I supposed to get in character with servers and computers and
monitors and filing cabinets with special locks? It's going to stifle my
creativity...

Andrew: Stifle be the operative word. It's hot, isn't it?

Nigel: Dear God, you're right. I'm starting to perspire even as I speak!
Dave, be a tool and get the suit out, will you?

Dave: Wow. Big head.

Nigel: Christ, it's more terrifying than the last one. What's with all those
bits of foam around it?

Andrew: They're part of the suit.

Nigel: Bullshit.

Andrew: They are.

Nigel: I have to wear this? I'll look like a cross between an empty cicada
shell and... and...

Dave: A Slitheen?

Nigel: Yes! No one could score dressed like that!

Andrew: You're the Easter Bunny.

Nigel: Yes. An ancient anglo saxon fertility symbol.

Dave: That's what this suit is for, then.

Nigel: Give me strength. I have to dress up in this fetishistic foam body
suit AND have a fur suit strapped over the top? I thought it would just be a
white fur pyjama set like last time.

Andrew: This is what you get for signing up with professionals.

Nigel: Oh god. The fur alone weighs more than your ego! Oh well...

(He puts the suit on.)

Nigel: (very muffled) How do I look?

Andrew: I struggle to think of an answer that doesn't include "Donnie
Darko".

Dave: Hang on, what's this?

Andrew: Some kind of harness... full of bottles.

Nigel: What?

Andrew: I think they've given you a belt of drinks.

Dave: Why can't I open them then?

Nigel: Because they're not for drinking you unreliable heathens! They're
freezer packs! Put them in the freezer!

Andrew: OK, OK. They'll be halfway cold in two hours.

Nigel: Good. I survived a seven hour stint at the last place. A two hour
stint in this one-horse mall will be easy.

(One hour later...)

Nigel: Oh god! Face... melting! Internal organs cooking! Must... speak...
in... fragments!

Andrew: The superhuman Verkoff fails again.

Nigel: I had a different suit before. And it was much cooler. That head is
full of foam! I can barely breathe in there, let alone see!

Dave: Your packs aren't frozen yet.

Nigel: Don't care. Give them over.

Andrew: OK. You'll have to take off your suit first...

Nigel: Fuck that. Give them. I'll just shove it down the front and... there.
You see, cooling all ready.

Dave: OK, you ready?

Nigel: (head on) Born ready...

(Half an hour later)

Nigel: God I'm hot. These packs aren't cooling me down at all. Maybe if I...
ah yeah, if I lean back, they fall against my chest. Ah, nice and cool.

Andrew: You know, Dave, the idea strikes me that that harness was designed
for a reason.

Dave: Does it?

Andrew: Indeed it does. Designed to be tied around the torso.

Nigel: You know, come to mention it, I'm feeling a little groggy.

Dave: Lean back more and let the packs work.

Nigel: OK...

Andrew: And it was designed to be tied around the torso for a reason and
presumably not around the neck.

Dave: What's your point?

Nigel: Feeling VERY groggy actually.

Dave: That wearing around the neck is wrong?

Andrew: Think about it. What are the packs cooling down?

Dave: Nigel?

Nigel: Oh, Christ... everything's spinning...

Andrew: The area below Nigel's neck to be precise. Heart and lungs.

Dave: So? The coolth will disperse and cool him all down eventually.

Andrew: Yes, but in the meantime...

Nigel: Ohhhhhhh man... Gonna be sick now...

Dave: In the meantime?

Andrew: His heart will be cooling down, yes?

Dave: Uhuh.

Andrew: But the rest of him is still hot and, presumably getting hotter.

Dave: Uhuh.

Nigel: Agh.... agh... please... oh gof.... can't... breathe...

Andrew: So we have boiling hot blood rushing into a very cold heart.

Dave: Sort of like cold water on a hot tin can.

Andrew: Yep.

Nigel: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

(Changing room)

Nigel: Oh... god... heart attack... going to die... never see Planet of the
Dead...

Dave: You read the Highest Science, didn't you?

Nigel: No... just... synopsis... agh...

Andrew: Oh, get over it. Drink this cold water, stay still and shut the hell
up.

(They leave Nigel on their own. Guard enters.)

Guard: Um. Hi.

Nigel: ...yeah... hi.

Guard: Why are you sitting next to the servers in your underwear?

Nigel: I'm the Easter Bunny.

Guard: ...aaaaaaand?

Nigel: I got the Kalesi Virus! OK?

Guard: Oh. You overheated in suit. Sissy. Oh well, I need to use the
computer.

Nigel: And I need the use of my legs. Life's harsh, isn't it?

Guard: Fine. Hold open the door.

Nigel: Um. OK.

Guard: Some silly bitch left her card in an ATM, I got to check the security
cameras.

Nigel: OK.

(A long hour passes as the guard stands there checking the monitors,
squashed up against Nigel, holding the door open so they can both fit in.
Awkward silence.)

Andrew: You dead yet?

Nigel: Not quite.

Andrew: K. We'll come back later then.

(Another fifteen minutes. Guard finally leaves in disgust.)

Guard: I don't have to put up with this. That cow can suffer.

Nigel: Charming.

Guard: Oh, die already, sissy.

(Leaves.)

Nigel: Wow. To think I could be so humiliated NOT being dressed as a giant
rabbit.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Offcuts of the Big N

It is a truth, universally acknowledged by me, that if you can't comfortably play the end theme of The Young Ones over a given piece of drama then it just ain't a comedy. And as the last installment of Andrew and the Vanishing Verkoff failed that, I idly present all the stuff from The Rise of the Big N that I never got round to actually completing between his first day of school to his supposed death (with a side order of rampant sex, angst, suicidal remorse to go.)

And so, the first extract....



ACT FOUR – CHANGE THE CHANNEL

[Yang dining room. Togi is serving out plates of noodles and stir-fry. Nigel, his brother and sisters are present. The mood is somber. Nigel speaks with forced cheer.]

Nigel: So, another weekend without the folks huh? We could go wild. Have a party.

[Togi finishes serving and walks off. Silence. Then a ringtone goes off – “What I Like About You” by Lillix. Grimacing, Nigel answers it.]

Nigel: Hey. Yeah. Busy now. Sorry.

[He hangs up and grins at the others.]

Nigel: Sorry.

Benny: So who was that then?

Kenji: Dame Joan Kerner?

Akiro: Myopic Spice?

Benny: Your agent?

[Nigel gives a very forced peal of laughter, then stops suddenly.]

Nigel: So, anything interesting happen at your school this week?

Benny: Nope.

[A pause.]

Nigel: Make any new friends?

Kenji: Nah.

Akiro: No.

Benny: They were mainly from our old school. Same old people.

Nigel: Yeah. Quite.

[Long pause.]

Nigel: Pretty boring then?

Benny: Yeah.

Kenji: Pretty much.

[Suddenly a mobile phone goes off – “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited. Kenji quickly answers it.]

Kenji: [to others] Sorry. [into phone] Hello? [brightly] Hey, mate, how are you? Where were you today?! I suppose Ruby told you all about the whole “initiation ceremony” thing, huh? I know! Whole jar of vegemite, I am not kidding!

[Nigel stares at Kenji expressionlessly. Kenji eventually notices.]

Kenji: Yeah. Better go. Having dinner. Call you later. Yeah. Ciao.

[He hangs up.]

Nigel: [dryly] So, you were saying what a dull day you had.

Kenji: Yeah, well, it was just the usual.

Nigel: So what happened?

Benny: I’m sure it doesn’t match to your epic life, Nige.

Nigel: [frowns] I didn’t say my life was epic.

Akiro: [snorts] Makes a change for once.

Nigel: Hey, I’m here, making an effort to reconnect with my immediate family, being so strongly separated for the first time in years.

Akiro: Well, maybe we don’t WANT to be reconnected.

Kenji: Yeah, who do you think you are? Telstra?

Nigel: [annoyed] Oh what does it take? You’re never happy! You blank me all for diving into celebrity lifestyle, but when I take a break from it, you blank me all again.

Benny: [bored] Not at all, we just have nothing to say. We had a really boring, ordinary week.

Nigel: Seriously?

Akiro: Sure.

[Another ringtone. “Monkey Magic”. Akiro collects her mobile.]

Akiro: Yo? [laughs] Hey, Mirando! Yeah just like the old times. We were all there! Yeah, what WAS she wearing?! No, I MEANT her boyfriend! [laughs dorkily] Yeah, catch you later tonight. [hangs up] Boring and ordinary, as I said.

Nigel: Anyway, perhaps we should go out tomorrow night. Just the four of us.

Akiro: What? Moon a police officer and have a few car chases?

Nigel: [smiles charmingly] Well, if that particular perversion works for you Akiro, I’d be more than happy to indulge your disturbing whims.

Benny: I dunno, Nige. Been a long first week. Probably best to take it easy.

Nigel: You sure, Benny?

Benny: Definitely.

Nigel: OK. Quiet night in, then.

Benny: Probably.

[She takes out a mobile and dials a number.]

Benny: Hey, Beccy? [laughs] Chocolate slut! What are you up to? Seriously? [looks at Nigel] No, tomorrow night’s good. I got nothing on. No, I’d be up for it. Akiro and Kenji?

Kenji: Yup.

Akiro: Me too.

Benny: [into phone] You bet. Yeah. Just the three of us. Oh, wash your mouth out! Or at least make sure he does! Yeah, I so went there. OK. See you later. Bye. Bye. Beccy, I’m hanging up. [laughs] Yeah, best friends forever and all that crap. Bye.

[She hangs up.]

Nigel: Such subtlety Beriniko. Perhaps you should explain it for Kenji in case he lost that gossamer thread of conversation?

Kenji: No, I think I got the jist of it.

Benny & Nigel: [simultaneous] Shut up, Kenji!

Nigel: Is this going to be how it is from now on, Benny? Us at each other’s throats? Nothing but hate for the rest of our lives?

Benny: Not at all, Nigel. [glares] I refuse to give you the dignity of hate.

Nigel: And dignity is such a big thing for you, isn’t it? Miss Cheat Her Way To the Top! Yeah? What have you got to say to that?

Benny: I’ll let you do all the talking, Media Whore. It’s what you’re best at.

Nigel: [dangerous fury] WHICH IS ONE BETTER THAN ANY OF YOU MISERABLE PARASITES HAVE EVER MANAGED IN YOUR WORTHLESS AND STUNTED LIVES!!

[The others stare at him, shocked. Then, one by one, they leave the table. Nigel is on his own.]

Nigel: [calls after them] All the more for me, then, eh?

[Nigel helps himself to their bowls, emptying it into a huge pile of food over his own plate. He regards it for a moment, his pleasure at winning the argument rapidly turning to despair. Finally he sighs and slumps face forward into the pile of food. A long pause.]

Nigel: [muffled] I regret nothing!

[The school in the morning. We hear the first unsteady strains of "Everybody Needs Somebody" from The Blues Brothers.]

Teacher 1: [VO] No, no, you’ve got it all wrong! Try it again! No! No! We’re playing in C! It’s the easiest key there is! Now TRY it AGAIN! NOOOO! It’s all wrong! Wait! Can’t you even get the most basic melody right without butchering the music! YOU CALL THAT PRACTICING?

[Outside music classroom. A small, cramped foyer area leading out into the playground. A graying, bearded teacher storms out of one doorway and into the even more cramped office.]

Teacher 1: That does it! You tone-deaf idiots are raping my memories of The Blues Brothers! I should leave you all to rot!

[He slams the office door and can be heard sobbing inside. A completely different teacher enters and walks into the classroom.]

Teacher 2: Sorry I’m late everyone, but I hope Mr. Matthews the Computer Science tutor was able to keep you occupied for those three long minutes...

[Music classroom. A brick-walled room in the heart of the school where the music cannot be heard. The back half of the room is full of instruments (drum kit, keyboards, a few guitars). The front half is full of tables and chairs facing a whiteboard. Musical posters are everywhere. Students are milling around as some of them, including Harry Hill, start to get ready to rehearse. Nigel loiters with Jason and Betty, arms folded, looking pissed off. Jason is struggling to fill out a photocopied homework sheet.]

Teacher 2 : [waffling on] Now, your choice of guitar are two yellow acoustics, a black Gibson rip-off electric, a green Fender Stratocaster and a pink Fender Stratocaster. Now, it’s easier to learn on an electric guitar...

Jason: [desperate] Name of the song...

Nigel: [bored] “Trouble”.

[Jason hastily scribbles in the answer.]

Jason: Performer?

Nigel: “Shampoo”.

Jason: Instruments?

Nigel: [increasingly irritable] “Drum, guitar, back-up vocals, harmony, keyboard, bass!” Time signature, “4/4”, appropriate word for chorus is “unison”, for verse is “alternating female”, style is “pop”, number of interludes is “8”, singing style description “annoying”! Hell, Jason, this is hardly difficult, is it?!

Jason: It is to me, my liege! Oh god, I hate Music!

Betty: I know what you mean. It all sort of turns into a mindless bad rhythm after a while.

Nigel: After a while?? It’s a miracle that we’re even still alive at this point. If I hear them do one more number from the Blues Brothers I shall pray for the mercy of death by flesh-eating bacteria.

Harry: Oh give a rest you two, it’s only the third lesson!

[Nigel mockingly mimes repeating Harry, ignoring Jadi absent-mindedly tugging a cord to attach a guitar to an amp.]

Nigel: Can you not see that this is an unsuitable environment for the Big N? The youngest recording artist of this financial quarter, who has two hit singles? It’s like asking Beethoven to take part in a Spice Girls tribute! I am a man of genius, inspiration, and above all, √©lan—

[Nigel takes a step forward and trips over the unintentional tripwire cord Jadi has unwittingly set up. Nigel falls flat on his face, snapping the cord from Jadi’s hand and causing him to drop the guitar. It lands on Nigel’s head, denting, and the strips snap. Nigel screams, but his voice is muffled since he is face down in the carpet.]

Nigel: ARGH! MY HEAD! MY ANKLE! My head AND my ankle! You’ve broken both!

[Jadi looks between the ruined guitar and Nigel in pain.]

Jadi: I wonder which is going to get me in more trouble?

Nigel: Jason! AVENGE ME! Sue everyone!

Jason: [looks around in confusion] Which one’s Sue?

[Nigel moans in pain and frustration.]

[Playground next morning before class. Nigel has a brace around his ankle and a funky walking stick with NV carved into the handle.]

Nigel: ...all right, so I haven’t actually broken anything, but my private surgeon has got me out of all athletic requirements for the rest of term.

Jason: [impressed] Amazing!

Nigel: You have no idea what I just said, do you?

Jason: You’ve broken your surgeon’s athlete’s foot?

Nigel: ...yes. Yes I have. I also don’t have to do any PE. [sighs] While you and the other plebs and ordinaries are doing warm-up exercises and completely meaningless games of gender-segregated sport on Wednesday afternoons, I shall be relaxing and enjoying myself. Ah yes. Life is good.

[Music classroom. Nigel sits behind a keyboard, looking miserable.]

Nigel: Life is complete and utter shit! I can’t believe that stupid bitch of a principal wanted me to take music classes instead of PE! The repressed freak’s got it in for me!

[We now see is surrounded by the rest of the band: Lucy, Jadi (both bass), Harry (drums) and Tegan (keyboards). They are not exactly impressed with his attitude.]

Jadi: You DID go on and on about what a musical genius you are.

Nigel: Yes, but I never said I could pass it on to talent-free tone-deaf noise polluters like you!

Harry: But you can help us improve our sound and stuff?

Nigel: “Sound and stuff?” Yes, all right, and then I’ll just go and teach orangutans the secret of fire and how to build pyramids in three easy stages, shall I? You are beyond help, all of you! Especially this ragtag collection of Fisher Price musical instruments...

Lucy: Well, if you don’t think you’re up to it...

Nigel: Oh, pur-lease, is that supposed to be some kind of reverse psychology?

Lucy: [stares at him] No.

Nigel: Good. Because it wouldn’t work.

[A few days later. The band are in the middle of a song with Nigel on lead vocals. The song’s a bitter, anti-war protest song.]

Nigel: In Luang Prebang there is a spot
Where the corpses of your brothers rot!
And every corpse is a patriot
And every corpse is a hero!

All: Mourn your dead, Land of the Free!
If you want to be a hero follow me!
Mourn your dead, Land of the Free!
If you want to be a hero follow me!

[They’re not too bad.]

[Another week later. The band are much improved. Harry does a solo on a xylophone.]

[Another week later. Nigel reclines on a stool with an unlit cigarette, ala William Shatner doing “Rocket Man”. Jadi plays a guitar riff.]

[Nigel’s bedroom. The room now has numerous posters of Nigel and a pile of letters in a crate marked FAN MAIL. Jason is wearily signing a pile of photos of Nigel seductively peering over his sunglasses. Nigel is lying in bed, reading a sheet of music as the song blares from a stereo.]

Nigel: The one-and-twenty canon thunder
Into the bloody wild blue yonder
For a patriotic, ball-less wonder,
Now I’m a fuc—

[Nigel frowns and grabs a remote and cuts out the music. There is a faint thudding noise.]

Nigel: What the hell is that?

[In Kenji’s room, Nigel’s brother is repeatedly bashing his head against the wall, causing the percussion noise spoiling the music.]

Kenji: [groans] Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.

[Back in Nigel’s room.]

Nigel: Ah, Jason. You know, I think I’ve underestimated my own musical genius. It’s only a matter of time before I get a better deal with a new record company, win an ARIA award and get married to the lead guitarist of some wild, topless girl band. Preferably a chick called “Booby Galore”...

[Jason is too tired and bored to do anything but keep signing autographed photos.]

Nigel: And for my next album, I think a title like “Nigel Verkoff’s Beauty, Betrayal, and Merciless Bloodshed” works rather well, don’t you? Oh, don’t bother, Jason. I can almost hear your brain ticking over. [mimics Jason] “All memory of this pointless conversation will be erased in three, two one…”


And that's when things started to peter out. Nigel's newly-formed band (Yellow Fever And How To Die From It) would have been a big part of the plot, including some truly demented Beatles parodies amongst other things. The episode would end with Nigel's first big concert and his attempt to reconcile with his beloved Bernice...


[The stage is dark. The light snaps on, illuminating Harry and his drum kit. Before him, Nigel is silhouetted, facing away from the audience. As the music begins two more lights switch on, picking out Tegan, Jadi and Lucy. Nigel turns around, peers over his spectacles and then advances on the microphone.]

Nigel: I am the victor and I love to hear the crowd roar!
The sole survivor of a hundred Jekka Tatvi wars!
I’m the legend that shines, a one of a kind institution!
Don’t I fill you with love? I’m a miracle of EVOLUTION!

[The audience is loving it. They’re an instant hit.]

[Lots of audience members are shouting “I love you Nige!” and variations thereupon. A girl at the front offers up an animal cage containing a pet rabbit. Nigel takes it, eyeing it warily as he continues to sing.]

Nigel: I am the spectacle when love and power collide!
I make you feel the things you only dreamed of inside!

[The girl passes up a couple of framed portraits of Nigel, waving a lot as she does so. He puts down the rabbit cage and snatches up the paintings.]

Nigel: I’m the mystical sage for the Internet Age of Seduction!
I can take any heart because I’ve mastered the art of CORRUPTION!

[A small mini-fridge is moshed onto the stage. The girl waves. It’s from her. Rolling his eyes, Nigel opens the fridge and allows dry ice smoke to swirl out. The music builds to the chorus. Note: with every audience participation, the lights pulsate.]

Nigel: You know I’m the...

Audience: BIG N!

Nigel: When I’m burning with fire now!

Audience: BIG N!

Nigel: I got all you desire now!

Audience: BIG N!

Nigel: And I’ll do what I want to do!

[A lull in the singing. People are shouting and cheering on Nigel.]

All: [to the music] BIG N! ... BIG N! .... BIG N!

[Betty has climbed on stage and dances beside Nigel. She can’t dance. Nigel gets a bit embarrassed.]

Nigel: What am I?!

Audience: BIG N!

Nigel: I’ll be all that life can be!

Audience: BIG N!

Nigel: Oh, I’m a sociological fantasy!

Audience: BIG N!

Nigel: Or am I just a reflection of YOU?!?

[He points at the crowds. They go even wilder than before. Nigel looks at the rest of the band in a very cunning manner. Harry and the others nod. The rock music reaches a peak and cuts out. Nigel takes off his glasses and gives a hurt puppy dog look, like Jake in The Blues Brothers. The audience falls silent. His voice cracks as if in pain.]

Nigel: [broken] I’ve seen the light, now I want you all to hear...

[The music turns sad.]

Nigel: The story of a boy who’s ego has disappeared.

[He stumbles forward and collapses to his knees at the edge of the stage.]

Nigel: If you look at my face, you can see there’s a trace of confusion.

[In the crowd, Benny frowns in concern at this sudden change of mood. Nigel slumps forward, as if on the brink of collapse. The girls in the audience are now all crestfallen and sad. Nigel is weeping openly.]

Nigel: I’m out of control... and I’ve poisoned my soul... with delusion.

[Nigel meets his sister’s eyes. He’s in tears.]

Nigel: [miserably] You know I’m the Big N?
I’m burning with fire now?
Big N, I’m all you desire now?
Big N... and I’ll do...what I want to do.

[He starts to sob uncontrollably. On stage, Jadi and Tegan look a bit teary themselves. Betty and other groupies are all genuinely crying. Benny’s face softens at her brother’s obvious pain. Behind the performers, a big poster showing a photo of Old Nigel, Akiro, Kenji and Bernice has surreptitiously appeared, as if to show what Nigel has lost in some crude but effective emotional blackmail. The audience is now beginning to wail in despair. Nigel lifts his head and meets Benny’s eye.]

Nigel: [bitter] Big N? I’m bigger than life can be...
Big N? I’m NOT a rock and roll fantasy...
Big N... I’m just... a reflection...

[He points right at Benny. Everyone follows his pointed finger. Benny stares back sadly.]

Nigel: ...of you.

[Nigel sags, burnt out. The girls and groupies are weeping openly now. Arms are reaching out as if to embrace him, but they can’t reach. Benny, a tear in her eye, turns and runs off. Nigel heaves himself to his feet, exhausted. The crowds chant “Nigel! Nigel!”. The music gets more upbeat and Nigel shambles off stage, refusing to look back.]


Alas, this would all go somewhat pear-shaped when the epic finale to the concert was unwittingly gatecrashed by Andrew who equally unwittingly knocked Nigel unconscious and very-wittingly-indeed had to temporarily become lead singer for the band and conclude it with an Ozzy Osborne tribute involving a pigeon that would leave him forever known to the student body as "Maddog". In the next episode, Nigel would confront the returning loon...


[Nigel strides into the area, looking for the others. Andrew sits on the steps, swigging from a small bottle of VB, looking bored.]

Nigel: Hey. You. Whatever your name is. You seen Betty and the others?

[Andrew has a “give me strength” expression.]

Nigel: What are you doing anyway, you hobgoblin? Drinking alcohol on school property.

Andrew: Just toasting the departed.

[He offers Nigel the bottle. Nigel eyes it with distaste.]

Nigel: ...it’s empty.

Andrew: Well, there are a LOT of departed to toast, aren’t there?

Nigel: You know, you scruffy troll, you could get suspended for drunk and disorderly behavior.

Andrew: Ah, but the bottle – as you so clearly said – is empty. Where’s the proof I drank it?

Nigel: What? You wander around carrying empty beer bottles?

Andrew: They do turn up with alarming frequency, yes.

Nigel: Oh, an alcoholic. Just what the new intake needs.

Andrew: Nothing wrong with a good drink, friend, it warms the mind, clears the constitution and strengthens the blood. And, between you and me, it is GREAT for forgetting things. [curious] Do you have bad dreams?

Nigel: Only about being stuck outside the music department talking to the dregs of society. Look, you can stay here coming up with new and interesting reasons to justify your drinking.

Andrew: Don’t judge my nightmares till you’ve lived them, mate.

Nigel: Oh god, nightmares aren’t real, you moron. They’re hallucinatory phenomena you experience when asleep. You don’t live through them, no one lives through them. And have we met before? There’s something about your never-ending stream of self-pitying garbage that strikes a chord in memory.

Andrew: It is true, young man. We have met before.

Nigel: Oh?

Andrew: Yeah. You owe me fifty bucks.

Nigel: Bullshit!

[Nigel storms off. Andrew takes another bottle out and starts drinking it.]

Andrew: Not my fault if he can’t remember it, is it?


And on September 11th, Nigel loses his virginity to his principal betrayer in a home ecs storeroom as the rest of the school dissolves into panic:


Simone: You don’t want to die a virgin, do you?

Nigel: I could ask you the same question. Look, I’m flattered but... well, I don’t particularly want to get blood all over my clothes...

Simone: Jeez. What pornos have YOU been watching?

Nigel: [absolutely serious] You don’t want to know. Hang on, you’re saying you’re not a virgin?

Simone: Not technically.

Nigel: “Not technically”? How the hell does that work?

Simone: Well, let’s just say between some extreme horse riding, a few fights and a slightly paranoid gynecologist, you ain’t got anything to worry about. I was deflowered ages ago.

Nigel: Oh. Odd how you never hear about things like that in the media.

Simone: Yeah, that stupid Afghanistan business really pushed the truth about hymens off the front pages. We gonna do this thing or what?

Nigel: Simone! Honestly! Do you think that I am so shallow, so consumed by baser instincts that I have no morals or principles left? Do you really think I’d find a quick squelchy session in a supply cupboard with my closest companion over my invaluable culinary education in home economics?

Simone: ...yes. Yes I do.

Nigel: Well, you’re absolutely damn right!

Simone: You got any condoms on you?

Nigel: Live fast, die young and don’t worry about STDs, that’s my motto.

[They duck into the cupboard. Sounds of lustful bonking emerge.]

Simone: [VO/gasps] I think I’m gonna have a heart attack!

Nigel: [VO] Ow!

Simone: [VO] Sorry!

Nigel: [VO] That’s my hair, Simone! Dammit, move your arm...

Simone: [VO] Oh, come on, how many elbows and knees do you have?

Nigel: [VO] What do you think I am, an Olympic gymnast? It’s pitch dark in here!

Simone: [VO] Fine, gimme your hand.

Nigel: [VO] What? Why? [startled] Ah! Oh... wow... I hope we don’t need any lube...

[A strange farting noise.]

Nigel: [VO] What the?

Simone: [VO] Sorry. It’s all this... twisting... into position...

Nigel: [VO] Oh, phew. I thought it was just me.

[A loud burp.]

Simone: [VO] ...well, someone had scrambled eggs for breakfast.

[Simone cries out. A few moments later Nigel screams very loudly. A long pause.]

Nigel: [VO] THAT’S! MY! FOOT!!!!

Simone: [VO/dazed] Sor-reeeee.

[There are some rather nasty sticky noises.]

Simone: [VO] Oh, that is disgusting!

Nigel: [VO] What are you on about? YOU’RE the one farting out of the wrong place!

Simone: [VO] And who’s fault is that?

Nigel: [VO] “Fault”? “FAULT”? First you fail to cry out “Hump me again, potent sex machine” at ANY point, now you’re bringing fault into it!

[Finally the door barges open and Nigel and Simone stagger out, hitching up their pants and smoothing down their dress respectively. Both are very flushed and sweaty.]

Nigel: Wh... where you off to?

Simone: Cleaning up, dumbo.

Nigel: No nice post-coital shower? Oh well. Uh... yeah... keep in touch.

Simone: Will do. [sotto] If I get a urinary tract infection.

[Nigel clearly heard that.]

Nigel: Who said romance was dead?

[Nigel stumbles into the classroom where Jason is doing the washing up.]

Jason: Why do you smell like... [sniffs] strawberries and [sniffs twice] beansprouts?

Nigel: Jason... your immature mind would not be able to grasp the concept.

Jason: [shrugs] Probably.


Unfortunately, Simone has no interests in any long-term relationships and dumps Nigel in public to the music of Al Johnson. (Yes, I had been watching a lot of Glee at the time...)


Nigel: What are you saying?

[Suddenly music begins to play. Chamber stands behind Nigel while Doctor Spoon stands behind Simone.]

Doctor Spoon: On her way to work one morning, down the path along side the lake...

Chamber: A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half frozen snake!

Simone: [mocking] His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew!

Nigel: "Oh well,"

Chamber: ...she cried...

Nigel: "I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you"

Doctor Spoon: She wrapped him up, all cozy, in a curvature of silk!

Chamber: And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk!

Doctor Spoon: Now she hurried home from work that night...

Chamber: As soon as she arrived...

Doctor Spoon: She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived!

[Simone walks over to Nigel and wraps her arms around his neck.]

Chamber: Now she clutched him to her bosom!

Nigel: "You’re so beautiful!"

Chamber: ...she cried.

Nigel: "But if I hadn’t brought you in
By now you might have died!"

Doctor Spoon: Now she stroked his pretty skin again...

[Simone strokes Nigel’s cheek, then kisses him passionately.]

Chamber: ...and then she kissed and held him tight!

Doctor Spoon: But instead of saying “thanks”...

Both: ...that snake gave her a vicious b—

[Simone knees Nigel in the bollocks, and he doubles over with a scream. Doctor Spoon and Chamber.]

Simone: [laughs] "Oh please, take me in, oh tender woman
Take me in, for heaven's sake
Take me in oh tender woman!"

Both: ...sssssighed the sssssnake.

Nigel: "I saved you!"

Chamber: ...cried that woman.

Nigel: "And you’ve bit me even, why?
And you KNOW your bite is poisonous!
And now I’m going to die!"

Simone: "Oh shut up, silly woman!"

Doctor Spoon: ...said that reptile with a grin.

Simone: "You knew damn well I was a snake
BEFORE you took me in!"

[The song ends.]

Simone: Got the picture now?

Nigel: [almost cries] Oh, Simone.

Simone: Are you gonna cry?

Nigel: [sniffs] Yes! I am! You actually think... you went around believing... [not crying anymore] I gave a tinker’s cuss about you? Simmy, I was a virgin before I met you and I’m not entirely sure if I’m not any more, given you are SUCH a bad shag it might not actually count! Good grief, woman, you have the sexual allure and prowess of a giant panda! By which I mean something so ugly and unattractive it couldn’t get a decent bonk even when the survival of the entire species depended on it! Simone, I’m tempted to rob a bank and get sent to jail and made the bitch of a giant Maori called “Bubba” into farmyard animals JUST to get some better sexual experiences than your over-lubricated fart-filled rutting! YOU COULD CONVERT GAYS! By which I mean making sure they STAY gay! HAH!

[Simone is speechless, devastated.]

Nigel: See you on the way down, you harlot.


With his sister getting a boyfriend, Nigel's libidio starts to boil his brain in his skull and he begins an epic quest to seduce every girl in Year 12. You can read the first half elsewhere on this blog if you can be arsed to look, and after the incident involving Nigel's crotch, Andrew and the scalpel, events continue...


[Nigel is glumly climbing a flight of steps onto a walkway. The crotch of his pants is clearly ripped open. Tegan is coming down the walkway in the opposite direction.]

Tegan: What the hell happened to you? Or maybe “who”?

[Nigel looks her up and down.]

Nigel: [thoughtful] Fancy being that “who”, girl. I’ve satisfied several chicks at this school and I could do the same for you...

Tegan: What? Nigel. You’re not my type.

Nigel: You’re not being racist, are you?

Tegan: Sexist, really. I’m into people with ovaries.

Nigel: Oh.

Tegan: Didn’t you notice the way my girlfriend picks up after school?

Nigel: Well... yes. But to be honest, I tend to think such thoughts whenever girls get together... it’s rather a surprise to find out it’s not just my imagination. Look...

[He follows her into an empty classroom.]

Nigel: Oh, come on, Jovanka! Look at this way: you’ll be able to reaffirm your sexuality.

Tegan: You mean, you’ll put me off men for life?

Nigel: Maybe. What have you got to lose?

Tegan: I’m not getting pregnant like Phoebe.

[Nigel holds out packets of condoms like a magician with a ‘pick-a-card’ trick.]

Nigel: Of course not. That fetish is for another time. Trust me.

Tegan: No way.

Nigel: All right, forget the trust. Come on, girl. Don’t tell me you don’t get as horny as every other teenager in this school? I mean, insult my seduction skills but never my intelligence... [sotto] You got an itch I am more than willing to scratch.

[Tegan smiles but shakes her head.]

Nigel: Look at it this way. If I’m complete crap, you’ll be able to tell everyone and ruin my reputation forever.

Tegan: Wow. You’re confident aren’t you?

Nigel: I was born confident. I assume.

[Tegan pushes him against the teacher’s desk and straddles him. Nigel grunts in pain.]

Nigel: [pained] You, uh... are one solid lady.

Tegan: Too much for you to handle?

Nigel: [without effort] You tell me. Is this rampant sexual desire I see before me?

[Tegan kisses him. Eventually Nigel comes up for air.]

Nigel: Is that a yes?

[She pushes him back onto the desk. He cracks his head on the chair.]

Nigel: AGH! Tegan, if I’m not conscious this could count as rape...

[Tegan kisses him again. His hands flail around, trying to pull down her pants.]

[Study room in the library. Andrew, still in a bad mood, is flipping through a text book. Maurice, Katy, Dave and Aileen are present.]

Andrew: ...and then I walked out.

Dave: You attacked each other with art scalpels.

Andrew: Yeah, but only when words proved inadequate.

Aileen: You could get expelled if the teachers find out.

Andrew: Yeah, because it’s not like I’ll be leaving school this year anyway, is it?

Dave: Um, yeah, maybe we should get on to physics...

Andrew: Very well. Angle of incident equals angle of reflection.

Katy: Right, and that means?

Maurice: It means laser beams bounce off mirrors, doesn’t it?

Katy: Well, sort of. The point is that...

[A square plate of ceiling suddenly falls loose and slams into the middle of the table, startling everyone. A worried cry and then Harry drops out of the gap in the ceiling and lands on the table as well.]

Harry: [lamely] Surprise!

Katy: Harry! How the hell did you do that?

Harry: Air vents, people, air vents. I was in the next study room, got a bit bored, and it turns out the inspection hatches aren’t even locked or anything.

Maurice: Wow. Like secret passages?

Andrew: I have GOT to try that!

[Andrew climbs onto the table and tries to haul himself up into the ceiling.]

Dave: But what about study?

Andrew: [halfway into the ceiling] I am studying! Six years and I never suspected this was here! This is much more interesting! If only Tegan was here to see this...

Aileen: Yeah, where is she, anyway?

[Tegan emerges from the classroom, straightening her clothes. Nigel follows, looking far more ragged and with a few bruises.]

Nigel: [out of breath] Converting a lesbian... that’s seven year’s good luck, you know?

Tegan: [slightly dazed] Didn’t convert me.

Nigel: You enjoyed it. [groans] I have the compound fractures to prove it.

Tegan: So? I enjoy rides at Wonderland. Doesn’t mean I want to live on a roller coaster, does it?

Nigel: I dunno. [exhausted] Not sure I care. Still, as long as I am greater than or equal to sitting on a washing machine, I’m cool.

Tegan: Yeah, you’re about the same.

Nigel: Oh good. [blinks] You do the sitting-on-a-washing-machine thing?

Tegan: It’s about as humiliating as sitting on you.

Nigel: Oh, please, Julie McCrossin, I only have so many ribs. [groans] Do you have concrete implants in those boobs of yours or what?

[Tegan shifts awkwardly.]

Tegan: I haven’t got any complaints before.

Nigel: Yeah, washing machines aren’t noted for their conversational skill. Still, I suppose a washing machine is good practice for having a girlfriend.

[Tegan cracks her knuckles.]

Tegan: Do go on.

[Nigel looks nervously at her.]

Nigel: Well, you’ve got to treat them with respect. Don’t overload them. And always watch out for the dodgy part of their cycle.

[Tegan stares at him for a long moment. Nigel smirks and breaks up in laughter. So does Tegan. His laughter fades as he sees, for a split-second, Benny beside him.]

[Recess bell rings. Nigel is skipping down some steps as he passes a girls’ toilet and sees three pretty girls emerging. With a grin, he approaches them.]

[Study rooms in the library. Nigel sits with his feet on a desk, hands behind his head, looking incredibly pleased with himself. Betty sits beside him in a more conservative pose.]

Betty: Five girls? Just today?!?

Nigel: All before lunchtime. Including a threesome. It’s like the old Stranglers’ song, Betty.

Betty: Peaches?

Nigel: Wha—no! Not Peaches! The other one.

Betty: Which one?

Nigel: [sings] This is the story of a poor man’s son! He pulled himself up, turned his face the sun! He burned up the world with a heart of fire and tempted the stars when they hid their light! Now everyone wants to touch the golden boy! Now everyone wants to touch the golden boy! Doo-doo, doo-do-doo! Doo-doo, doo-do-doo! Everyone wants to touch, everyone wants to suck, everyone wants to...

[He trails off at stares longingly at Betty.]

Nigel: ...wants to?

Betty: Oh yeah.

[Nigel kisses her. She kisses back. He slides a hand under her shirt and she presses closer to him. Both topple off their chairs and onto the floor.]

[In the next study room, Andrew is reading “The Mysteries of the Unexplained” when the sound of screwing in the next room filters through the thin curtain wall.]

Betty: [vo] Oh Nige... OH!

[Andrew scowls, closes the book and starts to climb onto the table.]

Betty: [gasps] Oh god!

Nigel: [vo] Don’t give him the credit, this is all me!

[Andrew rips open the ceiling inspection hatch and heaves himself up into the ceiling. In the dusty darkness, he shuffles on his elbows as Betty moans for a very long time. He finds another hatch and lifts it up, then leans forward to stick his head through. Betty squeaks in surprise as she sees him glaring at her and Nigel having sex.]

Andrew: [pleasantly] Yes, Elizabeth, we’re all VERY pleased you’ve got into Club d’Amore, but while you’re checking your inhibitions at the door, will you for the love of god just SHUT UP?!

Nigel: [over his shoulder] Piss off, Maddog! We’re busy!

Andrew: So am I – and it’s not on another adolescent embarrassment that will be so bad in years to come you’ll have to repress it just to get out of bed in the morning.

Nigel: Bugger off, you bastard!

Andrew: See, Bets? THIS is who you chose to have a defining moment of your life with. Remember that.

[But nevertheless, he rises back into the ceiling and scrabbles through the shadows.]

Andrew: [to himself] Now, which way is the Common Room?

[He skids to a halt as something seems to block the path ahead. After a moment, a light comes on – Andrew’s flicked on his cigarette lighter. A severed sheep’s head sits in a puddle of dried blood. Andrew stares at it for a long moment.]

Andrew: [friendly] Hello!

[Back in the study room, Nigel and Betty are sitting on the floor, backs to the wall, both sweaty and flushed.]

Betty: [panting] Hold my hand... don’t leave me...

[He gives her a surprised look and shrugs.]

Nigel: If you want. Man. It sure gets hot in these study rooms, doesn’t it?

Betty: [shakes head] It’s like I’ve been electrocuted in all the right places. [awkward] I think you should know... that was my first time.

Nigel: [dryly] I’d never have guessed.

Betty: Really?

[He winks at her and she smiles. Then she sighs.]

Betty: Oh. I was sort of, well, saving myself...

Nigel: I had no idea. I just thought you were playing hard to get.

[She laughs weakly and rests her head on his shoulder.]

[Near a gated side exit to the school, Doctor Spoon and Chamber are present. The former is sipping a milkshake, the latter listening to a discman.]

Doctor Spoon: You hear Verkoff has started sleeping with every girl in Year 12?

Chamber: Yup. Only the ones he thinks are hot, though.

Doctor Spoon: Oh. Guess that cuts the number down a bit.

Chamber: Yeah, not as impressive a claim when you think about.

Doctor Spoon: I know. This school isn’t half as interesting as people make it out to be.

[Suddenly above the stairwell nearby, a ventilation grille pops loose and out tumbles Andrew, somersaulting down the steps to land sprawled at their feet, clutching a severed sheep’s head. Spluttering, Andrew self-consciously gets to his feet, dusts himself down, snatches up the severed head and walks off with much dignity. Doctor Spoon and Chamber exchange troubled looks.]

Chamber: Why do you SAY things like that? Honestly, Rupert, what do you really THINK is going to happen when you say them?


Nigel eventually ends up with a certain girl called Gabrielle who ends up sharing his bed rather than a convenient hiding hole in the school:


[Nigel lies in bed with Gabby, who looks even more dazed and ragged than usual.]

Gabby: [flushed] Oh God... that... that felt great... I can’t... I...

Nigel: [weary] Uh-huh. Electric ecstasy enveloping your whole body, feels like hot wax poured onto your girly-parts. Don’t waste your breath looking for more superlatives.

Gabby: I didn’t understand a single word of that.

Nigel: [sighs] You don’t have to tell me how good I am, babe. I already know.

Gabby: Oh. Cool. [beat] How was I?

Nigel: Fantastic. Incredible. Now stop talking, you’ll ruin the moment.

Gabby: You don’t like talking after?

Nigel: It’s just I like to have intelligent conversations. And I know you don’t.

Gabby: [thoughtfully] That’s true. Do you want me to go now?

Nigel: Well... I dunno... up to you. I guess.

Gabby: I don’t mind.

Nigel: [awkward] I don’t mind either. This is, well, the first time I’ve had a girl round my place.

Gabby: [looks around] It’s nice.

Nigel: [blinks] Yeah. Yeah, it IS nice. I suppose. Never really noticed. You, um, wanna stay for dinner? Best Chinese takeaway this side of the Newtown festival...

Gabby: Only if, you know, it’s no trouble.

Nigel: [firmly] No trouble.

Gabby: I should probably get a shower first though...

Nigel: No hassle. Bathroom just down the hall.

Gabby: You wanna show me where?

Nigel: [frowns] You think you’d get lost?

Gabby: Maybe. [playful] Maybe I want to spend more time with you.

Nigel: Sarcasm ill-becomes you, Gabrielle. [beat] You’re NOT being sarcastic are you?

Gabby: [shrugs] I don’t think so.

[Hallway. Nigel and Gabby, both wearing kimonos – in the latter’s case, rather ill-fitting – sneak over to the bathroom door.]

Gabby: I don’t want anyone to go in while I’m in the shower.

Nigel: No sweat. I’ll keep guard.

Gabby: You sure?

Nigel: [reproving] Promise.

[Nigel opens the door. Gabby kisses him on the cheek and hops through. Nigel touches his cheek, trying to wrap his brain around the concept. There is the sound of water within the bathroom.]

Gabby: [vo] Gumboots, they are wonderful! Gumboots, they are swell!
Coz they keep out the water, and they keep in the smell.
And when you’re sitting round at home, you can always tell
When one of the troops has taken off his gumboots!

[Nigel laughs at her exuberant singing, then notices Benny standing further down the hall, disapproving.]

Bernice: Hey.

Nigel: Hey.

Bernice: Do you even know her name?

Nigel: What do you mean?

Bernice: Everyone’s heard about you sleeping your way through your school.

Nigel: Everyone’s stupid. There’s no “sleeping” involved. All parties are VERY much awake.

Bernice: Oh, don’t be disgusting!

Nigel: I don’t comment on YOUR sex life, Bernice, do I?

Bernice: There’s nothing to comment on!

Nigel: [surprised] Seriously? So you and him haven’t...

Bernice: I’m not discussing this!

Nigel: You’re still...

Bernice: SHUT UP!

[Nigel stares at her for a long moment, awed.]

Nigel: You know, I’ve just realized something. I haven’t thought about you ONCE today.

Bernice: Is that meant to be an insult?

[She storms off before Nigel can reply.]

Nigel: She’s still a virgin. And yet, somehow, I’m not really interested any more...

[A beat.]

Nigel: [shakes his head] I need a drink.


After yet another song, Nigel confesses his love:


Nigel: Gabbs... You see before you a natural orator caught short for once....

Gabby: Um, can you speak English?

Nigel: Yeah. Sure. I guess I DO get a bit pretentious. So. Gabbs. I love you. I mean... no, that’s it. I love you. Honestly. I’ve done it with plenty of girls, and I’ll probably do it with plenty more. But none of them made me happy like you do. Fantastic, supreme, dynamo sex, yeah... but not happy. See, a while ago, there was this girl and... long story short she broke my heart with a Peter Weir film. And I’ve never really been happy since. Until I met you. You make me look forward to things. To tomorrow, even when nothing special’s happening. I would be honored if you would be my girlfriend.

Gabby: Really?

Nigel: Really. You might not be in the top education band and get a headache at the mere thought of soduku, but you’re not an idiot. And I’ll never treat you like an idiot. Promise.

Gabby: And I promise to keep you happy.

Nigel: You know what? No one has EVER even OFFERED that before. You are awesome.

[They embrace.]


And as the final term begins:


[Nigel stands on stage, addressing the assembled student body.]

Nigel: Utopia. A world without borders. Without wars. And contained solely in science fiction, because we live in a world without a central global government. There’s no New World Order around, no matter what those unmarked helicopters are doing to mutilate cattle. Because if there had been, the destruction of the twin towers wouldn’t have happened.

[Some bored yawns from the audience.]

Nigel: Pay attention! The United States of America has been in a state of emergency since 1933 – and that means that legally they can go against their own constitution whenever they need to. Free speech? Ownership of property? Individual rights? They could all be taken away like that [snaps fingers] if the US Senate wanted to. They still can turn USA into the biggest police state with no warning today. Pity they didn’t do that on September 10th, though, isn’t it? Yeah, big mistake, George W.

[Looks of confusion amongst the students.]

Nigel: Now, the political parties of this wide brown land have been against Big Brother world police crushing the people. But the government can get things wrong, you know. Not even teachers are perfect. And we have all been given a little reminder of that fact. There are corners of the global village that have bred the most terrible things, things that act against everything Australia believes in. They’ve turned against the weaknesses of Western Civilization, turned to the strength of terrorism. No pain, no emotion, no humanity, the ultimate enemy. All Kawayder, as I understand it’s called. [deep breath] Thus, in the interests of Home Land Security, the Student Representative Council will, from this day forth, be held accountable to a new body to be lead by none other than myself. I call this new organization... The Happiness Patrol!

[From either side of the stage come Patrol Members – ordinary schoolkids except they have jackets like an American football team, with an NV’s Happiness Patrol logo on the back. Four of them stand at the front of the stage, glaring out at the assembly. More emerge from the doors on either side of the stage and advance down the aisles. The student body exchange worried looks.]

Nigel: Remain in your seats everyone. The Happiness Patrol are here for your safety. We recognize the rights of all Australian citizens, and are more than willing to take them away should it be necessary, in order to protect the rights of the majority. Some might call this a dictatorship, a perversion of everything that has made this country great. I say to them... [grins] “tough”.

[HPMs stalk through the rows of chairs. Another dozen of them take up guarding positions by the exits. All of them have stern expressions on their faces.]

Nigel: The decision has been made. You must hope it was not the wrong decision.

[Nigel lets out a crazy-scary laugh. No one else looks happy.]

[Nigel’s bedroom at Benny’s place. Nigel and Gabby are lying on the bed, fully clothes for once.]

Nigel: [philosophically] Oh well, the whole reign of terror lasted a lot longer than I expected.

Gabby: Yep. Three whole hours.

Nigel: Yeah, kind of amazed they let me get that far. Never mind. I’m still on top of the game. In the perfect position to get Benny away from that half-blind orangutan. And if I don’t, I’ve got one hell of a good second place holder?

Gabby: [confused] Who?

[Nigel stares at her.]

Nigel: You, Gabs. You may be my second choice, but that’s better than anyone else has managed.

[She snuggles up to him.]

Gabby: Cool. You know what they say – zero the hero, first the worst, second the best...

Both: [together] ...third’s the one with the hairy chest.

[They laugh.]

Both: If it weren’t for your gumboots, where would you be?
You’d be in the hospital or infirmary!
Coz you would have a dose of the flu (or even pleurisy)
If you didn’t have your feet in your gumboots!


NEXT TIME

NIGEL: So huge. So helpless. So say all of us!


And then the first episode of The Youth of Australia from Nigel's POV:


ACT NINE – VOODOO CHILD

[It is a peaceful morning over the school. The sun rises above the trees. The birds sing the dawn chorus. Students are slowly but surely turning up. In the distance, Toto’s “Africa” can faintly be heard from inside the gymnasium. Getting louder. Suddenly, the double doors to the gym are smashed apart as Wynona hurtles through them and crash-lands in the middle of the courtyard, DTF-style. School-kids either run for their lives or watch in awe as the doors open and Nigel emerges. He is is wearing a necklace saying WESTSIDE over his normal uniform. Jason stumbles out of the back, as does Betty.]

Nigel: Six LONG years I’ve been waiting to do that!

[The gathered students start to laugh and applaud.]

Nigel: See, you two? It was totally worth the six hours needed to set this up.

[They close the doors and wander off, leaving the car in the middle of the school.]

Nigel: Ah, the last Monday I shall ever see at this school! Tuesday Muck-Up Day, Wednesday the ceremony, Thursday the sign-out and then beyond the outskirts of infinity and into the shadowlands!

Jason: And then the HSC.

Nigel: Don’t bother me with facts when I’m in denial, Betty.

[Simone approaches them.]

Simone: When the principal sees Wynona parked there, she’s going to lose it.

Nigel: All part of my plan to break her down psychologically.

Simone: You really think you can get a snog off her in front of the whole school?

Nigel: Indeed I do. And when I do I expect everyone to pay up.

Simone: [smug] We’ll never have to!

Nigel: Ah, what do YOU know? [yawns and stretches] So, Simone. Fancy one last shag on a routine school day?

Simone: No. I’m remaining faithful to Brian.

Nigel: Brian. Yeah. Sure. You sure that’s not just your pet name for some vibrating sex toy?

Simone: Piss off.

Nigel: I’ve never seen this Brian. Have you, Jason?

Jason: I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Did that count?

Nigel: Not really, Jason. The only bits of the film you understood were about the killer rabbit. So, what’s on the agenda today?

Betty: Well, the Yearbooks are ready, apparently. We get them all in the common room.

Nigel: Then let us go.

[As Spiderbait’s “Sunshine on the Window” plays, the Happiness Patrol stride into the Common Room. There is a table set up covered in books. Everyone is present. Nigel strides over to the table and snaps his fingers. He is meekly handed one. Nigel eyes it and then assumes a sexy pose on the table, turning to address the whole common room.]

Nigel: Well, now... isn’t this nice? Alright, enough pleasantries. [shouts] Step right up, don’t be shy! Any of you ladies interesting in leaving a phone number and a quick comment? The table’s open already! Come one, come all, just come!

[Katy approaches, holding out a book.]

Katy: Why, hello Nigella. I’d be more than happy to sign your yearbook for you.

[She takes a pen, writes something quick, then moves away.]

Nigel: [grins] And what has the lovely lady graced my pages with? A poem? A romantic ballad? [reads what she wrote] WHAT THE FU... [composes himself] Oh, a dirty mind! I like that kind of spunk in m’lady!

[He growls seductively.]

Nigel: It’s always the quiet ones. Maybe I can do HER before Wednesday...

Simone: Have you seen your photo yet?

Nigel: Please, baby, patience is a virtue. [checks the book] There, they’ve... Hey, check it out – you’re blinking! [laughs] They got you blinking!

Simone: [grabs book] No, not possible... [humiliated] Christ on a bike!

Nigel: What did they do for me?

Tegan: A full page special.

Nigel: Ooh! Nice!

[He turns to a page marked NIGEL VERKOFF, S.S.C, H.S.C, S.H.I.T. The picture is of a pit bull terrier vomiting. Nigel’s expression fades into a cold, tense mask.]

Nigel: THIS... IS... AN... OUTRAGE!!!!

Andrew: [loudly] Yes, I don’t think it entirely does you justice. A bucket of anal pig slop, now that’s what I should have put in the yearbook.

[Nigel swivels to stare at Andrew, speechless with rage.]

Nigel: You just have to ruin everything, don’t you? I thought you had your own life to screw up, or do you get some kind of sadistic thrill going after your betters!

Andrew: Nigel, please, there are things that won’t flush down the toilet that I respect more than you.

Nigel: Well, hoo-bloody-hooray! The fact remains that this time next year you will be the completely forgotten nobody with no friends, life, fame or fortune who would most likely have died in the gutters of Ashfield if it weren’t for me – while I am supremely elevated to higher and more powerful positions in this stunted society that we call Australian democracy! Why don’t you take a hint from Dave and jump off the roof, end it all so apart from anything else we’re spared the stench!

[Andrew is silent.]

Nigel: Well? What have you got to say to that?

[Andrew is about to reply when they hear Jadi shout and both turn to see what’s happening.]

Jadi: [excited] WOO-HOO! GIRL-FIGHT!

[Simone is looming over Phoebe and Dave, who are sitting on a couch.]

Simone: When I want the opinion of a bloated, hormonal brood-horse, I’ll ask for it, redhead!

[Andrew wanders over. Jadi turns to Nigel.]

Nigel: [reads the cover] School Motto... “Watch out! The Mad Bastard’s Got A Knife!” I think they’re talking about you there, Jason. [flips pages] What is this filth?! “Two pensioners on a nature ramble found Verkoff during the act and were not deterred by his cries of ‘Look, there’s a cabbage-white butterfly’. The police were called and bail has been refused. ‘They should bring back hanging,’ said an official of the jockey club of Western Australia...”

Jadi: Maddog is in charge of writing all that crap in the yearbook.

Nigel: [arches eyebrow] I didn’t think you’d care.

Jadi: Oh, I care all right! He’s dubbed me as a fundamentalism Islamic suicide bomber – the moment my parents read that I am completely screwed!

Nigel: Well, we can screw HIM completely first. Get the paper towel holder!

Jadi: My pleasure, Verkoff.

[Jadi heads off.]

Jason: What are we doing, my liege?

Nigel: Finally putting that hobo out of MY misery.

[Meanwhile, Andrew has finished chatting to Simone who turns and runs out of the common room, covering her ears with her hands. Jadi grabs Andrew’s arm and holds the vaguely-knife-shaped paper towel holder to Andrew’s throat.]

Nigel: Well, Pitbull, I’m not exactly... thrilled with how you’ve presented me in the yearbook. I demand a reprint!

Andrew: Well, [shrugs] I want world peace, Nige...

Nigel: I want a new yearbook. I am not satisfied with this publication.

Andrew: [smiles] And what would you like me to change?

Jadi: A complete rewrite of my page.

Andrew: Oh, you want more Terrorism stuff? Sure.

Jadi: No, wait...

Andrew: Look, they’ve all been handed out. There’s nothing I can do and even if there was something I can do – which there isn’t – I wouldn’t tell you there was something I can do because if, by some miracle, you found out that there was something I can do I wouldn’t do it!

Nigel: Either you fix every last one of these year-books, dingo, or I start getting... unfriendly.

Andrew: [laughs in his face] So this is you friendly, is it?

Nigel: [snaps] That’s it, Labrador! Let’s take a walk.

[Jadi and Jason drag Andrew to the door. Nigel follows. The students rise and head for the windowed walls as they see the group walk out onto the sloping roof.]

Jason: [conversationally] I’m really terribly impressed, Jadi, I thought you hated heights.

Jadi: [pale] I do, but I hate what my parents will do to me even more!

Andrew: You must surely admire the irony. Last week you were trying to stop a guy jumping off the roof, now you’re going to be the one pushing him off...

[They reach the edge.]

Nigel: Now. Last chance. Change the yearbook or learn to fly.

Andrew: I can’t.

Nigel: Pity. Push him over.

[Effortlessly, Andrew suddenly breaks free, knees Jadi in the groin, so he falls on top of Jason. Furious, Nigel turns and decks Andrew right on the jaw. Andrew simply falls backwards. Nigel squeals like a girl as he drops out of sight and fearfully looks over the edge – Andrew’s crumpled body lies on the ground far below. Nigel whimpers and runs back into the common room, having soiled himself.]

Nigel: [horrified] Oh my god! I killed the nutter! Days before the HSC I’m a murderer with only stunning good looks and incredibly fascinating sexual history to my name... I WANT MY MUM!

[He dives under the table, hugs his knees to his chest and starts rocking back and forth.]

Nigel: [singing to himself] Aint got much but I got time... gonna leave you all behind...

[Fade to black.]

[Fade up. Nigel’s still in the fetal position under the table, singing and hugging himself.]

Nigel: Laughing but the joke’s on you... you think you know me, don’t you? When you see what I can do, you’ll realize the joke’s on you...

[Pull across to see Betty’s kneeling beside him.]

Betty: Nige, please, come on. It’s home time. Maddog’s alive. He had a trampoline, it was all a prank.

Nigel: Yes... yes... that’s what we’ll tell the police... yes. What else do we have to do?

[Nigel, composed again, now stands outside the school, snatching yearbooks from Jadi and Dave, ripping out the “full-page shot” and returning the books to them.]

Nigel: Sorry about the inconvenience, but my signature has made these books all the more rarer and sought-after collector’s items. Know that we meet and rejoice.

[He turns as Gabby approaches. He takes her yearbook, tears out a page and signs the book. They head for the carpark.]

Gabby: I missed you baby.

Nigel: Everyone does, Gabs, everyone does.

Gabby: Can I see what you’ve written?

Nigel: [hands her the book] It’s worth waiting for, sexy thing.

[Gabby tries to read Nigel’s atrocious handwriting.]

"Gabrielle... Have... a... goo... good... Christmas..." and a kind of a question mark. Oh, It’s a smiley face. [annoyed] Oh, Nigel! This is our first and last yearbook together! When I show this yearbook to my grandchildren I want them to see just how close we were!

[Nigel is unlocking Wynona. He freezes.]

Nigel: GRANDCHILDREN?!?! [calm] Oh. I can do that.

[He takes the yearbook, writes, and hands it back to her and as she reads it, he dives into the car, slams the door and starts the engine.]

Gabby: You just replaced the smiley face with some kisses! [dreamy] How romantic.

[She turns as Nigel drives out of the car park.]

Nigel: Sorry, Gabs, got to help Benny pick a dress for her graduation ceremony. You can walk home.

Gabby: Walk?!

Nigel: Yeah. Hopefully that will have got this breeding urge out of your head by the time you get home.

Gabby: [shocked] And then what?

Nigel: No idea. We’ll probably screw like rabbits. Ciao.

[He revs Wynona until he’s doing a burn-out and hurtles out of sight.]

[In a shopping centre, Benny and Nigel are approaching a clothes shop.]

Benny: You don’t really need to go to all this trouble, Nige.

Nigel: No, you’ve been the best sister a guy could ask for. Especially with me gatecrashing your swinging bachelorette pad. You don’t even complain about Gabby making stupid loud noises.

Benny: Your sex life is your own business.

Nigel: [laughs] Sex? I was talking about her normal conversation.

[She laughs.]

[Inside, Nigel is idly pacing as Benny enters a changing booth.]

[He notices a row of underwear, picks up a pair of panties and examines them with a jeweler’s eye glass.]

Nigel: [humming] Will they ever share the answer of legend, tales and time gone by?

[A booth opens and Katy emerges wearing a green dress and looks sadly at her reflection.]

Katy: I couldn’t be more ugly if I tried. This should be burned.

Nigel: Preferably with you in it!

Katy: Nigel? What the hell are you doing here?

Nigel: Benny’s getting a dress.

Katy: Another one?

Nigel: [confidentially] Ah, but his time I’m paying. She’ll have to sleep with me then.

Katy: Dude... she’s your sister!

Nigel: Step-sister. I’ve checked The Plain Man’s Guide to Church Law on wikipedia. They can’t touch me. Sweet, sweet candy!

[Benny emerges from the changing room wearing a very sophisticated black dress.]

Benny: This is great to wear around the house.

Nigel: You betcha. How much?

Benny: A grand and a half.

Nigel: ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS FOR A PIECE OF FABRIC!!! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND? HAS YOUR BRAIN BEEN SURGICALLY REMOVED FROM YOUR SKULL, BATHED IN PALMOLIVE DISHWASHING FLUID, LEFT FESTERING IN THE SUN FOR THREE DAYS AND THEN PUT BACK IN YOUR HEAD THE WRONG WAY ROUND? ARE YOU COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY INSANE?!! A GRAND AND A HALF? A FUCKING GRAND AND A FUCKING HALF FUCKING BUCKS?!?!?

[Beat.]

Nigel: Did I say that out loud? Sorry, I mean, “it’s worth it”. After all, like the sign says, ‘What’s hot now?’

Katy: Judging by the pictures, I’d say bulimia.

Nigel: Yes, just what are you doing here, January? Are you here with a suitable adult, or maybe just an invisible friend?

Katy: No, I’m here with the police, looking for you in regards to throwing a student off the roof of the high school.

Nigel: SHIT! RUN FOR IT!

[Nigel sprints out of the shop. A moment later, he returns.]

Nigel: Oh, very witty, January. Tomorrow, you will have your comeuppance.

[Katy snorts and wanders off. Benny turns to Nigel.]

Benny: What happens tomorrow?

Nigel: Muck-Up Day. All the year twelves unleash the hidden powers of the primal teenager with nothing to stop us.

Benny: Well, that sounds nice.

Nigel: Nice? Bernice, it will be a long, drawn-out orgy of violence, destruction, torment and agony.

Benny: You’re just exaggerating again, Nigella.

[Benny’s place. Nigel is soaked to the skin and covered in flour, dirty and mud. He sits with Gabby and Benny. Ari is cooking in the background.]

Nigel: I wasn’t exaggerating.

Benny: So, Jason’s in hospital then?

Nigel: Uh-huh.

Gabby: He nearly drowned. There was a crack in his water pistol he tried to seal up with his mouth...

Nigel: Worst of all was those two troglodytes who mucked about with the PA system to make a sonic boom... We actually spent half of Muck Up Day doing lessons. God, what a horrible day. Bett’s getting damn insufferable, going on about regrets and academic failure...

Benny: Everyone worries about that.

Nigel: It’s effecting her work, though. There’s no way we’re going to get all those Yearbooks back in time. And by “we”, I really should be perfectly accurate and say “her”. Especially now Jason’s out of commission and Simone’s busy with this Brian Damage character.

Gabby: Why don’t you help her then?

Nigel: That’s a fascinating question, Gabby. Do you have a good answer?

[Gabby thinks for a moment.]

Gabby: Nope.

Nigel: Nor do I. [to Ari] When’s dinner ready?

[The next day. The bell rings, and Betty, Gabby and Simone (all wearing very expensive versions of everyday uniform) approach a group of Year 12 (including Dave, Jadi, Phoebe, Katy, etc.) Andrew is wearing a Tarzan outfit. Everyone else is in formal gear.]

Nigel: [VO] So, is Brian coming here today?

Simone: He can’t make it. My parents can though.

Nigel: [VO] Hard luck.

[Nigel follows them into view. He is wearing a lemon-coloured nylon suit with blue polka-dots over a white-and-purple striped shirt, red braces and a bright orange tie. The trousers are too short.]

Gabby: It’s for some kind of TV stunt, Candid Camera thing, right?

Nigel: Eh? Honestly, Gabby, this is the in-thing.

Simone: It is the in-sane.

Nigel: It’s not easy being a trendsetter. Still, with all that yearbook business out of the way, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get this style popular across the whole country... [frowns] This is the bit where you reassure me about the yearbooks, Bets.

Betty: [anxious] Well...

Simone: What are you saying? You haven’t done it??

Nigel: Simone made it quite clear that you were to take the remaining pages ASAP.

Betty: [wails] I want my mummy!!!

[They approach the hall. A banner above the stage reads “CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 1987”.]

Nigel: 1987? Wow, I really wasn’t paying attention...

Simone: They’re re-using an old banner. Budget cuts.

Nigel: I knew that. [less certain] Of course I knew that!

[As the students sit in the front row, teachers and officials appear on stage and parents and guests start filing in. The Sinister Woman is one of them. She sits in the back row, placing a handbag on her lap. A secret camera in it focuses immediately on the back of Nigel’s head.]

[This is shown on a plasma wall screen. The distorted voice of the principal can be heard.]

Principal: [vo] And so passes another chapter in the lives of our students! And yet another flock of our students head out into the real world - armed with the knowledge they learned and cherished during their years at this fine institution... If you consider the ‘real world’ to be all-night discos, binge drinking and living off reheated pizza, that is! And ‘knowledge’ to be knowing the latest pop culture fads and the ability to sleep through loud lectures!! But fear not, students, because you are ready. Ready to tackle the challenges and defeats the new, exciting world will throw at you...

[On the screen, Nigel turns around to glance over his shoulder. The image freezes on his face.]

Sinister Unseen Figure: It’s him. It IS him! GODS OF PURGATORY, IT *IS* HIM!!

[We pull out further. The plasma screen is in a boardroom. At the head of the table, someone is watching the image of Nigel and laughing insanely.]

[In the gymn, there is a queue of students going up on stage to get their certificates. At the end is Nigel, tapping his foot impatiently. Beside him is Phoebe, who is leaning against the wall and breathing heavily. Nigel hasn’t noticed she’s clearly gone into labor.]

What idiot wanted this done alphabetically? Why not in terms of charm or good looks? Stupid alphabet making me the last... [impatient] Damn, I just want this to be over already!

Phoebe: [in pain] You and me both...

Nigel: Don’t worry, red. I’ll make this a finish to remember. They’ll be singing my praises from now until the crack of doom itself!

[Phoebe gasps in pain.]

Nigel: That’s it, plebian! Gasp in awe at Nigel – the Living God! High School was just the beginning!

[The boardroom. The plasma screen shows images from the ceremony: Nigel, making eyes to an attractive girl on stage; kissing the principal; watching the fight between Gabby and the principal.]

Sinister Unseen Figure: It’s him. I know it’s him. I can feel it. His very presence sickens the soul.

[Back at the school. Nigel strides on stage like a rock star. His family give some mild applause, but there is otherwise no reaction.]

Principal: [sarcastic] Congratulations, Mr. Verkoff. I must say that you have been one of the most—

[She is cut off as Nigel sweeps her into a passionate kiss. A gasp from the crowd below and Nigel finally comes up for air.]

Nigel: OK, Guys, pay up!

[We see people all over the assembly – including guests and teachers and ALL the students – shaking their heads in disgust and go for their wallets. Suddenly, the lust crazed principal grabs Nigel and kisses him, dragging him out of sight. Nigel’s horrific screams are muffled. The curtain falls.]

Nigel: No, miss, please... please... seriously... Just stop!

Principal: [lustfully] Or what?

Nigel: I know this probably makes me sound like a prick, but it was just for a bet! I don’t want your flabby, blue-veined body with too much hair in all the wrong places!

[The principal continues to kiss him passionately, pressing him to the floor.]

Principal: Offer me money...

Nigel: [desperate] Yes!

Principal: Power, too! Promise me that!

Nigel: All that I have! And more! Please!

[She stops kissing and cradles Nigel’s head in her hands.]

Principal: Give me everything I ask for!

Nigel: [terrified] Anything! You! Want!

Principal: I WANT THE LAST SIX YEARS OF MY LIFE BACK, YOU SON OF A BITCH!

[She slams his head against the floor and he groans. She gets to her feet.]

Principal: In the meantime, I’ll accept all the cash you just won. Or rather, *I* won. It’s the only reason I let you kiss me in the first place.

[The principal turns and stalks off. Nigel, sickened, tries to rub the lipstick marks from his skin.]

Nigel: [shaken] My god... other people are capable of independent thought... who’d a thunk it? [groans] I’m gonna be sick!

[Shivering with shock, Nigel gets to his feet and snatches a blanket he wraps around himself. He stumbles towards the exit, nauseous.]

Nigel: Where are Betty and Simone, anyway? The Big N needs his support structure, dammit!

[Outside the canteen, there are lots of little crowds of families and photos being taken. Nigel, still shivering in his blanket, looks around.]

Benny? Father? Mother? Ryoshi?

[No sign of them.]

Jerks. I’m better off without them. Oh, god, I need something to get the taste out of my mouth. [frowns] Hang on, there’s a finger buffet in the common room, isn’t there, Jason? Jason? [looks around] Oh, so it’s just little old me now, is it? Fine!

[He storms off through the crowd.]

[Stairwell. Nigel hurries up the steps when he sees the Principal down in the courtyard below, counting a thick bundle of notes. She blows him a kiss. Nigel recoils and runs into the Common Room and slams the door shut behind him.]

Nigel: [revolted] Oh God. So disgusting. The wrinkles. The folds. Oh God I’m going to be sick.

Andrew: [vo] Ah, Nigel!

[Nigel screams and jumps with fright. He spins to look at the room. The food has been piled up beside the buffet table, and Phoebe is lying on the empty table, propped up with cushions, sweating and sore. Andrew sits in a chair beside the table, munching a sandwich and un-fussed.]

Nigel: I KILLED YOU! Now you’re back from the dead!

Andrew: [blinks] You know that already. I saw you yesterday, dumb ass.

Nigel: Oh. Well, I reject your reality and substitute one of my own. One where that horrible, horrible woman didn’t touch me in naughty places. Eep.

[Phoebe screams loudly.]

Nigel: Do you mind, I’m having post-traumatic stress disorder here!

Andrew: Sorry, Nige, but HER having the baby trumps YOUR groping a septuagenarian.

Nigel: Oh, typical, Mrs. Styles! You’ll do anything to steal my limelight!

Phoebe: Nigel, it’s time you learned the truth. No one in this school cares enough about you to pick their nose to steal attention. Giving birth to a ten pound baby is definitely not worth wasting on you! NOW SHUT UP!

Nigel: Charming! That REALLY makes me want to help you, doesn’t it?

[He starts helping himself to the food.]

Nigel: [mouth full] I’ve got half a mind to start quoting childbirth mortality statistics to you.

Phoebe: [horrified] What?!

Andrew: Nigel, you don’t HAVE half a mind to start with.

Nigel: Fine.

[He scoops up some plates and heads for the exit.]

Phoebe: Where you going? You can’t just leave me to do this on my own!

[Dave enters, in a hurry.]

Dave: Don’t mind me, just getting some of the vol-u-vents...

[He hurries to the flood at the foot of the table, then twigs the situation.]

Dave: [meekly] Hi, Phoebe.

Phoebe: [embarrassed] Oh. Hi, Dave.

[An awkward pause.]

Dave: You’ve gone into labor, right?

Phoebe: [trying to make light of it] Pretty much.

Dave: OK... [sudden panic] WHAT THE HELL?! Why haven’t you rung for an ambulance or something?

Nigel: On the last day of school? Get real, Restal! The baby will be on solids by the time the medical services got here!

Andrew: Well, congratulations, Phe. Looks like you’re gonna have a Year 12 Study Room Birth. It like a Home Birth or a Water Birth only not at home. Or with water. And some rather clogged pigeonholes...

Phoebe: I don’t want to have a baby here! It shouldn’t come anywhere near a shitty school like this!

Nigel: Not my problem, though, is it? I’ve got places to see, people to do...

[Nigel starts to leave. Dave grabs him.]

Dave: Hey! You can’t abandon her!

Nigel: Can’t I?

Dave: No, you can’t! [sotto] Not after... you know... what happened between you and her...

Nigel: [loudly] Oh, grow up, Dave! Exchanging bodily fluids isn’t a pinkie-promise! The person who should be here is the father and that’s not me. And, honestly, you expect me to help her after her disgraceful behavior to me?! [to Phoebe] I offered you help and more, ginger, and you threw it back at me. Besides, what do WE know about childbirth?

Phoebe: [groans] It’s extremely painful!

Dave: [nods] Yeah. There is that. And pushing and breathing is important, I gather...

Andrew: [casually] I helped deliver a baby once.

Phoebe: What?!

Andrew: [defensive] Hey, I had a life before I met you lot, you know.

Dave: So, so, you know what to do?

Andrew: Oh yes. I did biology as an elective too, including reproduction. I probably know more about this than the three of you put together.

Dave: So why can’t you take over?

Andrew: Well, I’m not going to learn anything new from this am I?

[Dave starts to freak out, but Andrew hushes him.]

Andrew: No, calm down. Tell you what, Dave, I’ll do you a deal. YOU stay here and deliver the baby for the girl you love, and I’ll go over there [points] and clean up that surprisingly smelly amniotic fluid Phoebe spilt all over the carpet. Can’t say fairer than that, can I?

Nigel: [surprised] Oh, is THAT what that smell is?

[Phoebe buries her face in her hands.]

Phoebe: [sobs] I’m in hell. I’ve died and this is hell.

Nigel: [pats her shoulder] Stiff upper labia, old red.

Dave: But, I mean, how close is she to... er...

Andrew: Well, I’m not sure. How long do you think it will take for her to stretch an opening the size of a lemon wide enough to pass a watermelon through?

Dave: Gross! And kinda unhelpful!

Andrew: Well, it’s the best I can do without knowing how dilated she is, isn’t it?

Nigel: Hey, *I* volunteered to check.

Phoebe: Nigel, you volunteered to check before I was pregnant!

Nigel: At least I’m consistent.

Phoebe: No one is going to touch me there who isn’t a qualified midwife with a zero failure rate, OK!

Nigel: [to himself] You’ve changed your tune...

[Phoebe cries out in agony.]

Phoebe: God, the pains hurt so much!

Nigel: Can’t you say SOMETHING remotely original?

Phoebe: Like what?

Nigel: Oh, I dunno. Quote some Bhuddist scripture or something.

Phoebe: I don’t know any!

Andrew: “Life is suffering”. That should be a bit relevant at the moment.

Nigel: Hah! Smackdown.

Dave: Oh, leave her alone, guys!

Nigel: Heh. If only guys HAD left her alone, huh?

[Andrew rises and throws his empty bottle in the bin.]

Andrew: That was feeble Nigel. Try for something beyond a single entendre.

[Fade to black.]

[Caption: “27 AND A HALF MINUTES LATER”. Fade up. Nigel is eating some finger food, Andrew is sprawled over a pile of seat cushions and pillows in a corner. Dave emerges from the kitchen with a pile of stuff he starts putting down on the table.]

Dave: Right, we’ve got Lucy’s nail scissors, Maurice’s spare shoelaces and the one bottle of booze Maddog HASN’T drunk...

Andrew: Hey, there’s enough to sterilize that stuff. And all the pillows are ready.

Dave: It might be a bit better if YOU weren’t lying over most of them!

[Grumbling Andrew rises.]

Andrew: Yeah, cause having EVERYONE being tired and uncomfortable can only help. I don’t see what the point is in all this sterile business. The baby’s going to have a rubbish immune system if it gets mollycoddled like this from day one! Does no one remember the Children of Auron? Hmmm?!

[Phoebe doubles over, moaning. Andrew peers groggily at the clock he is holding in his hand, turns it around several times until he is looking at the right side.]

Andrew: Uh-huh. That’s... two minutes between the contractions.

Nigel: They’re getting closer. Is that good?

Andrew: [frowns] Honestly? Can’t remember. [loudly] Everything’s going perfect, Pheobe! Like clockwork!

[He notices the clock in his hands again.]

Andrew: Mmmm. Clockwork.

[Phoebe steadies herself on the table and catches her breath.]

Phoebe: This is so unfair. It’s supposed to take hours for first-time mums. [sobs] How come I’VE got a super-speeded-up labor?

Dave: [to himself] Maybe your sex-life loosened you up.

[Phoebe looks at him, hurt.]

Nigel: Don’t upset her, dickhead. I thought you loved her?

[An awkward pause that Nigel doesn’t notice.]

Nigel: You can do this, red. What about all those chicks in America, in the Wild West, delivering babies in covered wagons... They managed it with no trouble.

Andrew: Apart from all the Native Americans slaughtering them to get their lands back.

Nigel: Yeah, but that doesn’t have anything to do with childbirth mortality, does it?

Dave: Oh, will you two just shut up?

Phoebe: [gritted teeth] Dave, just get me some water! I’m so thirsty...

[Dave holds up a glass of water and manages to pour it down her throat. Some of its splashes, and startled, Dave drops the glass, which shatters.]

Nigel: Bloody hell. I didn’t think a guy’s water could break.

Andrew: You know, in some places, they’d say that was proof Dave was the father.

Nigel: Eh?

Andrew: Superstition. If they didn’t know who the father of the baby was, they waited until it was being born and then picked the guy suffering the sympathy pains.

Phoebe: He’s NOT the father, OK!

Andrew: So much for superstition.

Nigel: Oh, I dunno. It proves which man is a drama queen if nothing else...

[Fade to black.]

[Caption: “ANOTHER 27 AND A HALF MINUTES LATER”.]

Nigel: You know, Maddog, this constant obsession with you about my social status shows deep insecurities on your part. You’re envious of the esteem I’m held in, aren’t you?

Andrew: Prove it.

Nigel: Disprove it!

Andrew: Dis-disprove it!

Nigel: Re-dis-dis-prove it!

Phoebe: Shut up and take my knickers off. I can barely move!

Dave: What?

Andrew: Come on, Dave, I know this is your first baby born, but you don’t think they magically materialize on the other side of the other side of her panties, do you?

Dave: Well, no. But, hang on, maybe if we leave them on, it might stop the baby coming out.

[A pause.]

Phoebe: TAKE THEM OFF!

Nigel: [charmingly] Allow me...

Phoebe: NO! You stay AWAY from me!

Nigel: Just trying to help! [to Dave] You do it.

Dave: You’ve seen more of her than I have.

Nigel: This is your chance to catch up then.

Andrew: Well, according to Katy, it turns out that...

Phoebe: GOD! Fine! I’ll do it! [groans] They are SO getting stronger...

Dave: Hang on. That wasn’t two minutes!

[Andrew looks at the wrong side of the clock.]

Andrew: Mein gott, you’re right! She’s racing through this! Always WAS bloody competitive...

Phoebe: Hey, I’m not in charge of this, you know!

Nigel: Oh come on. Woman primal mother nature arrant nonsense like this. If you lot can synchronize your periods with each other, expelling a baby should be simplicity itself!

Phoebe: Nigel? Give me your hand.

[Nigel does so.]

Nigel: That’s it, touch greatness.

[She squeezes it and closes her eyes.]

Nigel: ARGH! LET GO OF MY HAND, YOU BITCH!

[Outside, everyone turns in the direction of the noise. Birds fly from the trees. Followed by a cat. A kayak overturns.]

[Boardroom. The Sinister Woman stands before her unseen employer. Nigel’s screams fade into silence in the background.]

Sinister Unseen Figure: I was like him, back then. Walking tall, so young and so proud. He left me in the dark and the wild and the lonely places. I died a thousand times in that electric blue fire. But quietly, slowly, I came back. And after all the cold and dark and burning heat... Perhaps it was necessary? To inspire me, I mean?

Sinister Woman: The trap is closing, sir. Are you ready?

Sinister Unseen Figure: Ready? I’ve been ready for this for so long, through endless devastation and boiling skies. It is right and fitting that we should meet again. This is destiny. No, better than that. This is victory. As I foretold, pretty little Nigel will face his destiny.

[We cut to Nigel painfully leaves the room. His tie has been used as a sling and he is splattered with fluids and looking depressed.]

Sinister Unseen Figure: [VO] Oh, he shall come and worship me at last. And then he’ll die such a death, the unraveling of life itself! Everlasting death is coming... [sighs] This SO works for me!

[Nigel bumps into a tired looking Betty, knocking her over and sending pages everywhere.]

Nigel: Watch where you’re going!

Betty: Oh, Nige... I got the rest of the pages...

Nigel: DO I LOOK LIKE I GIVE A RAT’S ARSE, BETTY? Where’s the medicinal alcohol?

[He storms off.]

[Caption: “SEVERAL HOURS LATER”. Outside school. Nigel flexes his damaged arm.]

Nigel: I’ll never be able to steer with this. Stupid cow. Why couldn’t go to Plumpton High like all the other breeders?

[He spots Betty striding away. She is determined.]

Nigel: Oh, hey, Bets. Do me a favor, will you? Drive us home?

[Betty turns to look at him.]

Betty: Get a life, Verkoff.

[She turns away. Nigel watches her go, baffled.]

Nigel: I have a life, you moron! You’re the one that doesn’t! So get back here and start appeasing me damn it! OI! Come back! Simone! Where are you? Jason? Anybody...?

Betty: Oh, Nige!

Nigel: What?

Betty: Don’t look back.

[She gets into a car and drives off. Nigel watches her go.]

Nigel: [shakes head] The bitch’s mad.

[He moves off. Behind him, the entire back wall of the school is plastered with pages from the yearbook, all showing Nigel as a vomiting poodle. Nigel wanders, now alone and spots Andrew’s retreating back and sneers.]

Nigel: Oh, bye-bye, Maddog! Hope you die horribly, you frigging leper! I hope your maggot-fed carcass is chewed on by other, more rabid dogs!

[Andrew calls over his shoulder.]

Andrew: Same to you. See you on the way down, Nigel.

Nigel: Don’t be so sure!

Andrew: [very sinister] Oh, we'll meet again, Nigel. Don’t doubt it. We'll meet again. [cheerful] Especially as I’m you’re next-door neighbor.

Nigel: Damn. Forgot that bit.

[Nigel gets into Wynona. The car jerkily drives off down the road.]

Synthesized Neil Diamond: GOOD LORD!

[A ringtone – Crunchy Granola – sounds. Nigel fumbles in a pocket and tugs it out.]

Nigel: The Big N speaking. Worship me while you wait.

[Simone is driving in an open-top car through the city, talking on a mobile.]

Simone: Sorry about cutting after the ceremony, but places to see, people to do. Brian’s INSATIABLE nowadays. Hey, how’s my favorite untrained midwife?

Nigel: Better for hearing from you, Si. Oh, man, the day I’ve had. Therapy is required. I tell you, that whole thing about keeping the men out of the delivery room makes total sense now.

Simone: Oh?

Nigel: Yeah. How is anyone supposed to like a girl after they see her vagina explode and a whole new person climb out? Defies all logic. Ronald McDonald’s welcome to them, in my opinion.

Simone: It got a bit messy then?

Nigel: Messy? Carrie was messy. The Shining was messy. This was horror porn, babe! My limited edition ‘The Big N’ T-shirt is completely ruined!

Simone: No sweat, Nige. I’ll get you a new T-shirt.

Nigel: You are a sport.

Simone: Don’t I know it. See you later tonight?

Nigel: Yeah. Come round about seven, Gabby’s due at five and I intend to spend the following two hours trying to regain my love of the humanoid female form.

Simone: Does Gabby still want kids?

Nigel: [face palms] You had to remind me, didn’t you?

Simone: It’s why you love me.

Nigel: [sarcastic] Well, it’s certainly not for the sex.

Simone: [laughs] Fuck you!

Nigel: [grins] If only. See ya, babe.

[He hangs up. Simone stops smiling. She drives into an underground car park of a sky scraper.]

[Simone enters a lift and punches 23, the top floor.]

[She emerges onto the top floor. Through the windows, Sydney can be seen below as dusk gathers. The Sinister Woman is waiting for her.]

Sinister Woman: [mildly surprised] For you to come to me I assume this is a matter of the utmost importance.

[A dramatic pause.]

Simone: Actually I was just passing and thought I might as well drop in. See Brian in person.

Sinister Woman: So what do you have?

Simone: A couple of major situation updates. School’s out forever. Time to start on the main phase.

[The Sinister Woman smiles slightly.]

Sinister Woman: Mr. Magnus WILL be pleased.

NEXT TIME

NIGEL: It’s the End. I just wish I’d been better prepared for it.


EXTRA!!

Finally, here the original ending to the Big N when I decided to kill him off, in a homage to part 1 of Who Shot Mr. Burns? (which is doubly impressive considering I've never seen it...)


[This principal smiles and crosses to the window. Through it, she can see across the entrance of the school. Nigel appears, heading for the exit. The principal takes a double-barreled shotgun from the umbrella stand, loads it, locks it and aims it at Nigel.]

[Simone watches him go, taking a small pistol complete with silencer from her bag.]

[Smiling happily, Nigel walks across the road to where Wynona is parked. Nigel doesn’t see Jason skulking behind another parked car, a gun in his hand. High above, to see a tiny figure watching from an upstairs window of a house overlooking the car park. It is Mr. Murphy, holding a pump-action shotgun.]

[Nigel reaches the car, totally oblivious as to the danger around him. Suddenly, shots ring out – and Wynona’s windscreen is shattered. Nigel whirls around in shock. Then, six or seven shots smash into Nigel’s chest and torso. Blood spurts from his chest as he is slammed against Wynona’s bonnet, bounces, then crashes to the ground and lies still. He’s quite dead.]

[Jason looks in disbelief at his handgun. He didn’t fire a shot. Mr. Murphy is shaking his shotgun angrily – he forgot to load it. Simone stares in shock at Nigel’s corpse and shoves her unfired pistol back into her bag. In her office, the Principal is peering out the window, wondering what’s going on. Finally, bored, she throws her own unused shotgun back into the umbrella stand.]

[Nigel lies on the ground surrounded by blood and broken glass, his eyes wide and staring. On the far side of the car park, in the shadowy alleyway, stands a figure with an Uzzi submachine gun, quickly taking off the telephoto lens with military precision. It’s Gabby. She blows some smoke from the rifle and walks off down the alley just as an ambulance siren is heard in the background. We zoom out to an aerial shot of Nigel’s body next to the wrecked Wynona in the carpark as passers-by and a rather shell-shocked Jason hurry over to the body. Zoom out further and further, until it’s just a patch of nondescript suburbia. Silence.]