Friday, April 20, 2012

My Blinkered Vision: My Mind In 4 Minutes!

I remember during an art class, I had to draw an image that summed up my life - and it was a cartoon of myself being chased by monsters through the bounty-hunter infested woods of Gauda Prime. Did I mention I'm a manic depressive?

Well, thanks to the wonders of divx video editor, you can now see the insanity of my formative thought processes backed to classical music - drunken displays of egomania, Tom Baker, Blackadder, fan films, John Clarke, crappy animated cartoons, missing regeneration scenes, redheads, The Young Ones, puppets, Fry and Laurie, HHGTTG, Blake's 7, Dario Fo, Daria Morgendorfer, KLF, Bulamakanka, Drop the Dead Donkey, political satire, Being Human, Shameless Molly Meldrum, Shaun McCallef, Sontarans, Robin Hood, Black Books, Red Dwarf, random shit exploding and... of course... Kamelion.

Even spara gets an unsubtle reference! But if you can't spot it, I don't blame you as I only noticed it retrospectively.

video

I need more sleep.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Andrew & The Vanishing Verkoff (xi)

[Back to the apartment. It is now evening. The gang are finishing off their dinner - plates of raveoli. Andrew takes the plates to the washing up. Nigel watches him go.]

Nigel: And you honestly expect anyone - let alone the Big N - to believe that?

[Andrew says nothing. Starts the washing up.]

Dave: You think he's making it up?

Nigel: Making it up? Harry Potter is "making it up". Climate change denial is "making it up". That cliche-ridden soap of self-contradictory... GARBAGE is "fucking deranged". If Red Simons was here, he'd boo Andrew off stage. You'd get a lifelong ban from Thank God You're Here for coming up with arrant bollocks like that!

[Andrew glances back at Nigel, but doesn't say anything.]

Nigel: See? Another one of his fantasies! Only SLIGHTLY more convincing than you, Dave, having sex with that brunette at Manly Beach last New Year's Eve! At least I can imagine how you got that impression - probably passed out drunk next to her when she was bonking someone else and got confused, but... [shakes head] Seriously? I know you have some bizarre lack of respect for my intellect, Antonie...

Andrew: I wonder why.

Nigel: ...but come on! My long-lost mum was running a conspiracy engulfing all our lives and carrying out a masterplan so complicated the writers of Kaldor City rang up and told all concerned to keep it simple? GET REAL!

[Nigel gets up and wanders over to Andrew.]

Nigel: I mean, seriously...

Andrew: Stop saying seriously.

Nigel: OK. Fine! But do you really believe anyone believes those stories you go on about? Mr. "Dead Siamese Brother Hermit Brothel Live-In-Cook Junkie Girlfriend Run Over Part Time DI And Sci Fi Writer"? Is any of that credible?

[Silence.]

Dave: What do you think happened then?

Nigel: I think nothing. I know the truth.

Andrew: And that is?

Nigel: [deep breath] The Russian Kid locked me in the death trap, he got locked in too...

[We see the relevent scenes.]

Nigel: [vo] His stupid goons finally let him out.

[The Sinister Woman and her pals open the hatch and Magnus climbs out, shouting at them. They look apologetic.]

Nigel: [vo] Magnus decided to leave me there in the assumption I was radioctive enough to die and went on his merry way.

[Magnus is whisked off in his limousine, entourage in tow. Back in the maze, Nigel lies sprawled lifelessly on the ground by the door.]

Nigel: [vo] But, because they were such inefficient morons, I was barely sterilized.

[Nigel groans awake, gets up and stumbles up through the door. In a daze he stumbles down the stairwell and eventually out a fire escape. Groggily he staggers off into the night, limping painfully.]

Nigel: [vo] I was, admittedly, a bit worse for wear but I'm tougher than they thought.

[Nigel pushes open the door to his room in Benny's place and then crashes down on his bed, face-down, unconscious. Fade through to the next day. Nigel lifts his head, then falls back down again.]

Nigel: [vo] I spent a lot of the rest of the week dozing, hallucinating about Amicus horror films, and keeping low in case Magnus was still on the prowl.

[Nigel wakes up again. Gabby is beside him on the bed, stroking his face.]

Nigel: [vo] It took me ages to recover, and it turned out Magnus had got himself killed.

[Back to the flat.]

Nigel: A version of events, I might add, that Gabby would confirm if she were here. So, Andrew of the Beeblebabble, YOU got any witnesses to support your story?

Andrew: [casually] No.

Nigel: How convenient. [to Dave] Pack of lies he invented off the top of his head to annoy the hell out of the people in the tax office. Which, admittedly, is an honorable enough intention.

[Dave frowns.]

Dave: Is he right? Did you really just make all that up?

Andrew: Course I did.

Nigel: Course he did. [blinks] What?

Andrew: Made the whole thing up. Well, not all of it. Gabs did pop round and ask me where the hell you'd got to. We checked Benny's place, found you on the bed.

[Dave does not believe a word of this.]

Dave: Seriously?

Andrew: [annoyed] STOP SAYING "SERIOUSLY"!!!

Nigel: Tch. You're getting old, Drew. You never used to admit the truth. [haughty] Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed with you.

Andrew: You can imagine how heart-broken I am to learn that.

Nigel: Yeah, I can, actually - coz I've got a better imagination than you, Luxan.

Andrew: I know. I couldn't believe the things that you believe about yourself.

Nigel: And that, I think is the final word on it. Goodnight, gullible suckers.

[Nigel retires to his room. A moment later he returns.]

Nigel: [pointing to Andrew] Oh, VERY amusing! Just remember, buster, I've had a Russian gangster tried to kill me - no one has ever given a crap about you!

Andrew: You're probably right.

Nigel: I know I am.

Andrew: Night, Nige.

Nigel: Hmph. Night, Miss Helen Demidemco.

[Andrew and Dave exchange looks of confusion.]

Andrew & Dave: Who?

Nigel: What am I? Wikipedia? Look her up yourselves. I have beauty sleep and a DVD of Buffy the Vampire Season 8 Motion Comic to watch, which is as Andrew's stories as cream is to CHRIS LILLEY'S EXCREMENT!!!

[Nigel storms into his room, slamming the door shut behind him.]

Andrew: Just think. I could still be living on my own right now.

Dave: Um... you weren't lying, were you?

Andrew: I was. I was lying about lying. Or telling the truth about telling the truth. It gets confusing when you're me.

Dave: But that stuff about his mum... that was true, right?

[Andrew doesn't say anything.]

Dave: I've read your short stories, Drew, there is no WAY you came up with a plot that intricate and logical on your own - where were the dayglo thermonuclear dolphins?

Andrew: Heh. [empties sink] I'm not responsible for Nigel, thank the Bhudda. And those that ARE responsible for him let him believe what he believes. Who am I to argue with those fate has put in authority?

Dave: Usually the first in line.

Andrew: Oi! Don't tell ME who I can and can't argue with! Some people believe in god, some believe in religion and Nigel believes he managed to escape a death trap without his estranged biological mother saving his gluteous maximus. Unlike Richard Dawkins, I have better things to do than ridicule the delusions of idiots.

[Nigel pokes his head out the door.]

Nigel: None of this is making it sound any more convincing, you know!

Dave: Oh get back to watching Buffy and Satsu lez it up!

[Nigel flips them the bird and slams the door again.]

Andrew: On the other hand, maybe Gabs was right and I am a total and utter bastard who torments Nigel in every way possible.

Dave: Got to admit, the Mythbusters would dub that "PLAUSIBLE".

[Andrew and Dave head back for the couch.]

Dave: So what happened with the whole Exorcism thing?

Andrew: Oh, who cares? I'm bored talking about my life. You do some of the conversation for a change.

Dave: What should I talk about?

Andrew: There must be something interesting that's ever happened to you when Nigel or myself was not present.

[Dave shrugs helplessly. Andrew sighs, then picks up a paperback.]

Dave: Mind you, there was that one time, back when I was with Jadi and Phe...

Andrew: This the one about that hybrid car that was possessed by the devil?

Dave: Hmmm? Oh. No. Totally different.

[Andrew sighs and drops the paperback.]

Andrew: All right, David. Lay it on me.

Dave: [clears throat] Well --

[Freeze frame, ala Revelation of the Daleks.]

NEVER THE END...

Andrew & The Vanishing Verkoff (x)

[As we were, pilgrims.]

Sinister Woman: Nigel Verkoff.

Andrew: Who?

Sinister Woman: You have no idea who I'm talking about?

Andrew: You're talking about something?

Sinister Woman: Heh. Nice plan. Acting stupid. Getting me so frustrated I let slip the details. I learned to control my temper a long time ago... Theo.

Andrew: [not quite so cocky] No one calls me that any more.

Sinister Woman: I know. And I know why, "Maddog". Now, I can get you out of this cell and take you to the person you've been looking for, or I can leave you hear to rot.

Andrew: Unlikely. Deaths in custody keep the cells surprisingly clean.

Sinister Woman: Your choice, Andrew.

[She turns and strides out. Andrew puts on his sock puppet.]

Andrew: "Don't risk it." Ah, what do YOU know? "More thank you, duckface!"

[Andrew snatches off the sock.]

Andrew: If I was the person who knew what they were doing, I'd be really hoping I knew what I was doing right now. [beat] Ah, what the hell?

[He leaps to his feet and runs out of the cell after her. Outside, Gabby is waiting with the sinister woman. They follow her out of the station.]

Gabby: You took your time!

Andrew: It's my time; I can take as much as I like. And a bit of courtesy, Gabrielle. I have only been on this case thirteen hours and I've got you to the head of a massive conspiracy claiming to know where your boyfriend is. [shouts] Let's see the Blue Heelers here be THAT efficient.

Sinister Woman: Shut up before they arrest you again.

Andrew: You haven't explained how you got us off in the first place.

Sinister Woman: No, I haven't, have I.

Gabby: [sotto] Who is she?

Andrew: [sotto] Potentially your mother in law.

Gabby: [sotto] What?!

Sinister Woman: Yes, but you can call me Christie if you like.

Gabby: Um, OK. [sotto] She's clever.

Andrew: [sotto] I know. Worrying, isn't it?

[They follow her out of the police station and towards a waiting limo. It is not long after dawn. They climb inside - the interior is partitioned off so they are effectively in a little room in the back on their own. Once inside, the limo drives off. Gabby puts on her seat belt, Andrew does not. A long pause.]

Andrew: [huffs] Well. This plain sucks.

Gabby: It's a nice limo.

Andrew: I'm not talking about the limo! I was supposed to work out the answers, track the villains to their lair - they weren't supposed to appear of nowhere and then drive us to the secret base! This isn't the science of deduction, it's being spoon-fed exposition - you'd never find Miss Franny Fischer in this sort of mess. Miss Marple, possibly, but not Miss Fischer.

Gabby: We're going to find Nigel. Isn't that good?

Andrew: Oh, I'm sure he'll weep with joy to see ME again. He'll really appreciate all the trouble I've gone to, really make an effort to thank me. If I'm lucky, he might even get my name right! Yeah, that makes up for everything!

Gabby: At least he's alive. [worried] He is alive, isn't he?

Andrew: Why take us to a shallow grave in a limousine? No, the bastard's probably alive. Held at the pleasure of these freaks, who also have US prisoner too now! Sweet Zarathustra! The only way this could possibly be worse is if they all turned out to be fans of that Hebrew soap opera...

Gabby: Soap opera?

Andrew: You know. It's huge. Short story collections everywhere.

Gabby: Eh?

Andrew: What's the name of it... Oh yeah. The Bible.

Gabby: You mean, Christianity?

Andrew: I know. This would NEVER happen with Bhuddists.

Gabby: I dunno. You ever see When Zen Bhuddists attack? There was this old monk and he asks a guy "if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" and the guy said "how could a tree fall in a forest without anyone hearing it? Are you sure this tree fell at all?" and the old monk totally lost his shit and punched the guy in the balls.

Andrew: Ah. Well, there is one rule that covers all humanity, regardless of their religion.

Gabby: What's that?

Andrew: No one likes a smartarse.

Gabby: You're the exception that proves the rule?

Andrew: [bashful] Shucks.

Gabby: Was being sarcastic.

Andrew: Pah, if I turned down compliments just because they were sarcastic, I'd have a very low sense of self-esteem!

[The limo is travelling out of urban areas into a more industrial area of disused warehouses and the like. It pulls up outside one. Christie Sinister Woman emerges and a goon opens the door, allowing Andrew and Gabby to emerge. Andrew looks around disdainfully.]

Andrew: This is barely the other side out of town! I could have walked here!

Gabby: You, you, you! [to Christie] Now what?

Christie: You follow me.

Andrew: [annoyed] Hmph. I could have deduced my way here eventually. It's a fluke we didn't pass this place on the way to Fox Studios...

[They follow Christie inside the warehouse. It is cleared out bar a medical unit in the middle of the chamber, where an unconscious and bandaged Nigel lies on a bed. Gabby stops short as she sees the extent of his injuries.]

Christie: Don't worry. He's quite alive.

Andrew: And today just gets better and better... [louder] As medical wards go, this is a bit drafty and unhygenic, isn't it?

Christie: Not as much as you'd think. And its cost effective.

Andrew: [nods] Oh, well that makes it PERFECTLY all right!

Christie: [smiles] Knew you'd see it that way.

[Andrew glares at her.]

Andrew: Why can't you just get annoyed and flustered like ordinary people?

Christie: [sweetly] You tell me, detective.

Gabby: Ahem! Excuse me? What happened to him?

[They regard the lifeless Nigel for a moment.]

Andrew: Karma, presumably.

[Christie arches an eyebrow.]

Christie: Is that what you think?

Andrew: Magnus did this to him because of what he did to Magnus because of what Magnus did to him, et cetera et freaking cetera et freaking tu brute! An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves the whole world blind. And, you know, toothless.

Gabby: I can't believe you're so heartless!

Andrew: Nigel has a few bruises. Magnus is dead.

Gabby: But uou know what he was like!

Andrew: I know what someone said he was like. When was that ever good enough reason for people to die? [points] The guy who caused all this crap, drove his best friends to turn against him, and probably deserves every single injury he recieved if not more. Your boyfriend, Gabby, as requested.

[Gabby glares at him, then turns to Christie.]

Gabby: Is he in a coma or something?

Christie: Not quite. He's deeply unconscious, yes, thanks to some emergency sedation. He should be fully conscious in another day or so. [calls] Miguel, get the lady a chair or something beside the bed?

[One of the goons nods and wanders off.]

Gabby: Should I talk to him or something?

Christie: If you like.

Gabby: Can he hear me?

Christie: If you shout loud enough, but don't expect much of a conversation.

[The goon puts a chair beside the bed. Gabby sits down beside Nigel, slightly self-conscious. Andrew follows Christie as she turns to a medic checking the heart monitors and other gizmos.]

Christie: Any changes?

Medic: He's drifting in and out of consciousness, a bit ahead of schedule but his recovery is progressing normally.

Andrew: You're sure? He doesn't look too good.

Christie: We've done what we can for him.

Andrew: And what's that?

Medic: Topped everything up, flooded his system with as many nutrients, vitamins and minerals as we dare. Twice the recommended dose and painkillers and antibiotics into his bloodsystem along with a few pints of blood. Reset the bones in his left arm, a little bit of surgery to the burns and welts on his back. He should be up and about in a week or so, though given all the drug treatment I doubt he'll remember any of it.

Andrew: [distasteful] Very thorough.

Christie: He's not missing anything. There are better memories to have.

Andrew: And where's the fun if we can't pick or choose?

Christie: You tell me.

Andrew: And I thought this was the bit where you told me the whole story now we grown-ups have been left alone to chit-chat.

Christie: [grins] "We"? Who's "we", paleface?

Andrew: See, that'd only be funny if you were Native American, not a New Zealander.

Christie: You're just annoyed I can outbanter you.

Andrew: Can you? Oh, are you going to start soon?

Christie: Hah!

[They head back to the offices at the back of the warehouse.]

Christie: I thought you would have deduced it all out by yourself.

Andrew: [scowls] No you didn't. You were watching me from the start. Either Simone or some other goon as soon as Gabby asked for help. A tree-frog could have predicted what we'd do, who we'd see and what we'd find out. That's why you didn't get involved until after we caught Simone, after we found out more than you were planning. If Simone was less of a self-hating psychotic, I would never have - where is Simone, anyway?

Christie: On her way to Christchurch by now, probably.

Andrew: [mutters] I hope there's a good airport chemist, coz she is gonna need it.

Christie: You're being too hard on yourself.

Andrew: And you're not being to hard on yourself enough.

[They enter the office.]

Christie: I had very good reasons to leave Nigel with the Yangs.

Andrew: No doubt. Young unwed mother, middle of the recession, desperate... got that already! But I'm still confused as to the bit about waiting fifteen years before teaming up with someone dedicated to murdering your son and then helping him with the torture, humiliation and planned murder.

[She indicates he sit. He doesn't. So she does.]

Christie: It's a long story. And mostly dull.

Andrew: Then tell it in an interesting and exciting way, you owe me that much.

Christie: All right.

[Flashback. A much younger and flustered Christie is working in an office.]

Christie: [vo] After Nigel was born and with the Yangs, I found work in an office. I managed to make enough to scrape by, get some evening classes under my name.

[A more proffesional, power-suited Christie enters the office. Much bowing and scraping as she walks to a desk reading through reports.]

Christie: [vo] I climbed the ladder. It wasn't exactly my dream career, but I didn't have a dream career to start with. It paid the bills and didn't bore me stupid. I kept an eye on what was happening with my son.

[On the train, Christie is reading a newspaper with a photo of Nigel and the headline "NOT MY FAULT THE SCHOOL'S FLAMMABLE!" SAYS VERKOFF. Back to the office.]

Andrew: You must have been so proud.

Christie: Pretty much.

Andrew: [surprised] ...seriously?

Christie: He had a world of opportunities I could never have given him. And he took them, every last one. He's famous and reasonably successful.

Andrew: At least until you did the whole K-Mart nun mannequin bomb scare?

Christie: It was David Jones.

Andrew: What does that matter? Your son is social poison at the moment. He might recover from his injuries but right now PeeWee Herman could get engaged to Osama Bin Laden and get a more sympathetic write up in the tabloids.

Christie: All things must pass.

Andrew: Said the man swallowing the watermelon. So, you let Magnus destroy Nigel's career because you're confident he can start another one?

Christie: Not exactly.

[Back to the flashbacks. Christie is talking to other workers.]

Christie: [vo] Our company is kind of like the Goodies. Do anything, anytime but no giant kittens. The sort of people Magnus would turn to when he needs to organize a death trap stunt. I knew who he was, of course, and I knew he was going to kill my son.

[Christie broods over an image of Magnus on the computer.]

Andrew: You could have turned him down.

Christie: And he'd have hired someone else. He was like that, the late and unlamented Magnus.

Andrew: [cautiously] Did you kill him?

Christie: No. But I would have.

Andrew: And you seem so nice!

Christie: Do you have children?

Andrew: You know I don't.

Christie: Then you don't know what you're capable of when they're in danger.

Andrew: You know, speaking, as we were, about children, it struck me that Magnus seemed to target a friend of mine the same time she spontaneously got pregnant...

Christie: [smiles] You think we were responsible?

Andrew: Weren't you?

Christie: No, actually. We TOLD Magnus we'd swapped her contraceptives for fertility tablets, but believe you me, Andrew. A woman would know if she was on fertility drugs. It was, as they say, a happy accident.

Andrew: And her GP never told her about the triplets?

Christie: What makes you think she didn't know?

Andrew: I was at the birth. She was a tad surprised.

Christie: She was "a tad" in denial. Take it from someone who knows about childbirth.

Andrew: So you didn't have anything to do with it at all?

Christie: Nope. She made her own choices. Isn't that what you wanted to hear? Or are you disappointed you deducted wrongly?

Andrew: [ignoring that] What about the others? Was what happened to them convenient accidents?

Christie: Jason is hardly suffering! And we didn't have to do anything to Dave - he's a lot stronger than people give him credit for. I saw your little panic attack, thinking he was going to kill himself.

Andrew: Yeah. Then again, you tend to do weird things when you lose the girl you love and your best friend disappears.

Christie: You speak from experience? Oh yes. Jadi. Well, you can't win them all...

Andrew: What happened to him?

Christie: Something that happened to you. But I can confirm his parents know about it and he is, if not well, than perfectly safe. Out of my hands. Where we we?

Andrew: Something that happened to me? That could be anything?

Christie: [not listening] Ah yes. Me and Magnus...

[Flashbacks. Sinister Woman Christie is discussing things with Magnus and Simone.]

Christie: [vo] Magnus was insane, of course. Not nasty or evil but totally bug-eyed fruit-looped the-furniture-is-giggling-behind-my-back insane. I convinced him to take a long term approach to his revenge, stretched out the assignment for two years of being very well paid and Nigel being kept safe.

Andrew: [vo] But the time ran out.

[DJ explodes. Nigel runs out a back door and smack into Magnus and his goons.]

Christie: [vo] Yes. The plan we ended up with was the least moronic and least harmful plan. Magnus would have used an atom bomb in Circular Quay without someone to keep his feet on the ground. Nigel escaped with a few small injuries...

[Magnus beats the crap out of Nigel. Christie watches on, hands bunched up, forcing herself not to get involved. Nigel is dragged into the limo.]

Christie: [trying not to sound concerned] Sir, if you keep this up, he might die before we get there.

Magnus: I’m taking no chances.

[Nigel is dragged to the Jekkatatve.]

Christie: [vo] Magnus wanted to dump Nigel into the maze and flood it with radiation, poetic justice. Of course, if we'd actually got some proper isoptopes, we'd all have died of contamination before even opening the door. By now the assignment was less doing what Magnus said but stopping him killing himself.

Andrew: You failed at that last bit.

Christie: I know. The original plan was quite different.

[Christie grabs Nigel and shoves him through the hatch into the maze. She jabs him with a syringe as she does so and he yelps in pain.]

Nigel: AGH! Did you just stab me or something? What did she just do to me?

Magnus: Oh, nothing, nothing. Compared to what I’m going to do to you.

Nigel: [grins sickly] You SO want to shag me, don’t you?

[Back to the office.]

Christie: I'd injected Nigel with a very powerful sedative. The idea was Magnus would switch on the "radiation" - in reality some flashing lights - and watch Nigel collapse and apparently die. We'd leave, Nigel would eventually wake up, find his own way home and by then Magnus would be convinced he was dead and find something else to do.

Andrew: What happened?

Christie: To be honest? [shrugs] We were just sick of the guy.

[Christie and the others exchange looks. One closes the hatch, sealing both Nigel and Magnus inside the maze as the lights start to flash.]

Christie: [vo] At the time, I thought it would help - he'd see Nigel "die" in front of him and then be so desperate to cure himself of radiation he'd flee the country again. But things didn't go the way they should have...

[Nigel shoves Magnus aside and heads off into the maze.]

Christie: Nigel didn't give up. He kept looking for the exit until the drug finally took hold. Another few seconds and he'd have escaped anyway. He fought to stay alive, Andrew. My son, refusing to waste a second of his time on giving up... he didn't give into despair. He's proud of his life, Andrew. How many people can say that?

Andrew: Well, not Magnus for a start.

Christie: Oh yes. Well, we honestly had no idea that Magnus had a weak heart. The stress and hysteria killed him quicker than any radiation would have.

[Magnus convulses in terror, clutches his chest and collapses. Not far away, Nigel topples unconscious to the ground. The door opens and Christie enters, crouching down beside him and stroking his bruised face.]

Christie: [vo] Awkward, as you can imagine.

[Nigel is being carried away. Some of the goons are tidying up the area. Magnus' body is left where it fell. The lights are turned off.]

Christie: I had Nigel taken here for medical attention, and meanwhile we faked up Magnus finishing business with us before wandering off into the night... Our business is hardly going to do well if our clients drop dead, is it?

Andrew: I weep with sympathy. You didn't tell any of his nearest and dearest.

Christie: No. His family... his adopted family... are rushing about Tokyo at the moment getting ready for his sister's wedding. He had no one else particularly close to him, at least no one who would panic about his disappearance for a few more weeks.

Andrew: Apart from his girlfriend.

Christie: Yes. Though I doubt she would have thought as much if Simone hadn't tried to ruin everything by warning them.

Andrew: I think she would.

Christie: [smiles] Yes, she probably would. She's very faithful, very... loyal.

Andrew: [impatient] Which is more than he deserves. What happens now?

Christie: You leave, Andrew. There's nothing left for you here. Case closed, as they say. Nigel will remain here for a few more days, Gabby is welcome to stay beside him if she wishes and she probably will. Then they can both go home.

Andrew: And that's it? Nigel and his mother together for the first time in sixteen years and he doesn't even get to say a word to you?

Christie: He doesn't know who I am, Andrew. We've never met before as far as he is concerned. He has his own mother, a mother who loves him dearly along with the rest of the Yangs. I am just the woman who made him feel alone and outsider.

Andrew: You had a good reason, apparently.

Christie: Nigel's not an idiot. He would have realized that by now. He's got his own life, one without me and I've known about that for the last sixteen years.

Andrew: But you still meddle in his life whenever you want?

Christie: I am his mother. It's what we do.

Andrew: I've heard it said.

Christie: Perhaps that should be your next case, Andrew. Find your own family?

Andrew: They're better off without me. [sighs] Oh. Gotcha. Yeah. All right, I get the idea. Maybe it IS best Nigel never knows about you. It's not like I'm ever going to get so utterly frustrated with red tape at a tax office one day I'll unthinkingly spill the beans...

Christie: Yeah, what are the odd of THAT happening?

Andrew: Exactly. I'll just call for a lift and get out of your hair. [takes out his mobile] You know, I should have worked out you were Nigel's mother from the start.

Christie: Oh?

Andrew: Yeah. Well, beauty and intelligence always skip a generation, don't they?

[Christie rolls her eyes.]

[Out in the warehouse, Gabby sits beside Nigel, holding his hand. Nigel blinks awake and peers groggily up at her. She smiles. He smiles back, goes cross-eyed and loses consciousness again. Gabby smiles.]

Gabby: [strokes his hair] It's OK, babe. I'll be here when you wake up.

[Andrew approaches.]

Andrew: Probably be a few days before that. He's still full of enough tranquilizers to take down a herd of stampeding rhinoceri on anabolic steroids.

Gabby: I can wait. It's not like I'm going to miss school.

Andrew: Good point. Anyway, I have got to get going. [claps hands together] My first case solved! Only two attempts on my life, one false imprisonment and quite possibly a few AVOs being filed as we speak - but that's a success in anyone's language!

Gabby: You're going to stay being a detective, then?

Andrew: Dunno. Depends if I get another case. And I'd need a faithful sidekick to make sure I don't look like some mad hermit who does this for kicks - that's an image I find really hard to dispell, what with it being completely accurate and all... I could set up my own business! My own hollistic detective agency! Beeblebrox PI! You wouldn't be interested in helping me solve crimes and uphold truth, justice and the Australian way, would you?

Gabby: [without hesitation] No way.

Andrew: You never know. It might be a bit less dangerous, bit more fun, a hell of a lot less convoluted...

Gabby: Don't want to.

Andrew: Fair enough, but I'm teling you - you're a natural.

Gabby: I'm not scared. But I don't want to work with you. You're a jerk.

[Andrew raises his eyebrows.]

Andrew: And you'd know, given your experience of them.

Gabby: It's true.

Andrew: Yeah... You know, I did just find your beloved for you, nearly getting myself arrested and killed in the process!

Gabby: Yeah, I know.

Andrew: So a bit of gratitude wouldn't go amiss!

Gabby: I am grateful.

Andrew: [nods] Good.

Gabby: But I still think you're a jerk.

Andrew: [folds arms] Do you now? Why?

Gabby: You've been doing this as ego trip. You never cared about whether we'd find Nigel all right, just that you got to show off. You don't give a shit if he's alive or not! You hated him at school, pulled all those pranks... He could have died at that warehouse for all you care!

Andrew: Ahem? I never promised to care about him. Just to find him.

Gabby: I know. So, yeah, you're a great detective. You're still a jerk. And I don't want to spend any more time with you. Comprehende?

Andrew: You know, I think I liked you better when you were stupid and hysterical.

Gabby: And that's why Nigel's better than you. [looks away] Sorry. But it's true.

[Andrew puts a comforting arm around her.]

Andrew: Gabs. I've only known you a day. I think I can survive your disapproval. I'll leave you with your cruel, sadistic, selfish, oversexed, immoral parasite of a boyfriend who got himself entirely into this mess by being a total arsehole. I'm sure life with him will be like English weather... bright in patches.

[Andrew doffs an invisible hat and walks away.]

[Christie watches him go. In the next office along an overweight Aboriginal man in dreadlocks sits in a wheelchair, reading a magazine. Sitting next to him, drinking a cup of tea is a thin blond man in dark glasses.]

Steve: Successful victory. Nine letters, something ON something UER something D.

Bertram: "Conquered."

[The wheelchair bound man fills in the crossword.]

Steve: Why do I have to be the one to do the writing?

Bertram: Because you're crap at doing anything else.

Steve: You do know, Bert, that it os only my paraplegia preventing me from kicking you to death right here and now?

Bertram: [reassuring him] Oh yeah, course I do. Next clue?

Steve: Tactful subtlety. D something something C something ET something something N.

[Christie enters.]

Christie & Bertram: "Discretion".

Steve: Christ. Why didn't you two just let me die at the bottom of that hill?

Bertram: Don't ask me, Steve. [indicates Christie] She's the boss.

Steve: And she's crap at it.

Christie: Oh, go for a jog or something.

Steve: Wow. Bipedial humor. What a novelty. So, the girlfriend and that derro have been sorted out?

Christie: Yep. Long night. And it would have been helpful if you hadn't told Simone to try and kill him, Stevie.

Steve: Meh. Not my fault she took the suggestion seriously. Heh. I liked Simone.

Christie: We know how much you "liked" her.

Bertram: And where she got that yeast infection from.

Steve: [clears throat] It'll give the girl some character. Can we get going now?

Christie: [nods] Soon.

Steve: We've done all we can. Two years, woman, we've been working with that Russian lunatic on this bizarre Bond film plot! The boy's well on the road to recovery, he's got his latest shag to keep him company, the others can sort out the rest of the details...

Bertram: You don't want to spend more time with your son, then?

Steve: Oh, yeah. Watching him fill his bedpan, real quality time there. Last time I saw him he was shitting in his nappy. We missed nothing, I tell you. And that git out there better take more care in future, because I'm not wasting another moment of my time pulling him out of the next revenge plot he gets caught in! Two years!

Christie: Look on the bright side, Steve. You skipped fourteen years in between.

Steve: [shrugs] I suppose so.

[Bertram gets up and looks out the window at Nigel and Gabby.]

Bertram: Little Norman Graceland's done pretty well for himself, all things considered. Pity we couldn't say goodbye.

Steve: She'd never let him go twice. Weak, that's your trouble, Chris.

Christie: You should get out more, Davros. Live a little.

Steve: Oi! Just because that mistake of DNA out there likes that stupid show doesn't mean you are allowed to refer to it in my presence. Besides - look. Both arms, both eyes and still able to sexually pleasure every woman in Boganville for a weak!

Christie: Yes, you're awesome, we love you.

[She shoves an apple in his mouth, shutting him up. She looks at Nigel sadly.]

Bertram: Well, that looks like the end of that story. All's well and that bollocks... [to Christie] Happy?

Christie: Ecstatic. [sighs] It could have gone better.

Bertram: And it could have gone a lot worse.

Christie: I dreamed of seeing him again.

Bertram: There'll be other dreams.

Christie: Here endeth the lesson. What are we doing next?

[Steve spits out the apple.]

Steve: Something picked at random, this time? Two years, Chris! Two fucking years!

[Bertram picks up a manila folder.]

Bertram: This came in on Friday afternoon. Euroglobe Industries wants our help.

Christie: Oh? Something easier? Or harder?

Steve: [retches] I hate granny smiths. You ARE aware of this, right?

Bertram: [flipping through files] One of the chief executives wants his daughter relocated to Australia. Something halfway between witness protection and a tax dodge, by the look of it. Got to be sorted out before the next financial year.

[Bertram hands photos of a blonde girl to the others.]

Steve: Let's hope it's not as much trouble as the last one.

Christie: [smiles] We can take it. What's the girl's name?

Bertram: "Evelyn Markson".

[A thoughtful pause.]

Steve: I would so do her. How do you think she'd feel about a hunk in a wheelchair?

[Bertram and Christie sigh.]

Bertram: Why do we put up with him?

Christie: Coz no one else will.

[They wheel Steve out of the office.]

Steve: I'm serious! Look at that body. And she doesn't need to know I'm married!

Christie: [loudly] Into the future, Mr. Gracelands, into the future.

Steve: That's another thing! I want my maiden name back, you bitches...

[On the other side of the road is a battered orange-red ute. Harry sits in the driver seat, feet up on the wheel, reading a Simpsons comic. Andrew approaches, rubbing his eyes and looking tired.]

Andrew: Thanks for picking me up.

Harry: No wucking forries, dude.

[Andrew gets into the passenger seat.]

Harry: You look shattered, man.

Andrew: Long night, tough case.

Harry: You want me to drop you home?

Andrew: Yeah... [frowns] Ah, bollocks.

Harry: What?

Andrew: My place got torched yesterday. Lots of smoke damage and burnt walls... it'll take ages to get the feng shei right again.

Harry: Nasty. Still, you solved the mystery, that can pay for repairs?

Andrew: Pro bono.

Harry: [nods understandingly] What does that mean?

Andrew: I was too cheap to ask for money.

Harry: Aw. You know, if you need another case, my aunt's still possessed.

Andrew: Demon or disco?

Harry: Bit of both, if I'm honest. Ever since she found that ouiji board and said she contacted the spirit of Christie Allen...

Andrew: [frowns] Christie Allen isn't dead!

Harry: Try telling HER that! Andrew, we're talking bed-shaking, tourette's syndrome, incontinence, acne. Dude, if this ain't supernatural, it's the worst menopause in the family since great granda Mertle found that whipper-snipper...

Andrew: [winces] Ooh. I remember you telling me about that.

Harry: And I think she's been taking my ritalin.

Andrew: Why do you have ritalin anyway?

Harry: Cheaper than ecstasy.

Andrew: [laughs] All right, Harry. As I've got Oldfield's Tubular Bells as a ringtone on my mobile, I'll take the case.

Harry: Seriously?

Andrew: Hell yeah. After all, I don't believe in the supernatural, so how can I lose?

[Harry thinks about that for a while.]

Harry: And I thought things'd be simpler after high school.

[Harry starts up the ute and drives off into the sunrise.]

Andrew: [vo] You know, Harry, maybe you SHOULD be taking ritalin after all.

[Cut to a crude animated end credit sequence. Through the gloom, Andrew peers out a venetion blind as he smokes a cigarette. Unfortunately, the blinds catch fires and he frantically struggles to put out the blaze as whistles and bass wail....]

- to be concluded...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Andrew & The Vanishing Verkoff (ix)

[Nigel sits on the couch, arms folded, looking impressive. Dave and Andrew sit on either side, looking unimpressed.]

Dave: So... basically you had no idea what was going on?

Nigel: That's not a kind interpretation of events, David.

Andrew: But basically correct.

Nigel: Excuse me? I had just been beaten up, mutilated, tortured, drugs and given a fatal dose of radiation poisoning! Forgive me for not being one hundred per cent compos mentis - and yeah, I DO know what that means!

Dave: You were in a hospital bed.

Nigel: Yes. In a warehouse.

Dave: And then you lost consciousness again.

Nigel: Sedatives, Dave. Out like a light.

Dave: So what the hell was the Vault of Horror homage in aid of?

Nigel: Oh, like YOU'VE never had a violent hallucination you were in a cheesy amicus horror anthology film before! Stick to saying you've actually had sex, Dave, it sounds SO much more convincing!

Dave: Hey, just cause I was too pissed to remember both occasions does not mean they don't count. That chick in Manly swore blind it was awesome.

[Long pause.]

Andrew: Who was the first one with again?

Dave: Eve.

Nigel: Eve?

Dave: Well, I was too pissed to remember most of that either.

Andrew: Seems to be a bit of a habit.

Dave: Yeah. I guess I'm too inhibited most of the time.

Nigel: Hang on. Excuse me? Eve? As in, "Eve who now prefers to lie with other women", Eve?

Dave: After you climb Mount Everest, you don't settle for any lesser height, do you?

Nigel: Maybe. But you don't take up potholing either.

Dave: Are you saying that I put Eve off men for life due to a drunken twist neither of us can fully remember?

Nigel: No, I'm saying you put Eve off men for life due to a drunken TRYST neither of you can fully remember. Where did this romantic entanglement occur anyway?

Dave: [smiles to himself] You have a VERY comfortable bed, Nigel.

Nigel: Why thank you, it's a special mattress HOLY SWEET WAVEFORM-COLLAPSING JESUS?!? You got laid ON MY BED?! You knotted and gendered like toads in a cistern between MY mail-order not-entirely-frictionless sheets?! Your disgusting bodily fluids were exchanged in a five-metre radius of MY Cerebus paperback collection?!?

Dave: Meh. I did the washing.

Nigel: That was YOU?

Dave: No need to say thanks.

Nigel: THANKS? YOU PUT THE SHEETS IN WITH THE WHITES! I NOW HAVE MORE RED SHIRTS THAN THE MORTUARY ON THE STAR SHIP FUCKING ENTERPRISE!!!!

[An awakward, unpleasant pause.]

Andrew: Anyone want to hear the rest of my story?

[No one says anything.]

Andrew: So, there we were, Gabby, Simone and myself, on the case which lead us straight back to the Jekkatatve and...

Dave: You're not doing the Cockney patter any more?

Andrew: Nah, I've got bored with that, so...

Nigel: IN MY BED?!?

Andrew & Dave: Shut up!

[Ripple-harp-music-dissolve back to the excuse for a main narrative. Simone's car pulls up outside a tall building in the industrial centre, at night. Gabby sits in the passenger seat, Andrew is sprawled in the back, legs up on headrest, brooding.]

Andrew: Here we are then. End of the line, where all traces end.

Gabby: It's just a building - there's nothing to say Nigel's here.

Simone: Probably won't be.

Andrew: We're not here expecting Nigel to just be conveniently lying around to be found. We're searching for clues about where he might be - carpet fibres, splashes of paint, perhaps a signed confession and a recent photograph...

Simone: Very likely.

Andrew: Yes. You know, I'm really going off this private eye business.

Gabby: You've only been doing it a day!

Andrew: I know, Gabs! Imagine how awful it will be after a week! [sighs] Oh well, as the Almighty Himself once said, I've started so I might as well finish. Come on!

[He bounces energetically out of the car and heads up to the foyer of the building. A security guard sits at a reception desk, reading a book. Andrew casually hides behind a pillar outside the doors. The others join him.]

Simone: What is it?

Andrew: Security guards. How am I supposed to have a good nose around and achieve unprecedented levels of abstract thought with those around?

Gabby: Right, Simone. You distract him while we slip inside!

Simone: What? Why me?

Gabby: I don't want to sound all judgmental, but you are a professional slut!

Andrew: And a rather immoral one at that.

Simone: How dare you!

Andrew: How dare me? Some of my best friends work in the sex industry and they'd be appalled to know what you've been up to - appalled, I say! Mind you, Sherri would probably see the funny side...

Simone: You go and distract him if you're so bugged by it!

Gabby: Yeah, but there's only like a fifty-fifty chance he'd be gay and since there are three of us and two of us are women than that means that the odds are three to fifty or... OK, I have no idea where I'm going with this. Andrew, distract him.

Andrew: Fine! [grumbles] Like I need sex appeal to confuse people nowadays... pah!

[He strides into the foyer and the others follow. The guard glances up at them as they enter but doesn't put down the book.]

Guard: Yes, what can I do for you three?

Andrew: How do you do? I'm James Hazell but you can call me Andrew. I'm not sure if this is the right place, but I was looking for a... well, not so much a "friend"... but Nigel Verkoff. Have you heard of him? Turned out a school bully from the late 1990s beat him and had him dragged here after the nun-mannequin-fish-scandal of K-Mart...

Guard: You mean David Jones?

Andrew: I know what I mean, begorrah! Now, have you seen him anywhere?

[The guard stares at him.]

Guard: No. No I haven't.

[Andrew nods.]

Andrew: Fair enough then. Thanks for the help. Ciao!

[Andrew turns to leave. Gabby stops him.]

Gabby: Excuse me, just a second [sotto] but what the hell are you doing?

Andrew: [sotto] He doesn't know anything.

Gabby: [sotto] So you're just giving up and walking away?

Andrew: [sotto] No, I'm trying to act casual and unconcerned and that would be more convincing if you hadn't just grabbed my arm and started whispering in my ears with unusual intensity.

Gabby: [sotto] Oh. Sorry.

Andrew: [sotto] So you should be.

[Gabby lets him go and Andrew grins at the unimpressed security guard.]

Andrew: My purely platonic companion had an idea - could you check your computer records, see if maybe he had an appointment here or something? A contact number maybe?

Guard: Sorry, no sign of Verkoff here. I'd have recognized him.

Andrew: Anything under the name of Magnus, perhaps?

Simone: Because the odds of him using another name are just astronomical...

[Sighing, the guard taps at his terminal for a moment.]

Guard: Nope. Nothing.

Andrew: Aw, you're doing it wrong! Let me have a go!

[Andrew goes around the desk. The guard is harrassed.]

Guard: Hey, excuse me...

Andrew: You're using International Electromatix systems? Seriously?

Guard: Yeah, not everyone is a slave to Bill Gates, you know!

Andrew: But these are the old monolith terminals - they went out with MC Hammer!

Guard: They work!

Andrew: [scornful] "They work"! You know, these things weren't properly programmed at all? Just some shitty freeware installed in sweat shops down in Tempe by people out on day release from certain psychiatric institutions?

Guard: Bullshit!

Andrew: It's true!

Guard: It is not!

Andrew: It is! I was in an asylum with one of the programmers - do you know every single one of these had Wolfenstien 3d wired into the mainframe?

Guard: [surprised] Seriously?

Andrew: I know. I would have gone for Doom myself, but still...

Guard: How come there's no link to the game on the desktop?

Andrew: Ah, that's easy, just log in again to the security system and then type in "games".

[The guard does so.]

Guard: Nothing happened!

Andrew: Hit ctrl+alt+del.

[The guard does so and there is a loud crackle as the keyboard electrocutes himself and falls over. Immediately a computer game appears on the screen.]

Andrew: There! Knew it would work.

[He notices the smoke coming off the guard.]

Andrew: Oh yeah. I remember now. They put in a subroutine to make sure no one logged into games and slacked off work, so they'd be electrocuted if they tried. Sorry, dude.

[Andrew sits in the empty chair and starts typing. Gabby and Simone exchange looks.]

Gabby: Was that actually part of the plan?

Andrew: [typing] Plan? Who said I had a plan? Ahah... level four, requisitioned for a period of two weeks and two days ending last Saturday, one day after Nigel disappeared, one day after he was brought here. Coincidence? I think not.

[Andrew rises, then notices the smoldering guard and helps him up into the chair.]

Andrew: You'll be all right.

Simone: He doesn't look like he will be.

Andrew: Well, as long as he wasn't too attached to any body hair he had.

[Andrew takes off the guard's hat to reveal his hair has blackened and is now standing on end. Andrew pats some of the hair and it crumbles.]

Gabby: Wow. You sure he won't turn into a super villain or something?

Andrew: As though that would happen. Especially when he's got Wolfenstein to play.

[Andrew starts to head off.]

Simone: We can't leave him like that! What if one of the other security guards find him?

Andrew: Ah. Point.

[A few moments later. Andrew, Gabby and Simone stand in a lift as the doors close. We pan across to see the electrocuted guard has his hat over his head and a post-it-note saying "LEAVE ME ALONE! I AM SLEEPY!" written on it.]

[As the lift ascends, Andrew and Gabby are chatting.]

Andrew: I mean, human beings can take the odd jolt of electricity on their own without real damage. Look at Benjamin Franklin...

Gabby: That American president?

Andrew: Well, he wasn't the president. But that was about the ONLY thing he didn't do. You'd be amazed. He rebuilt the printing press, introduced funny one-liners into newspaper, came up with the concept of central heating, invented bifocal glasses, redesigned the American postal system, mastered vivisecting small animals, got into politics, became a Hugh Heffner playboy with girls a quarter of his age... Hard to believe he was once a little twerp who was stupid enough to fly a kite in a thunderstorm in the first place. It was a miracle he survived...

Gabby: Yeah.

Andrew: Which is why he didn't.

Gabby: Huh?

Andrew: It's obvious. Little Benjamin Franklin must have got fatally electrocuted that day and someone else took over his life - a replacement Benjamin Franklin whose IQ was higher than that of a used teabag! Obviously Franklin was an alien bodysnatcher on a mission to study and infiltrate human society!

Simone: ...and this was your first choice as a detective. That says SO much about you.

Andrew: I know. Why couldn't she be a backstabbing immoral treacherous whore like you? That would REALLY make the world a better place wouldn't it?

[Simone sulks. The doors open. All three leave the lift, and then Simone steps back into the lift before the doors close. She hits the ground floor button.]

[Foyer. The lift doors open and Simone runs back to the reception desk. Ignoring the still-smoking guard, she quickly finds the emergency alarm button built into the floor so the guard on duty can step on it without being seen. Simone stamps on the button and a tiny light on the desk marked POLICE ALERTED flashes. She runs for the exit.]

[Simone runs out of the building, down the steps to her waiting car. She climbs into the driving seat and lets out a sigh of relief. Then she realizes she is not alone - the Sinister Woman is sitting in the passenger seat, arms folded, waiting for her. Simone swallows nervously and tries to think of something to say.]

Simone: Um. Hi.

[Long pause.]

Simone: I was TOTALLY looking for you!

[Jekkatatve level. Andrew and Gabby are moving through the gloom.]

Gabby: Why don't any lights work?

Andrew: Not sure. I think the power's been disconnected. You know, this place really WAS a lot nicer when I was last here. Not quite so claustrophic and threatening. Mind you, I was shorter then. I think. Would that matter, my height?

Gabby: This is helping us how?

Andrew: Well, isn't it distracting you from the smell?

Gabby: No.

Andrew: Oh. I'll shut up then.

Gabby: What do you think happened here?

Andrew: Based on my rigorous research and deduction of around three hours of knowing Magnus even existed, I'd say he brought Nigel back here for a gloat. Mocked him, beat him up a bit, taunted him. Nigel probably wound him up and Magnus...

Gabby: [nervous] Yeah?

[Andrew pauses by a bloodstain on the floor, but doesn't draw attention to it.]

Andrew: ...reacted badly. After that, everyone simply left and sealed the level off.

Gabby: Seems like a lot of trouble to hire this place out for a gloat.

Andrew: Magnus is crazy and rich. Things become a lot more possible in that context.

[They approach the control console in front of the wall. Andrew examines it.]

Andrew: This is new. Well, all of it's "new", it has been six years since I was here, but... this is new, even so. They've installed a master control for all the doors and lights. You're right, this is a lot of trouble to go for if they were just going to tie him up and go Reservoir Dogs on his arse...

Gabby: What? They had dogs?

Andrew: No, they... never mind, Gabs, Romper Stomper was a way better film.

[They continue to look around. Andrew hums "Stuck in the Middle With You" to himself. Gabby finds some discarded cable ties on the floor and examines them. Then Gabby realizes something and straightens up.]

Gabby: Where's Simone, anyway?

Andrew: [distracted] No idea. Probably run away.

Gabby: Oh, great!

Andrew: I was getting bored of her anyway. You're much easier as a John-Watson-style-sounding-board-for-my-outlandish-theories. And she really should be taking those antibiotics for her yeast infection.

[Beat.]

Gabby: I don't want to know how you know that.

[Andrew takes a bottle of pills from his pocket and tosses them to her. She catches it, not quite comfortable doing so.]

Andrew: Found them in her flat. Apart from anything else, it'll slow down her running, so we can catch her easily if we need more information. Contingency planning!

[Gingerly, Gabby hands the bottles back.]

Gabby: And NOT kleptomania.

Andrew: [shrugs] Meh, bit of column A, bit of column B. Enough of candidiasis, look at this wall.

[Gabby does so.]

Gabby: OK... Candy-di-oasis?

Andrew: Jargon for yeast infections.

Gabby: Oh. I'm never going to hear that song the same way again.

Andrew: Mmm?

Gabby: "I Want Candy"?

Andrew: Mmm. Yeah, it's there with "Little Prayer" and "I Touch Myself". Now, if I remember rightly - and I almost NEVER do - this was the maze layer between the jungle of tubes and the bit chamber to start with. There's a whole network of twisty-turny tunnels beyond this point, so why is this wall here?

Gabby: To keep the ceiling up?

Andrew: Doubt it.

[Andrew kicks the wall. It wobbles.]

Andrew: Cool.

Gabby: It's not a real wall?

Andrew: It's a barrier, a quickly-erected barrier to block off this end of the corridor. Except for this bit. [points] See? Metal. A special hatch. One way in controlled from the outside. Ooh, this is just so... so...

Gabby: ...creepy?

Andrew: I was going to say Greek. Labyrinths. Revenge. Tragedy. And I have to admit if there isn't a half-man-half-bull monster involved SOMEWHERE, well, I'm just out and out disappointed.

Gabby: You think Nigel's in there?

Andrew: Bit odd to set up the door to a maze, drag him here and then not send him through. Then again, "bit odd" sums this case up very well. Let's check, just to be on the safe side. You never know.

[Gabby tries the hatch. It won't budge. Andrew crosses to the console.]

Andrew: Let's see... [hums] slap you on the back and say please... Wierd. Half of these controls aren't even linked up to anything! Ooh, I wonder what this does?

[He flips a switch. Red pulses of light illuminate the chamber.]

Gabby: What's that? An alarm?

Andrew: Nope. Just a button that makes the lights flash red.

[Andrew flips the switch and it stops.]

Andrew: It's like this is a prop for a TV show or something. Half these controls are just for show. There are only two buttons that do anything. One does the lights and the other one, well...

Gabby: Well?

Andrew: Let's find out.

[He presses the button. The hatch slides back. They both retch as a smell hits them.]

Gabby: Oh, that is rank!

Andrew: [coughs] Nasty... though I have eaten worse...

[Covering his mouth with his singlet, Andrew crosses to the door and peers into the gloom beyond. Gabby follows him as he steps through. Not far away is a huddled shape on the ground, clearly a body.]

Andrew: Think we've found what's causing the smell.

Gabby: What is it?

Andrew: At a guess, a corpse that's been left for the last week to decompose.

Oh no. Oh please. Please.

[Andrew crouches by the remains and flips them over. The smell gets even worse. The corpse is hideously deformed and rotting, twisted in death with vacant, blank eyes.]

Andrew: Well, there's good news and bad news.

Gabby: What's the good news?

Andrew: It isn't Nigel.

Gabby: Oh, thank Christ for that. What's the bad news?

Andrew: It's someone else. And they're very, very dead. And this is most likely directly down to your boyfriend. [retches] OK, we have captured the moment. Let's get some fresh air before my sinuses melt...

Gabby: We can't just leave a dead body there!

Andrew: Why not? There's already a precedent...

[As they step out the hatch, they are surrounded by four police officers aiming their weapons straight at them.]

Cop 1: Put your hands up, please, and step forward slowly.

[Gabby does so. Andrew grins, and he does likewise as one of the cops steps through and checks the rotting corpse.]

Cop 1: Dead male - been here for days!

Gabby: Right! Which means we didn't murder him, doesn't it?

Cop 2: Not today, no miss.

Andrew: Let me guess, we're now both suspects in a homicide case?

Cop 2: Pretty much.

Andrew: Go on, say "this is a murder enquiry" in a dodgy Scottish accent, please!

Gabby: [incredulous] You're getting off on this, aren't you?

Andrew: [laughs] My first case and I'm already a suspect! Who said life after high school would be boring?! Let's see those twats in technical drawing get falsely accused of murder on their first day!

[Outside, Andrew and Gabby (now handcuffed) are being put in the back of a police car. There is an ambulance present. Sirens flashing. The electrocuted guard is being carried out on a stretcher. As the doors shut, the police car drives off. Andrew nods to the driver.]

Andrew: Good thing that one was arresting officer. I'd hate to get arrested by a copper who wasn't butch, wouldn't you?

Gabby: Oh yeah. So now we've been arrested as murderers, what is the next step in your amazing masterplan? Does it involve electrocuting ourselves playing computer games or letting people set us on fire...

Andrew: [nods] Trying to make some sense of it all, but I can see it makes no sense at all. Is it cool to go asleep on the floor, cause I don't think I can take any more...

[Gabby frowns.]

Andrew: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Gabby: Andrew!

Andrew: Sorry. Reservoir Dogs again.

[Police station. Andrew is talking to the desk sergeant.]

Desk Sergeant: Name?

Andrew: Andrew Beeblebrox.

Desk Sergeant: Real name.

Andrew: It is my real name. I changed it by deed poll. Probably might have been better to go with "Obviouslyinnocentman" though, huh?

Desk Sergeant: Right, you Douglas Adams freak, turn out your pockets.

Andrew: [innocently] I don't HAVE any pockets.

[The desk sergeant just sighs.]

Desk Sergeant: I am too old for this shit.

Andrew: I don't suppose I could make a phone call?

Desk Sergeant: No.

Andrew: I'm entitled to one.

Desk Sergeant: Actually, no. You're not.

Andrew: Oh.

[Cut to a cell. Andrew sits on a bench, watching as the door slams shut.]

Andrew: Learn something new every day. Like, for example, the average desk sergeant is of extremely low intelligence.

[He takes a ball from his pocket and starts to bounce it against the wall, Cool Hand Luke style. Andrew chuckles. The door opens. A police woman catches the ball, then slams the door shut again. Andrew huffs.]

Andrew: All right.

[He takes out a second ball and starts to bounce it.]

Andrew: So, you're a powerful Russian megalomaniac with violent pseudo-sexual sadistic tendencies and an unlimited budget. You want revenge for someone who not only traumatized you but made you look an idiot. You work out an elaborate scheme to have him publically shamed and humiliate him. Then you kidnap him, drag him to a fake maze set with flashing lights, a bit of rough stuff and... kill entirely the wrong person. Without any guns or knives. How does that work? Poison? Did they kill him in front of Nigel to freak him out? Why leave the body there when they'd taken everything else? Why not leave Nigel there? Why not kill him or let him go?

[Andrew lets the ball fall and starts pacing.]

Andrew: Doesn't make sense. There has to be a pattern to it all. Damnit I suck at this...

[Andrew sits down then gets up again.]

Andrew: Of course! A probability square is composed of facts, reasons for those facts or conclusions that might be drawn from those facts. The facts make a logical pattern and the square solves the problem. Keep moving the tiles until it makes sense. Except... I don't have any tiles. Or post-it notes.

[He lies down on the bench.]

Andrew: Think. Think. Of course! Externalization of INTERNAL thought!

[He takes out a pair of socks from his pocket, separates them and shoves one over his hand, making a very pathetic glove puppet.]

Andrew: Right. Ready for this? "Uh huh". He brings Nigel there. Someone else dies. No reason to kill them so... why? "Obvious! They weren't killed!" It was an accident? "Of course. Someone keels over. Not part of the plan." Hence the hasty departure. "They ran for it." Took Nigel with them because they hadn't finished with him yet. But the whole place was chosen deliberately, the Jekkatatve. Where else were they going to humiliate him? And why would a psycho like Magnus care about someone dying of, presumably, natural causes? "It was someone important, you moron." Hey, this is still my first day on the job. "Good thing it's pro bono, you haven't earned a cent!" I can take you off my hand whenever I please, buster. "Won't change the truth!"

[Andrew rips the sock off his hand.]

Andrew: Asshole. Where was I? Oh yes. Someone dies. Someone important, so important the whole plan goes to pieces... [eyes widen] It was Magnus. Himself. Maybe Nigel killed him? Maybe not. Either way, Nigel's standing, Magnus isn't, so his team run for it and take the witness with him. There's been a mysterious death all right, but not the one they were prepared for. So they go to ground somewhere and tell Simone to keep an eye on things to make sure no one goes looking for Nigel, not because they're worried about Nigel being found dead but being found alive and being able to spill the beans about what really happened. Meanwhile, Nigel gets disappeared.

[He rubs his forehead. It's a lot to take in. He puts on the sock.]

Andrew: "And if they've got two brain cells to rub together, they'd be keeping an eye on the Jekkatatve to see if anyone finds the body. Which means they know precisely you went there with Gabby and are now in this very police station and can easily be turned into another death in custody statistic before the truth comes out..."

[Andrew looks at the sock puppet in horror. The cell door opens. Both Andrew and the sock-puppet look up to see the Sinister Woman standing in the doorway, arms folded.]

Sinister Woman: Good evening, Mr. Klyngirophel.

[Andrew surreptitiously takes off the glove puppet.]

Andrew: Evening. Sorry, terrible memory. Have we met before?

Sinister Woman: No.

Andrew: Oh. That'll explain why I don't recognize you. [frowns] Though, thinking about it again, I think I have seen you before somewhere... maybe...

Sinister Woman: We've never met.

Andrew: If you say so.

Sinister Woman: I do.

Andrew: [shrugs] Well, then.

Sinister Woman: My name is Christine Gracelands. I believe you may have met my son.

Andrew: I might met a lot of people, I'm that kind of guy. Who is your son, again?

Sinister Woman: You've spent all day with his girlfriend trying to find him.

[Andrew stares at her in amazement.]

Andrew: ...nope. I still have no idea. Who are we talking about?

- to be continued...