THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR - BOOK III, ACT X

[Book III, Act X, Scene I. The Very Narrow Ledge. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY and JEROME are here, having just appeared. The party are all standing on a very narrow ledge hundreds of feet in the air, on the outside of a huge gothic castle. It is difficult to see the ground as it is pitch dark, but there is definitely some activity there. The party are either side of a window, with ALICE, AUSTIN and CLINT on one side, and CHASTITY, HARVEY and JEROME on the other. There is a light on in the room, and the window is slightly ajar.]

Harvey : [Whispering] I say, that is a top means of transport. [Makes to take a step, but suddenly realises that he is hundreds of feet in the air, and leans back, arms waving] Gah!

Austin : [Quite calm and steady, sneaks up to the window and takes a careful peek in]

[AUSTIN pulls the window open a tiny bit, and everyone crowds around it to look in. DARIUS is here, having sex with an unseen woman. Standing beside the bed is PESTILENCE.]

Pestilence : Do you want to stop that for just a moment?

Darius : I can do both.

Woman : Moan!

Clint : Gah!, this looks like the wrong stop to me!

Harvey : [Loudly] Keep it down Clint! He might hear us!

[DARIUS rolls off her, and turns to PESTILENCE.]

Darius : She'll be okay for a while. What's up?

Alice : [Peering in the window] My God! He's got an enormous er, ego!

Pestilence : You were right about Contagion - we're going to have to eliminate him tonight.

Austin : [Whispering to Alice] We should attack them once they have eliminated Contagion. Then they will be weakend from the fight. [Ponders] Unless they are playing a game of Risk, or something.

Jerome : [Stifles a moan, whispering] Jerome would request that you shut the window. [Puts his hands to his temples] Jerome's cranium is experiencing an inordinate amount of pain. [Jerome bites his bottom lip drawing blood, and begins to wobble on the ledge]

Clint : [Looking at Jerome] What is he up to, now that we need him to be invincible? [To Chastity] Do you remember if Jerry had a curse from Pestilence as well?

Chastity : Jerome wasn't there, Mr. Scar, so he's the only one who wasn't cursed. Not that I believe in all that curse business, oh no.

Darius : I presume you can take care of it on your own?

Pestilence : I've been waiting two thousand years for this, so it really is a one man job. [Lifts up a metal tool box and opens it, revealing a dazzling array of shiny metal knives and pincers] What do you think? Just

Harvey : By the saints, troop, I don't think we should be watching this! Certainly not the two ladies! Disgraceful conduct!

Austin : Two ladies? Where are they? Let me see! Let me see!

Chastity : Really, Mr. Sleaze, stop pushing! You're bring have the party off with your impatient voyeuristic behaviour. [To Jerome] How are you feeling now, Doctor? I fear yu are having an adverse effect being around such evil. [Check Jerome's lip to see if its healing itself]

Jerome : [Still grasping his head] Jerome fears that his skull is splitting in twain.

Nicole : Come on, Darius, entertain me!

Darius : [Stark naked] In a second, I think we've got some assassins outside first. [Picks up his sword and turns to the window, pushing the curtains to one side with it] Well, well, well! I wondered when it would be your turn.

Harvey : Gah! I can't see what's going on with all that confounded pushing from Private Sleaze!

Alice : He's armed - a sword in one hand and a huge club in the other.

Austin : [To Darius] Hey! I can't see the girl if you stand there! [Ducks out of range of Darius.

Clint : [To Darius] Well hello there. Do you mind putting some clothes on, before we kill you?

Darius : Actually, I'd prefer not, as I'll only have to take them off again once I've killed you. [Short pause] You are here to kill me, aren't you?

Nicole : [Standing up] If you're going to kill some would be assassins, then I'm going to have a shower. Try not to make too much of a mess and [gives Darius a kiss on the cheek] have a good time!

[NICOLE heads towards another door in the room, different from the one the PESTILENCE left through.]

Austin : [To Darius] No, we are not here to kill you, Mr. Scar is mistaking you for Mr. Boddy. [Sighs as he watches Nicole leaving. To Darius] Although I must say we didn't volunteer, or even agree to kill Mr. Boddy, and were transported here without our approval, or agreement, as a party. [Looks at Jeromes waverness. To Darius] Could we come in and use the stairs please? I think we must have a word with Celia and Last when we see them next, [looks at the huge drop, then to Darius] they appear to have been trying to kill us.

Darius : [Smiles] You know, Austin, it's been two years and you haven't changed a bit, you're still a complete liar. I'm quite sure that it was me that my girl Celia sent you to kill, and as for Last, well, he's just got this really unfairly low opinion of me. [Smile drops a little] The only way you're going down those stairs is either after killing me, or carried down in boxes.

Alice : [Makes to say something] I-

Darius : I mean coffins, Alice.

Jerome : AAaaaggh! Jerome politely requests, with a hint of urgency, that ... [Grips his hair almost pulling out two large handfuls] Nggarr! [Jerome leans against the wall and begins to shake and sweat profusely] Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, requires morphine, or an extraordinarily potent analgesic! and possibly a nice sit down.

Darius : [Smiles warmly] Now [emphasises] you have changed my friend! [Steps closer to the window]

Austin : [To Darius] Well, apparently I am wrong, and we were sent here to kill you, but that doesn't change the fact that we, as a party, did not agree to this, or this [Gestures at the drop] Obviously. [Looks down. To Darius, hopefully] Errm, another thing that occured to me was that we have no chance of killing you or Mr. Boddy, and therfore, in the knowledge that we are no threat to you, may we come in?

Clint : [Noding towards the door where Nicole went] Well I for once wouldn't mind using your toilet first, Darius. That way I'll fight more confortably.

Darius : Oh, come on, Austin! Where's the huge, overwhelming arrogance that we've all come to know and loathe? Of course you can kill me! I'm sure Celia gave you the "He's only human" speech, didn't she? [To Clint] Let's fight for her! [A little seriously] She loves that.

Jerome : [Gasps, To Darius] Vile knave... [Jerome's legs seem to give way and for a moment he looks as though he is about to pass out, To the party] Jerome must obtain assistance or he may... [Jerome collapses onto one knee barely hanging onto the ledge] ...may cease balancing.

Alice : I've got you, Jerome! [Reaches out to help him, but stumbles and falls, only catching onto Jerome's leg at the last second] Help! Help!

Chastity : [Kneels down on the ledge taking hold of a piece of masonry for support and reaches down to Alice] Take my hand child. I'll help you up.

Alice : Thanks, Chas. [Pulls herself up]

Darius : [Sigh] You know, this is a pretty sorry sight. Why don't you come in first? You can kill me then.

Chastity : [Getting back up. To Darius] That would be altogether better. [Opens the window, and gets into the room]

[As she is getting into the room, a gust of wind blows the hood of her habit over the head, briefly obscuring her view, but she manages to reach out for support and get into the room safely]

Chastity : [Pulling her hood back down] And mentioning the altogether, could you please put on a robe or something? [Wiping her hand] Oh, and you should wipe off that window support bar. It's a bit slippy.

Darius : Sure, Chastity, right after I have my cigarette. [Puts on a dressing gown as the rest of the party clamber in] Well? If you're here to do me in, you'd better get out your weapons.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD would espouse the following quotation when referring to his current condition, AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! [Jerome falls through the window]

Clint : [To Darius] Well you obviously pulled your weapon out already, and it seems to have been polished already. [Notices Jerome] What is Jerry up to now? Don't tell me he can fly as well!

Darius : [Points his weapon at Clint] Click-click! [Picks up a sword]

[JEROME falls through the window and lands on the floor with a huge crash.]

Alice : [Looks at Clint, then at Jerome, and then back to Clint] Er, okay.

Darius : [Leans forward, chin jutting out] Come on! You can even have a free pop!

Jerome : [Shaking his head he stands unsteady on his feet] Jerome finds that opportunity rather sporting of you. [Jerome begins to circle towards the door to the bathroom, drawing his sword, and steadier on his feet] If everybody could enter the room now.

Darius : Okay, now I'm getting bored. Do you lot need to discuss this before we go any further? I know what everyone in the HKs says about you, but come on!

[DARIUS steps back to let the party talk.]

Austin : [To the party] This seems almost too easy to be true. Perhaps we should get Clint to attack him first, so we can see what he is up to. [Turns to Clint] Mr. Scar, strike him.

Clint : [Drawing his sword] It does sound too easy to be true. What are you up to, Darius, or Death, or whoever you are?

Darius : Look, Clint, I've got a hot girl waiting for me in the bathroom. The way I see it is that if I kill you, we can get back to business. If you kill me, then I won't care. If we carry on standing around here discussing it, she'll just get bored.

[ALICE and HARVEY draw their swords too.]

Darius : Alright! Let's go! [Slaps Clint hard with the side of his sword]

Chastity : [Readies her mace] SO much for that promised free pop! [Looks round the group] Everyone surround him and attack at once. This isn't a Claude-Jean van Petrol film. We don't have to wait our turn! [Tries to move round to another side of Darius from the others]

Jerome : Indeed Sister, Bally tally Ho! [Jerome leaps forward and attempts to disarm Darius]

Clint : [Cleaning the blood from his lip, from Darius' blow] I hope you didn't use your lower weapon. It'd be a shame to have to cut it off. [Throws a blow at Darius' penis]

Chastity : [going round behind Darius] Mr. Scar, you should leave those filthy levels to others, and concentrate on the job and hand. [Attacks Darius from behind]

Harvey : [To Chastity] Eh? You mean, we don't just stand around taunting him while he picks us off one by one?

Austin : It is okay, Colonel. I shall take charge of the taunting.

[CHASTITY moves behind DARIUS as JEROME jumps at him. DARIUS swings at him to knock him away.]

Darius : Strike one for the good guy!

[The party attack, with CHASTITY and CLINT landing particularly savage blows, while ALICE also hits and HARVEY misses. As DARIUS expires, he slashes CLINT badly with his sword, before collapsing on the ground.]

Alice : Wow! We're really good, aren't we? [Looks at the sickening bloodstain at the front of Darius' dressing gown, and her face drops] Oh. Hm, I guess dressing gowns don't afford much protection, do they?

Chastity : Not when your defending sword usually is preceded by the word pork!

Alice : [Idly] Nor when the attacking sword is, Chastity.

[The party hear the toilet flush from the bathroom.]

Clint : Good job Chassers. [Puts his blood-stained sword away] That'll teach him to attack us with his dick sticking out. [Looks at the bathroom door] Now for the reward!

Jerome : [To Clint] Jerome suggests that we silently detain her, for we are neither bloodthirsty or rapacious in our actions.

[The bathroom door opens, and NICOLE enters. Her face immediately takes on a sulky look]

Nicole : Did you just kill Darius?

Clint : [With a big smile, and what looks like a pile of coins on his pocket] We sure did! Do you need some consolation?

Harvey : [Gestures towards Nicole] Poor thing, she is obviously under some spell, cast by that blackguard, to keep her in steamy servitude! [To Nicole] My dear, you are now free and will no longer have to endure this fiends bondage!

Nicole : [Pouting at Clint] If you think you're man enough. [Moves to put her arms around him, licking her lips seductively.]

Alice : Which blackguard? Stinky?

Nicole : [Looking over Clint's shoulder at Harvey] Sure, why not?

Austin : [Excitedly to Harvey] Enduring bondage? Where? Where? Let me see! Let me see! [Realises what's going on, and turns to Harvey] Sir, that is twice you have falsely represented the activities in this room. Do so a third time and I will not hesitate to sue you.

Harvey : [Looking between Darius and Austin] Hmmm troop, I'm not sure which private is the bigger knob! [Goes red] My apologies for such a cruel outburst, dear niece and good sister Chastity! Sometimes that recruit get's right on my nerves and I forget myself!

Chastity : [To Harvey] Thank you, Colonel. Just as long as you can refrain from the use of the common vernacular in future. [Looks down at the body of Darius] Does it not seem to you that that was a bit too easy? I've never trusted Darius or Boddy, and I'm still suspicious now. If it was so easy to vanquish Death, then the church wouldn't have been singing about the possibility for all these years!

Nicole : [Kisses Clint passionately, and then breaks off] I'm not a fan of bad breath.

Alice : [Regarding Austin with a slightly flushed look, before turning back to Harvey] Really? I wouldn't have expected his to be that big.

Alice : Celia did say that he's just a normal human, and he was just out of bed, and the only protection he had was that dressing gown [glances down at him and quickly looks up again] well, maybe not the only protection. Of course, now that we've killed him, how do we get out of here?

Nicole : [Turns to Austin] Are you any better? [Licks her lips salaciously]

Clint : Hey!, there's something else you may want to kiss first! [Makes to start pulling his trousers off, only to notice Chastity's look] Euh... my feet?

Chastity : [To Clint] Zip yourself up, Mr. Scar. Your feet are not behind that! And you'd better check yourself after that lustful display.[Moves to step between Austin and Nicole] Hold right there young lady. We'll have no disrupting the members of this crack team with your sinful distractions. I recommend that you clothe yourself, retire to the restroom, remove that face paint and reflect on your disgraceful behaviour.

Nicole : [Purrs] Hm, dominant nun, I like it!

Harvey : I say! We don't have the time for this kind of thing. We need to get out of here as fast as possible.

Alice : [Looking out the window] Jumping out would be pretty quick.

Chastity : [Glaring at Nicole] There's no chastising some people, who are obviously beyond help. [Goes to listen at the exit door]

Jerome : The alternate route would lead us to Pestilance [points to the door] are we ready for such a conflict? [To Nicole] Jerome must advise you it is quite likely that we may restrain you via some method of bondage in order to allow us an unhindered escape.

Chastity : Quite so, Colonel. [To Jerome] We have no way to get down the walls, apart from plunging to our doom. I fear the hardest part of our task may not be over. [returns to listening at the door]

Nicole : [Happy sigh] If you must!

Harvey : I say, good Doctor, I wonder if it matters if we're ready or not. I suspect we don't have any choice.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, hates to use a cliché but we could always fashion rope from the bedding in this room, and then securing it to the bed or other heavy item of furniture and scale the wall with its assistance.

Nicole : [Holds her wrists together] Or you could use that rope to tie me up!

[CHASTITY's listening at the door is curtailed by it being kicked open. Enter CONTAGION SOTOT.]

Contagion : Death! You've got to help me! You - [looks around at the party] What the hell is going on here?

Jerome : [Looks at Contagion, looks at the body of Darius, looks back at Contagion and then back at Darius' body, then over to Nicole who is holding her wrists ready to be tried, To Contagion] Jerome would like to know if this is a trick question?

Chastity : [Scrambles back to towards the group with her mace] No wonder you're so surprised, with such poor manners. Have you never heard of knocking?

Contagion : I - I -

[PESTILENCE crashes into the back of CONTAGION]

Pestilence : Yeeha! Looks like you came to the wrong place for help, traitor boy, Darius has told us all about how you're trying to take over from Dangst - hey! [Looks around the party] Cool! If it isn't my favourite assassins! Did you kill Death?

Clint : [To Pestilence] Well well, if it isn't my favourite victim. Death's gone, but we would like to know who wants to be next - you or him [points at Contagion]. [To Nicole] This is gonna take a while, I suggest you go back to the toilet for now.

Nicole : But, I could escape from there! [Holds her hands up again]

Austin : I believe that I can help you with that. [Takes a pair of fur lined handcuffs out of his bag]

Pestilence : [Roars with laughter] Favourite victim? I love it! [Calls out to behind the party] Come on, Death, this whole floor has been sealed off, it's time for play!

[DARIUS gives a shudder, and his eyes pop open.]

Darius : Now, where were we? Oh, that's right, I had just given you your free pop. [Smiles at the party] Surprise! [Even bigger grin] Will I tell them, Jerome? Or do you want to do the honours?

Chastity : [In an Austin deadpan tone] Yes, what a surprise. [To Jerome] Well, Doctor?

Jerome : [Raises a hand to his head and winces] Jerome must admit confusion and ignorance as to the answer to Darius' question.

Clint : This is hardly the time to get confused, Jerry!

Chastity : [To the party] Lets just go! [Starts to make for the door Pestilence and COntagion came through]

Darius : Aw, Jerry! You disappoint me. [Looks to Pestilence] Let's kill him.

[CONTAGION throws himself at one of the walls of the room and bursts straight through.]

Pestilence : [Throwing on a cowboy hat and pursuing him with a lassoo] Yeeha! I love when they run.

Darius : [To the party] I'll see you later. [Points at them with a gun shape using his fingers] Click-click!

Nicole : [Petulantly, still holding her hands up] Ah-ahem!

Austin : [Busying himself with handcuffing Nicole to the bed] Yes, good idea, old woman. Lead the way, we're right behind you.

[CHASTITY opens the door to reveal a long corridor, extending in both directions. From the noise they are making, it sounds like PESTILENCE, DARIUS and CONTAGION have gone north.]

Harvey : [Pointing south with his sword] Look, troop! I think there's a staircase down there.

Harvey : [Looks back at the others] Well troop, let's find out where it leads!

Alice : I wonder what Darius meant when he said Jerome would know what was going on. [The party head towards the stairs, with CLINT and HARVEY leading, then ALICE and JEROME, and finally cHASTITY and AUSTIN. The stairs, however, have been blocked with a large metal sheet that has been pushed across.]

Harvey : Ah! Maybe this is what Pesitlence meant when he said the place was sealed.

Jerome : Absolutely, good Colonel! [Jerome taps the sheet with the hilt of his sword and listens to the noise it makes] However the party can still evacuate using makeshift ropes, but Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD is concerned about the turn of phrase used by Darius with regards to Jerome's knowledge about this unexpected situation.

[JEROME taps his sword against the sheet giving a dull metallic thud.]

Alice : [Taken aback] Hey!

[ALICE taps her sword against the side of her head giving a dull metallic thud.]

Harvey : Er, yes. Quite. Are you sure about the rope, Doctor? We are very high up.

Jerome : [Taps his temple] It has just occurred to Jerome that there should be some release mechanism upstairs or possibly a command word. Otherwise how would Pestilance and Darius be able to leave once the lockdown had finished? Notably with the exception that Darius could jump out of the window, awaken and open it from the other side.

Alice : Hm. So even if he gets killed, he heals again. [Puts on her thinking face] That sounds kind of familiar...

Harvey : Good observation Doctor, but where? Should we follow the others to see what they are up to? hangover is cured...

Chastity : [To Jerome] Has your lip healed from when you bit it? I fear that the anguish you were feeling earlier may have been Darius somehow stealing your healing factor.

Alice : [Clenches her fists] Oh, that Darius! He's just so mean! [Face lights up] Hey! I've got an idea. How about I punch you, Jerry? That way we can see if you can heal yourself.

Chastity : Now, now, Alice. I think you've been watching Clint interact with Austin a bit too much. We'll have no striking of party members going on. [pauses] Without good reason.

Alice : [Holding her arm back to punch Jerome, before taking on a disappointed look] Okay, Chastity. [Puts her arm down] I could put on my gloves if you'd prefer, so it wouldn't hurt so much.

Jerome : That will not be needed sweet Alice [Jerome touches his lip to see if it still bleeding] although Jerome finds this conjecture intriguing it does not solve the problem of regrouping until we have more information at our disposal. [To Harvey] Jerome agrees with your suggestion perhaps we should keep a covert eye on Pestilence and Darius. Last from Marc #81

Austin : I think we should go back to the bed room, where we can discuss this further, whilst I tie Nicole up abit more, [pauses] to make sure she can't get into trouble.

Alice : [Clearly disappointed] Are you sure? My gloves are really soft, look! [Reaches into her pocket, and looks surprised] Hey look, someone's slipped this postcard into my pocket! [Shows it to the rest of the party.]

[The postcard is of the town square in Queens View, but there is a large stone in the middle that no one recognises. Written on the stone is "In Memory of the Smiths, Wiped Out By A Mysterious Disease in 392".]

Harvey : [Glares at Austin for a moment, before taking the postcard from Alice] By the saints! I've never seen this before! [Looks at the back] It is signed "Good Luck from Last". He must have slipped it into your pocket when he was hugging everyone. [Looks at Jerome, noticing the bleeding has stopped] I say, good Doctor, it looks like that blackguard Darius hasn't stolen your power after all.

Austin : [To Harvey] We really should go back to the bedroom to discuss this, to ensure Celias safety, of course.

Alice : Celia? But who's going to ensure Nicole's safety?

[The party head back to the room, where NICOLE is still here, handcuffed to the bed.]

Nicole : [Breathing heavily] So you're back, to [a little hopefully] abuse me some more?

Austin : [Ignoring Alice. To Nicole, sleazily] Absolutley. [Gets out two pairs of nipple clamps] Lets see if we can't get those under control [Plays with Nicoles nipple a little] You have been a very, very bad girl.[Gets out a fluffy whip]

Harvey : I say! Private Sleaze, stand down! We are not going to torture this lady! [Stands between Austin and the squirming Nicole]

Nicole : [Disappointed] No?

Jerome : [Turns with his back to Nicole] That is unless you dispense with the information we desire, name the nature of Darius and the means to leave this place. [Gives a broad wink to the rest of the party]

Alice : Er, is he asking me?

Nicole : [Theatrically warming to this new game] No! No! I'll never tell you!

Harvey : Go on lass, tell us or we'll lock you in an airless, stuffy cupboard with private Scar!

Nicole : [Gives Clint a salacious look before turning back to Harvey] I'll never betray Darius.

Clint : [Points at Nicole] Click click! Look, this wardrobe seems pretty airless to me.

Nicole : [Suppressing a smile] You'll never get it out of me!

Austin : [Looking very 'happy', applies a nipple clamp] Take that, you bad girl! [Gets out a tube of some oily looking stuff.]

Harvey : Private Scar! Cease and desist immediately! [Pulls the clamp off, eliciting a pained groan from Nicole] Troop, to the corner, we need to discuss this out of earshot of this, er, person.

Ausitn : [Looking like a child who's just had his sweeties stolen. To Harvey] Hey! I was doing the interrogation! [Looks at Nicole groaning and spanks her .To Harvey] Try that again and I'll sue you! [Spanks Nicole again]

Harvey : [Grabs Austin by the scruff of the neck] That is not interrogation, that's torture! Try that again and you'll find yourself handcuffed to the bed, and then we'll see how much you like having those little clamps attached, eh? Eh? [Pushes Austin away] Let's take the Doctor's suggestion and keep an eye on Darius and Pestilence.

Austin : [Indignantly wriggling free. To Harvey] Unhand me, buffoon! You will ruin this suit! [Straightens his collar carefully. To Nicole] Tell us how Darius can manage to come back to life, or I won't torture you any more. Not even a spank. [Folds his arm huffily]

Harvey : Gah! That suit was ruined the minute it was placed on your greasy hind! [Storms away and stands in the hallway]

Nicole : [With a hint of hysteria to Austin] You bastard! Okay, I'll tell you everything I know. [Pause for breath] I don't know.

Alice : Austin, don't slap her!

Nicole : Okay! Okay! All he ever told me is that he made a deal with the devil, a long time ago.

Alice : He made the deal a long time ago, or he told you a long time go?

Nicole : Both.

Alice : Which happened first?

Austin : [To Alice] Good question. [To Nicole] Answer her and you get one of these applied swiftly to your buttock [Shows Nicole a paddle]

[NICOLE says nothing, but looks pointedly at AUSTIN.]

Clint : Tell us how to get out of this place, or the lawyer will uncuff you and keep his toys just for himself.

Chastity : Will you stop all this double sexual innuedo, it is neither proper nor constructive. [To Austin] But keep hold of that, as I feel we'll soon be up a certain creek, so it would be good to have a paddle.

Nicole : Okay! Okay! If the shield is up, the only other way is through the time chamber.

Chastity : [To Nicole] Do you know where the chamber is? And how to work it. [To Harvey] This could be our chance to go back in time and save the Smiths.

Austin : [Spanks Nicole with the paddle. To Chastity] Why should we save the Smiths? Other than the fact that the bad guys have eradicated them, for all we know we might be better off. [Ponders] The only Smiths I ever met was that goddammed awful pop band, who sang endlessly dreary and dreperessing songs. Completely talentless, and mind numbingly boring. Good riddance.

Harvey : [Muttering to himself] If they met you, no wonder they were singing depressing songs.

Nicole : [Wincing in pain from the spank] I don't know how to operate it. I've only seen it once, it looks like a type sundial.

Jerome : Are you positive as to its location? and do you know any specifics of his contract? [To the party] We really should have at least one person mantain a sentinal on the combatitive horsemen.

Nicole : It's in the last room at the end of the corridor, and I don't know anything about his contract. Anytime someone tries to look at a contract, it reminds him of lawyers and, well, we all know how he feels about them.

Austin : [To Nicole, withholding the paddle] How did Darius manage to come back to life, and what is the connection to Jerome's amazing speed healing?

Harvey : [From the hallway] And furthermore, do you know if there are any traps leading to the sundial?

Nicole : [To Austin] I don't know, and I don't know. Maybe Jerome knows and is lying. [To Harvey] None. None at all. [Smiles] Hi folks, I'm stuck in a meeting for the next FIVE hours. Please put the conor_xda address on the mails today so I can keep awake during it. Conor On Fri, 3 Oct 2003 conor.ryan@ul.ie wrote:

Austin : [To Nicole] That's very very naughty. [Blind folds Nicole and applies two nipple clamps. Sarcastically] I'm sure the good doctor would never lie [To Jerome] would you?

Jerome : It is not within Jerome's psycological profile to utter a falsehood. Jerome may omit information if he deemed that the recipent of the information was non compos mentis, but Jerome would never say otherwise.

Chastity : Mr. Sleaze, will you please desist in you efforts on that girl. As the Colonel said, this is not a torture session. [Goes over to Nicole and tries to undo the clamps] Oh, I'm not familiar with these items. [To Nicole] Brace yourself. [gives the clamps a sharp tug to pull them off. To the group] Shall we go, I don't think we should be here when Darius and Pestilence return, all sweaty and excited!

Clint : [Looking at Chastity pulling the clamps, and the look of pain and pleasure in Nicole's face] Hey Chassers, I didn't know you were that familiar with sexual torture!

Austin : [Slaps the back of Chastity's hands as she pulls off the clamps] Hey! That's my job, who asked you to join in? S & M isn't a free for all you know! It is a communication between consenting adults, and I don't recall Nicole inviting you, which means that you, nun, have just sexually assulted Nicole, and there are several witnesses present!

Chastity : [To Austin] And you have just aggressively assaulted a woman, and there are several witnesses present!

Jerome : As per usual we have decended into petty bickering. Ladies and gentlemen we are in the home of the Horsemen, now is not the time to start a irrelivant conflict [Pause] Austin. [To Harvey] Colonel is the coast clear?

Harvey : Clear for Sleaze to further assault Sister Chastity? Or clear for us to proceed towards this time room she spoke of? If the latter, then the coast appears to be clear.

Chastity : [Turning away from Austin and Nicole] Lets get to the time chamber then, while we still can.

Harvey : Well, Sleaze, if you're finished assaulting that woman, let's go. [To Alice] Honestly, what kind of woman would let herself be treated like that?

Alice : [With a lingering look at Nicole] Yes. Terrible. I wonder what kind of woman would do that.

Chastity : A sad lonely wretch of a woman with low self esteem and the desperate misconception that being used is the same as being wanted. [Shakes her head] Tragic. [Goes to join Harvey in the hallway]

Alice : Yes, yes. A sad lonely wretch.

[The party advance down the corridor, with HARVEY and CLINT leading, then CHASTITY and ALICE, and finally JEROME and AUSTIN. It is clear that a lot of damage has been caused further up, with smashed walls and broken doors littering the way. At the end of the corridor is a large metal door which is shut. As the party approach, they can hear there is a huge commotion going on from one of the rooms to the left.]

Harvey : Careful, troop, it sounds like they're in there.

Alice : [Mutters to herself] Or maybe it's just Austin with a woman in there.

Austin : [To Alice, discreetly pinching her bum] No Alice, I'm right behind you.

Harvey : [Peering around the corner, before turning back to the party] It looks like they've got him. Darius is holding him down, while Pestilence is using some type of hot poker on him. What do we want to do, team?

[ALICE looks around her, distracted.]

Alice : [Turning to Austin] Hey! What was that?

Austin : [To Alice] What? [Looks around. To Alice] The Colonel said that Pestilence and Darius were torturing Contagion with a hot poker. [To Harvey] I think we should get the hell out of here. [Ponders] Or go back to the bed room.

Harvey : I think we should get out too, but how?

[PESTILENCE pops his head around the corner.]

Pestilence : Hey hey hey! [Waves Contagion's hand at them] What's going on here, then?

Austin : [To Pestilence] Oh, nothing much, pretty boring here really. Certainly no bondage or S & M. [Pauses, casually] Nothing to see at all really. [Shrugs] What are you up to then?

Chastity : [To Pestilence] We thought we'd better see what all the noise was about.I hope your going to tidy up after making all this mess.

Pestilence : [To Austin] Oh, nothing much, pretty boring here really. Just a bit of bondage and s&m, really. [Turns to Chastity] I'll wait until after we've killed all of you before tidying up. It would such a [draws a little frown in the air with his fingers] shame to have to do it twice.

Austin : [To Chastity] Speak for yourself! [To Pestillence, sarcastically] Yes, and make sure you have washed behind you ears too.

Jerome : How about you surrender thereby saving yourself the trouble of cleaning at all!

[PESTILENCE bursts out laughing at this, almost falling back against the wall.]

Pestilence : Brilliant! Brilliant! [Slashes Jerome across the face with his dagger, knocking him to the ground]

Alice : Hey! [Draws her sword]

Harvey : [Draws his sword] Nobody injures a member of my troop and gets away with it! [Attempts to attack Pestilence]

Clint : [Drawing his sword] Yeeeha!, let's kick his ass! [Throws a blow at Pestilence]

[Both HARVEY and CLINT hit PESTILENCE, both striking him on the left side, causing him to stagger back, arms swaying about, gasping. He staggers back, and, producing a cowboy hat from behind his back, places it on his head as he staggers forward, before falling and holding onto CLINT for support.]

Pestilence : Ak... you got me Pahdnuh. [Cough... cough] Hold me close, Red. It's a gettin' dark. [Cough] Tell Auntie Em to let Old Yeller out. [Cough... cough] Tell Tiny Tim I won't be makin' it home for Christmas. [Cough] Tell Scarlett I do give a damn...I... I... UUG! [Dies]

Jerome : [Gets to his feet] Jerome would like to express his gratitude to Alice Harvey and Clint for such a bold rescue. Sister Jerome would also heartily agree with your suggestion. [Looks beyond where Pestilance was standing to see if Darius is approaching]

Alice : Sister Jerome? Just what part of you did he cut with the knife?

[HARVEY leans back with his sword to get a good swipe, but is distracted by the sound of thunderous applause from somewhere down the corridor in the direction the party came from. Enter DARIUS to the hallway, clutching a gold statue and a gold envelope]

Darius : And this year's Rosca for best actor goes to.. [opens the envelope] Pestilence Sotot!

Pestilence : [Leaping to his feet, taking the statue from Darius, and facing towards the direction of the applause] Thank you! Thank you! You really love me! You really do!

Chastity : [Looks at Pestilence] I knew it! [Glances down the corridor towards the metal door] Quick lets get going. [Makes for the door]

Pestilence : [Passionately] This is more than just an award for me, it is for demons everywhere! This is for you, Barak the Merciless! And for you, Togra the Barbarian, for Squi -

[PESTILENCE is interrupted by CONTAGION bursting out of the room, heading towards the metal door. He runs into CHASTITY as he does so, sending her flying to the ground, before bursting into the room. In the middle is a sundial type device similar to those the party have seen before, which CONTAGION starts spinning apparantly at random.]

Contagion : [Bleeding profusely, and clearly very badly injured] Back off! Back off or I'll jump into time, and you'll never find me!

Austin : [Does a sarcasticly slow golf clap. To Contagion] Where is your sense of melodrama? Where? Nowhere. [Tuts and shakes his head]

Chastity : [Picking herself up and glancing down the corridor towards Darius and Pestilence. Aside to Jerome] Actually I can empathise with his sense of desperate urgency!

Jerome : [Aside to Chastity] Shall we enact a scene of desperate urgency then and rapidly make for the time apparatus?

Chastity : We'll have to get Contagion out of there first. The last thing we would want would be to stuck with Contagion in the middle of nowhere, caught somewhere in time. [Glances back at Darius and Pestilence again] Well maybe the second last thing we would want.

Alice : [Glances at Clint] Well, maybe the third last thing we would want.

Darius : [To Contagion] Off you go. We can tell where you went simply by looking at the device. [Walks towards Contagion]

[Just to be clear. CONTAGION is in the room, while PESTILENCE and DARIUS are outside, as are the party, but PESTILENCE and DARIUS are between the party and the room.]

Contagion : I'd rather die anywhere than here! [Presses the gnomon on the time machine and disappears in a blind burst of light that causes everyone to shield their eyes]

Darius : [Taking out another envelope] And this year's award for best special effects goes to...[opens the envelope] Me! [Enters the room]

Chastity : [To Austin] Do you think you'd be able to hit the activation from here with your sling? Now whould be good.

Clint : [Still with his sword drawn] Were you hurt at all, Jerry? Or are you still invincible?

Darius : I'll sort out Contagion. [Turns to Pestilence] See that they don't follow me - oh, and you'd better sort out Nicole pretty quick. She's liable to get pretty angry.

Pestilence : Sure thing, brother.

[DARIUS activates the time device and disappears. Seconds later, PESTILENCE spins the controls so the party can't see when he disappeared to.]

Pestilence : [With a big smile to the party] You'll have to excuse me. I need to do something. You can try to escape using the time machine, but it will send you at least five hundred years in the past, and, unless you've got a way in that new time to get back, you'll be stuck there. [Nonchalantly walks through the middle of the party, whistling a merry tune.]

Chastity : [Still rubbing her eyes from the flash of light. To Austin] Oh, nevermind then. Lets have a look at the chamber anyway. [Heads for the chamber door]

Austin : [To Jerome, smirking] It looks like your demon bourne powers are fading, Dr. Trindle. You appear to be bleeding, as usuall. [To Harvey] Colonel, should we destroy the sundial so they cannot return?

Austin : [Goes to the chamber too] I wonder why Pestillence thinks we can only go back 500 years?

Jerome : The possibility exists that the maximum temporal relocation via this device is 500 years, this gives us one endpoint on the scale hopefully allowing us to interpret the controls. Colonel remember what Pestilence said, that without a means to return we would be stuck in the past, presumably this is a device or method separate to this mechanism, destroying it would only mean it cannot send anyone else through time. Which in of itself maybe a good deed. [To Austin] Do you not feel like rescuing your masochistic maiden?

Harvey : Actually, Pestilence said that it would send us at least* 500 years back into the past.

Alice : [Confused at the casual manner in which Pestilence and the party passed each other in the corridor] If we destroy it, maybe Darius will find another way back. Or maybe we could use it to escape. [Thinks hard] If only we had some hint of where to go to.

Clint : [Looking around] What's that smoke? [Notices Alice thinking hard] Oh, ok. Any conclusions yet? [To Jerome] Come on Jerry, you're the guy with the brain!

Jerome : Colonel thank you for correcting my error, operating under such a false postulate could be disasterous. If we could arrive before the major history change we know of, the 'Smiths' incident, perhaps we could reverse it?

Austin : [To all] Well, what date does the post mark say on the postcard that Last gave to Alice? Some time shortly before that would be sensible.

Alice : [Takes out the postcard] Let's see. [Reads it thoroughly, lips moving and eyes flickering, before looking up] There's nothing on it. [Shows the back of the postcard, which is completely blank.]

Harvey : Well, the Smiths were apparantly wiped out in 392, perhaps that's a sign?

Harvey : [Thinks again] So, if we can somehow pop back in time before 392, we might be able to alter events! [Looks at the sundial] If only we knew how this contraption worked properly! Gah, if only we had a luck virus!

Alice : We do know how it works properly - remember, we used one in Insomnia? And in Queens View?* Just tell me when you want to go, and I'll sort it out. I remember this kind of stuff you know. [Quickly searches through her notebook, frantically trying to find something]

[Time passes.]

Alice : Hey! I was wondering what happened to this! [Lifts up a small leaf that she had pressed in the book] Anyway, are we going to go back?

Chastity : I don't see that we have much of a choice.

Alice : But when? When?

Harvey : We should probably go as soon as possible.

Alice : Okay, that sounds fair enough.

Austin : [To Harvey and Alice] I believe 'when' in the sense of 'where', in time, is the more appropriate question, not 'when' as in now. [Checks his nails and has a look at the sundial]

[ALICE and HARVEY look at each other and do a "handbags at twenty paces move".]

Alice : Okay then, smarty pants, when do we go to? The start of 392?

Austin : [To Alice] How should I know, I'm sure that you have far more experience of disease transmission and duration thatn I do.

Alice : [Smiles sweetly at Austin] You just keep telling yourself that, Aussie. [Dryly to the others] He's so much nicer now that we got that curse lifted, isn't he?

Chastity : [To Alice] Only when you consider that we've encountered Torque, Pestilence, Darius and Contagion today. [Look inside the chamber] Why don't we try to go back to 391. For all we know the Smiths may have finally have been wiped out at the start of 392 and we'd be too late to prevent it.

Harvey : Good idea, Sister! [Starts spinning the disks on the machine] Right, I believe we're ready - unless anyone has anything to say before we go?

Chastity : No. Lets go before Pestilence or Darius get back.

Austin : [Ponders dreamily] But what about Nicole? We can't just leave her to be [grins] tortured by Pestillence.

Alice : It's probably only marginally worse than being tortured by you!

[HARVEY pressed the sundial, and the party are enveloped in a bright white light, and all disappear. Enter PESTILENCE and NICOLE, the latter wearing a dressing gown.]

Nicole : Hey! Where are they gone?

Pestilence : Contagion escaped into the past. Death went back to torture him to death. Those other losers must have tried to figure out where he went and have gone back to try and kill him.

Nicole : [Indignantly] Humph! After tying me to a bed and torturing me, they just leave? [Pouts] Oh, I'll get them. I'll make them sorry.

[Some time passes.]

Pestilence : So, what do you wanna do?

Nicole : [Back to normal] How about a game of Go Fish?

Pestilence : Cool.

[The two sit down and PESTILENCE takes out a pack of tarot cards.]

[Book III, Act X, Scene II. The Field. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY and JEROME are lying here, having just appeared. There is a very large cow standing in the field looking at them, and, off to one side is a small cottage with smoke coming out of the chimney.]

Cow : Moo!

Harvey : [Sitting bolt upright] I say! Can anyone else get that smell? [Looks around excitedly]

Alice : [Wretchedly looking at the back of her blouse] Well, I can get *a* smell.

Chastity : [Glancing at CLint] Make that two. [To Harvey] I take it by your excitement you are referring to the smell of food, Colonel?

Harvey : [Beaming] Ah yes, good Sister! Apple pie, I'll wager, from the cottage.

Alice : [Excitedly] Maybe the cottage is made from apple pie!

Chastity : I doubt it, but lets find out anyway. [Heads quietly towards the cottage]

Jerome : Dearest Alice, fondest desire of my life, Jerome doubts the structural capabilities of Apple Pie in Civil engineering, unless we are talking about the pies produced by Jerome's former Matron, Margaret Morngrim-Bleet. Let us investigate! [Jerome Stands and looks at the surrounding countryside]

Clint : Yeah, but make sure we go in quiet and check who's inside first. Our last meeting with a cook in a cottage didn't go too well.

Alice : Well, we'll just see about that, won't we, Jerome?

[As the party move closer, it becomes obvious that the cottage is not made out of apple pie, and that the smell is coming from a pie cooling on a back window, the direction the party are approaching from.]

Harvey : Quickly, Private Sleaze! You're on pie duty.

Chastity : [Rolling her eyes] I do wish you'd choose your phrasing a bit more carefully at times, Colonel.

Harvey : Eh? I merely indicated that I felt that he is no stranger to the snatch.

Chastity : [Groans] Anyway I don't think that we should be stealing the pie.

Clint : Nonsense! [Goes and grabs the pie from the window]

Harvey : [Clearly pretending to be annoyed] I say, no. No. That would be terrible.

[CLINT grabs the pie, but almost immediately drops it back down on the window sill, presumeably from the heat. Enter DANIELLE DANIEL, appearing at the window.]

Danielle : Hey! [Puts on a strangely seductive sulk, and wags a scolding finger at Clint] Naughty naughty!

Austin : [To Clint] Well done Private Scar. [Looks around] I don't see any reliable witnesses. Probably just as well with all of this snatch and pie shenanigans afoot. [Ponders] Perhaps you would now like to return the pie, before you make it's owner very angry. My many years as a lawyer has taught me to always conclude your missives, before entering potential conflict negotiations.

Alice : It looks like the pie has an anti theft device!

Harvey : [Darkly] Confounded hot plates!

Danielle : [Playfully] Oh! A bunch of thieves eh?

Harvey : [Stands up straight, eyeing the pie] Oh dear me no madam, certainly not! We merely wished to observe this perfectly baked, fragrantly succulent apple pie! [Sniffs] With perhaps a hint of cloves?

Danielle : Perhaps just a hint, [mischeviously] and, a mystery ingredient. Perhaps if you had a taste of it you might be able to identify it?

Harvey : Why certainly my dear, it would be churlish of me to refuse a piece of such a fine pie! However, alas, my taste buds are not what they were in my youth, so I'm afraid I'll need a large taste!

Danielle : Well, I must say, I like a man who enjoys his food. Why don't you all come in and have a taste?

Harvey : Why thank you, my dear! Most kind, I must say! [Turns to the others] Well?

Alice : Don't worry Harvey, we'd never get between you and pie. [Lowly to the others] Not since the [finger quotes] Christmas incident [end quotes] anyway.

[The party enter through the back door, into DANIELLE's kitchen. It is a warm, comfortable affair, with a large table and chairs in the middle.]

Danielle : I'm Danielle, by the way. Make yourselves comfortable.

Alice : Cool, this underwire is really starting to annoy me. [Starts to take off her top]

Harvey : [Quickly] Dear God Alice, she didn't mean your, ahem, lady underwear! Please my dear girl, have a seat at the table! [Harvey sits down, drooling expectantly]

ALice : [Stops mid take-off] Oh, not *that* comfortable then?

[DANIELLE puts the pie on the table, and starts cutting it.]

Danielle : So, what brings you folks here? Are you here to see the Big Cow?

Jerome : [Stares Blankly for a second] Are you implying we are here to view an excessively beyond the norm sized Bovine? [Pause] Err no pie for Jerome, cooked apples and Jerome’s digestive processes are not mutually compatible with polite company.

Austin : [Looks at Jerome. To Danielle] Well I'll eat pie, especially ones as tasty looking as yours [Gives Danielle a big smile].

Danielle : [Smiles back, with an exaggerated shocked look] Oh! You are so naughty! [Turns to Jerome, with her best little girl look] And don't you like looking at big cows?

Austin : [To Danielle] He doesn't seem to like pie or big cows, or anyhting much. He is terribly boring really, as I am sure you will find out soon enough.

Danielle : [Mischieviously] And you are just terrible? [Looks around] So, who are you lovely people?

Clint : Well I certainly like looking at big cows. There was one, back in Queens View, that had the biggest ti... [Looks around] Oh. Cows you mean.

Danielle : [Mock scolding] I knew you were trouble the minute I [sniffs and then smiles broadly] saw you.

Austin :[To CLint] Yes, Mr Scar, cows, big ones. [To Danielle] Well, it seems as though most of us would like to eat your pie and see the big cows, so please lead the way [Winks at Danielle and bows slightly]

Danielle : Mr. Scar? Clint Scar?

Harvey : [Stomach rumbling] And if he was this Clint Scar, would that be a good or a bad thing, my dear?

Danielle : A good thing in that it would explain where that smell is coming from, and a bad thing in that we're probably going to have to put up with it as long as he's around.

Austin : [To Clint] Your odour preceeds you Mr. Scar, as always. [To Danielle] Well, talking about ofacaltory senses, your sweet smelling pie has got my juices running, so shall we go inside and sample some, or would you like to go and see the big cow first? [Wiggles is eyebrows at Danielle and smiles]

Danielle : [Big smile] Well, I must say, it's great to finally meet you all, and you seem even nicer than I expected.

Chastity : [In Austin's direction] Ahem! [Folds her arms indignantly. To Danielle] And I am Sister Chastity of the Holy Church of Phili.

Austin : [Casually looks round to Chastity. To Danielle] Oh, yes, I forgot about old Chasers holy church there. [Insincerely smirking] Ooops!

Danielle : [Teasingly to Austin] Except you, of course, you're far nastier than I thought you'd be!

Austin : [To Danielle, smiling] So are you going to punish me? A good spanking perhaps? I have been very, very nasty. [Does guilty puppy eyes to Danielle] <

Danielle : [Playfully rolls her eyes] Good idea, but maybe I'll get my husband to do it.

Chastity : [To Alice] Looks like Austin could be in for a fist spanking to the face. [Glances briefly at Danielle] Unless her husband is Boddy! [To Danielle] My dear, two questions. Where are we, we are a bit lost, and how do you know who we are?

Alice : And where would Boddy spank him?

Danielle : You are in -

[Enter BODDY, carrying some firewood.]

Boddy : Right, what's the apple pie situ- [breaks off as he sees the party] Well, well, what have we here?

Chastity : Good day, Mr Boddy. What a charming home you have here.

Boddy : [Puts the firewood down and bows ostentatiosly to Chastity] How nice of you to say so, Sister. [Looks around the party] What are you here for? I suspect you're more interested in Smiths than big cows.

Clint : Well, I once knew a big cow called Smith. She had big ... [Pause]. Right. Cows. I keep forgetting.

Boddy : [Takes out a cigar] So, eleven hundred years since we last met, and Clint is still the same.

Danielle : [Reproachfully] You're not really going to smoke that, are you?

Boddy : Sigh. [Puts the cigar away]

Danielle : Ah ah! [Holds her hand out, and Boddy hands her the cigar]

Chastity : [To Body] What do you know about the Smiths? This is 391, isn't it? [To Danielle] And why are you talking about big cows?

Boddy : Smiths? Other than the fact that someone has started killing them off, not a whole lot. Although [looks from side to side before leaning in confidentially] John Smith, our next door neighbour is a bit strange.

Danielle : [Playfully slaps Boddy's arm] Hey! Anyone who loves his dog that much has to be nice.

Boddy : Uh uh, anyone who loves his dog [emphasises] that much has to be strange.

Jerome : But the year, Mr. Boddy. Is this 391?

Boddy : Yes.

Chastity : [To Boddy] Interesting that you hould say that someone is killing the Smiths. We'd been told it was a bit more mysterious, like a plague.

Boddy : I suppose it depends on when you were told - history often has a tendency to distort facts.

Austin : [To Chastity and Boddy] Indeed, sister, but it was also inferred that it was part of a deliberate and premeditated operation to eradicate the smiths, and so other forms of extermination cannot and have not yet been excluded, nor investigated.

Chastity : [To Austin] Precisely, Mr. Sleaze, which is why we are here. [pauses. To Alice] Did the lawyer and I just agree about something? [shudders]

Boddy : [Musing] Seems like a good way to get your attention.

Danielle : [To the party] Do you want to stay the night? It's so rare that friends from Nigel's past come. [Enthusiastically] I'm sure he's had a dark past that's been kept from me!

Alice : [Playing with a small statue of a big cow] Moo! Moo! [Is about to prod Clint's arm with it] Huh? Um, sorry, I wasn't paying attention!

Jerome : [With a hint of a smile to Boddy] Nigel?

Boddy : What's to ya, buddy?

Austin : [To Danielle, raising an eyebrow when he hears Boddys first name. Smiling] I am sure we would all love to stay the night [rhetorically to the party] Wouldn't we. [To Danielle] As for Nigel's past, and future, of which I am sure there are many, and of which I am sure we have only experienced a few, it could be difficult to differentiate between what has already happend, and that which has yet to come. Time travel does complicate things somewhat. [Muses] Especially patents and copyright, for example. to

Danielle : Time travel? [Laughs] Oh, you're so funny! Anyway, I'd better get the spare beds ready. [To Alice] Would you like to help?

Alice : [Wrinkles up her nose] Make beds? God, no! [Checks herself] I mean, I'd rather stay here and catch up with Nige, if you don't mind.

[Exit DANIELLE with a smile and a wave.]

Boddy : [Takes out the cigar and lights it] Obviously, you haven't been around long enough to figure out time travel yet. The last time I saw you was after we killed Pestilence*. What are you doing back here?

Harvey : Well Mr Boddy, we're here to stop the Smiths from being wiped from the face of this planet! [Scratches at a sideburn] I wonder does your presence here have anything to do with wiping the Smiths from the face of this planet?

Clint : And what's with the woman? Last time we saw you you had a bit of better taste - [day dreaming] ahhh, the sweet Nicole... [Pause] Then again, you're probably gonna tell us again that you're Boddy, not Darius, and you never heard of Darius before. Right?

Boddy : I'm Boddy, not Darius, but I have heard of him. [Coldly] Better taste? What the fuck does that mean? [Takes a huge drag of his cigar, blowing the smoke in Clint's direction before turning to Harvey] It's got nothing to do with me. I don't have anything against Smiths. [Thoughtfully] Although, you have to admit, it's a good way to get someone's attention.

Clint : [Inhaling the smoke with obvious pleasure] You know, I kind of remember this scene, from the cave with Balkline. Did you set him free after all?

Boddy : Balkline? I don't know what you're talking about.

[Time crawls by.]

Danielle : [Calling from another room] I hope you all like rashers with eggy bread, that's Nigel's favourite!

Chastity : [Calling back to Danielle] Only if the bacon is lean. One has ones health and figure to watch. With all the excitement we seem to have, it doesn't do to carry any extra pounds. [To Boddy] Anyway, can you explain about the big cows?>

Chastity : I'm sure you can change all that! On another subject, do you of anyone who may want rid of the Smiths?

Boddy : There's just one of them, and people flock from all around to see it. The folks around here are all very proud of it, and expect that all visitors to the area want to see it. [Takes a drag of the cigar] These are an altogether more innocent bunch of people than what you're used to.

Austin : [Ponders] A single giant cow, that reminds me of the story of the cardboard pig of Cork. An invading army built a giant cardboard pig, and hid inside it, just outside the city of Cork, which they wished to invade. [Chuckles] The people of Cork were so impressed by the giant pink pig, that they towed it inside their city, where upon the invading army jumped out and killed them all. This single giant cow sounds suspicious, we should at least investigate.

Boddy : I didn't say it was a giant cow, I said it was a big cow.

Chastity : Strange how it didn't remind you of the giant cake we hid in to get in Mermantort Jail. You know the one we built with the imaginary giant rabb...[catches Boddy's eye and tails off] ..it.

Jerome : Indeed. It also reminds Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD of the tale of a bunch of invaders that hid inside a giant bottle of special brew with a view to invading Edenburger. Unfortunately, the townsfolk, upon seeing the bottle, opened it immediately and, were so disappointed, slaughtered every one inside. Mr. Boddy, we still do not know the name of this area. What is the nearest town?

Boddy : That would be Inertia. We're about half a mile away. In fact, about a hundred yards from our house is a sign that says "Welcome to Inertia, the home of the big cow."

Chastity : Inertia? Wasn't where we left Random? When was that?

Austin : [To Chastity] Well, it ws a few weeks ago our time and a thousand or so years ago, our time and probably about now, this time? [Checks his nails. To Boddy] Nigle [Pauses for emphasis] could you tell us somthing about how time travel works, please? It makes our relationships with people, such as yourself, rather difficult to follow.

Chastity : [To Austin] I meant what calendar year.

Austin : [Checks Maplin carefully. To Chastity] Oh. [To the others] Well why don't we go and see Inertia, and he big cow.

Alice : [Checking her notebook] You must be thinking of Insomnia, Chastity. That's where we last saw Randy.

Jerome : [Nodding excitedly at Austin's words] Yes, please, Mr. Boddy. Tell us more about time travel.

Boddy : [Shrugs at Austin] I don't know how it works. The thing to keep in mind is that everyone has their own, absolute, time line. The last time I met you isn't necessarily the last time you met me, or you possibly haven't experienced that yet. The key thing is not to blurt out anything that might corrupt something that has already happened for one or more of the parties. [Gives a shudder] You don't want to do that.

Austin : [To Boddy] Okay, so we met you a week ago or so, and that was after the time we left you with Nefiritiri, and I presume that you have not yet, in your time line experienced that, so, it gets very complicated, as we can't ask you, or tell you, that which has yet to come to pass in your timeline, and you to us likewise, should that be a real potential or otherwise, in the case that you may have already experience that which may, or may not, come to pass, in our future time lines, be that previous to now, or in the past of our future, or future future, as the case may be. [Pauses and in hales deeply] So, what happens when you do corrupt something that has already happened?

Harvey : And perhaps even more importantly, whatever happened to that apple pie? Or have we already eaten it in some alternative time line, perhaps?

Boddy : I have experienced that. It happened over a thousand years ago, just after we sorted out Pestilence. When you corrupt something, well, let's just it's not good.

[Time passes.]

All : It's not good.

Boddy : The problem is that everything is inter related, so, one minute you're killing all the Smiths, and the next everyone has purple hair. If you change the past, you risk changing your own present.

Alice : [Looks at all the pie around Harvey's mouth] Right. Maybe you might wait for Nigel's eggy bread?

Chastity : but more chance of an manners faux pas instead!

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle, Bsc, Phd urges utmost caution in your further conversation with this man, one Nigel Boddy, as he does believe that his current hair colour is the one he's most comfortable with!

Harvey : [Wiping crumbs from his shirt] Eggy bread, you say dear niece! How wonderful! I must say though, the more we have our mouths full, the less chance of timeline faux paus, what!

Chastity : What, has the Colonel eaten his own already?

Alice : [To Harvey] I guess that depends on what your mouth is full of.

Boddy : So anyway, why are you here? Hardly out of concern for the Smiths, is it?

Harvey : Well, actually, it is. Where we've just come from, the Smiths have been completely wiped out, but that, we think, is a result of Contagion travelling back in time.

Jerome : We hope to identify the catalyst leading to the extinction of the Smiths, and prevent it.

Clint : You see, I dated Lourdes Smith way back in the fight club years. I would hate to think that what she did to me was just a dream! [To Chastity] Euh. Apple pie. Yes. She cock, I mean, cooked, a mean apple pie.

Austin : Indeed, the Smithless future was rather odd. Although we are here to try to find the root cause of the Smithonian genocide, we are doing so as it would appear to be the action of our enemy, and as such we do have alterior motives, vis a vis, finding out what the bad guys are up to.

Alice : [Gives Clint a baleful look] Fight Club years? [Whispers to Jerome] She was most likely a figment of his imagination. [Shudders] And Phili only knows what he did to that poor pie. [Shudders again]

Boddy : Well, good luck with that. I've retired, and put all that stuff behind me, so I don't have any information.

Harvey : No information at all? Surely you may have noticed an odd event recently, something out of the norm? I must also tell you, sir, that Darius has also returned, following after Contagion.

Boddy : Inertia's a fairly quiet place, Harv. Nothing much happens here. That's why I like it so much. [Puffs on his cigar with a wry smile] Darius, eh? Now there's a Smithkiller if ever I met one.

Clint : Well? Have you met him?

Boddy : Sure. Didn't you know? We're soulmates.*

[A terrible crash of lightening sounds from outside.]

Danielle : [Calling out] Sorry! I just dropped the metal tray.

Harvey : [Panicked] Pray to Phili dear sister that the eggy bread was not on that tray! [Turns to Boddy] Soulmates? How so?

Chastity : [Pales] By Phili, you didn't match each other up in that terrible dating gameshow, did you?

Austin : [To Harvey] Two people, one soul, I believe? [Looks at Boddy enquiringly, then ponders Harvey's girth] Or perhaps in your case, two souls, one body. That would explain the appetite at least.

Harvey : An army marches on it's stomach, private, not as you seem to believe, minces on it's poor wit!

Boddy : [Pointing at Austin] Correctomundo! Actually, many bodies, one soul. Everybody has them, but most will never get to meet theirs, as they never live during the same time. Of course, throw time travel into the equation and the whole thing falls apart. [Smokes some more] I've met some of mine, have regretted meeting others, and don't want to meet others.

Clint : Do you know if any of our soulmates are around in this timeframe?

Boddy : [Calling out to Danielle] Dan? I think we'd better get some extra eggy bread for Harvey here.

Danielle : [From the other room] Sure, hon. I can make some of those gingerbread soldiers you like too, that's if you think your friends would like them.

Boddy : I'm sure they will. [Turns to Clint] I haven't a clue. Like I said. I've retired here. Inertia is the perfect place for me. It's possible, but unlikely - but be careful, even if you meet a soulmate, there's no guarantee that you'll recognise each other as such. It can be a fairly traumatic experience.

Jerome : Are there any noteable physiological properties about coextisiting with your temporally displaced duplicate?

Austin : [To Jerome] Yes, if there were two of you it would be twice as boring!

Chastity : [To Austin] Now, now, stop that. We don't want to start arguing about the frailties about theoretical particular duplicates of ourselves. Not when we seem to do with just considering the present selves. In any case, you would probably have the most duplicates out of all of us put together. It would certainly explain your soulessness.

Alice : Well, if there were two of you it would be twice as.. as.. [puts on her sulkiest face] shut up!

Boddy : It's not the physiological that you need to be careful, more the psychological. Your oulmates are incredibly similar to you in every way, but sometimes there are disturbing differences.

Harvey : Indeed so, dear sister, indeed so! [To Boddy] So, have you come across our other incarnations in this timeframe? What I mean is, are they living locally, do we face the possiblility of meeting them around the town?

Harvey : Ah my dear, and I'm sure it's a fine question too! [To Boddy] So, I presume you'll be on your guard, knowing that your soulmate is here! In fact, you may even be on Contagions list of targets!

Boddy : If they are, I haven't met them. There's always the possibility that they may be lurking around.

Alice : [With her thoughtful face on] I've a question.

Chastity : [Aside to Jerome] I hope it doesn't involve big cows.

Alice : [Looks at Chastity with a disappointed expression in silence for a few seconds] No.

Boddy : [To Harvey] I'm not pushed. Darius and I have a healthy respect for each other. Anyway -

Alice : [Interrupting] Oh! Oh! I've got another question! Those times we saw our soulmates, how they were all together? [To Boddy] That's a good question, isn't it?

Boddy : Yes.

Jerome : Well done Alice! Your erudite insight is shining forth again!

Harvey : [Looks proudly at Alice] Ah dear niece, you are certainly a shining beacon of the Short thinking prowess, by the saints, yes indeed! And to add icing to the Short cake, I've another question! Where is your good lady with the eggy bread and bacon?

Austin : [To Boddy] I take it that not only do we have soulmates, but that those soulmates tend to hang around in some manner with the soulmates of those that we hang around with? [To Boddy] But those soulmates may not be like us in some ways, but identical in others, for example, the Colonels future soulmate is a homosexual thespian fop, who is also a [Ponders his words] a [emphasis] gourmet.

Alice : [To Jerome, concerned] Is it? [Takes out her compact and powders her nose]

Boddy : Not necessarily, but every so often a group of them may come together. However, that's usually only the case if you've got some kind of divine purpose.* [To Alice] In answer to your question, I don't know. Maybe the knights were involved.**

Harvey : A Gourmet? I thought he was English! Those damned Gourms! Dirty foreigners, one and all!

Austin : [To Danielle] It does cover Mr. Scars odours a bit though.[Gets out his aftershave atomiser and sprays a little in the direction of Clint, then put some on himself]

Danielle : [Coming back in] Dinner's ready! [Reporachfully to Boddy] Have you been smoking?

Boddy : No, I took it off Clint.

Danielle : Good. [To the party] We don't like smoking.

Harvey : [Coughs] Ah, so that's why it's called Eau de toilette. It makes you smell like a public urinal, private!

Austin : [To Harvey] Well I am sure you know a great deal about public urinals, Colonel. Do you sniff them alot?

Danielle : [Shocked, to Austin] What did you say?

Harvey : By God sir, I spent my formative years in them! As a young raw recruit, any transgression was punished by said recruit scrubbing the squads toilet area with a toothbrush! As I was a tad unruly as a lad, I ended up wearing out quite a few tooth brushes! So when I say you smell like one, I speak with great authority!

Chastity : With such a potty mouth I'm not suprised he carries aroung Eau de Toillette. [To Austin] Public convenience odour inhaling is not a topic for the table. And spraying strong scents around the table will damage the taste of the excellent food this kind lady is providing.

Alice : [Horrified] A squaddies toilet area? You mean you had to clean their... [points to her crotch] you know!

Boddy : Ye-es. Let's get some dinner.

[Exit ALL, into the next room.]

Austin : [To Danielle] Please excuse my uncouth associates, they often behave like this, but they mean no harm by it. I believe that it is a consequence of the terrors we have faced during our perilous missions. The monsters and nightmare scenarios of our past has had detrimental effects on their fragile minds, but they are still able to appreciate good food. [To Harvey] You like good food don't you Colonel.

Danielle : [Smiling] It seems like you are the uncouth one, Mister Sleaze! It's okay, Nigel has told me all about you and his dark past. Come on, before the eggy bread gets cold.

[Exit ALL, really this time.]

Harvey : I'm sure you can, dear niece, but it shall have to wait until after this fine repast!

[Book III, Act X, Scene III. Danielle's Dining Room. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, BODDY are here. The room is quite simple, but the table is laid with what is obviously her best china, as well as a full set of "Big Cow" coasters and napkins. There is one large bowl of eggy bread, and one of crispy bacon.]

Alice : Can we see the big cow? Can we? Can we? I've *always* wanted to see the big cow!

Boddy : You only heard of it fifteen minutes ago.

Alice : Well, ever since I heard of it!

Clint : [Grabbing some eggy bread] [To Boddy] Do you have some liquor to wash this down?

Jerome : Indeed good Colonel. Jerome thanks the demure Danielle for the provisioning of this, her most spledid fare.

Boddy : Sure I do. [Gestures to a large jug of beer on the table]

Danielle : So, why are you folks in Inertia? Other than wanting to visit Nigel, of course?

Harvey : Ah my dear, we're here to meet our old aquaintance, and of course, to see the big cow of Inertia!

Danielle : Well, I'm not a fan of it, but Nigel could it eat all day! Remember last Saturday, Nigel? You must have had five slices of it then, and [leans in enthusiastically] some of the egg was starting to congeal!

Boddy : [Wryly] You can't beat that eggy bread.

Chastity : [Layering some bacon on the bread. To Boddy] Most definately not. It just ends up like a tasty glue.

Danielle : If you want, I'll bring to the Big Cow when we're finished. Nigel's not really a fan of it, but a lot of foreigners don't understand.

Harvey : That would be just wonderful, madam, wonderful! Could this day improve, I ask! Apple pie, eggy bread and bacon, plus, a visit to the big cow!

Harvey : [Raps on the table with this knuckles] Hear her, hear her! Well said sister! Can't have my taste buds ruined by that smell! Reminds me too much of brushing my teeth as a lad!

Clint : [Helping himself to the jar of beer] And beer!

Boddy : So, these people that you followed here. What makes you think this is where they are?

Harvey : This is, as far as we know, when the problems with the Smith family began to manifest themselves. Therefore, we think that they must be here!

Boddy : Dan, would you mind getting some applie pie for Harvey?

[DANIELLE goes into the next room, and BODDY leans forward confidentially.]

Boddy : Contagion is a dangerous sort, but he is very, very stupid. Given the weapons you have, you won't be able to kill him, though. You may want to think about ways to imprison him until someone else can sort him out.

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] I remember when a number of our troop were imprisoned in an orb, back in Iok Sotot's temple! If we could find one of these orbs, perhaps we could use that to imprison Contagion!

Clint : [To Boddy] Do you know of the whereabouts of Beaucaphalus, the wonder sword? I've used it before to deal with Pestilence. [Has some more beer]

Austin : [To Boddy] I was under the impression that he is very stong indeed, so we would have to freeze himin ice or something, get him very very drunk and tie his shoe laces together and then make him trip down a mine shaft, and seal the entrance.

Boddy : [To Clint] I've got a fair idea where he might be. However, Contagion has a tendency to regenerate, so even Beaucaphalus mightn't be the best tool here. [Looks at Harvey] That's a good idea, but I guess those Orbs belonged to one of the Sotots, which means they'll be difficult to get hold of, so maybe Austin's idea is best.

Alice : Well, I'm not! [Face goes like thunder as she crosses and uncrosses her feet, showing off her buckled shoes] Yeah, like any six year old can tie laces.

Harvey : And what if he's wearing wellington boots? What then, eh?

Harvey : Is there a deep mineshaft nearby? And how is the ice situation?

Chastity : And who's going to do the shoelace tieing?

Alice : Then, [holds up her knife] then I'll sort him out. [Thinks for a moment] Hey! How can I tie his shoelaces together when he doesn't have any shoelaces?

Jerome : Mayhap sweet Alice, you should simply ensnare his feet with some form of lariat. [To Boddy] Mr Boddy perchance you know the reasons behind their advantageous regenerative abilities? mutterings were made of demonic collaboration. What do we know of Contagion apart from his statistically low intelligence quotient.

Alice : Don't you remember, Jerry? We came across him before. If you hit him with a sword, whatever part you hit comes off, grows hands and legs and then attacks.

Chastity : Yes, that's right, inside the volcano at Maboobahboobah. [Shudders] Not an experience I'd like to relive.

Alice : [Flicking through her notebook] Actually, Chastity, I think you'll find that the island was called [looks down at the notebook for far longer than is necessary, looking increasingly more petulant and red of cheek, before slamming the book shut] So where's this giant cow, anyway?

Boddy : [Pointing a soggy piece of eggy bread at Alice] It's not a giant cow, it's a big cow.

Chastity : [To Jerome] Despite the fact he's the wiping boy for Darius and Pestilence, COntagion is still incessantly evil and must be stopped doing, erm, what ever he's doing!

Chastity : That would be ideal. [Quickly makes up an eggy bread and bacon sandwich]

Boddy : Wiping boy, eh? What humiliations will they think of next? I'll tell you what, I'll take you to Inertia, someone there might have heard something. This whole anti-Smith thing has been going on for a while now.

Danielle : [Coming back into the room] Nigel, those chickens have got loose again - can you look after it while we're gone?

Boddy : Actually, it might be better if you get the chicken situation under control - the others asked if I'd bring them into Inertia.

Danielle : [Pouting slightly] But I was going to do it!

Boddy : Come on, Dan. There are only so many rear lights that we can get fixed in a month.

Danielle : Okay.

Boddy : [To the party] Ready?

Chastity : [After a brief pause as she takes a big bite from her sandwich, chews and swallows] Sorry, can't have a full mouth. Yes. Ready.

Danielle : Okay, I'll see you all later. [Gives Boddy a kiss] I love you, honey bunny.

Boddy : I love you too, Bunny Wunny. [Turns and glares at the party, as though daring them to comment] Right. Let's go.

[Exit ALL, into BODDY's stationcarriagewagon, with BODDY driving.]

Boddy : So why do you think the place is be desmithified?

Chastity : We can only presume that someone is attempting some sort of temporal sabotage, wiping out someone's lineage before they are born.

Austin : [Quickly rolling a cheesearette, pops it in his mouth and lights up, blowing two perfect smoke rings] Or, a number of people, before they are born. [Blows some more smoke rings, which smell of cheese that has been steeped in Louis XV] Or just trying to get our attention, a cunning ruse to keep us away from the real plan. [Takes a drag and passes it to Alice. To Alice, with an obvious wink] A medicinal smoke Alice?

Alice : Well, if it's medicinal, I suppose it'll be okay. [Takes it off him]

Boddy : It does seem like a good way to get your attention. How else would you know where Contagion and Darius went?

Chastity : [Goes to quickly take the doober from Alice] And talking of getting attention, I don't think smoking out in public is a good idea on the way to this idyllic town.

Clint : [To Boddy] And old Lourdes Smith must be saved as well. Oh boy, could she suc... suc... [quick glance at Chastity] succeed in her life!

Jerome : Jerome concurrs with Chastity's assesment of the situation. We should err upon the side of caution least we irrevocably change the future.

Boddy : [To Clint] Did she succeed in giving you a blow job? [Takes out a huge cigar but, just before putting it in his mouth, gives it a wry look, and then puts it back in his pocket] Hm.

Alice : [To Jerome] Hey! How come she's allowed to smoke and I'm not? [To Chastity] Anyway, how do we know that erring on the side of caution won't irrevocably change the future?

Chastity : [To Clint] It's touching that you should show such caring and admiration to a member of the opposite sex for once. Well with a name like Lourdes I suppose it shouldn't be any suprise you had an almost religious experience.

Harvey : Keep your stories about dubious women seed sucking to yourself, private Scar, there are ladies present in this carriage! [To Boddy] From what you said a little earlier, Boddy, do you think the only reason the Smiths are being wiped out, is to lure us to this place and time?

Boddy : Not necessarily the only reason, but a pretty good one. If I needed to get you to a time and place and had no other way of contacting you, I'd probably choose to wipe out a dynasty who's greatest achievement was the production of a woman who once gave Clint a blow job. clearer!

Harvey : [Shudders] Why go to all the trouble to lure us here when they had us in their clutches only moments ago! It doesn't make sense!

Clint : And she wasn't the only one, her sister Mary Smith was just as good!

Boddy : I'm starting to regret that I wasn't the one who killed the Smiths!

Chastity : [Shaking her head at Clint] I've a feeling the Smiths must have all died out of shame! So great was it that they also did so retrospectively!

Boddy : [Nods his head] Hm, yes, I see where you're going with this. [Dramatically] We are looking for a man named Smith!

Chastity : Well, to town then. Hopefully we can find some sort in inhabitants register to tell us where any Smiths are.

Jerome : So Mr Boddy, how many individuals named Smith abide within the local population centre? I was about to say that I have to all my email folders tidy, but... Any earlier than that have gone though!

Chastity : [Looks up to the sky and then back to the shield] Thank you, Dr.Trindle. [Looks up at Seigfried] I'm not sure how pleased I am to see you.

Austin : [Sighs] The longer we talk about it the fewer there will be. [Snatches the cheesearette back from Chastity and takes a big drag, the passes it to Boddy if he wants it]

Boddy : [Takes the cheeserette] It's okay, Sister. Things are very different in this time, so there's no need to worry about anti-cheese laws. I don't know how many Smiths there, probably two families.

Chastity : [To Boddy] Well that's a good place to start our search, as long as we make it there, what with you driving under the influence and all. [Puts on a seat belt and checks for escape routes] Most irresponsible!

Boddy : It's okay, Sister. I took a little Parmesan earlier, so this is just the ticket to keep me flying level.

[The carriage approaches a small town. Just on the outside is a huge banner with "The Big Cow of Ine" written on it. A man, LUCIUS CAIRO, stands beneath it.]

Alice : The Big Cow of Ine?

Boddy : You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to get people to do anything in this town. It's taken them months to get this far with it. [Pulls up by Lucius] Lucius!

Lucius : [With a sly and smarmy manner as he rubs himself with his fur scarf] Well, hello.

Clint : [Looks at the banner, then to Lucius] Are you the big cow of Ine?

Jerome : [To Clint] Ine is just the first three letters of Inertia, there must have been some trouble getting it started but Jerome wonders if they have enough MOMENTUM or even a FORCE-ful boss to overcome any FRICTION in its completion [Chortles happily to himself]

Lucius : [Gives a sleazy smile] Oh, no sir, I merely have the honour of tending to the Big Cow. Would you like to see her?

Alice : [Looks at Jerome as though he is completely insane] I thought we'd agreed that there wouldn't be any more science jokes!

Clint : Sure, we'd love to see the big cow!

Lucius : [Sleazily] Excellent, more excellent. Come this way.

[The party climb out of the carriage and follow LUCIUS into a barn. There is a crowd of about forty people here, from which emanates the occasional shocked gasp. The party move to the front to see that they are looking at what appears to be, at least, to the untrained eye, a completely normal cow.]

Lucius : [Wringing his hands] Isn't she just wonderful?

Chastity : [Looking through the crowd. Unconvincingly To Lucius] Erm, yes. Wonderful. [pauses for thought and a longr look] Please excuse me, for Nun's are not overly familiar with farm animals*, but is that cow really very big?

Lucius : [Weasling up alongside Chastity] Oh, yes, Sister. She is marvellous.

Boddy : No one said that the cow was really very big, just big.

Chastity : [Tries to edge away from Lucius. To Austin] What a slimey character. [Sighs unhappily, and edges away from Austin to Alice. Aside to Alice] What a slimey character.

Jerome : So this is just a qunatifiably large bovine. Jerome is confused as to the attraction in veiwing a cow that is within the standard deviation of cow size, but just above the median value? years...

Boddy : This is Inertia. Nothing much happens here, so it isn't too difficult to impress people.

Austin : [Examining Maplin lovingly, careeses Maplin and pulls his sleeve back down. To Boddy] Indeed, very indeed. [Smirks at his own joke. Aloud] Are any members of the Smith family present?

Cow : Moo.

[No one answers.]

Lucius : The Smiths? Oh, no sir, there are no Smiths here. They live on the other side of town. [Gives a snivelly smile] I could show you if you like.

Chastity : That would be good. As long as you were referring to showing us where the Smiths live.

Austin : [To Lucius] Why are the Smiths not here to view the amazing cow? [Deadpan] Truly amazing cow. [Checks his nails] It would be most amazingly kind of you if you could show us where the Smiths are.[Looks at Lucius's fur] Nice coat.

Lucius : [Slinking up to Chastity] Oh, Sister, you are a devil. [Smiles a toothy grin at her, before turning to Austin] The Smiths live in Inertia, I'm sure they've seen the Big Cow many times. I would be delighted to show you, once we close.

Austin : [Whispers tp Chastity] Looks like your in there! [To Lucius, deadpan] You close? I thought this place would be open twenty four hours a day, every day of the year.[Ponders] Who milks the cow, and who drinks the milk?

Jerome : Shall we just proceed to the Smith's residence and leave this Bovine's domicile.

Lucius : [Licks his lips salaciously, leaning in close to Austin] I do. [Holds position for a few seconds before turning quickly to Jerome, and leaning in uncomfortably close to him too] Leaving so soon? But how will you find the Smiths? You could be left wandering the streets for hours, hungry, thirsty and weary. However, if you were kind enough to pay for my time, I would gladly close off the viewing area and accompany you.

Chastity : And what payment do you require?

Lucius : Oh, Sister, it is so unseemly to be discussing such tawdry things with a lady of the cloth, but if you must, I would require five gold pieces.

Clint : 5 gold pieces? That'd pay for a brandy, and a glass of milk for Alice! Nah, I say we take our chances. Maybe a little visit to the local bar will serve to gather information to the whereabouts of the Smiths.

Lucius : Please! Let's not be hasty! [Sidles up to Clint and touches his arm, with a big smile] Did I say five? Perhaps I was being hasty. You must forgive me, for I am often nervous in the company of strangers.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD concurrs with the postulate proposed by Mr Scar.

Austin : [Raises an eyebrow in suprise. To Lucius] It doesn't show. How long is it until closing time?

Alice : [Nods in agreement with Jerome, before taking on a look of dismay] Hey! If whatever he said involves me having to drink milk while the rest of you get brandy, then you can forget the whole thing!

Lucius : How about just two gold pieces? We don't close for another four hours, and think of how much income I would lose while away.

Harvey : How much is it to get in?

Lucius : Why, it's free!

Chastity : Well we could just have a look around Inertia. I'm sure that Clint will re-iterate his desire to go to the bar, but we never last 20 minutes in a bar before certain members drinking habits get us into trouble, let alone 4 hours.

Alice : [Giving Clint a baleful look] Yeah, some people just can't be left alone in bars.

Lucius : [Smiling even more sleazily] Sister, you drive a hard bargain. I shall accompany you to the Smith household, and the only charge shall be your wonderful company. Quoting Conor.Ryan@ul.ie:

Austin : [Looking exactly like normal. To Lucius] It is most generous of you to guide us for free. [Smirks]

Chastity : {Grimacing slightly How about we haggle down to just our company.

Austin : [Frowns, sarcastically] It looks like we have arrived just in the nick of time, once again. [Looks at the cow, then the house, smiles] We could have a bar-b-que! [Checks his hair in his pocket mirror] Dam, I look good infront of a burning house.[To Lucius] Where is the fire brigade? Shouldn't they be here by now?

Lucius : [Bows slightly] Please, sir. You are too generous.

[LUCIUS leads the party out. Immediately they can see that a house at the opposite end of the street is on fire.]

Lucius : Oh no! The Smith house! It is on fire!

Alice : I thought you said it was at the opposite side of the town.

Lucius : But, lovely miss, that is the opposite side of the town!

Lucius : They should! They should!

Boddy : Let's see. It's now [checks out his watch] three o'clock, so they should be here in, let's see, two days.

Clint : Plenty of time for all the Smiths to burn. Should we do something about it? I know, I could spit and put the fire off, maybe!

Jerome : Enough prevarication! Fetch buckets and water! Jerome shall advance to the combusting local to see if Jerome can rescue any survivors [Jerome runs towards the house]

Harvey : A man of action, I like that! Well done, good doctor! I will of course help you search for survivors! [Runs after Jerome]

Lucius : They are so very brave.

[Everyone but DARIUS and LUCIUS venture up to the house. It is burning quite badly, but it looks as though it may be possible to enter the house.]

Alice : Should we go in?

Jerome : [Wets a hankercheif] Jerome suggests we do so with adequate preparation. [Pulls his tweed jacket up over his head so it acts like a hood] Let us venture forth, remember always keep within eyesight of each other, we do not want to get separated! [Puts the hankey over his mouth and nose and heads into the building]

Chastity : [Pulls outs a tea towel with "To Blazes with Hell" on it, and wets it in a convenient nearby trough] Good Idea Doctor, but wait for us. [Ties the tea towel round her face bandit bandana style, pull sup her habit hood and follows Jerome in. Mummbles through the tea towel] Just as well habits are made of horse hair, that should help against the flames.

[The party edge in through the front door, and can see the house is burning with surprising speed. Their progress is impeded by a huge wall of flame in the middle of the house.]

Alice : Hey! It looks like there's someone on the other side, look!

[This is true. There appears to be a man there with his back to the party.]

Last from Conor #79

Austin : [Just outside the front door. To the man] Hey! Over here!

[The figure turns and looks, it is DARIUS. He has a petrol can in his hands that he is pouring around the house. He looks pretty much the same as when the party last saw him, but is wearing different clothes.]

Darius : [Waving at Austin] No, I'm over here!

Austin : [Steps back away from the house. To the party, ducking flames and heat] It doesn't llok like there is much we can do in there, it'll ruin my suit, not to mention my Drada shoes. Lets go.

Alice : Hey! He looks just like Darius!

[DARIUS bends over and lights a cigar off some of the flames.]

Harvey : Eh? Surely we should attempt to engage the fellow in conversation, what?

Chastity : [Looking about at the smoke and flames] I don't think here and now is quite the right time for theat, Colonel. Let's collar the evil filth outside! [Starts to head for the door]

Alice : Oh no, there're cops outside too?

[Beaten back by the flames, the party retreat. DARIUS appears from around the back, on a huge black horse, dressed in heavy black leather armour. He has a cigar in one hand a huge McDonalds style plastic cup in the other.]

Darius : [With a big smile] Hey hey hey! It's everyone's favourite party!

Chastity : Trust you to be behind the wiping out of an entire family line. Why, for Phili's sake?

Clint : Hey hey hey! It's everyone's favourite impostor! What are you doing here? Why were you starting that fire?

Darius : [To Chastity] No, not for Phili's sake. [Takes a long, ludicrously loud slurp from his drink, before holding it up in to Clint in toast with a puzzled look] Because it wasn't going to start by itself!

Chastity : [To Harvey] Urgh! If there's one thing I hate more than evil, it's cheerful evil! Last from Sam #88

Austin : [Sneeringly] You would hate the only good thing about him wouldn't you. Why don't you hit him with your divine anti-happynes club? [Points at Chastities big studded club]

Alice : Are you really killing Smiths?

Boddy : Why not? What did they ever do for the world? I hate Smiths. [Takes another loud drink]

Clint : Why do you hate Smiths?

Darius : Because they're worthless, not one Smith has ever done anything of any worth. It's the plainest, most boring name I ever came across. Anyway, you ask that like there's something wrong, Stinky, I thought if anyone would understand, you would. [Notices Alice about to say something] And you, Alice, I thought that if anyone wouldn't understand, you wouldn't.

Alice : Er, thanks.

Austin : [To Chastity] It seemed to make Mr. Scar happy, how can that be bad? I know you hate happiness, but does everyone have to mope around with sad solem expressions, just because you are sad?

Chastity : [To Clint] See what you interfering with those two sisters has done? You condemned an entire family line.

Chastity : [To Austin] In your case, yes! [Points to the blaze and Darius] I suppose the burning of a family house and the end of a family line are cause for celebration, are they? I'm sure the good Doctor here will point out the short comings of decreasing the genetic pool as well!

Jerome : Jerome observes that we are resorting to in-party bickering again, we must unify to confound this nefarious individual's plan.

Darius : [With a big smile] It's a bit late for that!

[BODDY and LUCIUS come up to see what's going on.]

Lucius : [Clinging to Boddy, snivelling] Oh, Mr. Boddy, he's so evil!

Boddy : [Distastefully] Remove yourself from my arm.

Darius : [Genuinely taken aback] Well, well, if it isn't the gentleman farmer.

Boddy : Well, well, if it isn't the psychopath.

Clint : [Looking from Boddy to Darius, Darius to Boddy] Is this a personal conflict? I'd hate to interrupt a good scene of domestic violence.

Boddy : The curse of the young, my stinky friend, is that they are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the old.

Darius : [Putting on a theatrical Shakespearian accent] And the curse of the old, my pungent comrade, is that they want us to do as they say, and not as they do.

Lucius : [Sliming his way in between Harvey and Clint] Oooh, this is scary!

Harvey : [Moves away quickly] Away from me, tricky man! [Turns to Darius] You will never succeed in your attempts to kill all the Smiths! We will stop you even if we die in the attempt!

Clint : [Looking from Boddy to Darius, Darius to Boddy] Stinky? Pungent? They really don't like each other!

Alice : It sure sounds like it, my stinky, pungent friend.

Darius : [To Harvey, with a big smile] That's what I'm counting on, Harv! [Tries to put his oversized cup into the cupholder on his saddle, but it is too big] Hey! That's my whole day ruined, man, I'm gonna have to kill [emphasis] loads more Smiths to make up for that!

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD advises you cease and decist from all Smith extiction methodologies and prepare to be halted in your corrupt and murderous practices.

Darius : [Nodding along seriously] That sounds like good advice, Dr. Trindle. [Comes over all happy again] Still, I'm sure you'll see me again [dramatically] or die in the attempt! [Rides off]

Chastity : [Watching Darius ride off] I can't say that I'll ever be dieing to meet him again.

Lucius : [Sidling up to Chastity and gently rubbing himself against her] Oh, Sister, he is so evil! Let us return to the tranquility of the Big Cow, surely neither he nor his evil partner would dare to attack her.

Chastity : [Wiping Lucius from her arm and looking around] What evil partner, he was alone? [Looks around again] What, Contagion?

Lucius : Hm, Contagion? Is he a scary looking guy with a white painted face and some [sleazy smile] bondage type gear on him?

Chastity : [Quickly glances at Austin to see if he's wearing any white make-up before turning back to Lucius] Yes, that would be him. Although last time we saw him he was running away from Darius. Last form Sam #108

Lucius : Then, my dear sister, I fear that he has just arrived. Look! [Points behind the party, where Contagion can be seen heading towards the Big Cow area]

Chastity : [Turning and seeing Contagion] Quick, stop him, he'll turn the milk. At the very least! [Starts to head after Contagion. pauses to turn round to the group] Come on then.

Alice : Oh no! Not the Big Cow! [Draws her sword]

Lucius : [As Harvey also draws his sword] Perhaps I should stay here, and you know, keep look out. [Positions himself strategically between Austin and Jerome]

Austin : [Moves away from Lucius a bit, and readies his sling shot, frowning] Are we really going to try to fight to save a cow, and just leave Darius to kill the Smiths? ,I thought we were going to save the Smiths?

Jerome : [Draws his sword and rushes forward] Jerome must admit all this running is beginning to get tiresome. [Shouts at Contagion] Halt varlet!

Alice : Good point, Oz. Of course, the fact that we can't harm him also suggests that maybe attacking him isn't such a good idea.

Contagion : [Turns to face the party] Well, well. I heard you were nearby.

Austin : [Pretending to be anoyed] Dam, he heard us. [To Contagion] Darius went . that way [Points to where Darius went. To Alice] We could just go to the pub. That would be the safer option, and it would result in much less paper work

Contagion : [Looks at Austin] What? Oh, you're here too. [Points at Boddy] He's the one I want.

Boddy : [Lighting up a cheeseratte] Sheesh, talk about holding a grudge. Get over yourself.

Chastity : [Theatrically tuts] I know, some people can be so unforgiving. [To Alice] That is an even better point Alice. We wouldn't want to start out on a senseless plan with no hope of victory, would we.

Clint : And judging from his bravery [points at Lucius], we don't want to set loads of Contagion little fingers on the loose in this town.

Lucius : [Distastefully and fearfully] Little fingers? Oh, Sister, I don't like the sound of that at all!

Alice : [Nodding at Chastity's words] "Senseless plan with no hope of victory" eh? Not a bad idea, not bad at all!

Boddy : [To the party] I suggest we get the hell out of here.

Chastity : [Moving back to the group, away from Contagion] For once I now agree with Mr. Boddy. My concern for the cow led me to be a bit rash, and no-one wants a Gung-ho nun.

Jerome : Dearest Alice is completely correct in correcting our erronious actions. [To Boddy] Yes we should withdraw, and thence formulate a method to counteract the misery inflicted by those wretches. [Pauses] Why weren't Contagion and Darius fighting?

[The party load onto BODDY's carriage.]

Alice : [To Lucius] Where do you think you're going?

Lucius : Lovely lady, you don't mean to leave me here, do you?

Harvey : [To Jerome] I'm not sure, Doctor. Did they see each other? It didn't look like they were together.

Contagion : [Running towards the carriage] Come to Contagion!

Austin : [Checks his hair in the courtesy mirror in the carriage. To Boddy] So how fast can this go?

Boddy : [Watching Lucius trying to climb on] It depends on how much weight we're carrying.

Lucius : [Whining] Help me! Help me!

[CONTAGION is still a reasonable distance from the carriage, but stops, and appears to cut his ear off, making all kinds of pleasureable noises as he does so.]

Alice : Eauh! It's just like watching Blavid Daine! [Thinks for a moment] Although Contagion isn't quite as pretentious.

Chastity : [Looking at the on rushing Contagion] Now would seem to be a good time to find out! [To Harvey] Your forgetting this whole time travel business. They may not have just come from where we have come from. Contagion is acting pretty cocky for someone who has just had a good beating and desperately fled for his life!

Clint : I have a suggestion. Let's NOT stand here and wait for him to catch up with us so that we can ask him.

Boddy : You forget, Chastity, all time is relative. Unless you followed him to exactly when he went to, days or even months could have passed.

[BODDY starts the carriage going, even though LUCIUS is still hanging on to the side.]

Lucius : Help! Help me, please!

[CONTAGION throws his severed ear at the party, striking CLINT on the back with it. The only harm it does is leave a bloodstain which, predictably makes CLINT look a little tidier.]

Clint : [Kicking the ear out of the carriage] Get rid of that, you never know, it might grow some legs and start following us!

Harvey : I bet Contagion is pretty thankful it wasn't his nose he threw at you, private! [Looks at Lucius] Quit your whining, man, of course we can't leave you here to die! [Attempts to help Lucius into the carriage]

Lucius : [Even more weasely than before] Oh, thank you sir, thank you. [Cops a quick feel of Harvey as he gets pulled in]

[CLINT connects with the ear before it even hits the floor and sends it flying, right into the face of the unfortuante CHASTITY. The ear bounces of her and heads out of the carriage but, incredibly, two tiny arms reach out and grab onto the edge.]

Alice : Look! Someone's planted some kind of listening device!

Chastity : I that case [Shouts closely at the ear, but far enough away to avoid any arms] You're digusting evil scum! [Tries to knock the ear off the carriage with her mace] Alice, I believe you hair spray worked wonders with these evil off-shoots last time!

[The mace connects with CONTAGION, knocking him further down the carriage, so he's now hanging on the back.]

Alice : Good idea, Chastity, but I think it may have been Austin's aftershave! [Liberally sprays some hairspray at Contagion.]

[CONTAGION's only reaction is to smooth back some ear hair into a particularly firm hold.]

Alice : [Dismayed] Hey!

Chastity : [To Alice] I think you need a flame to add to the spray, dear. [Looks round the group] Anyone got a match? Mr. Boddy, your cigar?

Boddy : [Takes a long, satisfying drag] It's really, really good.

Alice : [Hands on hips] Well, Chastity, I bet you're starting to regret all your anti-drug posturing now, aren't you? Here we are, about to be savaged by an ear and we don't even have as much as an old cotton bud to protect us.

Harvey : [Takes out a box of matches, which he gives to Chastity, but not before lighting one] I believe I can help, Sister. [Throws the match at Contagion.]

[Predictably, nothing happens.]

Chastity : [Sarcastically To Alice] Yes, silly me. There is nothing like an anti-drug campaign to rid the world of cotton buds! [Takes Alice's hair spray, lights a match and sprays the spray over the flames to make a flame-thrower at the ear] Oh, I'll bet Contagions ear's burning now!

[The EAR catches fire, and falls off with a scream.]

Alice : [Impressed] Well done, Chastity. Now, to be really cool, you should do this. [Takes out a battered cheeseratte and leans over to light it of the burning back of the carriage, before turning back to Chastity, blissfully unaware that some of her hair is on fire] See? I'm cooler than Jane Blond.

Chastity : [Using the damp teatowel she used as a mask in the burning house to put out the fire] There's nothing like give out a good ear bashing now and again. [Glances up to see where Contagion is]

Clint : Wow Bimbo, that was hot. In fact, you're on fire, babe!

Alice : [To Clint] Click-click! [Fans herself with her hand] Hey Chastity, what do hot flushes feel like?

Lucius : [Sprays some perrier over Alice, putting out the fire] My apologies, lovely miss, but I was afraid your lovely locks would expire.

[The carriage roars off towards BODDY's house, while CONTAGION stands where he was, watching them disappear into the distance.]

[Book III, Act X, Scene IV. Boddy's House. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, BODDY and LUCIUS are here, having roared to a halt. There is another carriage here, parked outside.]

Lucius : [Snuggling up against Clint] Oh, that was so frightening. It was even scarier than the time I was run out of Macademia by those nuts!

Chastity : [To Boddy] Do you recognise that carriage? Last from Sam #002

Austin : [Looks from Chastity to Boddy. To Boddy] Sounds like another one of the sister's scintilating conversation topics. [Jumps out of the carriage, and lights another cheesearette, surveying the scene, checks the shine of his shoes, and has a peek at Maplin and smiles]

Jerome : The sister has the right of it! Until we can ascertain the situation, we must proceede pro tempore with utmost suspicion.

Boddy : Nope, never saw it before.

Harvey : [Sniffing the air] Hm, well, judging by the strength of the aroma of freshly baked scones, I suspect these are unexpected but welcome visitors.

Chastity : Lets hope so. [To Boddy] Does Danielle know about Darius? It would be terrible if she feel victim to to him masquerading as you.

Boddy : Nope. [Leaps out] There's nothing to know. Anyway, we're not twins you know, so it's not like he can just pretend to be me - she's not a fool.

Alice : Do you think Boddy will come here, Darius?

Boddy : [To Chastity] See what I mean?

Chastity : Well I hope your right. It's amazing what some people can get away with. [Gets out of the carriage and heads for the Cottage]

Jerome : Exactly dear Sister! Mr Sleaze is making a career of it.

Austin : [To Jerome] And just whom, exactly, are you accusing me of impersonating?

Jerome : [To Austin] Not whom Mr Sleaze, what. What you are impersonating is the inferrence you should take.

Chastity : Come now, Doctor. You're not trying to suggest that our very own Austin Sleaze is actually a arrogant, thieving pervert trying to pass himself off as a lawyer, by using long sentences and waving official forms around are you?

Clint : Ah come on Chassers, he wouldn't do that would he? He's a respectful, truth defending lawyer. Oh look, a contradiction.

Austin : [To Clint] Almost as contradictory as a truth defending nun! [Laughs out loud, looking at Chastity, completely ignoring Jerome as if he wasn't even there]

Harvey : Indeed, Sister! Why, merely by describing him as lawyer suggests that the he is an arrogant, thieving pervert. Maybe what you meant is that Private Sleaze is actually a kind, warm individual who is trying to pass himself off as an arrogant thieving pervert. [Thinks for a moment] I say, Private Sleaze, well done!

[CHASTITY gets to the door with BODDY, who opens it. DANIELLE is here, carrying a freshly baked batch of scones.]

Danielle : Nigel! Perfect timing for you and your chums to arrive. Our new neighbours, the Jones family have called to pay us a visit, they're in the dining room.

Clint : I thought the Smiths were your neighbours?

Danielle : Not exactly, they used to be our nearest neighbour, but there used to be an empty house between us and them, where the Pate family used to live until, well [clearly feels a bit awkward, but smile brightly] the Jones live there now!

Harvey : [Scratches a sideburn] The Pate family? I say, were they the family with the dog? [Sniffs longingly] By the saints, is that freshly baked scones I can smell? Let's get in there quickly before the Jones's polish them all off!

Danielle : Well, they [emphasis] had a dog.

Lucius : [To Danielle] Lovely lady, might I trouble you for directions to the little girl's room?

Danielle : We don't have a little girl.

Lucius : In that case, may I trouble you for directions to the bathroom? I fear that my experience has left me ruffled and sweaty. If it wasn't for the bravery of these wonderful people here, I would surely have died.

[DANIELLE escorts LUCIUS down a corridor while the party go into the dining room. There are three people here, a man, a woman and a boy, all of whom are eating madly, and don't even look up.]

Chastity : [To the eating people] Hello. Don't let us disturb you.

Laius : [Turns from his food] Nothing disturbs us except freaks. You ain't a freak, are you? You'd better not be, because me and my wife Jocasta hate freaks. So does my son Oeddie*. You hate freaks, don't you son?

Oeddie : I do, Pop. I hate freaks.

Austin : [Looking at Chastity] Always the charmer, Chassers. [Looks around the room, examining a few things here and there, casually] ain't a hate

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle would pronounce without hesitation based on a large sample size this group of individuals are do not exibit any external signs of freakishness.

Chastity : [To Harvey] I fear that the Doctor may have inadvertantly put himself in the running as a less visually obvious freak with that statement.

Harvey : [Staring at the huge pile of food on the table] Hm? Yes, yes, yes. I'm afraid this old soldier is famished, I hope you don't mind my joining you.

Jocasta : Oh, you're more than welcome. I'll just make some space.

[JOCASTA scoots up a little, so she and OEDDIE are thigh to thigh.]

Alice : Well, this all looks very cosy.

Laius : It's a hell of a lot cosier than Macademia, the place was full of Goddamned freaks! We had to get out of there.

Austin : [To Danielle, whilst standing infrotn of a picture of Boddy, Darius, Marcus, Peter, Milicent, Sven, Cocan, Nefiritiri, Jim, Lloyd, and some other guy that looks like Peter] Do you know when was this picture taken? Nefiritiri had one just like it, most interesting.

Boddy : [To Austin] I do.

Laius : Hey! Where are the scones? Where's that stupid woman gone?

Boddy : [To the party] Excuse me a second. [Walks over to the table, picks up a knife and rams it two inches up Lauis' nose] You'd better watch your mouth buddy, or I'll be introducing a no nose freak to the neighbourhood. [Takes the knife down again]

Jerome : Jerome would agree with Mr Boddy's sentiments about proper behaviour whilst being hosted by your neighbours. [Whispering to Chastity] Although Mr Boddy does seem to be very reactionary about any insult to Danielle.

Chastity : [Wistfully] Sigh, that's true love for you.

Alice : [Nodding sadly at Chastity's words] That's right. You know a man loves you when he knifes another man. [Thinks] Or is that when he wins you?

Laius : Alright, alright! I was just joking! I didn't mean to insult anyone who ain't a freak. My name's Lauis, um, Jones, and this is my wife Jocasta and my son Oeddie.

[OEDDIE and JOCASTA look up guiltily.]

Jocasta : [Blushing] I dropped a pea. realised I put the wrong

Austin : Only a nun could call stabbing some one in the nose an act of 'true love'. [To Boddy] Oh, so when was the picture taken? How did you all come to meet? [Austin walks over to behind Jocasta, leans over her to get a snack] Excuse me please [Gets a snack, and inhales deeply as he passes Jocasta, almost innapropriatley closely, almost. To Jocasta, smiling] Thank you. [Goes back to look at the photo, nibbling his snack.]

Chastity : [To Harvey] That'll be Austin continuing his act then.

Harvey : [Eyeing Austin's snack] Indeed, Sister. Indeed.

Boddy : [Looks at the picture] It was taken a long, long time ago. [Becomes lost in thought for a moment] Take my advice, Austin, if you ever get a chance to meet a soulmate, avoid it. [Enter DANIELLE and LUCIUS.]

Lucius : [Smarmily] Oh, lovely lady, I feel so refreshed and scented from your fruity soaps [Catches sight of the Jones, and curls his lip up in disgust] What are they doing here?

Laius : [Sees Lucius] Freak!

Chastity : [looking from Laius to Lucius] You know, I find it difficult to disagree with either sentiment there!

[Time passes as glares are exchanged across the room]

Chastity : [To Lucius] You two know each other I take it?

Austin : [To Chastity] That would appear to be the case, sister Chassers. [Checks his nails. TO the party] So, Smiths. Why are they being killed? We have not established that yet, and it occurs to me that they must have done something significant, or they were just a cunning ruse to get us here, possibly both. Either way, we need to know. I recall that a Mr Smith, and a Mr. Lesson, were reknowend gun smiths at one time, that time being our own time, of course. [To Harvey] Is that not so Colonel?

Lucius : [To Chastity] But yes, Sister! These were the nuts that drove me out of Macademia, except then they were -

Laius : [Interrupting] Shut up, Cairo! [To Chastity, calmly] We don't know him.

Harvey : [Watching the exchange] Not so, Private. I believe that you are thinking of Spliff and Lesson. Two hippies that sold guns that weren't able to shoot - to teach people peace, they claimed. To make people happy, they claimed. Of course, people weren't very happy when, after being kitted out with the Spliff and Lesson range of armour, an entire platoon was wiped out in Vietnumnum by a local tribe armed with little more than sharpened coconut husks. [Eyes narrow angrily] That's what you get for interfering with the natural order of things.

Chastity : [Turns to look at the Jones] What, they're Macademia nuts? [To Boddy] That cheese in the carriage was strong stuff! I'll thank you not to allow it in your carriage again.

Lucius : But Sister! They are from Macademia, hundreds of miles from here. I fled there because, for some reason [wipes himself quite inappropriately with his scarf] they thought I was a freak. [Steps behind Harvey and points at them] I don't think their name is Jones!

Austin : [To Lucius] So who are they then, if they are not the Jones's? [Frowns] Upon what evidence do you base your accusation?

Lucius : Mr. Sleaze, that man is Laius Smith!

[Queue dramatic pause only punctuated by continuing intense glares]

Chastity : [To Laius] Is this true? You could well be in grave danger.

Lauis : [Standing up, and speaking unconvincingly] No! It's a vicious lie! [Sits down again]

Boddy : I'm sure we're all glad to hear that.

Lucius : [Sidling over the Chastity, and holding onto her arm as he moves around behind her, putting her between him and Lauis] It is true, Sister. I wouldn't lie to you, I promise!

Chastity : [Wiping Lucius' hand off her sleave and stepping away from him] I told you not to do that! [To Lauis] It does seem a bit of a coincidence that you are in the same place as this [gestures to Lucius] person. What brings you here?

Jerome : [Sighs] Mr. Lucius we are aware [Indicatinging everyone except for Alice] as to the factual nature of the current situation and can readily identify Lauis' dissemblement. [To Lauis] Sir although your lack of decorum may indicated that a sound thrashing was deserved, you are indeed in mortal peril.

Austin : [To Lauis] Appart from the fact that your house has just been burned to the ground. Of Course. Last rom Dom #41

Lauis : [To Jerome] Look! That's what the other guy said to us too. Now, we packed up, we moved and we even changed our names. How can we still be in danger? [To Austin] Our house has been burned down? But we only just moved in!

Lucius : [Snivelling] Excuse me, Mr. Sleaze, but these are not the same Smiths that lived in Inertia. Last rom Conor #42

Austin : [To Lucius, looking dissaprovingly at the snivelling] I see. [To Lauis] What, if I may be so bold, in you own opinion, is the greatest deed ever performed by a Smith?

Laius : [Unhappily] Well, the Smiths are a fairly quiet bunch. We pretty much don't do anything out of the way or unusual.

[Everyone's attention is momentarily drawn to JOCASTA flashing her breasts at OEDDIE, out of sight of LAIUS.]

Laius : We don't really have any great deeds to boast about. [Thinks for a moment] Except maybe for the time my great, great, great, great aunts, who were twins, gave a blow job to Faern Short.*

Clint : [Click-click] Sounds like he's a chip off the old block!

Alice : [Confused to Harvey] What's he talking about?

Harvey : [Darkly] I have no idea.

Chastity : [Looks at Clint and groans. To Laius] As long as they weren't called Mary and Lourdes.

Laius : Oh, no Sister. [Takes a bite of a scone]

Clint : [To the party] How about that? I knew all my family would be into blowjobs. [Glances at Alice] Isn't that right, Bimbo?

Alice : [Shrugs] Idunno.

Laius : [Swallows his piece of stone] It was Sr. Mary and Sr. Lourdes.

Austin : [Raises one eye brow] Typical expression of repressed sexual desires. [Sighs, checks his nails] I expect it happens all the time, you know what these religous types are like.

Clint : No, but I'm starting to think that I should!

Austin : [To Clint] Indeed you should. [Muses] Convents are probably the best places to start.

Chastity : [To Clint] I doubt you ever will! [tentatively to Laius] Perhaps the story has got twisted through time. And that in fact as twins they were sisters.

Alice : I'm confused. Are they Smiths or Joneses or something else?

Lucius : Smiths!

Laius : Joneses!

Jocasta : [Rubbing Oeddie's chest] In love! [Quickly turns to Laius] With each other!

Jerome : Hmmmm, the pertinant point is whether the miscreant ne'er-do-wells see you as Smith!

Laius : Look, like I already said, we were Smiths, until some freaky guy came along and told us we were in mortal danger, and had to move away from Macademia and change our names - we never expected that [points at Lucius] freak to be here.

Alice : [Turns to Lucius, who is now beside her] What are you doing?

Lucius : Rubbing my cheek against your lovely mohair cardigan.

Alice : Ew!

Jerome : [To Lucius] Well sir how did you know their lives were in peril? Please be informative and give a detailed and accurate account. And take your slimy face off the delectable Alice!

Chastity : [To Jerome] Doctor, I fear that you may have been tripped by the descriptive ambiguity of freaky guy and just plain [gestures to Lucius] freak. [To Laius] What did the person who told you to change you name look like?

Lucius : [Steps away from Alice, leaving a somewhat disgusting strand of slime going from his cheek to her shoulder] The good Sister is correct, kind Doctor. I did not know of their danger. It was them who ran me out of town.

Laius : He was pretty ordinary. About your [gestures at Boddy] build with black hair.

Jocasta : He was dreamy, so handsome, and with deep dark brown eyes that you could get lost in, and a wonderfully arrogant look that showed he was a real man.

Oeddie : He was a totally cool guy. He smoked cheese all the time, and even paid off the old man here when he refused to leave. Man, he was pretty sarcastic with our neighbours though.

Chastity : [Goes over to the group picture on the wall and points at Darius] Was this him?

Laius : Yes, that's him.

Jocasta : [Sigh] Yes, that's him.

Chastity : This is the very man we believe is killing the Smiths. We found him burning down the Smiths house in Inertia. By Phili, I wonder how many other Smiths he has tried to drive up here? [Goes towards a window] I hope he's not come here.

Alice : [Confused expression] Hey! This seems needlessly complicated.

Harvey : Good point niece, it is needlessly complicated. Why would he bother sending them up here? Why wouldn't he just kill them there? Good thinking, young Alice.

Alice : Hm? [Looks at the simple windup toy that she has picked up, and then looks at Harvey] I mean, yes, that's what I meant. [Puts the toy down]

Chastity : I agree, on the surface it does seem so, but who knows how it fits in with his plans. It wouldn't be the first time we've been involved in a needlessly complicated caper*! Unless of course, he was trying to save the, em, Jone's here, and Contagion is doing the killing. [Scratches her head] Oh, I could do with a nice cup of tea!

Jerome : That is assuming the Mr Boddy does not have yet another soul sharer exisiting within this time period.

Jerome : That is assuming the Mr Boddy does not have yet another soul sharer exisiting within this time period.

Danielle : Soul sharer? What's that, Nigel?

Boddy : Dan, do you think you could make Chastity some tea. I think she's getting a little dehydrated with all the thinking she's doing.

[Exit DANIELLE.]

Boddy : Why would Contagion kill the Smiths? Killing them has resulted in your arrival here - even Contagion isn't stupid enough to want that. [Turns to Jerome] It is unlikely that I do, and, even if I did, there's no reason why they would have anything to do with this.

Austin : [Muses] Well, this has surely to be about ancestory. We know that Clint could be the colonel's and Alice's ancestor, bourne out by the fact that Clint and Tuppy look like twins [Pauses] personal hygene and dress code not included, of course. So perhaps the Smiths are somehow part of this lineage, and so by eradicating them, they, the bad guys could make it so that the Short family never even existed, and therefore could not thwart the plans of our evil enemies on countless heroic occasions. [Nods to Harvey] Just a possiblity. [HARVEY gives a snort of derision, which is quieter only than ALICE's snort.]

Alice : Pish posh, Austin! Okay, Kelly may have been, well, intimate with Stinky, but that doesn't mean he's our ancestor! Like any proper lady, she could have had fift- [gets flustered] she could have, well, she could have married someone else. Anyway, Stinky doesn't look anything like Tuppy*, ask anyone! And as for us being related to anyone with as banal a name as Smith, well, I won't dignify that theory with a comment. [Pause] It's a stupid comment! Anyway, in our time, all the Smiths are dead. If you were right, then wouldn't we be dead too? And you know [folds her arms victoriously] I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I'm not dead.

Austin : [To Alice] Evidently not, but you have also traveled in time have you not? I put it to you that although you yourself, and indeed the honorable colonel here, are not deceased, as is currently obviously evident, your family have, to the best of our knowledge, not traveled in time and so they may indeed no longer exist in this time stream, the exact scientific nomenclature of temporal displacements notwithstanding, should that nomenclature exist or otherwise.

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] Hmmm, perhaps they plan to wipe out the Sleaze family. Or the Brownes. The Scars. And of course, the Trindles. Can anyone trace their lineage back to these Smiths?

Jerome : [To Alice] Remember my sweet, when we first arrived we were informed that our own journyings from inner to exterior world separated us from the changes effected upon our own time frame. Thus the goals stated by the unique [whispers] Jerome prays to Phili that this is true [Stops whispering] Mr Sleaze may be indeed to remove one or more of us from Time itself. However since we are now at this temporal nexus we hopefully can foil his plan.

Alice : [Clearly doesn't understand a word Jerome said] Yes, yes, I see what you mean. It doesn't explain why Darius would move the Smiths here only to want Contagion to kill them.

Chastity : Unless he's not killing them, but hiding them. Maybe only Contagion wants to kill the Smiths, so Darius is getting them to change their names and then creating the illusion that the Smiths have been killed, by, say, burning down an empty former Smith's residence. It would certainly explain why the only change we've encountered is the lack of people named Smith! [Sits down and rubs her forehead] Oooh, I could really do with that cup of tea now.

Jerome : That is a very pertinant question good Sister, however who, apart from those two individuals, would the answer to that postulate?

Chastity : Unfortunately, as is usually the case, probably only Darius will know. If our past encounters are anything to go by, we'll only see the whole picture when it suits him.

Harvey : Very, very true, good sister. We could drive ourselves crazy trying to second guess that blackguard!

Alice : Darius is hiding Smiths? Okay, now I'm really confused. If that's the case, then why would Contagion want to kill Smiths? What's wrong with them?

[Everyone turns and looks at the SMITHS/JONES family, where JOCASTA is sitting on OEDDIE's lap feeding him bits of scone, while LAIUS is turned away, scratching his ass in full view of everyone else.]

Alice : Hm. So, do we still think that killing/hiding Smiths was to get us here? [Points her finger high in the air in excitement, almost taking Jerome's eye out] Oh oh! I've a question! [Face drops] Actually, maybe I don't. Hm.

Austin : [To Alice] It seems unlikley, but we have not yey established any evidence for either case. [Ponders Jocasta and Oeddie momentarily, then Clint, Alice and Harvey. To Alice] Why don't we go to the pub and think about it for a while, ponder the subject.

Harvey : Hmmm, although normally I certainly wouldn't condone this troop going to the pub, I feel it would be good for the morale. We've had a tough time of it of late, and perhaps a few hours R and R is just the ticket!

Alice : Yay, Uncle Harvey! I like the sound of that! Contagion is just a few miles away and knows what direction we took, and you still want us to go to a bar. [Looks slightly worried for a moment] Is that really such a good idea?

Austin : [Blinks like Faetan use to. Looks at Alice, then Harvey, then to Alice] Did you say that you don't want to go to the pub? Contagion doesn't now that we are going to the pub, and anyway, it's just for a swifty, a few hours R and R, just like the Colonel said. [Looks at Alice scrutinising her expression]

Alice : Oh-kay! If that's you want, Harvey, I'll put on my extra short skirt. [Takes what appears to be a wide belt out of her bag]

Harvey : Now niece, let's go crazy here!

Laius : [Turns back around, just as Jocasta slips off Oeddie's lap and back to her own seat] Why don't you go to the Banal And Relaxing Tavern? It's in the next down over, that's where Darius was going. You can buy him a drink for me.

Austin : [To Laius, looking him over with a distasteful expression] Okay, how much money do you have? How much will this drink cost? [Looks at Harvey with a slightly suprised expression. To Harvey] Are you feeling okay Colonel?

Harvey : [Looking at Alice's dress with a baleful eye] I was, Private Sleaze, I was.

Clint : [Clapping Harvey on the back] Of course he's okay! What do you say, Harvey? I bet all you Shorts have got some of the Faern Short madness in you, don't you?

Harvey : [Sadly] Some, I fear, more than others.

Laius : How much money do I have? Well now, I didn't mean that I was going to pay for it!

Jerome : Before retiring to the pub to confront Darius, shouldn't we proceed to evacuate the individuals we do not want Contagion to murder.

Chastity : Does you know any Smith in the area? [Looks at the family round the table] or at least ones who still go under the name of Smith.

Chastity : Well if that's were the Smiths will be, and that's where Darius is heading, then we had better get a move on.

Boddy : No, but the Banal And Relaxing Tavern in is in Dyslexia, which is the nearest town. If there are Smiths lurking around, that's where they are most likely to be.

Boddy : [Tosses his carriage keys on the table] Yeah. Well, good luck with that.

Chastity : [To Boddy] I take it your staying to play the perfect host? Can we borrow your carriage?

Boddy : Nope, I'm staying here to get rid of this scum. You can borrow my carriage, but only if Harvey drives.

Alice : Hey! Who's been talking about my driving?

Boddy : No one.

Chastity : [Smiling with relief] That's one condition I'm very happy to live with. Which way is it to Dyslexia? We wouldn't want to get lost from misreading a sign.

Austin : [To Chastity] It's getting back here that will be the problem, surely.

Chastity : [Dismissively] I'm sure we'll be fine. We'll get someone there to write down direction back.

Austin : [To Harvey] Lets go before we die of thirst waiting for Chassers to finish planning [Walks to the door. To Boddy] Thank you for you hospitality, Mr. Boddy, and good luck with your scum evacuation. [Steps just outside the door and lights a cheesearette].

Alice : Well, there was a sign back down the raod a bit for Aixelsyd, maybe he'll be there instead?

Chastity : And here was me thinking you saw the world though rose tinted glasses as well. [To the group] Oh, well. Shall we off then?

Jerome : Indeed sister we should depart with all alacrity. [To Boddy] Take care, for Contagion is on his way.

[Enter DANIELLE, laden down with a huge tray filled with all kinds of tea making paraphenalia.]

Danielle : Leaving so soon? [To Boddy] And you, Nigel, shame on you! The least you can do is drive them. The Joneses are having a great time here, aren't you?

Laius : Sure, until the freak came in.

Oeddie : [With a big smile on his face, even though Jocasta is suddenly not to be seen] Oh yeah!

Boddy : Alright, alright. [Picks his keys up and turns to the party] Are you coming?

Oeddie : [Loudly] Oh yeah!

Boddy : [Gives Oeddie a look before turning to the party] Let's go.

[Book III, Act X, Scene V. The Road to Dyslexia. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME and BODDY are here, in BODDY's carriage, with him driving.]

Boddy : So what's the current theory? Darius is moving Smiths around to stop Contagion from killing them, which he wants to do because snuff out one of your ancestors? Well, did any of you ever have a bit of Smith in you?

Alice : [Puts up her hand] I - uh, I mean, I don't think so.

Jerome : As far is Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD is aware there is no trace of Smith in the Trindle bloodline. However it is most unlikely without the prescence of sweet Alice, Jerome himself would return to his studies. What is Darius was descended from a Smith?

Chastity : [To Jerome] What is Darius was descended..? [Gasps] Oh no, the influence of Dyslexia is taking hold of the Doctor. [ To Alice] This may leave his sentences unintelligible.

Alice : [Nods in agreement] Yes, bad a thing would be that.

Harvey : I don't think there is any Smith connection in our family, Nigel, though who can really trace their lineage with any certainty! So, dear sir, how far is it to this Aixelsyd place?

[BODDY jams on the brakes, causing the carriage to skid to a halt, and all those behind to blow their horns angrily as they drive around.]

Boddy : [Turns around to face Harvey] We go back a long way, Harvey, so I'm going to give you warning. There's only one person who calls me Nigel.

Alice : [Nervously] Is that person me?

Boddy : No.

Austin : [To Boddy] Completly understandable. [To Alice] I think the person in question is Danielle. Probably, and possibly Mr. Boddy's mother, if she is still alive.

Boddy : [Nods at Austin] You show a compassion and understanding that belies your profession. [Starts up the carriage again, skillfully rolling up a cheeseratte as he drives] I don't buy into the theory of Contagion trying to kill off one of you - if even you don't know that you had an ancestor spawned by a Smith, how is he to know?

Austin : [Puffing away on a cheesearette, blowing smoke rings. To Boddy] Good point, so a Smith, or one of there descendants must have done something to upset Contagion, either that or the guy is just a plain psychopath [Chuckles at his own joke. Smokes a bit more and passes to Alice]

Alice : [Takes the cheeseratte and takes a drag] Wow! This is strong stuff, I'd swear I can see people up ahead fighting.

[Up ahead are two carriages, one of which is blocking the road. There are several bodies strewn about on the road, and four people left standing, three of whom are attacking the fourth.]

Harvey : Gah! Brigands!

Alice : Wow! Even you can see them? [Passes the cheeseratte back to Austin] Thanks but no thanks, Aussie, that's a little too strong for me.

Chastity : [Shaking her head] For the sake of Phili. You can't go anywhere anymore without meeting despicable characters who want for only fighting, drink and debauchery! [To Clint] Present company excluded of course.

Austin : [Puffing away on a cheesearette, blowing smoke rings. To Boddy] Good point, so a Smith, or one of there descendants must have done something to upset Contagion, either that or the guy is just a plain psychopath [Chuckles at his own joke. Smokes a bit more and passes to Alice]

Alice : [Takes the cheeseratte and takes a drag] Wow! This is strong stuff, I'd swear I can see people up ahead fighting.

[Up ahead are two carriages, one of which is blocking the road. There are several bodies strewn about on the road, and four people left standing, three of whom are attacking the fourth.]

Harvey : Gah! Brigands!

Alice : Wow! Even you can see them? [Passes the cheeseratte back to Austin] Thanks but no thanks, Aussie, that's a little too strong for me.

Chastity : [Shaking her head] For the sake of Phili. You can't go anywhere anymore without meeting despicable characters who want for only fighting, drink and debauchery! [To Clint] Present company excluded of course.

Clint : [Drawing his sword] I know, Sister. It's a disgrace. Now, let's kill them and see if there are any babes on board that we can ravage once they've plied us with beer.

[The carriage draws closer, and the party can see that it is none other than DARIUS being attacked. However, he has the better of them and has two killed by the time the party arrive. The third man throws his sword to the ground.]

Man : I surrender!

Darius : I don't care. [Kills him]

Austin : [Casually turns from looking at Darius, to looking at Alice, who has just relinquished his cheesearette] It looks like Pestillence did curse you after all. This is goping to be interesting. [Turns back to watch Darius, and claps. To Darius] Well done that Darius, splendid! [Blows some smoke rings. To Boddy] Should we turn around and get the hell out of here?

Boddy : Well, you wanted to find him, and now you've found him. [To Darius] Hello, Junior.

Darius : [Neutral tone] Hello, Nigel.

Jerome : [To Darius] Jerome would inquire as to the purpose behind your slaying of the surrendering man? Would it be impolitic to know if you have had communications, verbal or otherwise with an individual called Laius?

Darius : [Shrugs] What can I say, Jerry? I got so carried away with the high of killing his friend I thought I could recreate it by killing him. But it didn't work, I feel cold, I feel empty inside. I guess I'm cursed to spend the rest of my days fruitlessly searching for that first high, doomed to losing my marriage, my money and my friends in a pointless and hopeless search. Boy, I'm depressed. Laius Jones? With the young wife and horny son?

Alice : Yes, that's him!

Darius : [Taking a hipflask from one of the deadmen] Can't say that I've ever met the guy. [Takes a drink] How's the headache, Jerome? [Wrinkles up his nose in disgust at the whiskey] Cheap and nasty. [Smiles at Clint and Alice] Sounds like your kind of drink.

Jerome : [Winces with a smile] Torturous and painfully afflicting Jerome, rather like you!

Darius : [Click click!] Then I guess you like me more than the others do, eh?

Austin : [To Darius] So why are you saving the Smiths, and why is Contagion trying to kill them all?

Darius : Contagion isn't trying to kill the Smiths, he's trying to kill me. I'm not trying to save them, I'm trying to get rid of them. And I guess it worked.

Chastity : Why kill the Smiths?

Austin : [To Chastity] He said 'Rid', not kill. [To Darius] So, why are you trying to get rid of the Smiths then?

Darius : [To Chastity] I said "rid", not kill. [To Austin] To get you here, of course. And you are here, aren't you, [turns to Alice] Alice?

Alice : [Thinks for a moment] Er, yes.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD is intrigued by the purpose behind your expansive methodology in obtaining our presence.

Chastity : After watching you "get rid" of a surrendering unarmed man it was a fair enough mistake to make I think. So why did you want us here so much that you laid such an over-elaborate bait.

Chastity : [To Austin] I'll thank you not to refer to me as a him, fop!

Austin : [To Chastity, loudly] What? Refer to you as who? I belive that your hearing is impaired, sister Chastity.[Pauses. Speaking very loudly to Chastity] I said that Darius might have wanted us to come here so that we could help him kill Contagion!

Harvey : Eh? But why bring us here? Surely you can kill the blackguard yourself?

Darius : Yeah, you'd think that, wouldn't you?

Darius : Bzzt! Correctomundo, Austin! I needed a way of getting a clear message to you, and what better family to wipe off the face off the earth? What did they ever do?

Clint : Hey! What about my blow job?*

Darius : Sorry, I can't help you with that. You'll have to talk to either Alice or Austin about it.

Alice : Hey!

Austin : Mr. Darius, simply because I have ladies queuing up to give me sexual pleasures doesn't necessarily that I could, or would want to, pass any of the over to Clint.

Darius : Sure you do.

Austin : [To Darius, occasionally checking his nails, happily] So, what is the plan.

Darius : Well, I have to admit, I'm kind of curious about that myself. Hands up everyone here who's killed Contagion before.

Alice : [Tentatively puts her hand up] Er, I think we did, didn't we? Or is that, we will, won't we?

Darius : [Smiles and gives a small clap] And who said she was dumb?

Chastity : [Rubbing her ears from Austin's loudness] Well I hope you have some sort of special weapon, as Contagion is impervious to anything we have at the moment.

Jerome : The good sister is correct we would require some counter to his regenerative and duplication abilities, and who else would be in such a position to inform the party but one of his long term associates.

Darius : [Irritated] I said, "Who said she was dumb?"

[A brief but awkward silence passes.]

Boddy : Anyway, good luck with that.

Darius : I guess that means you, Nige. You've known him longer than anyone else.

Boddy : I guess it does, Junior. [Turns to the party members] You can travel with Darius from here on.

Austin : [Raises an eyebrow. To Boddy] I take it that you are going home to snuggle up infront of a nice log fire, with Danielle and her pie. [Smiles] Can't say I blame you for taking the easy option. [Gets off the carriage. Keeps a beady eye on Darius]

Boddy : Something like that.

[ALICE and HARVEY climb out of the carriage.]

Darius : What's this? Domestic harmony for our Nigel? Man, I just bet she's an expert at making eggy bread!

Austin : [To Darius] You mean French bread. And yes, she is. [To Boddy] Sorry about that old chap, I though he knew.

Boddy : Then I guess that's two people who think he knows everything.

Darius : If she's nearby, you'd want to be careful, Nige. If Contagion gets a whiff of you and her, he'll drop everything and come gunning for her.

Boddy : Why? What's his beef with me?

Darius : [Shrugs] I don't know, something about being trapped in another dimension with the staff of life force constantly killing him and bringing him back to life for two thousand years.*

Jerome : [Jumps off the Carriage] Jerome believes it may be best if Mr Boddy leaves with all alacrity, but offers Jerome's aid if desired.

Harvey : Agreed, good Doctor. If the lovely Danielle is in trouble, we should go and help.

Boddy : [For the first time ever, looking worried] Let's all go. [Revs up the horses]

Harvey : Go for it, Mr Boddy, and don't spare the horses! Your good lady wife may be in danger, and any delay might put her in further jeporardy!

Chastity : [TO Harvey] Well, if we're all going, maybe you'd best get back in the carriage, Colonel.

Harvey : [Smiles indulgently at Chastity] Ah, dear Sister, I think you'll find that [emphasis] you are on the road and that [emphasis] I am in the carriage. [Turns to Alice] Quickly niece, push over to give some room to Chastity.

Alice : Er, right. [Climbs onto the carriage, and turns to Harvey] Do you want to slide over a little too?

Harvey : Ah, yes, niece, that will make it easier for Sister Chastity to climb on. [Climbs on]

Darius : [Calmly standing at the roadside] Is it Michelle?

Boddy : Yes.

[DARIUS leaps onto his carriage and starts the horses.]

Darius : Let's go!

[The carriages race off.]

Harvey : [Looking around] Is Sister Chastity on board?

Chastity : [Sitting across from Harvey] Yes, Colonel. [To Boddy] I take it from Darius' comment that Danielle is an assumed name? Or was he refering to another case of soulmates?

Harvey : [Smiles indulgently at Chastity] Ah, dear Sister, I think you'll find that [emphasis] you are on the road and that [emphasis] I am in the carriage. [Turns to Alice] Quickly niece, push over to give some room to Chastity.

Alice : Er, right. [Climbs onto the carriage, and turns to Harvey] Do you want to slide over a little too?

Harvey : Ah, yes, niece, that will make it easier for Sister Chastity to climb on. [Climbs on]

Darius : [Calmly standing at the roadside] Is it Michelle?

Boddy : Yes.

[DARIUS leaps onto his carriage and starts the horses.]

Darius : Let's go!

[The carriages race off.]

Harvey : [Looking around] Is Sister Chastity on board?

Chastity : [Sitting across from Harvey] Yes, Colonel. [To Boddy] I take it from Darius' comment that Danielle is an assumed name? Or was he refering to another case of soulmates?

Boddy : [Speeding along like crazy] Michelle is her soulmate, we met her shortly after we got the Nascency Fluid in the Interior. [Narrowly avoids slipping off the edge of the road] It turns out that there can even be a connection across soulmates, so, when two meet it is unlike anything else in the world.

Alice : That's a good thing, right?

Boddy : Yes.

Alice : What if three meet?

Boddy : It is unlike anything else in the world.

Alice : That's a bad thing, right?

Boddy : Yes.

Chastity : [Scratching her head, slightly confused] Well that clears that up then. [Grabs hold of her seat as Boddy screeches round another bend on two wheels] By Phili, it's like being in a carriage with Rae McColin driving! [Pauses] Or Alice.

Alice : He- [the carriage completely leaves the road for a second, before landing with a bump] -ey!

[The house is now in sight. Despite the speed at which BODDY is driving, DARIUS is just inches behind, rolling up a cheeseratte with one hand, and, while checking out his reflection in the rear view mirror, making sure his hair is straight.]

Harvey : Weapons out, troop! We must be ready for anything!

Clint : [Drawing his sword] Nothing like a good fight to get back to action!

Austin : [Getting his sling ready] I really do think that we should go back to town and plan this a little more, we don't want to be too hasty, and we really should plan this [Looks worried, and checks his hair in the wing mirror]

Jerome : [Rapidly buttoning his Jacket] Mr Sleaze you truly are reprehensible, advising haste in situations requiring thought and meandering prevarication at times of, as Mr Scar would say, "Grade-A arse kicking". [Draws his Rapier]

[The carriage screeches to a halt, and BODDY leaps off. It looks as though the door to the house has been kicked in.]

Harvey : Well said, Doctor, now is not the time for cowardly or stupid actionds.

Alice : Too right, Harvey! [Draws her sword and jumps out, but trips on the edge and falls flat on her face] Ow.

Austin : [Muttering, gingerly looking out from the carriage to see if Contagion is around] This is ridiculous, how are we supposed to defeat Contaigion without careful planning?

Jerome : [Sighs] Once again Mr. Sleaze your lack of understanding and emotional spasm fills me with the expected feeling of despair about the future. We are more concerned about evacuating the beloved of Mr.Boddy than simply combating a foe who we have not devised a suitable counter-measure.

Harvey : [Stepping off the carriage using Alice as a convenient stepping stone] The Doctor is correct, Private Sleaze. Now is not the time to try to defeat Contagion, for we know we do not have the required weaponry. [Looks around] Hm, where's Alice gone?

[Both BODDY and DARIUS have disappeared into the house.]

Harvey : [Looks down] Ah, there you are dear niece! No time now for a snooze, my dear, we need to help those in distress! [Looks closely at Alice] My, that's a strange design on your blouse, dear niece! Almost like a dusty bootprint! [Laughs to himself] Honestly, what fashions will you young people think of next! [Offers his hand to Alice] Come, come, my dear!

Austin : [Sniggers] I should think it is the dusty handprint on the front that you should be more concerned about, Colonel.

Alice : [Pulls herself up with Harvey's help, glaring at Austin] Thanks, Harvey.

[The party run into the house, to see that the kitchen is a mess, and that LAIUS, JOCASTA and OEDDIE are dead, having been literally hacked to pieces.]

Austin : [Looking around at the mess] Looks like someone had a bit of a tantrum. [Does an 'oh well, never mind, plently more fish...' type frown at Jocasta's remains]

Chastity : [Shocked] In the name of Phili, what an atrocity! Where could Dannielle be? [To Boddy, in horror] Oh no, not the bedroom?

Alice : I'll check.

[ALICE heads in that direction, but is run into by BODDY coming back, holding a bloodstained piece of paper in his hand. DARIUS strolls in behind him.]

Alice : Ow. [Sees the note] Who's that from?

Darius : [Glancing over Boddy's shoulder] Given the poor penmanship, atrocious grammar and laughable spelling, I'd say it's either from you or from Contagion.

Chastity : [Glances at the note] Given that the letters aren't all block capitals and the letter r's are the correct way round I'd say it was Contagion. [To Boddy] What's it say?

Jerome : Good Sir Boddy, you have our aid, whatever you require of us we indeed shall perform willing.

Boddy : [Crumples up the paper] Thanks Jerome. Contagion has her. We're going to kill him.

Alice : [Glares at Chastity, hands on hips] You know, I can do joined up writing. Look. [Takes out her notebook and flicks through page after page of completely illegible writing, punctuated by the occasional childlike drawings of flowers and houses.]

Chastity : [Patronisingly to Alice] I do apologise, dear. So you can, [pats her on the head] so you can. [To Boddy] We still need something to kill Contagion with, though.

Austin : [To Boddy] That's the spirit, lets go and destroy Contagion once and for all. Do we know where he is? [Looks to see if there are any bloody foot prints to follow]

Clint : [Holding the hilt of his sword] I'll chop him off in such little pieces that he'll never be able to put himself back together!

Austin : [To CLint] I htought we were going to freeze him or bury him deep in a mineshaft or a deep well or something like that?

Darius : Now, that's a good idea, Austin. Especially if you know that someone's going to come along later and kill him for you. However, it would be helpful if we had some more powerful weaponry to take him on and encourage him into whatever mineshaft or deep well is most convenient.

Boddy : [Lifting up some floorboards] I might have something.

Alice : [Murmurs to Clint] It's going to take more than a piece of wood!

Clint : [To Austin, annoyed] I can still chop him off and THEN we'll bury him, no? You can be such a spoiler sometimes.

Chastity : [Overhearing the typical Bassett-Short murmur, to Alice] It'll probably have a nail in it.

Jerome : [To Alice] Conversely, and more likely, it is concealed beneath the floorboards, dearest Alice.

Austin : [To Jerome, in a complementary fashion] Indeed Dr. Trindle, what you lack in comlyness and attire you more than make up for in your prowess at stating the obvious. [looks to see what Boddy is getting]

Clint : An underground weapon?

Jerome : [Looks at Clint then turns to Austin with a smug grin on his face] Once again Mr Sleaze you have proven yourself to be a self-obsessed ignoramus with no empathic capabilities. You are not even beneath Jerome's contempt for your lack of contemplation of Alice and Clint's reaction. [Turns to Chastity rubbing his temples] Do you happen to have any painkillers?

Alice : [To Jerome] I've got some cheese, if that's of any use to you.

Darius : [Smiles at the rolled up blanket] Excellent. I knew I could rely on you.

Boddy : [Turns and glares at Darius] What's that supposed to mean?

Darius : [Puts his hands up] Woah there, Nige. I'm not your enemy.

Boddy : We'll see.

Alice : [To Jerome] He's concealed a nail beneath the floorboards? I doubt it.

[BODDY reaches in an pulls out a rolled up blanket which he throws onto the ground in front of the party. It lands with a heavy metallic thump.]

Boddy : A little souvenier from times gone by.

Chastity : [Looking at the rolled up blanket] If that's Clint's favourite talking sword, it's going to be mighty miffed at being stuck under the floor all this time!

Harvey : [To Chastity] Beaucaphalus, you mean dear sister? Could it be? Or it could be the other one, Temporidus, I think it was called!

Clint : Only one way to find out! [Starts unrolling the blanket]

Darius : [Watches as the blanket unrolls, sending a number of swords onto the ground] I knew you'd go back for them.

[The party recognise these swords as the ones they used to kill PESTILENCE in Book III, Act IV, and all loudly complain about being thrown on the ground as well as being kept under the floorboard. Neither BEAUCAPHALUS nor TEMPORIDUS are here, but swords such as ARROGUS, DELIRIOUS, OSTETENTENACIOUS, CALLAESTHETIA. SABSQUATULATER. CONCEITETORIOUS. BOEOTICUS. LYSERGICUS and HAUTERIOUS are present.]

Arrogus : I say! This is outrageous treatment. I am Arrogus the Wondersword!

Boddy : Why? Because they were gone when you got there?

Darius : Click-click!

Chastity : [Picks up Sabsquatulater and hands it to Austin] I do believe that this was the sword you were most compatible with. It was probably the most happy hiding under the floor.

Sabsquatulater : Austin! I knew you'd come for me - we've got to get out here, it's dangerous!

Alice : Hi, Arrogus, I'm here too!

[Silence.]

Chastity : [looking back at the pile of swords. Sighs] Oh, Boadehilde the Wondersword doesn't seem to be there. So astute for a wonder sword it was.

Boadehilde : [Beneath the swords] Excuse me, youung lady, but I am here!

Jerome : Jerome admits confusion as to assignment of these potent weapons.

Alice : These were the swords that we used to kill Pestilence. The last I saw, they were stuck on him, sinking into hell. [Thinks hard] Does this mean that someone went back down later on to get them.

Darius : [Righteously indignant] That's what sounds like to me!

Boddy : Yeah, like you didn't try to get them too. [Holds up the note] This is from Contagion. He wants to meet me at the top of Mount Fount.

Chastity : [Picks up Boadehilde] Ah, there you are. Good. It's nice to have a weapon with good standards. [To Boddy] Well, with this fine array of evil slaying hardware, let's go.

Austin : [Looks hesitant] Can we have a plan this time? [Looks at Sabsquatulater] I think we should do some planning first.

Chastity : [Looking round the group and gesturing towards the swords] Well with our numbers and these swords, surely the plan is to go and stick as many swords into Contagion as possible and kill him. [To Boddy] Is there anything special about the summit of Mount Fount?

Sabsquatulater : Good idea, Austin! Maybe we should stay here and make a plan. When we're done, we can catch up with the others.

Boddy : Mount Fount is a volcano, and fire is one of the view things that can render Contagion vulnerable to magic weapons. Also, he's afraid of heights and doesn't like the thin air.

Chastity : Then why on earth would he want to meet us there? To give us a sporting chance? I don't think so. It just sounds like a horrible trap to me.

Darius : No one said that Contagion was smart, he's just evil.

Austin : Infact we were told that his lack of intelligence was his weakness. [Ponders] Okay, so we are all agreed, we need a plan. I would like to propose that we have a planning meeting [Looks at his watch] Some time, perhaps after lunch? [Looks around the party] Does that suit everyone?

Chastity : This is no time for procrastination. [Points to Boddy] This man's beloved is in the evil, and stupid, clutches of Contagion. We can't rest on our laurels. Evil takes no break for lunchtime, so neither can we.

Austin : [To Chastity, ponderingly] Indeed sister, this is no time for indolend procrastinations, we should have our planning meeting immediatley.

Chastity : Indeed so. It seems obvious that we should finish him in the Volcano lava, but should he be skewered whole or is he best treated like these poor unfortunates [gestures round at the carnage around them. To Clint] I think you've got someone's nose stuck to your foot!

Boddy : [Grabs Austin by the collar] You damned coward. If you don't want to come, don't. [Throws him roughly back] We can plan in the carriage. just your normal magic sword forward a copy to this account

Austin : [Straightening his collar. To Boddy] I'm no coward, no coward would plan battle against evil on top of a volcano, which is what I intend to do, incidentally. [Goes and gets into the carriage. Shouts to Boddy] What are you waiting for? Christmas? Are you scared?

Alice : [To Chastity] I guess it's better than having someone's nose stuck to your as - [notices Harvey's disapproving eye] ah, eh, elbow!

Boddy : Waiting for you to get pick which carriage you're travelling in. [Gets into Darius' carriage and turns to the others] Keep him away from me.

Alice : [Picks up Arrogus] Er, are we taking two carriages?

Chastity : [Slightly panicy. To Harvey] Quick, Colonel, in the drivers seat.

Alice : [Who is far closer to the carriage than Harvey] It's fine, I'll drive. [Leaps onto the drivers seat but, to her dismay, has landed on Harvey's lap]

Harvey : [Smiles indulgently] Sorry niece, too slow.

Alice : [Looks from Harvey to the cottage and back again] Hey!

Chastity : [To Harvey] Excellent Colonel. Always fleet of foot to the rush to battle evil. [Gets in the back of Harvey's carriage]

Clint : [Picking up Delirius] Are you a brave magical sword?

Jerome : [Picks up the most practical looking sword remaining on the ground] Jerome shall travel with Mr. Boddy. Mr Sleaze is a trifle too much to bear most times.

Harvey : [Jumps quickly from the carriage while Alice isn't looking, picks up Hauterious and jumps back in] Right then, troop, to the mountain we go! Gee up! [Shakes the reigns at the horses]

Alice : [Momentarily startled at the blur of Harvey] Hey!

Delirious : [Loudly to Clint] I am Delirious The Thunder Sword! And you, simple human, would do well to remember that.

[Everyone gets on the carriages, with HARVEY, AUSTIN, CHASTITY and ALICE in one, and CLINT, JEROME, BODDY and DARIUS in the other.]

Boddy : Let's go! [Speeds off] [Book III, Act X, Scene VI. At the Foot of Mount Fount. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, DARIUS and BODDY are here, in two carriages. The trip has taken about half an hour, and was taken at breakneck speed, with HARVEY barely able to keep up with the others. There appears to be a cable car system here leading up to the mountain, which starts from a small wooden hut.]

Boddy : [Jumps off the carriage, sword drawn, but turns to the others] This place is run by an old hermit, but he's so slow and annoying that it'll be quicker for us to kill him and leave Austin down here to winch us up.

Chastity : We can't kill an innocent Hermit just because he may delay us with annoyance. If we adopted that as a general rule Austin wouldn't be here to operate the winch in his place.

Austin : [To Boddy] And let you steal the all the glory? I doubt it. [Sighs] But if I really must. [Frowns] I suppose I will have to make the sacrifice and miss the battle and the glory. This will not improve my street cred at all.

Jerome : Good point good Sister! Mr. Boddy at the most extreme we should bind and gag him and leave Mr Sleaze here to elevate us using the winch. [To Chastity] Would that we could perform a similar task with Austin.

Chastity : [Sadly to Jerome] To manage it we'd no doubt have to apply for a gagging order! [Makes for the hut] I hope the poor man here hasn't fallen to the same fate as the Jones.

Harvey : [Gets out of the carriage] Hardly, dear Sister, how would the fiend have got up the mountain in that case?

Alice : [In the process of getting out] Hm, it looks like the carriage isn't as well parked as it could be, shall I fix it?

Harvey : [Miraculously back in the driving seat] It's okay, niece, I'll look after it.

Alice : Hey!

Boddy : [Hammers on the door] Open up!

Austin : [To Boddy] Are you sure he is too old and slow, I wouldn't want to miss the fight. [Goes to take a look in the window of the hut]

Boddy : Don't worry, I know you wouldn't want to fight anyone who isn't old and slow.

[The door opens, and a wrinkled old man stands there, with a kindly look on his face.]

Boddy : Where's Contagion?

[The man doesn't reply, but points at a sign on the wall that reads "I am a hermit who rarely speaks. Each group may only ask me three questions. To get further information, you must guess my name."]

Alice : Wow! Are you really a hermit?

Hermit : Yes.

Alice : Really?

Hermit : Yes.

Alice : Really?

Hermit : Yes.

Alice : [To the others] Is he really a hermit?

Austin : [Sighs. To Boddy] You don't have a very high opinion of me, do you Mr. Boddy. [Looks at the Hermit] Is your name Herman? Herman the Hermit? [Looks mildly amused at his own suggestion. To Mr. Boddy] I have ways of getting information out of people you know, not pleasant, but necessary, I think you'll aggree. I wonder how much Herman costs? [Looks around for a price list] Perhaps the lift is free.

Jerome : Jerome is curious if we should just continue Mr Boddy's plan with Sister Chastity's amendment. Nothing viewed here has altered its viability.

Austin : [To Jerome] Why don't you stay here and operate the winch, since you are the one who claims to understand all things mechanical, and let the real men go to the fight [Gestures to himself and Boddy. Gets into the cable car]

Jerome : [Gives a condescending smile] Do not be ashamed Mr Slease of your mechanical inadequacies. Jerome is sure a [Does finger quotes] real man such as yourself can make a good scone.

Boddy : [Watching Austin try the door of the cable car and finding it locked] You're right Austin. I don't have a very high opinion of you. [To the others] Let's kill him.

Harvey : I say, Boddy, steady on old chap! This is a party member you're talking about!

Boddy : I meant the hermit.

Harvey : Okay. [Thinks for a moment, in pure Alice-style] Hey! I say, Boddy, steady on old chap! We can't just go around killing people!

Boddy : Why not?

Darius : Because he's the only one who knows how the cable works. Even Big Brain here would take a while to figure it out.

Alice : [Modestly] Oh, well, I suppose it would take me a little while, Mr. Boddy.

Darius : The scone making abilities of Austin and peurile mental masturbation of Jerome notwithstanding, the only way we're going to get up the mountain is with the hermit's help. We've got no choice but to guess. [Looks at the hermit] Well, old timer, how about a clue?

[The HERMIT puts up four fingers on his right hand, and presses them against his left bicep.]

Alice : [Shouting] Arm! Muscle! Four! Five!

Clint : I'm sure a good kick would make it work, but I'm not so sure Chassers would agree. [Points at the hermit] Maybe if I kick him he'll start talking?

Alice : [Turns angrily to Clint] Sh! I can't hear him!

Chastity : [To Alice] No he mean's his name has four syllables [Looks at the blank expression on Alice's face] Four bits to his name? [To the Hermit] Sorry. Any more clues? It's not Mount-Fount-Herm-it is it? [Shrugs almost apologetically to Harvey] Well it's worth a go.

[The HERMIT shakes his head, before holding up his right hand, still with four fingers up.]

Harvey : Indeed, good Sister. Indeed. Let's see now, fourth syllable.

[The HERMIT nods, before walking up to ALICE and pinching one of her cheeks, holding the pinch as he does, clearly not causing her any pain, and points to the pinch with his other hand.]

Austin : I think Mr. Boddy is quite correct, we should kill the hermit, Danielle needs our help now, and these silly games could cost her life.

Darius : [To Austin] Look, Conan, I know you're champing at the bit to get killed by Contagion, but unless the hermit operates the cable car, no one gets up, and Michelle will certainly be killed.

[A brief moment passes.]

Alice : Er, you mean Nicole?

Darius : No, I mean Danielle. Gah, forgot to group mail!

Chastity : [To Austin] Sssshhhhhh! [To Hermit] Nip! [Enthusiastically to the group] This is fun. Just like those dark winter evenings with the children and my third husband, George. He was always a fan of messing about in the parlour.

Darius : Tart! Hooker! Prostitute!

[The HERMIT shakes his head, and lets go of ALICE, before stroking his left forearm several times, and then pointing to it.]

Alice : [Turns indignantly to Darius] Hey!

Darius : [Deadly serious] Nah, it's got to be something to do with the body.

Chastity : [To Hermit] Touch, feel, grope, grab! By Phili, its like descibing Austin in a crowded bar!

Alice : Drunk! Sleazy! Lecherous! Lying! Pretending not to be gay even though everyone knows you are!

[The HERMIT shakes his head and takes a pinch of his own cheek, before pointing at that.]

Austin : [To Alice, indignantly] I am not homosexual. Only an stupid idiot would think I was. [To Hermit sharply] Stroke, arm, forearm, Maplin, carress, pet, fondle, Serendipity [Austin shows the Hermit Maplin. To the others] This fellow is obviously completely mad.

Chastity : Gasp! Amazing! The Hermit is a ventriloquist! Last from Sam #21

Austin : [To Chastity, sneering] Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but I expect nothing better from you. You make cheap jokes as our comrade Danielle's life is in peril. Typical. [To the Hermit] Skin, touch, smooth, texture, epidermus. [Frowns at the Hermits lack of response]

Jerome : Nip, nab, squeeze, tweak... Stuck in a meeting folks - hopefully I'll escape in 30 mins On Mon, 10 Nov 2003, Marc wrote:

Austin : Folicle, ugly arm, veins, cold, old, bald, wrinkly...

Chastity : Face, cheek, pale, gentle

Clint : Crazy, old, fool!

Alice : [Looks at Austin in silence for a few moments] Hey! I never said that you were gay. Only a stupid would think that I did.

[The HERMIT points triumphantly at AUSTIN as he says "skin."]

Harvey : Excellent, something something something skin!

[The HERMIT puts up one finger, before doing a drinking motion.]

Alice : Oh! Oh! I've got it! The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover!

Austin : [To Alice sarcastically] Of course, his parents named him after their favourite book. Why didn't I think of that first. [Rolls his eyes. To Jerome] So were we we, 'skin', [muses] 'Crumpledhiltskin', rings a bell, though I'm not sure why.

[The HERMIT nods, but waves his hand in the air to show that it isn't quite right, before making another drinking motion.]

Alice : The first syllable has got to be some sort of drink - Stinky, you're the expert on that, what is it?

Austin : Rum hiltskin?

Chastity : If Clint is the expert in the drink-related name guess's it must be Spill-yer-drink-skin [Looks hopefully at the mysteriously named Hermit]

Jerome : Gin, Tonic, Pimms, Rum, Vodka, Aunt Jemima's Fortified Elderberry Drink with Aniseed...

Clint : [Eyeing Jerome with a "do you call that a drink?" look] Brandy, Beer, Whiskey, Absynth, Wine. In order of preference.

Hermit : [To Jerome] That's it! Rum! Now, put it all together and what do you get?

Alice : Really, really drunk?

Harvey : Rumplestiltskin!

Hermit : At your service.

Clint : Eh?

Alice : Oh, for Phili's sake, Clint! Are you paying any attention? That's his name, it's - [looks at Rumplestiltskin] what is it again?

[RUMPLESTILTSKIN puts four fingers up against his bicep.]

Harvey : I do believe, dear niece, that his name is Rumplestiltskin! An odd name, to be sure, probably foreign, so not so sure we can trust the bliter too far! [To Rumplestiltskin] I say, chappie, can you take us up the mountain on your cable car, what?

Clint : [Clearly annoyed] Bloody foreigners.

Alice : It's okay, Stinky. Him being annoying is a product of his ignorance rather than any vindictiveness on his part.

Rumplestiltskin : [To Harvey] Eh? You want to go [confused emphasis] up the mountain? Why, yes I can! Just one gold piece.

Alice : [Whispering excitedly to the others] Maybe we can get him to pay us more!

Chastity : [To Rumplestiltskin] Why do you find it stange that we would want to go up the mountain?

Jerome : [To Rumplestiltskin] Who were your last passengers to ascend the mountain?

Rumplestiltskin : Who were my [emphasis] last passengers? There were two of them, a young lady and a strange looking guy wrapped in barbed wire - I don't mind telling you, he probably would never have got up if wasn't for her.

[BODDY can be heard splapping his hand against his head at hearing this.]

Rumplestiltskin : [To Chastity] Why do I find it [emphasis] strange? I don't, why do you ask? In fact, I would have found it [emphasis] strange if you didn't want to go up.

Chastity : [To Rumplestiltskin] Oh, right sorry. Are you OK? You don't need to visit the little room, or anything?

Austin : [To Rumplestiltskin] So, will you let us into the cable car and winch us up to the top? [Looks seriously into Rumple's eyes] The Strange guy with the barbed wire is probably going to kill the girl if we don't get there in time. [Austin stands next to the door of the car waiting]

Chastity : [To Autin] You'd best pay him that gold piece then to get us on our way.

Rumplestiltskin : You'd best pay me that gold piece then, to get you on your way.

Austin : [Gives Rumplestiltskin a single gp] I'm not paying any extra for the fat nun. [Looks at Mr Boddy, and gestures into the cablecar] After you.

Clint : [Looking inside the cable car] Hey!, I thought they always equipped these with a drink cabinet! [To Rumplestiltskin] Hey Mr. Rumandstillskin, do you have first class cable cars around here?

Chastity : If he did you wouldn't be aloud in anyway, Mr. Scar. First class doesn't permit the wielding of weaponry.

Clint : I've told you once and I'll tell you again, Chassers, a bottle of brandy is [emphasis] not a weapon!

Alice : [As the party load into the cablecar] I've one for you, Rumple! [Does the film motion, and then holds up eight fingers]

Rumplestiltskin : The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover. And that's nine words.

Alice : Gah! [Composes herself] I mean, no.

Boddy : Come on!

Jerome : Can we restrain ourselves from bickering about the amenities, or lack thereof, and note that Mr. Sleaze was just now uncommonly generous.

Chastity : [Gets into position at the front of the cable cable car. To Clint] If you remember, Clint, you have already used a partially filled brandy botttle as a weapon. [To Rumplestiltskin] How long does the trip up the mountain take?

Austin : [To Jerome] As Mr Boddy pointed out, Danielle's life is in danger and our swift and timely rescue can afford no more delays. It is a small price to pay to save the life of Danielle, I believe, is that not so Dr. Trindle? [Smirks, jokingly whispering to Jerome] Anyway, she might not let me eat her pie again if we don't rescue her.

[Everyone loads on as RUMPLESTILTSKIN sets the cablecar in motion. About forty feet from the top, it stops, leaving the party hanging there.]

Alice : [Looking out] Hm, look, there seems to be a large crater below us.

[This is true, but it is clearly a dried up lake which has been dammed.]

Austin : [Looking around] Can anyone see Danielle? [Looks back towards the hut] What the hell is that guy up to?

Alice : [Takes out her binoculars and looks down at Rumplestiltskin] Okay, it's a sentance. Six words. Fourth word is the. The third is in, and the second is is. Last word, hmm.... oh! Cablecar! First word, um, disease? Sickness?

Clint : [With a sudden attack of inspiration] Contagion??? [Draws his sword]

Harvey : What? Contagion is in the cablecar? But how can that be, troop? [Takes out his sword] Well Hauterious, looks like you'll be seeing some action even sooner than I thought, eh!

Hauterious : I hope he is a worthy foe, for I shall not be tainted with the blood of just anyone.

Alice : [To Harvey] No, it's Contagion is in the something cablecar! I can't see exactly what he's saying - um, otter? Hotter?

Austin : [To Alice] 'Other', Contagion is in the other cable car. [Looks down for the other car] The other car must be about 40 foot from the hut at the bottom.

Alice : I don't see it - in fact, I don't remember seeing two cars in the hut at the bottom.

[EVERYONE gathers at the edge and looks towards the hut at the bottom, but can't see the cablecar.]

Austin : [To Alice] Why would there be two cars at the bottom, don't they have one at either end, on a loop, kind of thing? [Looks around for the other car]

Alice : How am I supposed to know? I've never even been in a cable car before! In fact, until a few minutes ago I thought the cable car was the thing that drove around the man who fixes your television!

Chastity : [To Alice] I think you'll find that's usually a van, dear. [Looks out the rest of the windows for the other cable car]

Alice : No, they use a van when they need to get at your box.

[The other cablecar is coming from the top hut. It looks as though the cables it is on are higher than the party's one.]

Chastity : [Worriedly look at the other cable car. Quickly To Alice] Well we've no time to discuss getting into your box now, Alice, Contagion is already coming. [Looks at the roof for some sort of hatch way] And looking at the way he's hung, I fear that he may end up on the top.

Austin : [Looking pale] It looks like he is going to attack us from above, we might have to fight from the roof of this car. [Looks at Clint] After you!

Alice : [Looks up] But there's no hatch here! What are we going to do?

[This is true, although the roof is glass. CONTAGION's cablecar will soon be directly over the party's one.]

Austin : [Seizing the moment, grabs Alice in a hug] I'll protect you! Don't worry Alice! [Sniffs her hair]

Jerome : [Slowly turning purple] Unhand dear Alice at once you odious, poisonous, mentally, morally and ethically deficient sub-human wretch Sleaze. We all know you are doing that when Contagion arrives you can claim that you were restraining her! [Calms from the point of near aneurism] Sweet Alice do you possess a diamond ring? Mayhap I can utilise it in the form of a glass cutter.

CHastity : If she did, it'll probably be in Austin's pocket by now. No doubt for protection[Smiles forcbly at Austin. TO Jerome] Doctor, do you think that the other cable car is at the correct height to cut our wires?

Austin : [Let's go of Alice. Furiously at Jerome] Only a fetid piece of detritus like you, Trindle, would think such obscene thoughts! [Looks down he nose at Jerome] I was merely taking the opportunity to fondle Alice's fine derriere, and I think you'll agree, it is very, fine. [Looks bore with Jerome and pokes the glass roof with Sabsquattler] Do you think standing under a glass roof is a good idea? I don't. [Puts on a rather fetching and dashing trilby]

Jerome : [To Chastity] That is a distinct possibility good sister. [To Austin] Only a deleterious cretinous mass as you Sleaze would make the obvious mistake of assuming that the aperture so created would be used to gain access to an elevated position on an extraordinarily brittle surface. The proposed technique would allow us to expose a large section of the car to air and allow us to either climb the support to the cable and jump onto Contagion's car or possibly utilise ranged weapons. Now Mr Sleaze try not to expose me to your incompetent inquiries again.

Alice : [Hitting the ground with a thump as Austin lets her go] Ow!

Harvey : [Annoyed] There'll be no fondling of anyone's derriere in this cablecar, Private Sleaze! I'll thank you to remember that.

[CONTAGION's cablecar stops directly above the party.

Alice : [Hands on hips to Austin] Yeah! If Jerome wants to be exposed, he'll expose himself!

[There is a huge thump as CONTAGION lands on the roof.]

Boddy : [Drawing his sword and opening a side window] Let's get him!

Chastity : [Opens a window on the other side of the cable car] We'll stand a better chance if we attack for different sides. [Opens the window as wide as possible] Up you go, Clint. Last from Sam #73

Austin : [To Jerome sniggering] That was a retorical question, idiot! [Looks up at Contagion, then goes to open another window]

Alice : Good idea, Chas, opening the window will get rid of the smell!

[CONTAGION has a rope around his waist, which is attached to the other cablecar, and is holding a long line of cable that seems to disappear back into the top hut. He starts to attach the cable to the top of the cablecar.]

Boddy : Hang on, we'll have to break the window to get out, there isn't enough room otherwise.

[Both he and DARIUS smash two of the side windows.]

up

Harvey : I say troop, perhaps we can shake the fiend off by shifting our weight within this cable car! Then, if he slips off, we can sever the rope around his waist and watch him fall to his doom! Let's run from the left to the right!

Alice : Good idea, Harvey, but wouldn't it make more sense to run from right to left?

Austin : [To Harvey] That sounds like a good idea to me. [Goes over and stands beside Harvey. To Alice] We have to run both ways, as long as we all run together it'll work. Ready?

Chastity : It's worth a go anyway. [Rushes over to Harvey and Austin]

Jerome : [Moves next to Alice] Let us proceed with all due haste.

Chastity : [Sighs. To Jerome and Alice] No, we've all to start at the same side. Come over here.

Jerome : Jerome believed that Alice wished to start a second harmonic into the motion to create a gyric effect. To be performed by operating a side to side motion normal to the direction of the initial motion.

Chastity : {To Alice Really?

Alice : [Looks blank for a moment] Er, yes. Yes, that's just what I was thinking, a second harmony for the pyrrhic effect.

Boddy : You're wasting time.

[BODDY starts to climb out, only for CONTAGION to drop a small cannister of oil at him, which causes a small explosion, and leaves BODDY hanging upside down out of the cablecar, with his leg hooked into the broken window.]

Darius : [Grabbing Boddy's leg] As unlikely as Alice's plan is to work, I don't think we've got any choice.

Harvey : Alright Darius, you make sure you've a good hold of Boddy! On the count of three, troop, run to the opposite side of the car! One, two, three!

Chastity : [Helps Darius pull in Boddy] Watch your family Jewels, Mr. Boddy. You wouldn't want to end up like Clint. Then we can get this party swinging!

Darius : [Pulling Boddy in] Go!

[The party begin running about, with ALICE being trampled as a result of taking the wrong direction. CONTAGION slips, and falls onto the roof, but manages to catch hold of the pulley mechanism at the top, after which he begins hacking at the pulley.]

Alice : [Pulling herself over to the side] Stop! Stop!

[Everyone stops, including CONTAGION, although the cablecar is now swinging wildly back and forth.]

Alice : Look! It's Rumplestiltskin - he's trying to tell us something. Let me see, four words. Third word "the", fourth word "cablecar".

[RUMPLESTILTSKIN holds his two hands up, palms towards the party, and pushed towards them, as the first word.]

Harvey : Gah! I hate charades! What could he mean? Push? Forwards? Shove? [Scratches at a sideburn] On a sidenote, however, that's the very same gesture that certain ladies on the streets of Saigonner, Vietnumnum, use to negotiate the price of certain, urm, acts. Or so I've been told, eh!

Clint : I thought it was used by potential customers to indicate what they want. Or so I've been told.

Alice : He means stop! Now, second word, hmm. Stop something the cablecar.

[The party can see that RUMPLESTILTSKIN is shaking himself.]

Jerome : Shaking... [To Clint and Harvey] With the lesser Mtonobo tribe of Nafric it means '10 gold and I'm yours all night' according to Prime Magazine.

Harvey : [Looks down at Rumplestiltskin] Stop shaking the cablecar! That's what he's telling us, troop! I wonder why?

Alice : Maybe he doesn't want us to damage it. Look. [Points at a small sign that says "Please Don't Shake The Cablecar"]

Boddy : What? Fuck that! [Starts shaking it again, causing Contagion to fall heavily against the roof again, putting a large crack in it] Come on!

Chastity : SOmeone hit that crack. Maybe we can get Contagion to fall in here.

Alice : [Turns to Austin] Quickly Austin, split it right down the middle!

[CONTAGION is hanging on, but is hacking away at the cable.]

Jerome : Either that or Chastity can you vocalise an extended [taps a tuning fork on the glass] B flat?

Chastity : [Blushes slightly] Oh Doctor, maybe in my younger years round the family piano, but not now. [Screams, in an attempted B flat, whilst hitting the crack with her mace] Come down and face us, vile evil.[Steps back to not be under the falling glass/Contagion]

[CHASTITY's scream has little effect other than to make everyone in the cablecar uncomfortable. However, her mace definitely breaks some glass.]

Alice : Come on! Let's all have a go!

[Everyone begins hacking away at the glass, while CONTAGION tries to cut the cable. Soon, enough of the roof is damaged for CONTAGION to fall in, and he does so, but is somehow suspended so his head is just inside.]

Boddy : You bastard! [Swings his sword violently at Contagion's crotch, sending some piece of him flying against one of the windows with a sickening squelch.]

Chastity : Quick before that, erm, bit grows legs. [Rushes and tries to pick up the offending body part to throw out the window] Someone lop off his head. [Looks at the lopped off part] Well, his other one.

Alice : But his head is almost out of the cablecar!

[This is true, CONTAGION is about three feet off the ground. Despite this, BODDY lays into him with his sword.]

Contagion : Oh yeah! Give it to me! Give it to me and you'll never see your little lady again.

Harvey : [Engraged] Little lady? You've kidnapped the brown fairy too? You absolute bounder!

Contagion : Sure I did, and I screwed her so hard, my penis hardly fitted into her.

Alice : [Gives a little snigger] How big was she? Eight inches tall? You must have a really small winky!

Contagion : [Even more enraged than Harvey] Shut up! Shut up!

[The cablecar suddenly drops.]

Chastity : [Grabbing hold of the side] We'd better get a move on and get to the other car.

Jerome : [Jerome kneels and cups his hand to give people a boost onto the roof of the car] Prudent suggestion good sister. Ladies before gentlemen please [Looks sternly at Austin]

Alice : [Elbowing in front of Chastity] Hey! Chastity and I are the ladies here!

[The cablecar most definitely is plummeting, and there doesn't seem to be any way onto the roof with CONTAGION blocking the way. Suddenly CONTAGION is whipped out of the cablecar, which also stops abruply, sending everyone to the ground. The cablecar is now suspended by an apparantly new wire, while CONTAGION is hanging from his own one.]

Austin : [Holding tightly onto the side of the cablecar. To Jerome] Well Dr. Trindle, time to get that big brain of yours working, for a change, and work out how to get us out of here safely.

Contagion : [As he climbs back up to his own cablecar] I think you'll find the cable now supporting you to be far too slippy to climb. Have fun, and makes sure you make the right choices. [Starts to laugh in the classic evil genius way, but slips and falls until his cable snaps tight again] Ow!

Darius : I think, in his own special way, Contagion is trying to tell us that he's got something in store for us.

Clint : [Looking impatiently to Jerome] Well?

Alice : [Indignantly] Why does Jerome have to think of a way out, Stinky? How about we rely on you coming up with an idea to save us all? [Stares at Clint for a second, clenching and unclenching her hands, clearly seeing the flaw in her wisdom, before turning to Jerome] Actually, Jerry, maybe you should try and suggest something.

Darius : You'd want to make it soon too, as Contagion is heading back into the upper hut, and, of course, the other Contagion is starting to grow hands and legs. [Peers at it] Hm, horny little devil, isn't he?

[BODDY stamps on the little CONTAGION]

Chastity : [Looking down at the ground] Perhaps we could cut the cable, and just as the cable car reaches the ground we all jump up. [Beams at Jerome] That would work wouldn't it?

Austin : [Gets out a can of industrial strenght air freshner and his zippo and torches the little Contagion] Die, vile little creature.

Alice : [Looking out the window of the still swaying cablecar] I doubt it, Chastity, they look like pretty sharp rocks down there - we probably would need something to land on. Mm, does anyone else feel seasick with all this swaying?

Contagion : [Gives a scream, and jumps back] If you kill me, you'll never know how to escape from here, and you'll never see the girl again!

Chastity : [Sarcastically To Little Contagion] Oh yes, and I'm sure you're going to help us! [Pauses briefly] Hmmmm, as your the part most men seem to think with, this would explain the level of Contagion's brain power. [Looks round at the parties present predicament] By Phili, he must have been planning this for a [emphasises] very long time. Last fro Sam #109

Jerome : [Gives a distinctly Austin-like smirk whispers to the party] Little Contagion here has a point that we should follow. We must utilise nefarious techniques to persuade this creature to reveal what he knows about our current situation. Jerome enquires if any of us have any rope or soap? [To Contagion minor, performed with mock gravitas] Since you are nothing other than an off cut Jerome would wager you know nothing about our problematic situation, ergo we should dispose of you.

Alice : Rope or soap? [Gets a little flushed] What, er, what are you thinking of doing?

Contagion : Suit yourself, geekboy. When I die, I rejoin Contagion, when you die, you're nothing but a pancake. [Glares at Boddy and spits at him]

Alice : [Shiver] Eauh! I hope that was saliva!

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD wasn't thinking of killing you, Jerome was thinking of an extended period of agony. [With obvious sincerity] In addition at this moment in time Jerome is unconcerned with his own death.

Darius : [Stepping up beside Jerome with a smile] He's one of the club. I guess you're screwed, Contagion.

Contagion : Maybe, but I'll be they all aren't.

Clint : [Struggling to hold on] Which club is this? The immortals? Who else is part of the club?

Contagion : [Sarcastically] Oh, wow, it think can! [Thinks for a moment] I mean, I think it can, no! It can think. [Glares at Clint and whines like a teenage girl] Shut up!

Austin : [Smirks. To Contagion] I bet you have a really stupid plan, flawed to the core, so dumb that if you say or do the slightest thing wrong you will give the game away. [Seriously] You couldn't plan your way out of a paper bag.

Contagion : Fine. Be like that. See if I care. [Turns his back on the party, arms folded and tiny foot tapping impatiently.]

Alice : [Looking puzzled as she looks from Darius to Jerome] So, Darius knew about Jerome? How did -

Contagion : [Turning around and interrupting, waving his hands around] Alright, alright! If you're going to make such a song and dance about it, I'll tell you!

Austin : [To Contagion] I doubt if you are even smart enough to explain it to us, but you may as well try [Smirks]

Chastity : [To Austin] Wheesht, you're not helping any.[To Contagion] Carry on. We're all ears.

Alice : [To Chastity, but nodding at Contagion] I don't think he is!

Contagion : [Sneering at Chastity] Well, you're all about to die. The cable holding the car has been cut, and will snap in a few minutes, sending you all to your deaths when it crashes on the rocks below.

Chastity : [To Contagion] Is that it? Well talk about stating the obvious! What a dick! [Tries to give Contagion a kick]

[CHASTITY connects with CONTAGION sending him flying against the wall, and causing all the men to instinctively close their legs.]

Contagion : Ow! You'd better back off, or I won't tell you how to escape!

Chastity : [Advancing on Contagion, sword drawn] Well, by Phili, you'd better spit it out then, or I'll be giving you a change in religion!

Contagion : Before I say anything, I want a change in attitude. I want everyone to kneel down and apologise for their awful behaviour.

Alice : [Shocked] What? You expect Austin to apologise for all those mean things he's done to us? I think that's possibly the most unlikely thing I've ever heard.

Contagion : No! I expect you all to apologise to me!

Alice : Hm, better make that the second most unlikely thing.

Austin : [Sneering at Contagion] I bet that there is no way to escape, and that you are to ignorant to be able to explain it to us anyway. [To the others] We could use Chassers as a crash mat, then no one would get hurt. [Chuckles, then nervously looks at the huge fall]

Contagion : Not so, my sneery friend. If you look to your right you'll see that there is a small dam - if it breaks the rocks below will be flooded, and you will have a soft landing. Of course, the big question is how to you open it? [Starts sniggering uncontrollably]

[BODDY reaches over and cuts him in half.]

Boddy : He was starting to annoy me.

Jerome : [Scratches his chin] Hmmm [Looks a the dam through a collapsable telescope]

Chastity : [Quickly puts on some bright yellow Marigold gloves and disposes of the Contagion bits bits out the window followed by the gloves] Phew! Cheesy! Contagion could really do with some lessons in personal hygiene! [Turns round to the others] Have we any explosive devices to damage the dam from here? [To Clint, with a smile] Any Brandy left, Clint? [Sniffs] Hey, that smells not gone!

Clint : [Looking at the dam] Hm, I don't think i can kick it open from here. [To Chastity] No, no brandy left, but I'll let you have some next time I have some! [Realisation dawns] Hey!

Alice : [To Clint] What about that brandy that you stole from Daddy's house? That you've got hidden in your backpack?

[CHASTITY throws one of the CONTAGIONs out, but the other squirms away from her.]

Contagion : Hey! Stop doing that, or you'll never find out how to open the dam.

Jerome : Hm. Yes. Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that, although the dam is quite sturdy, there is a switching mechanism that will open it. The switch, Jerome believes, is over there. [Points about twenty feet to the left, where there is a large metal plate] However, it would take something very heavy to throw said switch.

Contagion : [Painfully growing new arms and legs] And guess what we're going to use to press the switch!

Chastity : [To Contagion] Well either we're going have to throw you [emphasise] *very* hard against it, or its time to get this cable car swinging again! [To the others] I vote we try them in that order.

Contagion : [With a smile] There's a third option. If you'll all just direct your attention to the uppper hut, it will all become clear.

[A cablecar comes back out of the top hut, but it isn't possible to see who is in it.]

[Book III, Act X, Scene VII. In the Cablecar. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, DARIUS, BODDY and CONTAGION are here, in the cablecar hanging by a rickety rope. The other cable car has come out. In it is DANIELLE, bound and gagged. The cable has clearly been tampered with, and it looks as though it could easily be cut, even with an arrow. It moves out so that it is directly over the switch.]

Contagion : [Hardly able to contain himself with excitement] See? If you shoot the rope, her cablecar will land on the switch and flood the area below so you all get saved. If you don't, the rope here will break and you'll all plummet to your deaths. A ha ha! A ha h-ugh!

[BODDY has stabbed CONTAGION, and throws him out the window so he falls to the ground, screaming.]

Jerome : Jerome has a conjecture that there is indeed another option. [Straightens his bow tie and looks at his pocketwatch]

Darius : [Looks up at the cable] Well, Jerome had better share his conjecture with us - time is running out.

Harvey : Indeed so, good doctor, speak up! [Scratches at a sideburn] For I must admit I'm flummoxed! Unless we can attach a rope from her car to ours, then, if we do cut the rope, her car won't plummet to the ground, but will remain suspended from ours!

Darius : Until the cable on ours breaks. Then she'll be killed by falling to the ground, after which she'll be crushed by our cablecar. [Lights a cheeseratte] Nice going, Harv.

[The cablecar gives a terrible lurch, and drops about five feet.]

Clint : [To Jerome, impatiently] Well??????????

Alice : Oh! Oh! I know what we need!

Clint : [To Alice, impatiently] Well??????????

Alice : [Triumphantly] We need a plan!

Clint : [To Jerome, impatiently] Well??????????

Alice : Oh! Oh! I know what we need!

Clint : [To Alice, impatiently] Well??????????

Alice : [Triumphantly] We need a plan!

Jerome : Indupitably dear Alice, a methodology so simple in execution that it would invariably work. The first soultion involves transposing the location of one of the contants of the cable cars into the other. If we attach a rope to Daneille's car to a point above our cable car on the rope, we then climb the rope and send our car crashing to its doom, the lightened load should allow the rope to easily support our weight without fear of breraking. We can then ascend into Danielle's car with all due promptness.

Alice : [Stares at Jerome with a furrowed brow for a few seconds, before looking away confused] That's right. We need a plan!

Chastity : [To Jerome] The one shortcoming of that plan is that we need an adequate rope, which we don't have. What, pray tell, was your second solution?

Darius : [Taking a drag of his cheeseratte] We could shoot the rope and use her cablecar to save ourselves. At least that way Contagion will be killed.

Chastity : Well at least that statement rules out the notion of compassion between soulmates. [TO Boddy] Mr. Boddy, you've been very quiet during all this. What have you to say to Darius's plan?

Boddy : [With an inscrutable expression] I say that it's a stupid plan. However, if we get killed, Contagion will definitely kill her.

Alice : [Helpfully] He'll probably have his wicked way with her first, though.

Boddy : Thanks Alice. [Looks around the party] You're supposed to be the chosen ones - do something. [To Jerome] You, get thinking! [To Austin] You, come up with something sneaky! [To Chastity] You, get praying! [To Harvey] You, prepare a plan to kill Contagion! [To Clint] You, get your sword ready! [To Alice] You, do whatever the hell it is that you do.

Austin : [Searches the cable car for a rope or wire, or whatever there is. With a snort disbelief] Sneaky! Me?

Darius : It's probably the nicest thing he could think of to say to you, don't make him want to take it back!

[There doesn't appear to be any rope or wire in the cablecar.]

Jerome : The case study can be modified such that we ascend the rope, remove the car, ascend further, reel in the excess rope and gain access to either Daneille's car via the captured rope, or with muscular exertion to the top of the volcano. We must secure ourselves, possibly utilising belts, during any ascent therefore to that end Harvey in the past has assured me he was a scout at some point in his career, ergo he assuredly obtained his knots badge, QED we are in perfectly safe hands.

[Silence descends for a few moments.]

Harvey : Well, troop, what do we think about that idea?

Alice : It depends.

Harvey : On what?

Alice : What it means.

Chastity : [To Jerome] I hate to be the one to pour oil on your waters again, Doctor, but isn't the rope too slippery to climb at all? [Take a worries look up at the other cable car] Oh, That poor girl.

Harvey : I fear the good Sister is right, Doctor. I doubt that we would be able to climb up there.

Austin : [Ponders] We could make a siege catapult from Chasseres nicker elastic and fire something really heavy at the switch lever thing. Jerome could work it out i am sure.

Chastity : We could at least buy ourselves more thinking time by throwing the weasely lawyer out with the other prick!

Alice : [Shocked] Sister! Mind your language, young lady!

Boddy : [To Austin] I said sneaky, not stupid.

Chastity : [Blushes slightly and hangs her head. To Alice] I do apologise, dear. I mean to use the word "other" just then. I was referring to Contagion's phallus that Darius threw out. [To Harvey] And I do apologise to you also, Colonel, for the accidental drop in standards in front of your impressionable niece. [To Austin] Not that it's any of your business, but standard church garments are held up with a draw string. [Turns from Asutin, then quickly turns back, wagging her finger] And this will not provide the long length of rope required, before you start throwing more thinly veiled insults around!

Alice : Yeah, Austin. Stop being such a prick. [Puts her hand to her mouth in theatrical shock] Oh, excuse me - I think I've been around Chastity's potty mouth too much!"

Chastity : [Rolling her eyes] If only the habits of abstaining from vices were so easily inherited!

Alice : [Muttering] Or so well exhibited.

Chastity : [To the group] I hate to say it, but we are steadily running out of options here. All actions seem to lead to the unfortunate demise of Danielle. [sincerely to Boddy] I'm sorry.

Boddy : Do you really think I'm going to let my wife get sacrificed for the likes of you?

[The cablecar drops another few feet, so there is literally a thread holding it up.]

Alice : [Hanging onto the side] Well, maybe not think, but hope.

Chastity : [To Boddy] Maybe not but I'm sure she'd be willing to sacrifice herself if it meant saving you. Given the lack of options I think she'd agree. You'd do the same in her position.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD would like it made clear to Alice, before any life terminating experience, that his heart fills with boundless joy at her very presence and her words fill his mind like the songs of an angelic host. [Takes Alice's hand] Should we survive this, mayhaps we could engage upon a union of hearts, minds and souls. Can we put the trepidations and tribulations we have previously encountered behind us? exactlly?

[BODDY doesn't respond to CHASTITY, but turns away, looking towards DANIELLE. DARIUS, meanwhile, surreptiously gives CHASTITY two thumbs up.]

Alice : Er, sure we can. [Glances at Clint and whispers] Oh great, not only are we all going to be killed, but our last few moments alive are going to be socially awkward too!

Harvey : There must be a way out of this predicament without loss of life! There just must be! [Eyes light up] I say, do we have a soul sanctuary left? If we could hit Danielle with it, she'd disappear from the cable car, then, we could cut the rope! [Suddenly downcast] The only problem would be trying to find the sanctuary afterwards.

Chastity : That wouldn't be a problem, Colonel, as it would be somewhere in the resultant heap of twisted metal and shattered bones at the foot of the mountain. [glances awkwardly at Boddy. quickly] Not that that's going to happen anyway. [Looks up at the cable] Perhaps Austin, with his legendary sticky fingers, could climb up there?

Darius : Sanctuary? What the hell are you talking about old man? That's not how they work!

[The cablecar drops again, about two feet this time with a terrible jarring motion. There is but a thread holding it up now.]

Chstity : I hate to say it, but we are out of time and options. [To Austin] Are you able to shoot the rope from here?

Austin : [Ignores the rude Chastity. To Boddy] I probably could shoot the rope from here, and I probably could climb up the cable from this car, using [Gets out a two spare silk ties] these as ascenders, but then what?

Darius : She's got a point, Boddy. I've got to do it. [Takes out his crossbow]

Chastity : As requested by Mr. Boddy, I'll make a prayer. [Starts to silently pray]

Jerome : Jerome cannot condone the wanton loss of life caused by any actions undertaken by Darius et al. Are we truely more important than Daneille? Mr Sleaze would it be possible for you to ascend the rope and affix a bypass crafted with these leather belts.

Austin : [To Darius] Got to do what exactly? [Austin ponders the huge drop, lookin pale, then looks at the cable] Right then, time for a climb. [Austin quickly fashions two ascenders from his ties and climbs onto the roof and begins climbing]

Chastity : [Finishes praying] There. [Looks up at Austin risking life and limb on the roof, and then decides to do another inaudable prayer]

Alice : Careful, Austin, it could be dangerous up there!

[As he climbs up, AUSTIN knocks a large chunk of glass into the cablecar which smacks ALICE on the head.]

Alice : Ow!

Darius : [To Jerome] Yes. Yes we are more important than Danielle. [Looks at Alice who is trying to figure out if her head is bleeding or not] At least, some of us are.

Clint : [To Darius] That attitude will hardly get you laid, you know.

Darius : [Click-click!] Treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen.

Jerome : At last vindication for Uberwalt's Last Theorem, A Lawyer does have a use! Jerome is pleasantly astounded at Mr Sleaze's efficency and sacrifice. Indeed Phili does exhibit physical manifestations of benevolance via the use of unlikely intermediaries. [Hands Alice an Aspirin]

Alice : Thanks Jerome, I'd hate to have a headache when we plummet to our deaths. [Pops it in her mouth]

[Across the way, DANIELLE has succeeded in removing the gag.]

Danielle : Nigel! Nigel! Help me!

Boddy : [Takes out his own bow] I'll do it.

[BODDY shoots the rope suspending DANIELLE and sends her car falling towards the switch.]

Danielle : Nigel! No!

Chastity : [Stops praying and looks up] Well I didn't see that coming! [Pauses to watch the other cable car with the screaming Danielle plummet] It would be enough to explain the two thousand year grudge anyway!

Austin : [Climbs back into the car, looking less than pleased] There is no way we can repair that, best get ready for the fall. [Austin braces himself in a cool looking position]

Alice : [Squeezes Boddy's arm reassuringly] Look, Mr. B., I think we'd all like to say - cough!

[ALICE starts choking and coughing as she realises that the aspirin she took earlier is soluble, and is sending bubbles of aspirin pouring out her mouth and nose.]

Boddy : [Breaking his bow] You lot had better be worth it.

Harvey : Dear God, what a tragedy! [Goes to put his hand on Boddys shoulder, pauses momentarily and lowers it again] That fiend is going to pay for this!

Austin : [Looking at the broken bow] Why did you break your bow?

Chastity : [Joins Harvey] Yes indeed. By Phili, we'll try to make sure you can strike the last blow again the evil swine. [Solemnly goes to the window to see what's happening with the cable car/switch/dam]

Jerome : [Solomnly] Oh! snatched away in beauty's bloom, On thee shall press no ponderous tomb; But on thy turf shall roses rear Their leaves, the earliest of ' the year; And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom: And oft by yon blue gushing stream Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head, And feed deep thought with many a dream, And lingering pause and lightly tread; Fond wretch! as if her step disturbed the dead! Away I we know that tears are vain, That death nor heeds nor hears distress: Will this unteach us to complain? Or make one mourner weep the less? And thou - who tell'st me to forget, Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.

Harvey : [Puffing himself up] What, me? I'm not crying, it's just cold up here with that howling gale coming through the window! [Wipes his eyes quickly]

Boddy : [To Austin] I used that weapon to kill her, I never want to use it again.

[The dam bursts flooding the area below, just as the cable snaps, sending the car falling down.]

Harvey : [Grabs Alice in a huge hug] Oh dear niece, I'm sorry I shouted at you that day you flooded my house by clogging up the toilet with cheese when my police inspector friend paid a visit!

Austin : [To Boddy] She may survive, so might we. [Braces himself harder against the car]

Alice : That's okay, Harvey, I don't mind, and I'm sorry I hid my cheese pipe in your overcoat that time we were getting the flight and you ended up being strip searched!

[The cablecar splashes down into the water, showering the party with glass, but not causing any severe injuries. When the party surface, they can see CONTAGION standing at the edge of the water, holding a huge crossbow and laughing hysterically. Off to one side are the two tiny CONTAGIONS, making their way to join him.]

Contagion : Man, that was brilliant! Worth two thousand years of anyone's agony! [Points the crossbow at the party]

Harvey : [Coughing water] Especially when that agony is going to be your own, foul fiend!

Contagion : And who's going to cause it, old man, you? [Fires the crossbow at the party.]

[The crossbow seems to have some sort of exploding bolts, and one explodes beside the party with a deafening bang, sending them gasping for water. CONTAGION shrieks with laughter, but suddenly stops short when he is shot through the eye by an unknown archer.]

Contagion : [Dead calm] Ow.

Clint : That'll teach him to keep an eye out for enemies. [Looks for the unknown archer]

Alice : Thanks Jerome, I'd hate to have a headache when we plummet to our deaths. [Pops it in her mouth]

[Across the way, DANIELLE has succeeded in removing the gag.]

Danielle : Nigel! Nigel! Help me!

Boddy : [Takes out his own bow] I'll do it.

[BODDY shoots the rope suspending DANIELLE and sends her car falling towards the switch.]

Danielle : Nigel! No!

Chastity : [Stops praying and looks up] Well I didn't see that coming! [Pauses to watch the other cable car with the screaming Danielle plummet] It would be enough to explain the two thousand year grudge anyway!

Austin : [Climbs back into the car, looking less than pleased] There is no way we can repair that, best get ready for the fall. [Austin braces himself in a cool looking position]

Alice : [Squeezes Boddy's arm reassuringly] Look, Mr. B., I think we'd all like to say - cough!

[ALICE starts choking and coughing as she realises that the aspirin she took earlier is soluble, and is sending bubbles of aspirin pouring out her mouth and nose.]

Boddy : [Breaking his bow] You lot had better be worth it.

Harvey : Dear God, what a tragedy! [Goes to put his hand on Boddys shoulder, pauses momentarily and lowers it again] That fiend is going to pay for this!

Austin : [Looking at the broken bow] Why did you break your bow?

Chastity : [Joins Harvey] Yes indeed. By Phili, we'll try to make sure you can strike the last blow again the evil swine. [Solemnly goes to the window to see what's happening with the cable car/switch/dam]

Jerome : [Solomnly] Oh! snatched away in beauty's bloom, On thee shall press no ponderous tomb; But on thy turf shall roses rear Their leaves, the earliest of ' the year; And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom: And oft by yon blue gushing stream Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head, And feed deep thought with many a dream, And lingering pause and lightly tread; Fond wretch! as if her step disturbed the dead! Away I we know that tears are vain, That death nor heeds nor hears distress: Will this unteach us to complain? Or make one mourner weep the less? And thou - who tell'st me to forget, Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.

Harvey : [Puffing himself up] What, me? I'm not crying, it's just cold up here with that howling gale coming through the window! [Wipes his eyes quickly]

Boddy : [To Austin] I used that weapon to kill her, I never want to use it again.

[The dam bursts flooding the area below, just as the cable snaps, sending the car falling down.]

Harvey : [Grabs Alice in a huge hug] Oh dear niece, I'm sorry I shouted at you that day you flooded my house by clogging up the toilet with cheese when my police inspector friend paid a visit!

Austin : [To Boddy] She may survive, so might we. [Braces himself harder against the car]

Alice : That's okay, Harvey, I don't mind, and I'm sorry I hid my cheese pipe in your overcoat that time we were getting the flight and you ended up being strip searched!

[The cablecar splashes down into the water, showering the party with glass, but not causing any severe injuries. When the party surface, they can see CONTAGION standing at the edge of the water, holding a huge crossbow and laughing hysterically. Off to one side are the two tiny CONTAGIONS, making their way to join him.]

Contagion : Man, that was brilliant! Worth two thousand years of anyone's agony! [Points the crossbow at the party]

Harvey : [Coughing water] Especially when that agony is going to be your own, foul fiend!

Contagion : And who's going to cause it, old man, you? [Fires the crossbow at the party.]

[The crossbow seems to have some sort of exploding bolts, and one explodes beside the party with a deafening bang, sending them gasping for water. CONTAGION shrieks with laughter, but suddenly stops short when he is shot through the eye by an unknown archer.]

Contagion : [Dead calm] Ow.

Clint : That'll teach him to keep an eye out for enemies. [Looks for the unknown archer] [Another arrow flies across and strikes CONTAGION in the face, eliciting a cry of pain. The party can see that the arrows are being fired by a slight figure dressed all in black, complete with obligatory hood.]

Alice : Quick! Let's swim to the shore and kill him with our magic swords! Nothing can stop us! [Thinks] Except maybe for us being weighed down by them... [Glug! ALICE starts drowning.]

Arrogus : For crying out loud, we're magic swords so we weigh hardly anything.

Alice : [Popping up to the surface again] Phew. Okay, let's go!

Austin : [Swims for land. Dismayed] Another suit ruined!

Chastity : [Swimming for the embankment, looking around] What happened to poor Danielle and her cable car?

Contagion : You bastards! [Takes out an orb and disappears]

Boddy : [Reaches the shore and runs to the wreckage of the cablecar, where Danielle's body lies] He's going to suffer for this.

Darius : [Miraculously getting his soaked cheeseratte lit] You see that twisted mess of tangled metal, broken glass and dead girl? She's over there.

Harvey : [Looking away] He will pay, of that you can be sure, Boddy! Well, let's give the dear girl a final resting place! [Turns to the stranger and bows] Our thanks, stranger!

[The STRANGER steps forward and removes her hood. It is CELIA BETZLER.]

Celia : [With a smile] Hi everyone. [Approaches Boddy] I'm sorry I was too late. [Glances at Clint and adds coyly] Hi Clint.

Austin : [Gets changed into at dry suit and fixes his hair. To where Contagion was] What a bastard he is. [Sighs. Checks Maplin and Serendipity]

Harvey : Celia my dear, how happy I am to see you! But tell me, how did you know that Contragion was here!

Celia : [Gives a shrug] Oh, I don't know, some of the techies figured it out.

Boddy : It's a pity they didn't figure it out a bit earlier, isn't it?

Celia : [Gives a nervous smile] I guess so.

Clint : [Warily] Er, how're you doing?

Celia : Come on, Clint, you weren't so coy the last time we were together.

Harvey : [To Alice in a typical Harvey whisper] Hah, it's hard to be coy with someones fist in your eye, dear niece!

Chastity : [To Alice] Before commenting, Harvey said in your [speaking deliberately slowly and clearly with emphasis] eye.

Alice : And he said "fist", right?

Harvey : Good heavens sister, no! I didn't mean Alice's eye, I meant Clints!

Celia : [To Darius] What are you doing here?

Darius : [Smoking his damp cheeseratte] Smoking a cheeseratte. What are you doing here?

Celia : Helping them kill Contagion.

Jerome : Felicitous greetings good lady. Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD desires it be made know that we are grateful for your suppression of Contagion, but we must inevitably contain him post haste, Jerome feels it would be wise that we shall explore any cognitive facts when the regenerative facilities of the nefarious individual have been curtailed. [Bows in her direction]

Celia : [To Austin] He's the one who was trapped in a soul prison because he annoyed Sarasate, right?

Austin : [Smirks] Yes.

Celia : Oh-kay.

Harvey : Do you have any idea where the Contagions have gone, Celia? We must follow them, but first, we will bury this poor victim of his evil! [Begins to dig a grave]

Austin : Also, I must find a dry cleaners, before all chance of rescuing the fine cut of my suit is lost. [Drys Maplin meticously, tenderly blowing dry each hair]

Celia : I've no idea, but I do have a transportation orb if someone could figure out where he is. [Looks around the party] Any one think they're clever enough to guess where he is?

Alice : Er, I think I might know.

Chastity : [Helping Harvey dig. To Alice] Where my dear. Surely not behind us?

Alice : I think he's hiding in a volcano.

Clint : [Helping Harvey and Chastity] Another vision, Bimbo?

Harvey : In a volcano, dear niece? [Full of enthusiasm] What an absolutely wonderful suggestion! But surely he would be slightly crispy around the edges, what with the scalding magma and suchlike?

Chastity : Only if he was in the lava, Colonel. This volcano is probably riddled with caves.

Jerome : Jerome would pose the point that Alice is indication the afore mentioned villain would be located at that volcano [Points in the direction the cable car was heading] possibly in the caldera near the lava. As you are pertinently aware the intense heat transferred into the air from molten magma rises at such a rate that there is little lateral radiative transfer.

Chastity : [To Jerome] So we can happily stand beside the lava without being burnt. Something we already know from a previous battle with Contagion. [pauses thoughtfully] A shame we had to burn a rare talking tree to cross the lava though.

Alice : Well, I'm not sure why Contagion would want to near all that malding smegma and like, but the last time we encountered him, he was hiding out in a volcano.* Maybe he's doing the same thing?

Boddy : Well, the nearest volcano is on on Maboobahboobah, but there must be thousands of volcanoes in the world - what are the chances that he's gone there?

Harvey : By the saints, you're quite right, sister! So, we think we know where he might be, but how about when he might be?

Harvey : [Still digging] Well, considering we encountered him there in the very distant future, we know he has a center of operations there. So, I think it's a good possibility that he's there now.

Austin : Excuse me if I'm [snorts derisively] wrong, but aren't we standing in a dormant volcano at this moment in time. [Blows again up Maplin] Perhaps he's still here, hiding in Sister Chastitys cave, perhaps.

Darius : [Steps up very, very close to Austin] You're wrong. You're a fool and you're wrong. [Steps back to his normal, calm demeanour]

Alice : So this isn't a dormant volcano?

Darius : Oh, it is. We're just not standing in it.

Boddy : Let's go to Maboobahboobah.

Alice : [Flicking through her notebook] Actually, Mr. Boddy, I think you'll find that the island was called [looks down at the notebook for far longer than is necessary, looking increasingly more petulant and red of cheek, before slamming the book shut] So come on then, what are we waiting for?

Chastity : Yes lets go. [To Alice] You didn't happen to note down what colours of liquid were mixed last time, do you? Just in case.

Alice : [Proudly] I sure did! [Looks through the notebook] They were red, green and blue.

Chastity : Not the most helpful note, considering I died last time we visited this Volcano.[pauses] Or part of me did, or something. Anyway, I'd rather not relive the experience of my sudden death, thank you.

Boddy : Part of you?

Darius : A soulmate of hers.

Boddy : [Clearly extremely annoyed with Darius] Then I guess it doesn't really matter, does it.

Darius : [Puffing away on the cheeseratte] I guess not.

Chastity : I was just checking. Shall we go then? [Dramatically] To Maboobahboobah! [turns back] Erm, where are the carriages?[Looks towards the bottom hut] Dash.

Alice : [Flicking through her notebook] Actually, Chastity, I think you'll find that the island was called [looks down at the notebook for far longer than is necessary, looking increasingly more petulant and red of cheek, before slamming the book shut] So come on then, what are we waiting for?

Harvey : [With a concerned look at how obvious that it is that Alice's t-shirt is still wet and she is somewhat cold] Er, for the troop to put on some dry clothes?

Celia : [Dramatically] No need, I have a transportation orb here - a side effect of their use is that people's clothes get dried.

Harvey : Interesting! Any other side-effects?

Celia : Well, some monsterism, but that's unusual.

Chastity : Thats fine then. After all, what are the chances of of it happening again! [Glances at Clint]

Alice : Monsterism as in appearance or personality?

Celia : [Shrugs] Idunno.

Jerome : [Takes out a thermosflask and pours out a cup of water, putting aspirin into the water he knocks it back, To Darius] Would you be as kind to step away from Jerome's personage. [Massages his temples, To the party] Once we have paid our respects we should depart.

Darius : [Stepping a little closer to Jerome] Does it really hurt? [To the others] I'm afraid we don't have time for this - you know it too, Boddy. You can come back afterwards. Celia here has injured him, we need to get at him sooner rather than later.

Boddy : Okay. Let's go.

[CELIA drops her orb on the ground, and the entire group disappear.]

[Book III, Act X, Scene VIII. In a dark cave. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, DARIUS, BODDY and CELIA are here. It is quite dark and very warm.]

Alice : [Lighting a torch and dropping the match on the ground] So, are we inside the volcano?

[The match lands on a small sapling growing out of the ground.]

Sapling : Ow! Hey! Watch where you drop things!

Austin : [Looks at the sapling] Talking trees again, I think we are probably inside the volcano. [Continues examining his suit] Remarkable [Smiles] I must suggest transportation orbs to my drycleaners.

Alice : [Peers closely at Austin's nose] And only some monsterism.

Austin : [Pales considerably, gets out his pocket mirror and checks his nose] Phew! You all most had me there girl. [Does a double take at Alice] Gasp! [Looks away pretending he didn't see anything unusual on Alice's face]

Alice : [Pales considerably, and gets out her pocket mirror and checks her nose] Phew! You almost had me there, guy. [Does a double take on Austin] Gasp! [Looks away, pretending she didn't see anything unusual on Austin's face]

Jerome : [Smiles warmly at Alice's antics] Now let us ascertain the location of Contagion.[To Sapling] Excuse me my good arboreal sir, may Jerome enquire as to whether a despicable creature resembling a man passed this way?

Clint : Talking to a tree. That's it. Jerry's lost it for good this time.

Harvey : [Shocked] I quite agree private! Next the poor man will be hugging them, saving them from being fuel for our fire! Then comes the long hair, the loud t-shirts, the beads, the pierced noses, the bandanas, the three day festivals, portaloos, p-p-p-peace marches, love ins-tackle outs, feta overdoses, tarot readers, mime artistes, karma, scented bloody candles! Overland trips to Indiana, naked women running around playgrounds with flowers in their hair, shouting all we need is love, love, love, love is all we need, dancing to music, hah, if you could call it that, by a group called Jefferson Airballoon. Kaftans! Dungarees! Sandals! [Outraged] Crystals! [Ominously] Yoga! By the saints, I won't have it, not in my troop, troop!

Alice : [Defensively] Hey! Leave him alone - he's just trying to communicate with it. Maybe if people showed more understanding to trees the world wouldn't be in such a terrible state? [Stirring music begins to play in the background] If we all took time to listen to trees, we might all be better off. If all trees could speak, I'm sure they could share some wisdom with us, and, if all trees could scream in pain like this one just did, I wonder if we would be so cavalier about cutting them down.

Darius : We might, if they screamed all the time for no good reason.

Harvey : Well, it would certainly put paid to that whole tree falling in the forest and no ones around to hear it question, wouldn't it! You'd hear the bloody thing shriek from miles away!

Tree : Hey! Do you want me to help or not?

Harvey : Help? How?

Tree : Fine. Have it your way. [Petulantly folds two of his brances over each other]

Austin : [To Tree] Did you see a nasty twisted evil loooking guy go this way [points into the tunnel] or not?

[The TREE doesn't answer, and just petulantly mops the top of his trunk with a branch.]

Harvey : [To the tree] Look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause offence! We certainly need your help.

Austin : [To Harvey] That's some very tree hugger type talk there Colonel.[Looks at the tree. To the tree] Tell us if the evil dude went this way or I'll kill you.

Clint : Typical Lawyer. Threatening someone smaller than him.

Tree : Help! Help!

Alice : Leave him alone, Austin! [Gently rubs the tree] Aw, poor little tree. Hey! What's this sticky stuff all over my hand?

Tree : Er, sap.

Harvey : Well tree, did someone else pass this way earlier?

Tree : Oh yes, in towards the centre of the volcano.

Alice : [Drawing her sword] The centre eh? Let's go! [Turns and starts to walk, but stops and looks back to the tree] Where's the centre?

Tree : In the middle.

Tree : Help! Help!

Alice : Leave him alone, Austin! [Gently rubs the tree] Aw, poor little tree. Hey! What's this sticky stuff all over my hand?

Tree : Er, sap.

Harvey : Well tree, did someone else pass this way earlier?

Tree : Oh yes, in towards the centre of the volcano.

Alice : [Drawing her sword] The centre eh? Let's go! [Turns and starts to walk, but stops and looks back to the tree] Where's the centre?

Tree : In the middle.

Harvey : And how do we get to the middle?

Austin : [To Harvey] Up the passage?

Tree : [Sadly] Yes, up the passage. [Brightens up] I've a little more, er, sap here, if you want to clean it up.

Harvey : No. [Turns to the others] Right troop, let's follow that blackguard!

Jerome : Jerome believes that sweet Alice was desirous to obtain directions to that locale.

[The party start heading up the passageway.]

Boddy : [To Celia] You know, it strikes me as really strange that you just happened to come along at just the right time with that orb.

Celia : Well, er, someone in the Knights got a message to me saying I should be there.

Harvey : Why, how fortuitous! We'd have been in a real pickle otherwise! Who gave you the message? And how much information did they give you?

Austin : [Nods to Boddy] This could be a trap, just like the last time we were here.

Chastity : Hopefully Contagion thinks we are dead, though, or at least isn't expecting us yet. The element of suprise is on our side.

Celia : [To Austin] A trap? Set by me?

Alice : [To Chastity] I doubt he thinks we're dead - he saw us land in the water.

Jerome : Ergo we must prepare for the eventuality that he has set the scene with a contrivance designed to defeat us when we happen upon him. We need an ace in the hole.

Darius : We have one. Or several. These swords. The only thing that can kill Contagion is these. The only people who can kill him are you.

Alice : Hm, kind of convenient that Contagion escaped into a time where Boddy was living and when he had the swords, wasn't it?

Darius : It sure was.

Jerome : So the inferrence we can take is that Darius here, who having become frustrated by Contagion, has manipulated the situation such that his desired end, the death of the aforementioned entity, comes to pass. A decidedly devious and dastardly decision Darius.

Darius : [Gives a polite nod to Jerome] Why thank you, Dr. Trindle.

Boddy : [To Darius] You mean, it's your fault that Contagion came here? [Is clearly about to lose his temper] That Danielle is dead because of you? [Draws his sword]

Celia : [To the party] You've got to stop him before this gets out of hand!

Alice : You mean like if it turned out that Darius set the initial destination of the time machine for Contagion because he knew that Contagion wouldn't be able to figure out how to change them?

Celia : [Sigh] That kind of thing, yes.

Chastity : [To Jerome] And not for the first time, either. It sometimes amazes me what twisted and complex schemes an evil mind can come up with.

Austin : [Nods. To Chastity] I'm sure ou could do much better, but enough of your bragging, trap or not, there is no going back now. Lets go and kill Contagion once and for all. [Swipes the air with Sabsquatulator]

Boddy : You bastard! [Swings and viciously hits Darius with his sword, knocking him to the ground]

Darius : Ow! Hey, that really hurt!

Chastity : Boddy, no. Not now. [Mumbles a quick incantation] entangle spell (entwine with local vegation - sentient tress, ets)

Chastity : Boddy, no. Not now. [Mumbles a quick incantation]

[Some nearby vines start to entangle BODDY's legs, but he gets another swing at DARIUS, can catches him across the throat.]

Boddy : Bastard.

Chastity : [Trying to avoid Boddy's swipes. In a scolding tone] Stop it now. Darius may have orchestrated everyone to be in the same time, but it was still Contagion that designed the demise of your beloved wife. Focus your anger on him. You can deal with Darius later if you still want to. [makes an attempt to bloke any further swipes with her sword whilst avoiding injury herself]

Boddy : [Darkly] I wish I could.

Alice : [Checks on Darius] Hey! It looks like Darius is dead!

Chastity : [Goes to check on Darius] Well we've seen him play possum before, so best check.

Jerome : [To Boddy] Jerome would enquire will Darius rise again? [Straightens his back as if a load had been removed]

Boddy : Unfortunately, yes.

[DARIUS gives a quick shudder, and blinks several times.]

Alice : Wow! How come he can do that?

Boddy : He sold his soul.

Jerome : [Pales visibly, Blinks several times] Please elucidate! [Said in the tone of voice usually reserved for WHAT!!!]

Darius : [Sitting up and wiping away some blood from his neck, which has now miraculously healed] You heard the man, I sold my soul. [Watches Boddy storm off up the passageway] Got a pretty good deal for it, too.

Harvey : So you're no longer Boddys soul mate. Who is? Who did you sell it to?

Darius : Ah, Harvey, so simple. No wonder Boddy likes you so much. Don't you understand yet? People have loads of soulmates - you've already met two of mine, and, might I add, been directly responsible for killing both of them. [Becomes quite business like] The issue of ownership of the soul does not come into play until after true mortal death has occured. Currently, I own it, and I can do what I want. I can kiss Alice on the cheek or punch Clint on the nose. Why, if the fancy took me, I could punch Alice on the cheek and kiss Clint on the nose. However, despite what I do, despite who I punch, despite who I kiss, the final destination of my soul has already been decided. It's all about predestination, you see. [Pause] And no, Alice, that's not the stop before the bus station.

Austin : [Looks at Jerome, then Darius] So who, or what did you sell your soul to? [Looks at Jerome] Did you sell your soul also?

Chastity : [Hitting Jerome with her handbag] You naughty man! How dare you go and sell your soul. Well, we're just going to march you right back to Mermantort and get it back. [Glares at Darius] Go on then, answer the question. I bet he sold it to Seth.

Darius : [Brushing some blood off his shirt] As a matter of fact, Chastity, I sold it to Phili.

Austin : [Giggles gleefully] Ha, You gotta love that. [Looks at Chastity, then Jerome] SO, Dr. Trindle, did you, or did you not sell your soul?

Jerome : [Maintaing a rather pallid complexion] Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD is unaware of such an event occuring.

Chastity : It had better not have happened, Dr. Trindle. [Turns to Darius] I don't believe you.

Darius : That doesn't surprise me.

[An awkward silence descends.]

Alice : Er, so should we follow Mr. Boddy?

Jerome : [Lost in thought] Jerome admits negligence in attending avidly to your or anyone's comment. [Pauses, slighly pale] Jerome would be greatful in consulting with Mr. Boddy. [Pauses, looks around] Where is Mr. Boddy?

Clint : Probably gone to sell his soul. [Looks excessively attentively to Jerome] Well? Your soul, where is it?

Alice : [Stands beside Clint, adopting a similar pose] Yeah, where is it?

Harvey : I say, Boddy must have gone after Contagion.

Austin : [Chuckles] Yeah, who the hell would buy Jerome's soul? [Looks around] Well lets get a move on then. Whatever Jerome has, or has not, done with his soul, assuming that he had one in the first place, standing around here won't change anything. Lets go.

Harvey : Hurry troop, we must make haste! Boddy will need our help when he meets Contagion, and I aim to be at his side!

[The party hurry up the passageway, when soon opens up into a large cavern with a huge river of lava running through it. CONTAGION is at the edge of a ledge that sticks out into the lava, while BODDY is about twenty feet back, at the entrance.]

Celia : Excellent! We can kill him now.

Boddy : [Blocks her] No. I need a bow. [Holds his hand out to the party] Can I have one?

Austin : [To the others] Well, you heard the man, lend him a bow. [Austin readies his slingshot]

Clint : I don't have a bow. [Readies his sword] Alice?

Alice : Sure. [Hands her bow to Clint]

Contagion : Come on! I'm ready for you!

Boddy : [Rolls his eyes at Alice] Clint, will you give me the bow?

Celia : No! Don't!

Clint : Euh? Don't give him the bow? Fine. [Hands the bow to Chastity] You take care of that Chassers.

Chastity : [Holding her hands up] Oh, no, Mr. Scar, I don't want that filthy thing.

Harvey : [To Celia] What's going on here? Why don't you want him to take the bow?

Celia : Because I think he'll knock Contagion into the lava where he'll spend the next few thousand years in agony, because each time he dies, he'll be resurrected again..

Alice : And what do you want to do?

Celia : Kill him.

Boddy : [To Clint] That's not enough. Give me the bow.

Darius : [To Clint] Come on, Stinky, hand it over.

Clint : That sounds enough to me. [Breaks the bow in half] Sorry Bimbo, I'll buy you another one in Guns'r'us next time. [Draws his sword] Now let's kill him.

Alice : Hey! That was my favourite bow!

Boddy : [Coldly to Clint] I won't forget this. [Looks around the party] You're nothing but a bunch of holier than thou bastards. My wife was murdered by him and you deny me the right to vengence, who the fuck do you think you are?

Darius : [Leaning against a wall] You tell 'em, Boddy.

Boddy : Don't you even speak to me. You're the one who engineered this whole situation.

Darius : Not me, but the guy with contract. [Starts strolling towards Contagion, sword over his shoulder and whistling a merry tune, but stops for a moment and turns to the party, pointing his sword at them] You had the chance to be the good guys, and you messed it up. Your choice, not mine.

[BODDY is standing between DARIUS and the party. The edge is fairly narrow, so it may be difficult to get passed him.]

Jerome : Would now be an opportune moment to avail ourselves of ridding the world of two of the horsemen. [To Boddy] It may not seem right now, but Contagion must die. If you want us to hold him down whilst you feed him your sword via his rectum that would be permissible, but he has to die.

Austin : [To Jerome] Do you have to bring your warped sexual fantisies into this? [To Darius] We are the good guys, always were and will be. [Ponders] So lets not fight as there have been enough killings today anyway, and as a mark of respect to Danielle we should all not fight today, put aside our differences for a few hours. [Does the rising on his toes thing] Anyone for not fighting today?

Clint : Euh, would that be before or after killing Contagion?

Boddy : [Draws his sword] I ought to kill all of you now.

[DARIUS approaches CONTAGION and draws a dagger.]

Darius : Now, what do you think would be the chances of me being able to knock you into the lava with this knife?

Contagion : [Looks distinctly worried, and calls out to the party] Help me! You've got to help me! Please, kill me!

Austin : [Sighs] Look, if Contagion falls into the lava we will not be able to kill him now and he will eventually return, that is what he wants, therefore we can't kill him now as hi'll just jump into the lava if he has to. Mr. Boddy just wants Contagion to suffer for a long time before we kill him, an act of vengance to boot, and that is counterproductive from our perspective since it delays the execution of Contagion. Further to this acts of vengance are inherently evil, and as Darius has just rudely pointed out, we are the good guys, not the bad ones. [Struts a little and checks his awesome visage in his pocket mirror] Such an act of vengance cannot bring back Danielle, but can only apease Mr. Boddies personal lust for vengance, which I think you'll all aggree is not helping the good cause. So, why don't we all just call it a day and go to the pub.

Alice : [Confused] Er, does that mean that we kill him or not? [Leans in closer to the others] You know, when we were in the future, Contagion had just escaped from where ever he'd been held captive - and we did go here to kill him*. So, that means that whatever we do here, Contagion will be alive in 1997 - and that all those people, including several Knights, will die because we didn't kill Contagion here, but we know that we can't kill him because we've already experienced that future. I think I'm getting a headache.

Contagion : [Calling out to the party] Hey, come on! I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me. Come on, what do you say? Let's go to the pub, I'm buying!

Harvey : By the saints, dear niece, you're quite correct! It seems to me that this whole event has been orchestrated by powers unknown! Someone wants us to attempt to kill Contagion here and now, thereby, altering our very own future! I think we should give Boddy his revenge, and help him to knock that blackguard into the lava!

Celia : [Grabs Clint's arm] Don't listen to him, Clint! If we don't kill him now he'll come back, stronger, uglier and angrier than before - a lot of people will die just to satisfy a sick sense of revenge.

[DARIUS holds up his dagger, still a good distance from the party.]

Contagion : [To the party] Please! Look, we're almost like friends - that time we killed you in Queens View, why, that was just a mistake! Come on, Colonel Harry, you can stop this, or you, Dr. Gerard, or Pinky or the fat one, you're my friends, aren't you? [Puts on his sad face] Or how about my two favourite of the whole party? You'll help me, won't you? Come on, gay guy and hooker!

Austin : [Shoots Contagion]

[AUSTIN's bullet whistles passed DARIUS' ear and thuds into CONTAGION, sending him staggering back, so he is teetering on the edge.]

Contagion : Ow! Come on, gay guy, I thought we were friends. [Looks at Darius] What do you say, Death? You gonna help your old buddy Contagion for old times sake?

Darius : No. [Gently pokes Contagion in the shoulder, sending him over the edge.]

[CONTAGION falls into the lava, screaming. He soon disappears beneath the surface though, and the noise abates. Seconds later, he pops up again with a surprised look, only to start screaming in agony again.]

Celia : [Angrily to Clint] Look what you let them do!

Austin : [To Celia] He did ask us to kill him, you were all witness to that fact, I was just being helpful. [Looks Sulk]

Celia : [Turns away from Clint and glares at Austin] You know that wasn't going to kill him. [Raises her voice slightly to be heard over the screaming Contagion] I hope you know what you've let happen here today.

[BODDY walks through the party, banging off each of AUSTIN, CLINT, ALICE and JEROME as he does so, but stops and turns when he's passed.]

Boddy : This is how you thank me for how I helped you in the Interior? You're going to be sorry for this.

Jerome : [Explodes in anger as if that was the final straw] Mr Boddy, everyday each of us risks our lives, and by shear association we risk those we love, everyday Jerome dies a little death when Alice is put into danger. Jerome empathises with you over the death of Danielle, but for Phili's sake man you made that choice. Jerome was prepared to see his one true love Alice expire if it saved your beloved's life. Jerome knows after a time he would of recorporated and had to suffer this existence alone, without the one person that completes his spirit! And yet it was your decision to sacrifice your heart to 'kill', not torture, Contagion. And when it came to make that critical decision, to make sure the sacrifice was worth it, you deem it appropriate that he can come back to torture others. All that tells Jerome is that you consider her life worth less than your revenge. She is gone Boddy, memories of her death is all you will have until Contagion expires. Then maybe you can put her to rest. [In a calmer voice] Jerome is sorry Mr Boddy, sorry for us all.

Alice : [Nodding along with Jerome's words, suddenly realises what he has said] Hey!

Boddy : You will be sorry. I promise you that. [Turns and storms out.]

Celia : [To the party] I'm already sorry - I can't believe you let him get away with this. [Glares at Clint] To think I liked you. [Punches him hard, sending him staggering back, before storming out too]

Darius : [Bending down to light a cheeseratte off some of the lava, inches away from where Contagion is screaming in agony] Man, you'd think everyone would be happy - I didn't think sorting out Contagion would be such a downer. [Stands up and draws an imaginary frowning mouth in the air in front of him and puts on a sad face]

Austin : Good, now Mr. Boddy has gone we can get Contagion out of that lava [To the others] Come on, if we don't get him out nothing will change [Austin tries to reach Contagion with the sharp end of Sabsquatler]

[CONTAGION either doesn't see the sword or can't reach, as all he does is continue to scream, before sinking back down again.]

Alice : That's never going to work, Aussie. He's too far away and seems a little distracted.

Chastity : [To Darius] So, you got what you wanted.

Darius : I didn't want this. Yes, I wanted Contagion out of the picture, but I didn't really care how it happened. The fact is, you've already seen that he's there in the future, so why are you so surprised he ended up in there now? [Puts his hands together in mock prayer and raises his eyes to heaven] Phili, give me the strength to accept that which I cannot change.

Clint : Well we can still kill him! [Tries to kill Contagion with his sword]

[CLINT stabs CONTAGION with his sword, causing another cry of pain.]

Darius : [Watching, as he leans back against the wall] Ah, sweet simple Clint. It's a bit like watching your faithful old labrador trying to drive a car - you want him to succeed, but you know it'll end in disaster. The only way to kill him is to have all the swords stuck in him, in a similar way to that in which you to kill Pestilence. Prodding him with these from a distance just isn't going to work.

Austin : [To Darius] The future can change and you know it. [To the others] We have to get Contagion out of there somehow, so that we can kill him. [Stabs Contagion with Sabsquatler]

Darius : Haul him out of lava? Right. [Flicks his cheeseratte at Contagion, hitting him on the forehead with it, just as Contagion sinks and dies again] Of course the future's not fixed, but it's not the future I'm talking about, it's the past.

Alice : [Peering into the lava] You know, I don't think we're going to be able to do anything about Contagion. Unless, maybe if each of us sticks a sword into him each time he pops up, we can kill him that way?

Darius : Oooh, vicious! Nice one, Bimbo.

Austin : [To Alice] It's worth a try [Stabs Contagion thoroughly with Sabsquatsulator] [CONTAGION disappears again, only to reappear a few seconds later with the sword still in him.]

Harvey : I say! It could work! [Stabs Contagion with Ostententious]

[CHASTITY stabs CONTAGION with BOADEHILDE.]

Alice : Me next! [Takes out Arrogus]

Arrogus : Hey! What do you think you're doing? You can't just leave us in the lava! I demand you put me down, demand, I say!

Austin : [To Alice] Go for it, we'll can get the swords out once Contagion is dead [To Arrogus] Are you chicken or something?

Clint : [Stabbing Contagion with Delirious] Have it! [Looks at Alice] Come on, what are you waiting for?

Arrogus : Get us out? How the hell are you going to get us out of the lava?

Alice : [Lamely] Er, sorry Arrogus. [Sticks Arrogus into Contagion]

[It is difficult to gauge who is screaming more loudly, CONTAGION or the swords.]

Alice : Do we have enough swords to kill him? [Looks around] Just Darius and Jerome now - and look, Boddy and Celia rather conveniently left their swords here too!

Harvey : Well, can't stop now, eh troop! [Picks up Celias sword and sticks it into Contagion] Come on, doctor!

Chastity : [Sticking Boddy's sword into Contagion] Yes, Doctor. Hurry along now and stab the man drowning in the lava.

Alice : [Looking closely at Contagion, wrinkling her nose up in disgust] You know, I can't see him lasting much longer.

Chastity : Well lets hope not. The fumes of the the sulphurous lava, burning hair and, erm, smouldering sword hilt are making me feel most nauseous.

Austin : [To Jerome] Get a move on braniac, last as usual.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD would like to make it known to Contagion that he derives no pleasure from this. [Stabs Contagion]

Harvey : [To Darius] Just you now, sir, and it will all be over.

Darius : Yep, and, given the pain he is in after you lot stabbing him, he must be dying for it. [Takes out his sword, and throws it way into the back of the lava] Good luck, Contagion. By my reckoning you've got about 1800 years of this, and then this mob will return and kill you. [Gives Contagion a wink] Click-click!

[The mountain gives a shudder, although it doesn't look from the lava like it is about to erupt.]

Austin : [Looking aprehensive, claps his hands] Well, I think we're finished here for today, so time to go. [Make his way out a little and turns to the others]

Chastity : I suppose so. [Looks at Darius, and makes a forced laugh] Ha, Phili indeed. [Storms away from Darius]

Austin : [To Chastity] So, what kind of a deal did you get from Phili when you sold your soul to him? [Waves his hands generally] I suppose your healing power is pretty impressive.

Contagion : Please! Please, don't leave me here!

Alice : Er, sorry, but there's nothing we can do, Darius threw away the sword.

[The mountain gives another shudder.]

Darius : Come on, we'd better get out of here. [Raises his voice to be heard over the screaming Contagion] We don't want anyone getting hurt.

Austin : [To Darius] What was your sword called anyway? Sorry about the lack of posts today, I found out after a big meeting this morning-afternoon, that it was a friends Viva this afternoon and have been preoccupied with that... Sorry Marc

Austin : [Looking aprehensive, claps his hands] Well, I think we're finished here for today, so time to go. [Make his way out a little and turns to the others]

Chastity : I suppose so. [Looks at Darius, and makes a forced laugh] Ha, Phili indeed. [Storms away from Darius]

Austin : [To Chastity] So, what kind of a deal did you get from Phili when you sold your soul to him? [Waves his hands generally] I suppose your healing power is pretty impressive.

Contagion : Please! Please, don't leave me here!

Alice : Er, sorry, but there's nothing we can do, Darius threw away the sword.

[The mountain gives another shudder.]

Darius : Come on, we'd better get out of here. [Raises his voice to be heard over the screaming Contagion] We don't want anyone getting hurt.

Austin : [To Darius] What was your sword called anyway?

Harvey : [Outraged, to Darius] Why the hell did you do that? Why did you throw your sword into the lava, rather than using it to finish Contagion?

Clint : Because he's his fellow horseman, and they like to play wicked games between them. He probably can't kill us because of his pact with Phili, but he's still a bastard - now we don't have our magical swords anymore, and Contagion isn't dead either. I suggest we go whichever way he [pointing at Darius] doesn't go.

Darius : [Unperturbed at Harvey and Clint's ire] Woah, woah, woah! Look, how many times do we have to go through this? You know that Contagion couldn't be killed - you've already experienced that future. [Goes serious for a moment] You do not, ever, ever want to mess with the time line, if you do, you can't get back to where you came from. [Looks directly at Clint] You've got it all wrong, my friend. I can kill you, and it's because of my contract with the big man with the beard that I can. It's just that I choose not to. Now, is everything clearer?

Alice : [Incredulous] You've got a contract with Santa?

Darius : [Looks at Alice for a moment before turning to the others] You of all people should be aware of the often peculiar choices Phili makes.

Chastity : I'm sure they only appear peculiar to those not in the know.

Jerome : [To Darius] Having never met Phili Jerome could not consider himself an expert in matters theological, nor for that matter in the ability to determine whether there is any factual basis for predestination. The current quandary is either in exiting the volcano or determing the real reason behind the tremors with the possible and hopeful execution of Contagion.

Chastity : [Looking worried round the cave at the tremors] Well I think we should leave. We have no chance now of dispatching Contagion, even if we wanted to, and now is most definably not the time for religious or temporal debate. Lets leave Contagion to his suffering and once in safety figure out how we are to get back home. [Start to make for the exit]

Austin : [To Chastity, suprised] Wow, a sane suggestion for Chassers, there is hope for us all yet. [Heads for the exit. To Maplin] No time for religious discussion, that has to be good.

Alice : Actually, Austin, I think she meant that there is no time for a time discussion.

Contagion : [Popping up again] No! Please! Please!

[Exit ALL, as the tremors continue, although they don't get any worse.]