Act 2, Scene 1. Time : Saturday 9.05 : Harvey's dining room.
[HARVEY, CLINT, AUSTIN, SR. IMMACULATA and ALICE are here, sitting around a table.]

Harvey : [Leaping up from the table, purple with rage] Its just not good enough, just not good enough! Pte Sleaze has practically wasted the day! 0900 hours I told him to be here, now time is ticking by and the villains are moving ever further away from us.

Clint : I think he's in bed. I told him I was leaving this morning and he said he was too beautiful to get up before nine [shrugs] not my problem. Anyway, all he does is slow us down.

Sr. Immaculata : [In a disapproving tone] I knew from the beginning that Sleaze was not a good choice for this task, he has neither the moral fibre or spiritual fortitude to readily give himself over to such a task.

Alice : I'm sure he'll be along soon - in the meantime, why don't we decide exactly what we're going to do next? [Looking around at the others] Do we have any clue what to do now?

Clint: Well, we didn't seem to get anything done before, so why don't we try it from a different angle? We've investigated the Huxley boy, the idiot that is very good at spelling, moles, flagstones, suspicious names, and a bartender. Why don't we look at the bigger picture? What about the cloud and/or the packages? What's in the packages? Food, obviously, but what kind of food? Cured, sealed, raw? Meat, vegatables, fruit, wheat products... what?! If we are going to detect then we should detect patterns and the disruptions to these patterns. Maybe somebody slipped into Huxley's kid's room, traded packages with the boy... [fades out, blank look on his face] Wait! Maybe the boy let whoever did this into his room in the first place! [Starts writing with the tip of his finger on the table, mumbling incoherently the whole while]

Sr. Immaculata: Phili give me patience! We all know what's in the food packages! We all eat what's in the food packages! Where else do you think we get our food from. Nobody has been in, or out of the cloud. [She glances at the clock, and tuts loudly] Where is that sloth of a man. [She looks disapprovingly at Clint and raises her eyes to heaven.] We will visit the stables next, as it faces the Huxley boys window. It is quite probable the murderer dropped something there. For example, a missing key to a certain lock on a chest. After that, it's on to Moes house.

[Enter AUBREY, in a great state of distress]

Aubrey : Another child has disappeared! In much the same manner as the Huxley boy, vanished last night! Young Elizabeth Buckley, gone! And, her food parcel didn't appear this morning either!

[The room is lit up by a timely flash of lightening]

Sr Immaculata: [Raises her hands to her face] Oh woe! Let it not be so! Quickly now, we must rush to the Buckley household before the trail goes cold! Mr Mayor, be so good as to lead us there this instant. I'm aware that both parents must be sick with worry, but with Philis help, we'll find a definite clue. So, first we'll go to the Buckley house, then we'll check the stables and finally, to Moes house!

Aubrey : [Flinching at the mention of Moe's name] I wonder if Moe will be of further use to us. When one of the guards went to bring him some food this morning he was unconscious - it appears that someone banged his head against the cell door so hard it fractured his skull. Doctor Proctor is in the cell now, tending to him. He is afraid to move him in case he might cause further damage.

Alice : Crikey! It looks as though some of the town guards have taken things into their own hands - is this kind of thing commonplace? Well uncle, is this example of vigilantism and anarchy indicative of the constabulary of this town?

Sr Immaculata: [Blessing herself] I think it's probably more the fact that Moes killer and the kidnapper are one. The vile creature knew we would get answers from Moe this morning. The question is, how did the killer enter the cells? Anyway, it's unfortunate, but we must get to the Buckley house!

Harvey: Now Alice [defensive and startled] I would not expend any of my valuable time or experiance on a band of blackguards. We do not know how the detained Moe was assailed and therefore we should not be too rash to make any assumptions. There is as yet no evidence to suppose an attack by any of the guards. For all we know the jail could have been beseiged and Moe "silenced" before he could reveal all he knew of this affair. The good Sister is right, Moe must wait and be left to the stretcher bearers, we must fly to this new outrage. The enemy awaits or surely some trace at least. [Arm motioning] Tally-Ho! [Makes for the door way, suddenly, his head swivels around, feet and arm still pumping up and down] We can talk to Pte. Murphy when we get back. Good man Harold, he was on duty last night you know. [Turns back as he reaches the door, halts, opens the doors and steps through].

Alice : [Ignoring Harvey's contortions] Private Murphy? Who on earth is private Murphy?

Aubrey : I think he means Sgt. Harald ``No Feet" Murphy, and he was indeed on duty last night, the only guard who was present. He is waiting at the prison with Doctor Proctor and the others until we get there. Now, on to the Buckley caravan!

[Exit ALL]

---oOo---

End Of Scene

[Act 2, Scene 2. Time : Saturday 9.15 : The Buckley Caravan. This is a small caravan up on bricks just at the edge of the town.
[HARVEY, ALICE, CLINT, SISTER IMMACULATA, AUBREY and BRENDAN BUCKLEY, ELIZABETH's father, are here. AUBREY opens the door of the caravan and the party enter. Brendan, who is sporting a faded black eye, is sprawled out on a large couch drinking a can of beer.]

Brendan : About time too! I reported my daughter missing almost 14 minutes ago - I hope you're all satisfied [looking around the party, making it difficult to see if he's talking to any one in particular] - that your incompetence has led to my daughter being taken!

[In one smooth movement, the entire party wipes quite a lot of his spit off their faces]

Brendan : Well? What are you going to do? [Shoots a dirty look at Clint] I'm sure this party [practically spits that word out] have some brilliant ideas.

Clint : [Squinting at Brendan and speaking rather causually] Are you wearing makeup? I can barely see the shiner. [Smiles] No matter, we are here to help. Would you be so kind as to help us? We've got two more stops afterwards [glances quickly at Sister Immaculata], so we're in kind of a rush.

Sr Immaculata: [Looking with obvious distaste at Brendan Buckley] Yes, we are here to help. Now, please be so good as to tell us the events leading up to the disappearance of young Elizabeth. [She stands as far away from Brendan as is politely possible]

Harvey: Yes every detail, no matter how small they may appear. [Produces the note-pad] So just relax and take your time, we're quite ready!

Brendan : Take my time? You seem to be very good at that..[waving vaguely at the party, and somehow managing to take in Sr. Immaculata who is now crushed into the furthest corner of the room] I had the normal quiet night last night, just sixteen beers, and went off to sleep around 2.30, I woke up once, probably around 4 or so, freezing cold, which I suppose I should expect, having to live in this miserable caravan because the so called town authorities and leaders haven't bothered to try and arrange alternative employment for the common people of the town, but seem to embrace violent blow-ins [an almost imperceptable glance at Clint]. Anyway, around 4 I had a couple of brandies to warm me up, and went back to sleep. I went to the toilet at 9, and noticed Elizabeths window wasn't banging as it normally does - so I became suspicious.

Alice : You were suspicious because it wasn't making noise?

Brendan : That's right love, since my business collapsed and I have fallen victim to the uncaring civil authorities ...

Aubrey : Yes yes, we know your story!

Brendan : The window has been loose and I can't afford a lock, but when I checked on Elizabeth she was gone, and the window was locked, from the inside!

Aubrey : [Looking at the party with decided unease] Well, what do you make of it?

Clint : Maybe this ``thief in the night" is too clever for his own good. Maybe he's replacing the locks themselves, so that he can be sure that no one would think he used the window. [To Brendan] Were there any marks on the outside of the window? Not on the lock, but on the window itself?

Sr Immaculata: This ``thief in the night" would have to be very clever indeed to climb out a window and then lock the window from the outside, as most people tend to have the lock on the inside of their dwellings. [Shakes her head slowly and sadly] That way, people tend not to become trapped in their houses, as they would have to get out of their house in order to unlock their doors, which they couldn't as their doors are locked from the outside! Tell me Mr Buckley, firstly, have you noticed Elizabeth talking with any strangers in the last few days and secondly, did she know William Huxley?

Brendan : [Snorting at Clint's suggestion] Fool! Of course the lock was on the inside! And no, there are no marks, other than those of dampness and woodworm which you would expect in such a modest dwelling as this. As for Elizabeth, how the hell am I supposed to know? She's old enough to look after herself, after all she is 14. As long as my meals are cooked and my parcel collected, I don't care what she does. Oh, would one of you pick up my food parcel? I'm a bit too overcome with grief to do anything. [Picks up a can of ``Mitchells Extra Cheap Cider" that has obviously been standing there all night and takes a swig of it]

Harvey: [Ceases notating] Well not much there really, is there. A comatosed parent, an open window, and woodworm to go on. But for the lock itself and the absence of a food parcel it could be presumed that the little urchin might have left home through the front door, past the prostrate Mr. Buckley. Indeed maybe Elizabeth put the lock there as a gesture, a gift if you will, before [widening his analysis] fleeing into the night. But that would not explain the absence of the parcel [checked and puzzled]. Unless of course he who [obstacle overcome] leaves them was aware of her departure and cancelled hers to cut down on the overheads. [Rubs his chin, digesting the outcome of his train of thought] Tell me Mr. Buckley is the lock well-worn or new?

Sr Immaculata: [Looks distastefully around the caravan.] Yes, it wouldn't surprise me if young Elizabeth did indeed run away from her...[looks at Buckley]...home. And please, Mr Buckley, do stop scratching your crotch while we're here. It's most unseemly!

Brendan : [Totally ignoring Sister Immaculata] Well, when I woke up this morning I found myself lying against the front door, I think I must have slipped when I was getting the drink to warm myself up a bit ealier. As my old grandma used to say - ``A drunken man is like a cow-shit, it lies where it falls until someone treads in it."

Alice : What a quaint saying!

Brendan : The thing is, when I woke up, the front door was bolted from the inside. And, as you can see [waving around the caravan] all the other windows are boarded up, because I'm too poor to afford new ones as I've haven't made any money since the cloud descended and nobody, not even religious or elected people really give a shit about what happens to the common people of this town because, oh no, I'm alright Jack, and just because you're the one who helped put me where I am now, that's no reason to help you and I don't care if you're living in a ramshackle caravan with one window, and I don't care that some little bastard stole your outside toilet two weeks ago!

Aubrey : [Sighing] Is the lock new?

Brendan : [Satisfied at how annoyed everone is getting] Not brand new, but fairly new, no doubt bought from that smarmy bastard Honest Joe Thiever - now there's a man who's living has benefited from the cloud, but do you see him trying to help the less fortunate who are suffering and living in a miserable existence, vainly trying to rise up against an oppresive, fatcat bourgeoise, ``I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine`` society where a man can be beaten up just for trying to speak on behalf of the downtrodden, forgotten members of society? I don't think so. [Sits back, arms folded, as though daring the party to contradict him]

Alice : [Whispering to the others, and nodding at Brendan's beer-, blood- and God knows what else- stained string vest and filthy pyjama trousers that have a hole in a convenient position to aid any necessary scratching] I don't think he's very happy, perhaps we should try and arrange a collection for him.

Harvey: No.

Brendan : [Buuurp] Well, surprise surprise - the lacky of those that control the class system and perpetuates the plight of the workers and unemployed wishes the visous circle of poverty, hunger, homelessness, sexism and deforestation to continue. Oh I see it now! [Stands up to his full height of 5' 3" and jabs an accusing finger at Harvey] When the little Huxley brat disappeared his parents were brought into the mayors house, they were given tea and crumpet, Huxley, who I might add is also in the employ of the town council, was alledgedly given a 40% raise, a two week holiday and a villa on the sunny side of town to help him over his grief, but when it comes to one of the proletariat, one is outside your cosy class system - who doesn't attend your dinner parties, or fly hot air balloons or take part in charity cricket games or wear those cutesy cutesy reindeer jumpers - then, then its different! Oh yes its different! [Throws himself dramatically back onto his chair and scratches himself quite unselfconsciously]

Harvey: Well, you see, Mr. Buckley while my niece's social conscience is in the right place, it is that to organise the charity structure to collect monies for you would take some time. What with the permits and the regulations I couldn't even begin to tell you when we could start. Its not that we don't care [though he does not look overly interested] its just that the terms of our employment were solely cornerned with criminal matters, not in helping the caravan striken. And anyway there is the small point of your daughter. I mean like the Huxleys, we are here to help you, like them, to find the child. [Folds his arms back, daring Mr. Buckley to contradict him].

Sr Immaculata: I wish to examine Elizabeths room for anything suspicious. Which one is it? [Turns to the rest of the party and says quietly] Remember, we are here to help Elizabeth, not her father!

Brendan : [Smirking at Harvey explanation] Permits and regulations! What regulation permits the stinking minority to walk all over the underclass? To feast on huge and lavish extravaganzas while a man has nothing but a warmed up piece of snow to eat? You can't tell me because you don't care - not that I'm surprised, what with your position in the army showing without any doubt that you are a mere tool of the machinery that has been put in place to keep the workers downtrodden. As for helping find my child - all you've done so far is oppress me, or [turning to Sr. Immaculata] are you suddenly curious to see the shocking and sickening sight of the poverty I and my fellow proles are condemned to live in while the minority whoop it up in style behind the closed doors society, in the depths of the army barracks, or the confines of the convent? [Stands down off his soapbox and opens the door to Elizabeth's room]

Sr Immaculata: [Stepping into Elizabeths bedroom] Perhaps, Mr Buckley had you put as much faith into Phili as you had into your tins of beer...as the `Bible of Phili' states, in Chapter 12:13, ``the man who drinks himself to death, is the man who drinks himself to eternal damnation, for there are no Holy tablets of Solpadene in the fiery pits of Hell! This I will tell to you, my people" [Immaculata blesses herself, before walking over to the box containing the clear plastic gloves. Gingerly, she picks one up.] What, might I ask [turning towards Brendan], are these for?

Harvey: So to summarise what you are saying in answer to my question, you have no idea whether the lock is new ...[trails off as he sees the lifted glove, a frown passes across his forehead]...or not!

Brendan: [Waving wildly at Harvey] That's what I said, isn't it! Or is it that the pathetic wails of the downtrodden underclass are too weak from their empty and dreary lives to be heard?

Aubrey: The gloves, Brendan?

Brendan: Oh there was a big box of them outside the church one day, I think it was for the local priest to wear when lepers and the like came for blessing - so he wouldn't have to touch them. Of course, it just surprises me that he doesn't wear them all the time, so he doesn't have to come into physical contact with the underclass, we may not be diseased in body, but we are the ones who suffer from the dreaded disease of Capitalism, we are the red blood cells that succumb to the infection of greed and oppression. We are -

Aubrey: The gloves, Brendan? How did they get here?

Brendan: I don't know who brought them in, I was coming home one night and saw this big stack of gloves outside the church, so I had a look through them. The next thing I know I'm asleep upside down in my sleeping bag and the house if full of the damned things, so I got the young one to tidy them up and store them in her room. [Turns to Sister Immaculata] Beer, sister?

Sr Immaculata: [Gives Brendan a withering gaze] I don't think so, Mr Buckley! Unlike some, we are here to aid in finding your daughter, not in joining you in your sotage! [Immaculata moves over to the window to examine the lock] Oh, how curious!..[Immaculata rubs her bottom lip, deep in thought]

Brendan : No, I meant, pass over the can of beer beside you, I'm sure I left some in that last night.

Harvey: [Mutters softly to Immaculata] More likely the weak wails are just empty and dreary! Come now man is there any thing else you can tell us? [Runs his eye over the notes he has taken, one line] The insight into Joseph Thievier is interesting but that is all. Is there nothing else you can remember? [Starts mentally numbering the amount of beer cans with his pen, wondering how many could leave him in this state].

Clint : [Goes to the window with sister Immaculatta, knocking over a few beers in the process] What is so curious?

Sr Immaculata: [Examines the lock a bit more closely.] This lock, unless I'm mistaken, which I rarely am, is the same make of lock as that of the Huxley house. Two kidnappings, two near identical locks! [Turns to Brendan] Do you have the key to this lock, Mr Buckley?

Brendan : [Glaring at the tiny mouthfull of beer that spilled out of one of the cans] Waste! [Turning back to Sr. Immaculata] Key? I no more have the key to that lock than I have the key to unlock the shackles of class discrimination that bind me to this excrutiating existence. Like I told you already - I never saw the lock before this morning,

Sr Immaculata: Right then, here's what we do! We go to Honest Joe and ask him for a list of all the people who've bought this style of lock in the last week or so. One of those people on the list may very well be the kidnapper. Would someone like to check outside this window for footprints? If poor Elizabeth was dragged unconscious from this caravan, there are bound to be some tracks outside. Strange though, [Immaculata looks at the beer tins on the ground] how there seems no sign of a struggle from within. Clint himself managed to knock half the beer tins just walking over here, yet you would think a kidnapping would generate more than a little chaos, hmm? [Immaculata picks up the box containing the plastic gloves and gives it a lttle shake. Seemingly satisfied, she places it back down.]

Clint : That still doesn't give us a clue as to why this person, or whatever, was replacing locks in the middle of the night.

Alice : Actually Clunt, the lock wasn't replaced, for there was no lock there originally. I wonder if we found out why the lock was put there, wouldn't that show us perhaps who put it there, and if we found out that, maybe we could find out where they have the kidnapped victims, and surely from there, how this is all connected with the cloud. Who, where, why, and how. I was reading up on this last night, they are the first three questions any good detective should ask. [Pauses] Hold on a sec - that's four, maybe it was why, where and who? How who why what? What why how who? Who why who who? To-whit-to-whit-to-oo? [Continues ad infinitum]

Brendan : [Musing] Its strangely ironic really - a man who's only hope of redemption from the graceless state of poverty was the chance, however remote because of bias and bigotry toward her history and her address, was that his daughter might obtain employment somewhere and bring a few pennies into the house, so a man might for once have a full belly, maybe even save up enough money to light a fire once in a while, and not only is she taken from him, but to reinforce how his last, however insignificant, chance has been taken from him, a lock, shackeling him forever to the rock of poverty, forever locking his only window through which he could watch, but never join, the mirth and merrymaking of the upper class - that window is not only a window into my caravan, but a window to my soul! A window that was my final link with the world of people who don't go to bed hungry every night, who don't live in the filth and poverty that the proletariat are forced to call home, oh poor me! [Opens another can]

Harvey: [Jaundiced] Mr. Buckley please [snorts], I think you're over indulging in this metaphorical motif of the window. God knows what you would make if there were curtains and if they were open or shut, their colour and texture, I mean the anlysis could be endless. there is artistic licence and artistic licence! It is only a window. If anything is to be drawn from it then surely it is the why my Niece has eventually detected [glances in her direction to see if she has exhausted all the permutations].The abductor has deliberately left this lock here to taunt us. So if it signifies anything then it is that the blackguard knows that we are groping in the dark. Therefore as the Sister has said it makes our return to the lock-smith all the more urgent. And l'll wager that Joseph Thiever knows more about the workings of this particular lock and puzzle than he is letting on!

Brendan : Curtains?!? Colonel, it surprises me that one from such a settled background as yourself even notices that my humble caravan does not even have curtains, a luxury you and the others no doubt take for granted.

Aubrey : Perhaps it might be better to get Mr. Thiever to come here, so he can look at the look in situ. Also, after the complaint he filed about your good self Colonel, I think it might be better if I were to ask him to come over.
[Exit AUBREY, staggering over a pile of beer cans.]

Sr Immaculata: [Turns to Harvey] Colonel Harvey, I know I don't have to ask this of you, as you are a mature man, but please try not to offend Mr Thiever. Our success may hinge on his advice. In fact, the less you say, the better our chances.

Harvey: [Clenching fists, suppressing a rising rage] For the sake of the investigation, reluctantly Sister I concur though it galls me to my very spleen. And if I might vent it, his honesty no man could practice unless he were a saint, and Sister in your vocation surely you cannot say that Joseph Thiever could be so honest. And now this complaint, oh the temerity of it, at the very time he is trying to sabotage our ``definite line of inquiry". I will [fists stop clenching] remove myself from the scene and investigate underneath the window on the outside for any footprints or sign of a struggle. [Turns on his heel, blusters through the Alpine ridged beer cans, muttering as he sends one at the side spiralling with a kick] The deaf layabout probably sold his curtains to house this monument of his particular luxury. He doesn't want for alcohol I see as he does for his daughter.

Sr Immaculata: [Turning to the remaining members of the party] Well, I think he took that fairly well!

Brendan : [Blocking Harvey's way out by stretching a foot in front of the door] Deaf layabout? Better than some overweight, purplefaced facist oppressor of the common people. If you've something to say to me, tyrant, say it to my face. By crikey, you might think your oppression of the workforce has broken our spirit - but don't you dare come into my home and try and impose your bourgeois teachings on me.

[Enter AUBREY and HONEST JOE THIEVER]
Aubrey: [Hopefully] Ah, I see there's a good healthy debate going on..

Honest Joe : I see Ambassador Kingston is at work again.

Clint : ``Oppression of the workforce``? I thought you had to work to be a member of the workforce. You're just being oppressed in general. [To Honest Joe] Joe, won't you have a seat over here by the window? This looks like it could get interesting.

Brendan : Idiot! Workforce is merely a collective term for those in society who are employable - it does not necessarily follow that those in the workforce are employed. It is by keeping a large percentage of the workforce unemployed that the oppressive bourgeoisie can create unrest internally in the workforce; by setting the employed, and therefore pseudo-prosperous - for they are prosperous only in so far as it suits the bourgeoisie to maintain their prosperity relative to the unemployed - against their comrades in poverty. It is common knowledge that the employers of this town systematically rotate the unemployment to create anxiety, unease and yes, even a feeling of suspicion amongst the workers.

Honest Joe : [Sighing] Interesting? Perhaps the first time I heard it - but certainly not now, having been accosted on several occasions and being told I represent all that is wrong in this town.

Harvey: Your only spirit appears to come out of the bottle though. Its all somebody elses fault, the system, the bourgeoise and other such disabusing names. Have you ever considered that you are not suitable to be employed or perhaps there is no job that fits your particular talent [throws his hands up] or indeed employment is altogether scarce in a town that is entirely cut off to trade by virtue of the cloud. No indeed you expend all your energies in demanding what the ``system" [uncomfortably gesticulates the `` "] will do for you while considering not, for a moment, what you can offer the so called system. How can you have spirit? Take, take, take, but what have you given?

Brendan : What have I given? I've given the best years of my life to this town, tirelessly promoting it to the tourists, constantly fighting to make the place noticed, not resting until Queens View was a town in its own right. Isn't that true Mr. Mayor? Didn't I work and slave every hour that god sent?

Aubrey : [In a resigned voice] Yes, you worked and slaved every hour that god sent.

Brendan : Then, when my work was cut off, I was dumped by the very town I tried to serve. You break your back working to make the town a better place for all, and as soon as those who made the greatest benefits from your toil no longer need you, you're dumped like yesterday's beercans. I have given my all for this town and its people, and now, in my hour of need, the town will give me nothing.

Honest Joe : While in all honesty, I do find it somewhat ironic that the two most obnoxious men in Queens View have finally found each other, I must point out that I am here as a favour. I was asleep when the mayor came this morning and, quite honestly, I did not want to get up, I do not want to be here and I cannot wait to get back to my bed. If there is something you wish to ask of me, please do, if not, I shall depart. [Looks to Harvey]

Sr Immaculata: Mr Buckley! [Shouting] We are here to help find your daughter. And your daughter alone. If our kind are not wanted here then grand! I've stood here and listened to your excuses for you being a layabout for long enough. You are the problem, Mr Buckley, not those who are better off than you. Having known you for more years than I care to remember, I know you as a hypocrite! Not once, when you were a successful business man, not once, did you reach into your own pocket to help those less fortunate than yourself. You never cared about the less well off classes. You wined and dined yourself and your rich cronies, heaping luxuries on any little toady who agreed with you! If my God has taught me anything it is this, you reap what you sew! Pull your act together and stop this self-pitying nonsense! [Immaculata visibly calms herself down. Turning to Honest Joe] Thank you for coming at such short notice, Mr Thiever. I know you're a busy man. Could you please tell me if you've sold a lock such as this recently? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Brendan : Oh that's typical! Blame the poor for their lot - I'd expect that from a nun, its easy for someone in your position to lecture me, especially when you're living in the lap of luxury in that convent, having spent six years getting a degree in hypocrisy!

Honest Joe : Sister, I can honestly say that I would be delighted to help you. Your patience in the face of such trying behaviour is quite admirable. [Smiles a saccharine smile at Harvey] Good Colonel, I can truly say that you are at your most agreeable when you are this quiet.
[HONEST JOE produces all manner of tools and magnifying glasses with which he examines the lock before turning triumphantly to the party]
Honest Joe : Good sister, I have indeed sold a lock such as this, and indeed I sold it recently. I can sincerely say that all my locks are hand crafted to an unusually high standard - to ensure that the customer can be unreservedly certain that he has an Honest Joe lock, I number them all individually, and this lock is engraved with such a number. I can honestly say that not only did I make this lock, but I also sold it.

Alice : By crikey! Can you check who you sold the lock to?

Honest Joe : Indeed, my young friend. [Flicks through what appears to be a receipt book] The buyer of this lock was Aldous Huxley, he purchased it shortly after the cloud descended. Curious, how the lock that he purchased to protect his own son should end up here, at the scene of a second kidnapping.

Clint : Perhaps we should pay Mr. Huxley another visit.

Sr Immaculata: [Nods in agreement] Yes, I think we should ask him about the lock. Tell me, Mr Thiever, could you remove this lock so we can bring it with us? This is our first piece of tangible evidence, and I don't wish to leave it behind.

Harvey: Enough Mr. Buckley, enough. Have you ever considered the colours, man? Regular meals, honest toil, travel, generous pay, the chance to meet new people and cultures [verbally doning the recruiting cap], what more could a man ask for! [Continuing] It would give you your spirit [falters over the word] and self esteem back . And near enough is right! [Grimaces at Joe] I'll keep my promise Sister though it sorely tests me, like the sharded sword thrust deep into the gut! [Grips his belly as in pain].

Brendan : Colours? If by that you mean colours akin to Scarlet Majors, then I can think of nothing I'd like less, except perhaps [looks at Sr. Immaculata and smiles] well, I can think of nothing else I'd like.

Honest Joe : [Regarding Harvey's grimace] I wish I could honestly say that I hope you are not suffering stomach cramps that could have been caused by the dishonest secretion of some poison in your food. But I cannot.

Aubrey : [Anxiously] The lock, Honest Joe?

Honest Joe : But of course, Mr. Mayor. Nothing can give me greater pleasure than the pursuit of truth and justice, I am honoured to be able to play some small part. [Sets about picking the lock] To be honest, this may take some time, perhaps the Colonel might entertain us with another amusing attack on an honest, innocent and law-abiding bystander?

Sr Immaculata: [Looking at Harvey, a slightly annoyed expression on her face] I don't think Colonel Harvey will be attacking anyone else this day, isn't that right, Colonel Harvey. A man in your position and with your training should be able to cope with any situation. A man in your position and with your training wouldn't act like a spoilt three year old child, would he? Military backround and all that. Remember what the Good Book, 12-03 states, ``The man who shouts unnecessarily, is the man who screams in necessity for eternity in Hell. Know this, the unwarrantedly vociferous amoung you!" Besides, I thought you were going to check the ground outside the window, were you not?

Honest Joe : [Removing the lock from the window before smiling brightly at Harvey] Well now! Sir, you are a breath of fresh air - I can honestly say your tongue holding has brightened my day. I'd wager that one could hear a lock pick drop while in the presence of "Silent Harvey Kingston". However, I would not be an honest man if I were to take money from someone who would blindly - though honestly - bet against me. [Passes the lock to Sr. Immaculata] Good sister, it has been an honour and a privelege to work with such a silent party as yours appears to be. Clearly, Silent Harvey Kingston has taken your words from the good book literally, truly, the Good Book is a fountain of wisdom!

[Enter AUSTIN SLEAZE]

Austin: [Wipes his sweating brow] Apologies to all parties, that were awaiting my arrival. Such tardiness, I assure you, is indeed unusual on my part, but in this case I was helpless to affect otherwise. For those parties that missed me not at all, I have likewise no shame in saying to those persons personally that I care not that they care not, and so should it remain. Also, I fear that I have not the slightest whim in further discussion of my untimeliness, except that I had the most bizarre dream. It came to me last night, and from which this morn I could awake, that the good sister Immaculata, with such sheering beauty, lost her facial undesirables, but started to transform to a thing of such ugliness, with elephantine buck teeth, cup-handle ears, squinted eyes and furry nose, that I felt nausea to my core. Then this thing straddled me, and forced me unwillingly to obey her will, and now I fear that in such a strong vision I may have sired an ungodly creature. But for some strange reason, there was a chanting of Brendan's Bane By Birthing Brendan's Brother. I am at a loss, and fruitlessly sought a soothsayer, but none were about town. Sister, what make you of this near vision?

Clint : My word! Did you like it? Did it make you feel good? You say that this vision of hell... in Sister Immaculata's form... nauseated you. But - in your mind's eye you saw what you wanted to see! Didn't you? You saw a more perfect version of reality. What you saw was [crosses to the mantle and picks up a statue of a naked woman] more along the lines of this. [Holds the statue in front of Austin] Did you not feel the urge to carress her, or... it. [Holds the statue protectively] You disgust me! You are more vile than this slobbering fool of an imbecilic alchoholic [gestures towards Brendan]. You all disgust me!! [Feels for something in his pocket, looks stunned, and heads for the door at a brisk pace] I will return!

[Exit CLINT]
Sr Immaculata: [Watches Clint leave the caravan, a curious look on her face. Shrugging her shoulders she turns to Austin.] Yes, Mr Sleaze, young Elizabeth Buckley has been kidnapped. We have found a number of clues, all of which will be related to you in time, but [pauses and shakes her head sadly] I see the concern you have for this poor young girl pales in comparison for the concern you seem to hold over a sordid dream. Your dreams are a mirror of your own soul, Mr Sleaze, and I care not for either! Nor do your petty insults strike their intended mark. If anything, they rebound a hundred fold, turning you into a embittered freak in the eyes of most. [Turns to Honest Joe] I thank you for your time, Honest Joe. Tell me, could another man, with tools like your own also pick such a lock?

Honest Joe : To be honest sister, it is not simply possession of the appropriate tools that enables one to open a lock that has been built to as high a standard as the one you now hold. In fact -

Brendan : [Leaping up with surprising agility] Bastard! He just stole my statue!
[Exit BRENDAN]
Honest Joe : In fact, if another man were to open this lock, he would have to be extremely talented. As I'm sure Mr. Sleaze will agree.

Harvey: [Snorts] Talented indeed if Pte. Sleaze is the rule of thumb. [Looks scornfully after Brendan] Typical he shows more corcern for some cheap inanimate object than his own flesh and blood, and Clint no better. Are we in the missing persons or bargain basement price business, I wonder? [Continues mockingly, arms moving in grandiose circles] I will return, [puzzled]...what does that mean? Just what was the need to bolt so in the first place. A bolting dolt indeed! [Turning on Austin] If you care so little that we care not then why bother caring to explain at all. Trooper, the truth is that you have been absent without leave now for many minutes because you slept out. And you crown this outrage by insulting Sister Immaculata with your base luridity. Infamy sir! One comes and the other goes, what a matched pair indeed.

Sr Immaculata: [Places her hands on her hips] How dare you, you loud-mouthed pompous, arrogant, good for nothing, hot air baloon brained, big joweled fool! How dare you match me to Sleaze! 'One comes, the other goes' Just what are you implying, you donkey! And in front of your own niece also! [Immaculata stands staring at Harvey, obviously waiting for a reply]

[From without comes the sound of a struggle, with much shouting from CLINT]

Honest Joe : [Standing beside Sr. Immaculata] Quite honestly, I have never heard such an insult! [Looks admiringly at Immaculata] And to a woman of God, too!

Alice : Crikey! There seems to be fighting going on everywhere - I'll check what's going on.

[Exit ALICE]

Harvey: Confound it Sister, not you, the Ruffian Clint! Though sadly my defence of your honour does not [ephasises] seem to have been appreciated. A defence I'm sure my dear Alice would expect...Alice! [Realises she has headed for the melee] Alice! Come back you might get hurt [tries to cover this concern] and you've forgotten your shawl.

Austin: [Bows his head to Honest Joe] My good sir, I thank you for your praise, but I once again must stress that your locks are indeed of superior workmanship, and that once already have you proven that they can be beyond my skill to crack. You have an advantage, that causes your skill to surpass mine, and that is that you have actually made these locks. Nonetheless, I would ask to examine that lock, with the intention of comparing it to that of the lock found at the Huxley's. Could it be that it is physically the same lock, or just a similar make and model? If it is the same lock, then by Phili's unwashed worker boots, it most certainly implicates Mr. Take-It-Easy-On-My-Wife Aldous Huxley. And need I say it, but it's as I suspected all along. [Appears to peer through the grime- smeared window, but then gives himself away, when he starts fixing his hair].

Honest Joe : Quite honestly, my good man, I suspect that my lock picking skills would surpass your own whether I constructed the lock in question or no. However, I will acknowledge, for it would be dishonest to do otherwise, that I do have a distinct advantage when the lock is constructed by me. As I explained to the good colonel, this lock was purchased by Aldous Huxley. Whether or not it is the one that was opened when his boy was abducted, I honestly could not say. Sr. Immaculata now holds the lock, if she hasn't been too traumatised by Harvey's attack on her she might give you the lock.
[From without come the anguished cries of ALICE, clearly perturbed by something. Also from without comes the sound of BRENDAN, shouting angrily. Enter ALICE, visibly upset]

Alice : My God! It's just too awful! The two of them are out there, fighting over a woman, rolling around in the mud a-punchin', a-kickin' and a-bitin'. She's in between them, with not even a stitch of clothes on her! Like a harlot that Mud-Wrestling magazine Austin always looks at in the newsagent!

Aubrey : Good God! [Looking imploringly from Immaculata to Harvey] Can't you do something? We can't have him running amok like this!

Harvey: Of course I can do something. Alice do not run in and out so, carry yourself with grace and dignity! You are a lady after all, and what country bumkin taught you to say a-punchin and [tries to mimic it but fails] a-kickin, and do you necessarily to be so graphic. There's no excuse for poor diction, whatever the circumstances. What's will be next I wonder? Smoking!

Sr Immaculata: [Walks to the door, tucking the lock into her smock. Hand on door handle, she turns, looking at Harvey] It would seem that your military training, although giving you a broad education in the perverse, has not dealt you a scrap of courage. [She opens the door, and in her best teacher shouting at a naughty pupil voice] Just you stop that right now! Right now, I mean it! [She pokes her head out the door]

Alice : [Pouting] ``Whats' will be next" indeed! It may have been a country bumkin alright - but at least he showed me that there's a time for action and a time for correction of diction. I do not doubt which time it is now.

[IMMACULATA opens the door far enough so everyone can see what's happenning outside. Outside the door, CLINT is kneeling on top of BRENDAN, pinning his arms to his sides. BRENDAN is bawling crying while Clint is purple with rage, all the while waving a small statue around angrily]

Aubrey : [Grabbing hold of Clint] Good lord man! Cease and desist immediately, we can't have you attacking relatives of the victims. [Looking angrily at Harvey] For God's sake Harvey, don't just stand there! You too Sleaze, give me a hand.

Harvey: The only thing perverse Sister [correcting] is these two clowns here. Come on [lunges towards the brawl] you men in the ranks...break it up now!

Austin: [Steps outside the front door] My good men, what a spiffing good display of manliness, though I admit I need not demonstrate it in such a fashion. I have found that subtlety and good manipulation of the enemy, is not only an art form, but also provides a greater degree of satisfaction. Maplin and I, have oftentimes solved a difference with others, now less fortunate than before the encounter, and needless to say, I smiled.

Clint : [Pauses to look quizically at Austin] What? Subtlty? More like idiocy. [Brushes off the help of the others] I would just like you all to know that I did not attack this man without provocation. He had something in his possession which, as of this morning, was mine. I was merely taking it back. [Glaring at Brendan] Then he jumped me! I was merely defending myself.

Sr Immaculata: As to the motive, I care not, Mr Scar! If there was indeed an item of yours in the Buckley home, I'm sure Mr Buckley can explain it. Public fighting, as the Good Book tells us, is ``a sport for wankers and non-intelligent swiggers of too much ale." [Immaculata blesses herself] In fact, in 14:201, third paragraph, we are told ``Hear me, ye men of fists, for thine eternity shall be the lead role in a pantomime, where ye play the part of the panto dame, night, after night, after night, till ye actually look forward to putting on the dress and wig! Know this, for I shall not tell ye again!" [Immaculata blesses herself once more]

Alice : [Incredulously] ``Wankers and swiggers of ale?" Gosh, these religious terms are so strange. I bet Wanker is some sort of biblibical term for some perverse self abusers or something similarly odious.

Brendan : He's a liar! He stole that statue from me - a family heirloom, the only item of value that a Buckley has ever owned that wasn't stripped from them by some oppressive regime - when I confronted him he attacked me, saying that unless I gave it to him he'd have you lot arrest me for kidnapping that Huxley kid!

Harvey: Well whatever the muddle is all about, it would do well to remove this source of the friction... so I'll have that then, thank you very much! [Tries to pry the statue from Clint with both hands].

Aubrey : [Watching the whole scene with a sorrowful look] What an untidy scene this is - how ungraceful and unbecoming. [Sits down inside the caravan] I don't know, we start off looking for a missing child, and the next thing I know, everyone is fighting over some horrid statue.

Alice : Austin! Don't just stand there, get them to stop!

Clint : [Letting go of the statue but giving Brendan one more hit] Fine! [Gets up, dusts himself off and sits down in front of the caravan] Maybe it wasn't my statue, but it sure as hell looks like it! [Leaning back against the base of the caravan] Now, where were we?

Brendan : [Looking dazed and confused, still lying on the ground holding the statue] What?!? Is that it? This tool of the bourgeosie comes into my home, steals my one possession of value - and only sentimental value at that, for it is a rare member of the proletariat who has an item of monetry value that hasn't been brought to the pawn shop to feed his family - and tries to run off with it. When I try to confront him about it, he beats me up, in front of my own home! [Eyes fill up with tears] First I lose my wife, then my job, then my home, then my daughter, and now, my self respect has been viciously beaten from me!

Honest Joe : It would appear to me that if the party leader [gestures to Harvey] was doing his job properly, this ugly incident wouldn't have taken place. It is indeed a sad day when a member of the public, however odious, is beaten by an agent of the town. Just my opinion, of course, but I wonder what kind of justice system would allow such a travesty to go unchecked. Or unsued, for that matter.

Alice : [To Clint] You big bully! Apologise this instant for attacking this poor man.

Harvey: We do not as yet know if there was provivcation Mr. Thievier, though I cannot see how a statue of this sort could possibly raise one's ardour! However an assault has been committed so the town guard must be notified. I will fetch him thither but in the meantime I do not want my Niece to be further exposed to pornography, so if the good Sr. will oblige, I think she should keep it as evidence and out of the temptation of "the men" [looks suspectly at Austin, Cint and Brendan]. Gentle men [to Clint and Brendan] prepare well ye're stories before I and Harold return!

[Exit HARVEY]

Sr Immaculata: [Watching Harvey leave] Why are we wasting our time with this nonsense. Has everyone forgotten that there is a missing girl here? A girl who's far more precious than any statue. Lets get our act together, shall we?

Aubrey : I couldn't agree more, Sister. Also, considering Harold ``No Feet" Murphy is currently being held for questioning about the attack on Moe, I find it a bit odd that Harvey is going to talk to him, especially without the rest of you. I shall investigate this myself, and leave the rest of you here to do finish the task that you're supposed to be doing. Clint, I suggest you do not attack any more citizens.

[Exit AUBREY]
Alice : Crikey! Uncle Harvey and Harold ``No Feet" Murphy in cahoots? Whatever next? Aussie, did you look at the lock yet? Is it the same as the one that was in the Huxley's?

Austin: Clint, behave yourself like the grown child that you are. If we had the time, I would encourage you to teach this man the lesson he deserves. However, time presses on, and we must have this man in conscious state if we are to glean any more information from him. I would suggest that you both take this matter up again, upon a later date and resolve the issue in a more peaceful manner. Failing that, have at each other. Clint, were you to need a lawyer, I would willingly oblige you in that facility for small compensation. [Leans over to Brendan, and whispers in his ear] And I would represent you good sir, in the same fashion, simultaneously, and return to you what is rightfully yours. More importantly, this instant, is that what is rightfully yours is returned as promptly as possible, for I believe you loved your daughter as much as you did that ugly buck-toothed woman.

Clint : Oh, I would have kept him concious enough to ``glean" more information out of him. As for returning what is ``rightfully his", well forget it. It is rightfully mine! You and your damn stage whispers. You'd probably lose if you sued yourself!

Alice : [Standing on top of a nearby barrell] Cease this nonsense at once! Boys with toys - that's all you are, I will not stand for it! Sr. Immaculata, will you please give Austin the lock? Or will you confiscate it and put it in that big drawer with all the bits of string and comics and yoyos that people got as presents from their favourite aunt but weren't allowed keep because ``oh no, its too dangerous for young ladies to have such toys and anyway, it only encourages bad behaviour, and stop your whinging, you'll get it back on the last day of term". But, you know sister, I don't think so, I don't think you people ever mean to give it back on the last day of term. [Stamping her foot on the barrell] Give him the lock, give him the lock!

Sr Immaculata: Oh stop your ceaseless tattle, you foolish, impetuous child! [Immaculata delves slowly into her pocket and retrieves the lock. She offers it to Austin Sleaze] Take it, Mr Sleaze. We are in need of your...skills. [Pauses for a few seconds, and then places the lock back in her pocket] Well, obviously you do not want the lock, after all. [Immaculata walks over to the caravan and stoops to examine the ground outside Elizabeth Buckleys window]

Alice : [Taking something out of her pocket and showing it to Austin] Look Aussie, a golden cap from an Ultra-rare Gringripper '62, stained with the blood of the man I had to kill to get it.

Alice : [Closing her hand and stuffing it into her pocket] Ha ha! Too slow. It's gone the way of all confiscated things.

Austin: Taunt me not gentle women, but Maplin does not deign to touch those things that are a reward of foul means, nor those things that have sat close to Phili's vessel's vacuous vile vapours for longer than 10 minutes. As it is, in the brief period that I viewed that lock, which now once again sits close to the non-physical one that the good sister is wearing, I recognise the workmanship, and indeed specific details that persuade me, and I therefore you, as the primary parties of such discussion, that the lock is one and the same as that used in the Huxley abode. Hasten in your decision as to what might be inferred by such a fact, and I assure you, fact it is as my perceptions in such areas are not often of an erroneous nature. I would beseech you, Sister Immaculata, to keep a careful watch upon that lock, as I suspect you may find that someone, who shall remain nameless, but herewith shall be given a name by which one may to refer to that party hereafter, and that name is 'The Named Party Who Shall Remain Nameless', shall make an attempt to retrieve it. In particular, we shall keep an extremely high observance factor upon those that we know have had cause to be associated with that anti-theft mechanism - that is the purchaser, who we now know as the named nameless one, and the party that sold it to the aforementioned party who shall be referred to as a two-faced schizophrenic.

Clint : Blah Blahblahblah.... Try English, it works better. How many parties are planning to go to? You just won't tell us where they are so that you can get blotto all by youself, right? Or are they masquerade parties? That way everyone's nameless. Let's go! I could use a nameless drink.

Alice : Crikey! You mean Aldous Huxley put the lock here?

Brendan : What?!? Another bastard! And one that he [pointing to Clint] spoke to only yesterday! How else did Scar know where my statue was hidden? They're in it together I tell you! In it together to oppress the common man by stealing his daughter and statue!

Honest Joe : While I would love to stay and chat with you all, I fear I do not enjoy your company as much as when the good Colonel is present. If my assistance is further required, I shall be at my home.

[Exit HONEST JOE]
Sr Immaculata: [Returning, just in time to hear Buckeys outburst] I thank you helping us at such short notice, Mr Thiever. Be assured, you've done Phili a great service. [Waits for him to leave, before turning sharply on the group] Mr Buckley! There is no call for that kind of foul language, over a stupid statue! You should pray for the safe return of your daughter, yet I've not heard one saintly word emanate from your mouth since we got here. [She breathes deeply, before staring at Austin Sleaze] I'm afraid I didn't hear a word you said, a few moments back. Too busy actually hunting for clues, you know, for the missing child? By previous experience, it more than likely contained nothing of any interest, but did contain a few sub-intelligent, thinly veiled attempted insults on myself and my beliefs. Would I be correct, Sleaze?

Clint : [To Brendan] Hidden? Hidden?! It was on the mantle! You're just so caught up in your self-pity tirade that you didn't realize that you hadn't hid it!

Brendan : On the mantle - that's what I mean, it was hidden on the mantle. It's like what they always say, the best place to hide something is underneath someone's nose, and, when I heard that a criminal was coming to my house to steal a priceless statue that I usually display on my mantle, I knew that he would expect me to hide it, and where better to hide it than the place it's least likely to be - the mantlepiece?

Sr Immaculata: [Sighs deeply] Mr Buckley, you sadden me. Deeply. Your daughter is missing, possibly dead, yet you show concern only over a ridiculous statuette. Your lack of soul makes me despair! I can no longer remain with such a Godless group. [Begins walking, pauses, reaches into her pocket and places the lock before Alice.] I hope for your sake your daughter is found, Buckley. Or you will someday become a very, very lonely old man. [To the party members] I'll be at the convent when you all finally realize your priorities.
[Exit SR IMMACULATA]
Alice : Crikey! This is like Marie Celeste, first Uncle Harvey, then Aubrey, then Honest Joe, now Sr. Immaculata! [Thoughtfully] I wonder if they're all queuing outside Marie's room now... I suppose I should have expected it of the men, but Sr. Immaculata? Eauh!

Austin: My, my, and no sorry loss it is, that she leave us in peace a while. And you, sweet Alice, do you not count me among the men. If not then I shall take it as a compliment, as is my wont. I am indeed greater than most men when it comes to valour and determination. Determination in the sense that I am determined to find Mr. Buckley's daughter, but also in the sense that I have a particular prowess at determining who the guilty parties are. And allow me to demonstrate that it does indeed include the less likeable acts of one Aldous Huxley.

[Enter HARVEY, writing furiously in the troop notepad, muttering to himself]

Harvey : Hrmm, I don't know, Harald being held for questioning, Doctor Proctor insisting that Moe is ``too ill to be interrogated", I don't know. [Looking to the others as though surprised to see them] Right, you horrible lot, stand to attention! [Patting Alice on the head] Not you dear niece, not you. We've got a child to find, so stop all this foolish behaviour. You, private Sleaze, explain to me why Sr. Immaculata has to [glancing at his notebook] in her own words, ``pray for patience in the face of immoral and disgusting behaviour, now get out of my way you annoying - ". Well, pray for patience anyway. Come one Sleaze, explain yourself or by god you'll be cleaning my jeep with a cotton bud tonight!

Alice : Oh hush up, Uncle! Aussie was just about to explain how Aldous Huxley is the guilty party behind all this evil-doing. Come on, Aussie, how did he do it?

Austin: [Frowns at Harvey] Beware when you accuse the innocent of crimes they could not have committed. In all my years in the courts, I have never seen such blatant display of prejudice and premeditated false accusation. Stand down off your high horse and see the size of the pedestal upon which you would place yourself with such words as you have uttered. You have outdone yourself this time my flippant Colonel. I have done naught to upset the good sister. Now pertaining to Mr. Huxley, as I have previously maintained, he is guilty of something which must yet be determined. How is it that the lock found here is one and the same as that found in his house. Perhaps we should arrest and question this man again, ere he leaves town upon some suspicious business. But I must point out this subtle oxymoron, I think the lock is indeed the key, to this enigma of the Huxley-Buckley muck.

Alice : Arrest Huxley? Beware when you accuse the innocent of crimes they could not have committed, Austin! Its a spot on idea to have a few words with the chap, but arrest him? Look at what happened to poor old Moe.

Clint : I seriously doubt he's innocent. The only problem is that we don't know what to accuse him of. Find that, find the kid. Simple.

Harvey : Moe was just a casualty in the war on crime, that's to be expected in the course of an investigation. Corporal Scar, I like the cut of your jib, I think the troop should question Huxley immediately, however, the question is, what tack should we take? Must present a united front, what?

Alice : [Rolling her eyes] Why don't we just ask him about the lock? It costs nothing to use good manners. How's this for a plan - knock politely on his door, ask to be allowed in, graciously accept the offer of tea and crumpet from the good Mrs. Huxley, sort out the misunderstanding about the lock, and then go for lunch at British Bob's ``Mad Beef Steakhouse"?

Clint : Using ``good manners" would definitely cost something. My reputation. Not that this town would know a good reputation if they tripped and fell on it. I think utter force would be the best approach, but not as a united front. We should definitely flank him. Use persuasion, force, subtlety, I'll do that one, and anything else we happen to have handy.

Harvey: I would rather it if we were to combine the two approaches as it would keep our options open...what! Politeness with the hint of force should do that nicely, very nicely indeed. So if the troop could divide themselves into the ``subtle" and the ``brute" groups, very much like good cop and bad cop, I think we should be able to harrass, flank, box and corner one Mr. Aldous Huxley! [Glances around the group] The good Sister and Alice, in keeping with her disposition, I think should constitute subtlety, while Clint and Austin should be the brutes. Austin especially as we do not want a loose cannon on this mission and he badly needs someone to instill some backbone into him. As for myself I will merely [modestly] straddle the divide and act as liasion between the two approaches, within the law but with the full latitude it can offer us. [Looking at his gut] Alice, I wonder does Bob do pork in apple sauce?

Alice : [Irritably] Forget British Bob and your belly for a second uncle! All this talk about ``flanking" and such, just what are we going to accuse Aldie of? I for one don't want the Moe shambles all over again.

Clint : Does it really matter what we accuse him of? If we do it right he'll tell us about the first time he spied on his parents bumping uglies!

Harvey: I understand your concern Alice, but the risk is worth it. I mean you cannot make an omelete without breaking some eggs, we still do not know what happened to Moe if indeed he did not inflict some hurt upon himself; so if we can give Aldous Huxley the impression that we have evidence against him and are assembling more we do not have to actually accuse him of anything. Then there can be no risk at all! [Delightedly clasps his hands]. If he is involved this knowledge rather than any accusation will worm inside him, throw out his plans, allow his mask to slip and will betray him. Case closed! [mentally invisages it already] If not well then [pauses]... we can always eliminate him from our inquiries. But I'm sure [blithely] it will not come to that.

Alice : [Looking horrified] ``Bumping uglies"? Good lord Clunt, while I admit the more unattractive members of the public may be distressing to the eye, I fail to see why you should take such delight in accusing Huxley's parents of being involved in any scheme to harm the more plain citizens.

Harvey: The fate of the two children is surely more than enough work, man, for one day. Do we need to dwell on the attractiveness or not of the little tykes [shivers]...oh if that was the motive, and his parents involved and all, [eyes Alice protectively] how monstrous!

---oOo---

End Of Scene

Act 2, Scene 3. Time : Saturday 9.50 : The Huxley House.
[HARVEY, ALICE, CLINT, AUSTIN, LAURA and ALDOUS are here. LAURA is in her dressing gown and looks extremely upset, ALDOUS looks quite out of breath]
Aldous : [Still panting] Good lord! What are you doing here so soon?

Alice : [Observing the silence of the others] I believe we are here to question you about something, [turning to the others] is that not true?

Clint : [To the team] Wow! We actually caught them! I thought that was what friends told each other when they wanted to gross eveyone out.... Anyway! We need to ask you a few more questions, Mr. Huxley. First, where were you exactly when you heard about this -supposed- son of yours was -supposedly- gone - and don't tell me you two playing ``hide the salami", we know you two too well now!

Laura : You mean, you caught those evil men who kidnapped my poor son? Oh thank you, thank you all so much!

Aldous : [Glaring at Clint] Do not take that tone with me sir, and do not talk to me as though I invented this whole sorry tale. I already described the incidents of that night to the party.

Clint : I will take any air I please, with you or without! And it is just that - a sorry tale. Everything about this tale makes me want to vomit! Now, just try and be a little more precise, will you?

[Enter SR IMMACULATA]

Sr Immaculata: Mr and Mrs Huxley, I just heard! You've felt another cold presence in your house, the same as the night your poor son disappeared? Oh, how terrible for you both. Are you alright?

Austin: You have deceived a master deceiver, my good Huxley, and respect is due. But where have you been in this recent hour, and tell me not an untruth for I shall detect it. You would claim innocence, yet an object of your belonging was found at the scene of another heinous act of evil - the very same object that was found in the room of your son's disappearance. What say you, when a certain two-faced liar describes that very object to specific detail and is adamant that only one of it's kind exists and that you are the owner of said object. I would have an answer, and I would have it now!

Aldous: [Pouring out a glass of water, before drenching Austin with it] How dare you! I summoned you here myself, yet you enter my house with accusations pouring from your lips - adjust your demeanour sir, before I am forced to punch you on the nose!

Laura : Oh Aldous, you're so forceful!

Alice : Hmm, another cunning plan that failed to work out, I wonder what happened.

Sr Immaculata: Am I missing something here? I was told that the evil presence had returned to this house, and was implored to return to the party. Now what in heaven do I find upon my return? This self same party accusing Mr Huxley of some heinous crime! You've all been gripped by the Evil One, and forced to do his bidding. [Holds her hands in the air and shouts] Out vile demons, you'll find no welcome here today! [Seemingly satisfied, she continues] Count your blessings this vessel of Phili has returned to set you once again, on the path of light! Mr and Mrs Huxley, we humbly beseech your apologies for this moment of madness. Come, let us all pray. [Sr. Immaculata does just that.]

Aldous : It seems that the only evil in this house at the moment are these degenerates [pointing at the other members of the party]

Alice : [Laughing] Now I see! Immaculata is the good cop - excellent plan Aussie!

Clint : Oh, good job, Alice! You've ruined our plan! Now what?

Sr Immaculata: [Turning sharply to Alice and Clint] What are you two on about? By all things holy and sanctimonious, what nonsense fills your heads? [Turns back to Aldous] I fear the Evil One has greater control over their minds than I'd dared hope! Remember, good folk, 2.4-23 in the Good Book claims ``Those gripped by the Devil shall also be gripped by idiocy. Heed not what they say, for theirs is the kingdom of shenannigans and tomfoolery! Hear this and say...Gosh!" [Immaculata blesses herself] Now, pray tell me about the return of this presence?

Alice : Gosh!

Harvey : Idiocy? Idiocy? You describe an excellent plan, conjured up by a mind honed to the very pinnacle of.. of.. [stares into space and begins scratching himself idly]

Alice : [Sulking] I'm not talking nonsense, not since the sense of nonsensical nonsie nonny noe ne ni na namma nam nam nam meauh! I thought we were here to arrest Mr. Huxley, wasn't that right? Aussie? Clunt? Uncie Har Har?

Harvey : of .. of .. damn it!

[Exit HARVEY]
Aldous : [Jabbing an accusing finger at Austin] Explain yourself sir, are you here to help or hinder? And cease this dripping on my floor!

Clint : Actually, both. [Looking around] Who's dripping?

Aldous : Good lord! You are supposed to be tracking a murderer, and you don't even realise that the man beside you is making a large puddle?

Alice : Come on Aussie, stand up for yourself - don't be so wet. [Bursts out laughing] Wet? Get it? He's all wet because Aldous threw water at him and I'm using the word for a different meaning at the same time - in conjunction, as it were. Wet, that's a good one.

Austin: [Wipes some water from his face, then places his right hand inside his mantle, and kneels, rolling his eyes so that the whites start showing. He pauses a second and then recites...] Thirsting, thirsty, what is seen, My smiling head eating spleen, Burnt bowels and stretched scream, Blood-burst grin, squinting gleam, Free my mind to savage yours, Seething wretch, in corner cowers. I am here, now pound with might, Bathed in gore, to remove your sight. Stripped to bone the skin is shed, Finally I rip off your pasty head. [Stands once again, and starts moving towards Aldous, with obvious serious intent].

Aldous : [Backing off] Steady on, old chap, perhaps I was a bit hasty...

Alice : Crikey! Its as though some strange alien presence lived in that jug of water, and when it landed on Aussie it seeped in through his skin, infecting every vein, every organ, every cell, every part of his living soul! [Glances down at her hand that got splashed on also] My God! I've been infected too - I can feel it, sucking on my brain, the life oozing out of me[drops onto a chair] is it dark now? Tell me, is it dark?

[Enter HARVEY]

Harvey: Is that Pte. Sleaze who's taken to reciting good soldiering airs, ah I've heavily missed those fine robust ditties [Enters in slipperly fashion, literally, sliding along the wet floor]...whooh there!!! Heavens to Phili what fool has been spilling water, I could have killed myself there [grips the nearest chair precipitously as if it were a liferaft and hears Alice. Composing himself] Alice child, don't be testy, its still only the morning though no part of the day would allow licence for such tomfooolery! Are pranks the order of the day when the Troop is left alone, unsupervised for a minute or two? Well!

Alice : Choke! Is that you Uncle? Chastise me not as I grow cold, as the light grows dim, for we grow accustomed to the Dark, when Light is put away As when the Neighbour holds the Lamp to witness her goodbye. A moment - We uncertain step for newness of the night - Then - fit our Vision to the Dark, and meet the Road - erect. [Lapses into unconsciousness]

Clint : [Staring at his wet hands] Dear Stepmother of Phili's bastard Child! I can see! [Turns to Alduos] I can see what you really are! [Takes out his sword] Back foul beast! Spill your guts or I'll do it for you! Speak the truth you spawn of Phili's evil steptwin!

Laura : What foul contaminent has found its way into our water? For Phili's sake, do something to stop them!

Aldous : [Grabbing a nearby broom and waving it at Clint and Austin] Back, back I say!

Austin: [Slowly slides his golden dagger from his mantle, and hunches forward as if to spring towards Aldous. There is a peculiar satisfied growling coming from his stomach, as a GriefSkewer bat would make before diving in for the kill]. Even now I wonder why, death was yellow for my pride, Great was wonder in your eyes, yet all you saw were your insides, Worms of wisdom spluttered out, sodden brown and green delight, stumbling on the varnished floor, as I absorbed my new found greatness, heaven opened in your bowel heaven was my broken blade rusted from the other bride, whose heart was still inside my eyes whose soul was buried in my yard whose hair had burnt with such vigour wanting, preying for a quicker finish than you will ever know.

[There is a faint rustle as AUSTIN inhales and tenses his limbs for his pounce at Aldous].

Clint : [Flanking Alduos] Now, oh Spawn of some evil thing, be careful which ``god's sake" you ask for. You might get one you wouldn't enjoy.

Sr Immaculata: [Watches the scene, open mouthed for a moment or two, before stepping between Aldous and Austin Sleaze. With stern face, she faces Austin] Just you put away that knife this instant, Mr Sleaze! You have all been posessed by some un-Godly demon! Everyone calm down this instant! [Immaculata reaches inside a pocket and produces the Good Book. Loudly, she begins reading passages, holding one hand up, palm turned towards the party]

'The Evil One shall come in many shapes and guises! Through air or through water, through animal or through human! Force him out if you feel his touch, for his is the touch of eternal darkness! Say unto him `Out vile beastie, ye'll no find refuge in this body. Get back to the badly decorated pits of Hell with you!' Do this, my people, for if ye do not, bad things will come. Oh Evil things, very Evil things. Scary monsters with big teeth and bad breath! Ugly seething, scaly things....' [And so on]

Harvey: [Joins Sr. Immaculata] hear...hear Sister!, we...well [intones ``bad breath"] well said! Put those weapons away this instant or ye will find yourselves up on a charge so quick it will be as if ye were wearing my bootmarks since creation [wags his finger] Do you hear me! [Bellows into Clints right earhole in good old Seargeant-Major fashion].

Clint : [Bellowing] What? I can't hear you, someone just blew out my eardrum!

[LAURA clutches her head in her hands and starts screaming madly. ALICE wakes up and also starts screaming.]

Aldous : [Shouting above the noise at Austin and Clint] Get back back you heathens, get back!

[Someone next door bangs the wall and shouts ``Keep that bloody racket down!"]

Sr Immaculata: [Glances once out the window, then quickly stares out again, a look of shocked fear on her face. With trembling finger she points] Oh by the guidance of Phili, let it not be so!

Harvey: Well I'm glad we got this situation under control [obviously bellowing louder still to make himself heard to Immaculata]. Sounds just like a battle, doesn't it! [Sighs] With all that colour, hustle and bustle, the people filled with temper and hot air, a great spectacle indeed. [Frowns as he eyes her, voice decending many decibels] Why Sister you've gone as white as the habit you wear, are you alright?

Sr Immaculata: [Still pointing to the window] There was a face. An evil, shadowy face staring in at us. The visage of the very Devil itself. [She looks at the party] It could not enter this house...for it dare not meet the power of Phili contained within my blessed soul! Were I not here, you would all now be dead. [She adopts a tone, generally used by an adult speaking to a foolish child] Mrs Huxley...Mrs Huxley, do stop your screaming, theres a dear! I'll bless this house, preventing the nasty creature from ever setting foot within these rooms again.

Clint : [Mumbling to no one in particular] Dead might be nice for a change. Or not.

Austin: [Sheaths his dagger and stands again in a relaxed posture, then calmly folds his arms. In a cold calculated voice utters] Huxley, were I the leader, you would be assured of not drawing another breath. I have little time for men such as you, and less time for the petty excuses you pander us. Consider this, that I will remove you from this world first chance I get and know that this is not a threat, but a fact yet to happen. [Stares unblinkingly into Huxley's face].

Harvey: [Glowering at Clint very particularily] Only a fool talks lightly about things he knows not. What with Austin threatening, if he was capable, to take a life, the Troop almost losing theirs, the wifes natural if ear-splitting concern for her husband and the appearance of the unspeakable One, and then you blither as if you were bored, a moment after threatening the Huxley man, and this was all a game. Well sir, are you a fool or not?

Austin: [Not removing his eyes from Huxley] Good sister, there is only one evil face in this town, and I let him not out of my sight. Your blessing has done little to keep him from this house, as it seems he already lives and breeds here.

Sr Immaculata: [Watches Austin watching Huxley watching Austin for a moment or two] Mrs Huxley, please. Your catawailing is benefitting nobody here. You must be strong. And silent. [Squeezes Mrs Huxleys arm gently, in a gesture of solidarity] You must put your faith in Phili, only with his help will we all get through these troubled times. It would seem that the party has jumped to some odd conclusions in my absence. Some very odd conclusions.

Laura : [Mercifully stops screaming] Can you blame me for crying out? My son has been brutally murdered by some nefarious means and these, these hooligans come into my home and threaten my husband.

Harvey: [Watching everybody] Pish-posh Sister, I have noticed it too since my return, what you mean is that they have gone mad, don't you? Well you're right of course... as Hatters, the lot of them. He must have put a curse on them, even my poor Niece. And now [gestures to Clint] see how he remains silent after his outburst... another symptom of whatever it is that afflicts them, when he cannnot respond to a simple question. Assuming that our aura of authority what has so far prevailed can be maintained, which by the way in no small part has saved the life [bringing his upper body up full in pride] of this citizen, we need medical assistance without delay to prevent whatever gnaws at them from bringing disaster. Therefore [turns to Laura] fly now woman and summon Doctor Proctor!

Laura : [Looks to Aldous who nods to her] Yes, Colonel, if you think it will help. But please, protect my husband from these vandals.

[Exit LAURA]
Alice : [Tries to whisper to Harvey, but does it too loudly] What do you mean blaming Clint? I thought we had decided that Aldous was to blame?

Aldous : Blame for what? Explain yourself sir, and the actions of your troop, or by crikey I'll, [wavers a moment as he catches sight of Clint and Austin] by crikey I'll be miffed.

Sr Immaculata: [Staring at Harvey] Indeed so, Mr Huxley. What prompted you to lay the blame upon this man, distraught with grief over the loss of his son? For shame on you all.

Clint : [Seeming to come out of a trance] Well, isn't it obvious Sister? Whio else would have access to the lock in his name, twice? Who else had any reason to kidnap Huxley's son other than Huxley? I don't know why he would either, but hey, no one's perfect. Some are less so than others. [To Huxley] Did you ever play games with your son? [To Mrs. Huxley] Did he ever hit your son, a slap for misbehaving or a maniacal backhand of a deranged Godless twit? [Spacing out] Maybe he's trying to mate the two children for the pleasure of the cloud!.. er... [coming back to reality] ... maybe not.

Aldous : [Regaining his composure once again] Perhaps, sir, you should direct you explanation to me. What do you mean access to the lock? I suggest you and your cohorts adjust your demeanour quick smart and explain what has happened, before you find yourselves looking to that [gestures at Austin, as though it would pain him to look] to defend you in the courts.

Harvey: [To Alice] But just look at them, they are like a pair of baying dogs trying to exact their own particular form of vengence. Justice will not be served one iota that way. We have only come to clarify some of the points of the case with you Mr. Huxley, [turning to Aldous now feeling that the emergency has passed] pay no heed to them. Something has clearly, as you can see and the good Sister has described in painful detail, afflicted their minds. [Gestures to Clint] See he is adressing imaginary people now... it is so pathetic that whatever it is must be quite advanced. Remain calm the doctor will be here shortly [soothingly] and he will take care of everything, I'm sure of it!

Clint: [Looking around] Where'd she go?

Aldous : [Turning so as not to have to face Clint] Take care of everything? I demand to know what you are doing here and what you are going to do about the incident last night.

Austin: [Smiles knowingly] Sir, you have outdone yourself this time, as I suspected you would. Your command of third party perception concepts is frail at best, and has failed once again. I would hesitate to point it out, but as it indicates that something suspect is indeed pervasive about your person, that firstly we were not summoned here by either you or your wife, but returned to this abode by deduction of guilt. Secondly, of what incident do you speak [turns to the rest of the party and signals them to stay quiet] that occurred last night? Where do you return from in such haste - from the scene of the crime I would hazard a guess. Sister, I would ask you to check your pockets to see does the dastardly item that we found previously still remain in your possession.

Sr Immaculata: No Mr. Sleaze, I do not. The item in question, as you put it, was placed before another member of the party before I returned to my convent. Alice?

Aldous : [Purple-faced with rage and shouting] As if you didn't know! Damn it all, why the hell else would you be here if I hadn't gone to the police station myself this morning to ask you to come?!? I go in, trying to help in this investigation, to tell the police that last night my wife and I felt that cold presence in our house, just like the night poor William disappeared and that when we got up, the lock from his room was gone!

Alice : [Producing the lock found at Brendan Buckleys] You mean, this lock?

Aldous : I don't know! They all look the same to me, but at a guess, yes, that looks like the lock I bought.

Clint : [Realizing that whomever he was looking for is no longer there] Well, as it happens, it was confirmed that this was the lock that you had before in your son's room. The question is, how did we get it?

Aldous : Gibber! I - don't - know! I told the police that the lock was stolen from my house last night - don't you people ever talk to each other?

Clint : Sure. We just don't listen.

Aldous : [Spreading his arms apart as if in submission] Sp!

Sr Immaculata: [Shakes her head and sighs] Mr Huxley, could you please go over the events of last night. Please, think carefully and try to leave nothing out. The smallest detail could prove to be the largest clue.

Aldous : [Speaking as though exhausted] Last night, at about 3.30 in the morning, the same coldness that we felt the night William disappeared came over the house. I leapt out of my bed and ran to Trevors room, and he was fine. I then went to William's room and it was still bare, so I assumed my wife must have imagined it. When I checked further this morning, I noticed the lock was gone.

[Enter LAURA HUXLEY]

Laura : [Breathless] He's dead! Moe is dead. [Turns to Harvey] I told Doctor Proctor and the mayor that you said that half the party have gone insane and that the Doctor should come over and cure them of their madness. When I said it the mayor went a bit pale and seemed to develop a peculiar kind of twitch, and kept repeating the words ``Ha-Ha-Harvey" over and over again, what does this mean?

Alice : Perhaps he thought Uncle H was joking and was telling him he thought it was funny, saying ``Ha Ha! Harvey", as if to say, ``Ha ha, what a funny joke," or ``Ha ha, good gag old man," or ... [notices all the others watching her] well, maybe not.

Austin: [Turns towards the party, pushing back his drooping forelock with one smooth motion of his left hand] I would consider spending the night in this house, so that perhaps we could determine if this coldness is not just a simple draught. And if it does occur, perhaps Sister Immaculata might be able to probe into exactly what that feeling is, if indeed it is significantly spiritually related for her to do so. Would you concur to this plan, Sister? My have I lost track of time, but I cannot remember how much of the day has passed.

Alice : Goodness Aussie! Surely you're not ready for bed already, it is only half past ten in the morning!

Aldous : Sir, I do know the difference between a mild draft and the presence of evil in my house! I'll thank you not to suggest otherwise. Somebody, or something was in my house last night, and I would believe it is the person or thing that was here the night William was abducted, make no mistake about that.

Harvey: Its alright now Mrs Huxley the Troop seeems to have regained its discipline and again found its spirit. See, there's no more talk of murder, so we won't trouble the busy Doctor on this occassion. [Turning to Austin] Pte Sleaze is right [intones]...for a change...we must spend the night here and try to trap this nebulous wraith. It must be the key to the whole case and maybe the death of Moe also. But I'm curious as to why it came back for the lock? That too must be important though I do not know why. Perhaps the lock that we retrieved from Buckley could serve as bait and lure it here once more. If after all it needed the first lock why not the second. The thing that worries me however is the madness that I and Immaculata witnessed when we returned. I only hope that with the Siter here this time the holy aura that surrounds her will prevail over the terror that trails the spectre leaving our stout hearts [looks to Clint and Austin]..our hearts and weapons to do their best. [Raps his sheathed sword with his hand]. But we will need a plan if we are going to ambush it!

Austin: [Sneers at Harvey] Of what madness do you speak so vindictively? I have been and shall remain of sane mind longer than you my forgetful associate. Try me now, while my blood still boils from the treatment given me by this battle fearful woman that goes by the name of Aldous Huxley. Need I point it out one more and final time, that the first is the second lock, and both items of evidence are indeed one and the same, and he who disputes that fact may take such matter up with he who pronounced it originally and the third party who seconded it, and that person may be identified as the master locksmith Joe Thiever.

Alice : [With a puzzled look on her face] Madness? What are you talking about Uncle? Was it not your idea to scare Aldous into admitting he killed his son? Fair enough to keep up a charade to frighten the man into submission, but to accuse us of being mad is jolly well unfair!

Aldous : [Glaring at Harvey] Scare me into submission? I knew what your plan was all along... If you wish to stay in my house tonight to watch for something then I will allow it, but now, unless you have some legitimate reason for being on my premises, I suggest you remove yourself and your troop.

Alice : He's right Uncie, all the evidence does seem to point at there only being one lock, not two working in conjunction. Conjunction, Sr. Immaculata, it means two things doing the same thing at the same time. Or wait, two things at the same time doing two things, or maybe, at the same time as two things are happenning, two other things are doing something, yes, that's it. Anyway, there's a lot of talk of plans, what's our next step? Moe is dead, and all we know is that the same lock appeared in both places, on the night Moe was in jail, at your behest [looks vaguely at all the party]. Do we still think Moe did it?

Sr Immaculata: At the time, Moe was the most likely suspect, Alice. If Moe did have a part in these atrocities, which I believe he did, his soul is suffering in eternal damnation. I think Moes death tells us there is more than one evil-doer at work here. Possibly a whole gang! I still, however, would like the Doctor to examine all of us, including the Huxleys. I would also advise, Mr and Mrs Huxley, to drink your water from another source. I believe your water supply has been contaminated by the ``dark hand". That would explain the temporary frenzy which gripped certain members of our party. Only those who came in contact with your water were affected. [Immaculata blesses herself three times] Phili bless us and save us, but I fear this towns troubles have only just begun.

Laura : [Screaming] Poison! [Rushes to the nearest sink and begins spitting into it] We're all going to die!

Aldous : Might I remind you, sister, that our water comes from the same source as every one elses, from those infernal food parcels. Perhaps you might share your meagre portion with my family?

Alice : Crikey sister! The frenzy was part of an elaborate plot to beat the truth out of Aldous and throw him in jail!

[Enter AUBREY, looking rather agitated]
Aubrey : In the name of Phili! What is going on here? [Turning to Harvey] What on earth are you up to, sending this poor woman, still in her dressing gown, out into the street claiming that half the party have gone insane? As if we haven't enough trouble already. Anyway, why aren't you at the stables? Did you not get my message?

Alice : [Whispering to the rest of the party] Is this part of the plan? To keep confusing the issue?

Harvey: Well Alice the frenzy itself has clouded the whole issue of who was to do what, and indeed even what was to have supposed to have been done. [Flipping back through the note-pad, thunbing pages] locks..locks..hmmm! The trouble is I'm afraid only just beginning Mayor and madness may seem the least of our troubles! [Checking the pad again] Yes we should be at the stables but we're a bit behind this morning you see, what with the appearance of evil incarnate and his tightfistedness over locks we just haven't had time as yet. And of locks seeing as he was inconsiderate enough not to leave us one [pauses over this] what are we going to lure him out with? What will be the bait...decoy?[Turns to Aldous enquiringly] I hope your other son hasn't been too distressed by past experiances, has he?

Aldous : [Indignantly] I hope you're not suggesting that Trevor be used as a decoy!

Alice : We do have a lock - it was left on Buckley's caravan, remember?

Aubrey : [Very slowly] I asked if you had got my message about the stables. Please answer me, this has been a very trying day so far, one man dead, a child missing and now an attempted suicide, so just don't try my patience anymore.

Alice : [To the others] Perhaps we should offer him a refreshing glass of water?

Sr Immaculata: [To Aubrey] No one is trying your patience. How dare you insinuate such a thing! I am a vessel of Phili, after all, and believe me, deliberately trying peoples patience is not what we're here for. As for your message, you rude oik, no! I did not get your message in any manner or form. Besides, we've all had a trying morning, so please be so kind as to not take your foul mood out on us. May I suggest making a small donation to my convent as an act of contrition.

Aubrey : Perhaps it is not deliberate Sister, but it most certainly is trying. Much as I would like to discuss with you how it is a vessel such as yourself does not try people's patience but has no qualms about name calling, I do not have the time. As for that donation, sister, if I were to give you some coins it is not into your poor box I would stuff them, rather I would ... [Stops and takes a deep breath] All I asked was a simple question.

[Enter COLIN MURPHY, a young town guard]

Colin : [Breathless with excitement, and not noticing that he squashed Aubrey with the door as he swung it open] Colonel! Colonel! Come quickly, something terrible has happened - Frederick has killed himself!

Alice : M - O - O - N, that spells suicide.

Sr Immaculata: [Gasps with shock] Oh dear Phili, no! [Blesses herself shakily] Mr and Mrs Huxley, please excuse us. We must attend to this matter immediately! Oh, where will this all end? [Immaculata moves towards the door]

Harvey: Exactly Niece! I would not have warranted [shaking his head ruefully] that the boy would have had the wits for such an impetuous act. [Formally clicks his heels and nods] Mr and Mrs Huxley, until we meet again, Goodbye. [Turns swiftly after Immaculata] Lead on Sister we are with you. [Bellows back to Austin and Clint] You two fall into line... March...Double time! C'mon Colin don't be tardy, knavishness is in the air again and I for one do not believe that Frederick's hand was the willing one in this. Now how is your father bearing up?

Colin : He's not too good sir, but he knows that you'll look after him, and find whoever broke into the jail last night.

[Exit ALL]
---oOo---

End Of Scene

Act 2, Scene 4. Time : Saturday 10.45. The Stables.
[FREDERICK, ONAN ONANOFF, OFAN ONANOFF(ONAN's brother) and DOCTOR PROCTOR are here. Enter HARVEY, ALICE, CLINT, AUSTIN, COLIN and SISTER IMMACULATA.]

Onan : What is going on here? Poor Fred never hurt anyone in his life, and now this [waves his arms vaguely at Frederick] he's at the brink of death. Doctor, doctor, you must save him, you must!

Doctor Proctor : Mr. Onanoff, if it were the case that unabashed and unbridled enthusiasm in sufficient measure, volume and frequency could in some way aid a practitioner in the operation of an emergency tracheotomy your presence here would render the current situation a trivial nonevent, no more troublesome than the application of a phalangeal splint. However, as this is not the case, I would urge you to situate yourself with this scene well out of sight, preferably in another building.

Ofan : Come on, Onan, there's no point in going on and on at him, he's doing the best he can, lets wait up at the house.

Onan : Okay, I'll go in a second. [Turns to the party] You must find out who's responsible for doing this, Fred couldn't have done it, he just couldn't.

Harvey: [Closely examining the chair, ground and the rope] If we could have a little longer sirs, which one of you may I inguire found the luckless lad?

Onan : It was me who found him. Every Saturday morning he comes up to my house for breakfast at 10, when I didn't see him I came down to investigate, and I found him hanging here, I cut the rope and then removed the noose from around his neck [gestures to a pile of rope on the ground] he was still breathing so I got Doctor Proctor to come over - Doctor, will he be okay?

Doctor Proctor : [Sighs deeply] Mr. Onanoff, while your affection and concern are laudable, if not quite understandable, I must urge you to allow me to conduct my business - nay, my art, for, Mr. Onanoff, that is what it is, and I must be left undisturbed. Talk amongst yourselves quietly about trivial things if you must - but I have more important tasks at hand. Remember, as the painter Gaukard used to say in his native Swahili, ``Io lik hilipipip ot ui llwnfrstwd poer kidihip top".

Alice : A clock doesn't wear a cardigan?

Doctor Proctor : Admittedly, it loses something in its literal translation, however, I must plead with you once again, conduct your investigation with stealth, dexterity, guile, and, above all, silence.

Alice : [Holding up the noose which has been removed from around Fred's neck] Gosh, I never saw one of these before. Funny looking yokes, aren't they? Would anyone mind if I kept it as a souvenir?

Harvey: Of course not my dear but keep it safe, it is evidence after all. [Turning back to Onan] Look here my sign-language is rather poor so I'll only ask one question so as not to disturb the overworked doctor. Is Frederick proficient at all with rope, knots, latttices, clotheslines those sort of things? As the noose that my Niece is holding is of such shoddy workmanship that it would hardly keep aloft for any length of time a medium sized bedspread never mind Frederick. [Turning to face Procter] Correct me if I'm wrong Doctor but doesn't ``Io lik hilipipip ot ui llwnfrstwd poer kidihip top" mean a clock doesn't need a cardigan. Well speaking for the cardigans if you would like us to wait outside until you have finished all you have to do is say so!

Doctor Proctor : [Turning angrily to Harvey] Sir it does not! Perhaps a long weekend at the ``Tourist Dream beach" in Swaziland and a half hour at Madam Hanganzins crash course in Swahili is enough to impress frightened cadets, incarcerated prisoners or even those who for some reason choose to dine with you, but it does not impress me. I do not mind if you wish to talk with the Onanoffs here, it does not bother me if you discuss the matter amongst yourselves and I am not hampered by your searching for clues. However, if I am to save this boy's life I cannot be stopped every other minute to inform Onan that I do not yet know if he will survive, I cannot answer questions on the nature of the accident, but most of all, I hold this strange notion that it is more important to try and perform my medical magic, maybe making my man healthy than to debate the semantics of Swahili. Furthermore, Colonel, you are wrong.

Harvey: And Madam Hanganzin did come highly recommended! Oh ``caveat emptor, Let the buyer beware". I guess that's [baffled, to Alice] what he does want though I cannot see why he shilly-shallied about it if he didn't want to talk after all! So Mr. Onanoff was he good with rope?

Onan : Not particularly. [Taking the rope from Alice] See this part here?

Doctor Proctor : [Turning to Harvey, with a scalpal in his hand, whispers something only Harvey can hear. Harvey does not reply but pauses for a minute before turning to Onan.]

Onan : [Holding up the knot for all to see] This is the kind of thing Fred would tie, it would hold alright, but not tighten, see? [Pulls on the loop of the noose to demonstrate]

Clint : Did anyone see poor Freddy earlier? Maybe last night or this morning? Did anyone see anyone ever talk to him, besides dealings with horses?

Onan : Fred spoke to everyone, and everyone loved him. He was the purest person I know and never had an enemy.

Alice : I don't think Moe was too keen on him... Maybe, just maybe, Moe quietly stole out of the prison last night [runs out of the stable and shuts the door. She continues speaking outside but her voice is muffled. The door of the stable slowly opens] ... the door, crept inside [runs to a nearby beam] fiendishly took some rope, sidled across the room [dashes from pillar to pillar] until he was up to the poor unfortunate Fred and grabbed him from behind with the rope, excuse me Uncle [throws some rope over Harvey] choked the poor boy and strung him up from the ceiling. How's that for a theory?

Clint : That might work, but [yanks on the rope a little bit] you'd have to pull harder. [Let's go of the rope] Also I don't think he would have just let Moe hang him. He might be stupid, but not totally deranged... I don't think.

Sr Immaculata: A fascinating and enlightened theory, Alice. But I do think you've made your point, as far as strangling your uncle is concerned. In the name of all things good and chaste, please desist before we have another death on our hands. Incredibly, I agree with young Alice. I belive foul play has been a factor here. And by Phili, I'll find them out. [Turns to Doctor Procter] Docter, I'm trained in the art of healing. Don't hesitate to ask if you think I can help out.

Doctor Proctor : [Developing a slight twitch] Good sister, while there is no doubt good intentions behind your offer of help, despite my, at first, instruction, in the second instance request, and in the final instance, imprecation for silence, it is unlikely that after four years studying physiology, two years tracheomety surgery, and a further year under the instruction of Professor Dinan and the National Institute for Reanimation, Strangulation and Reverse Felo-De-Se, not to mention certificates in Rope Burning Remedies, Spinal Injuries, Vertebrae Manipulation and Cookery, a nun who once applied a bag of ice to a childs eye will be of any assistance. Other, of course, than remaining quiet as I have asked on numerous occasions.

Colin : [Looking around] Strange that he didn't leave a suicide note, isn't it?

Harvey: [Choiiillll- his nodding brought to an end by a mock choking noise before removing the rope] Very vivid Alice dear [chuckles] I see those dramatic arts classes in that school of yours has given you a flair for the theatric. But if Moe killed Frederick how did he escape from the jail? and why then did he return there to do himself in or be done in? Unless Harold was surprised I cannot see why that old redoubtable would have done it. Having fled why risk returning at all, [gestures] for the alibi, surely Harold would have known that he had been away? Anyway its twice the risk, breaking out and then back in again! More likely that Moe was murdered by persons or person as yet unknown who thought he knew too much. An accomplice or blackmailer maybe. Remember we did find the body in Moe's cellar. The self same person might have also targeted Frederick for the same reason. Fear of exposure.

Colin : There's no way he could have got out of the jail with Dad there. No, I don't think Moe was involved in this, it was surely by his own hand.

Alice : Perhaps Moe was innocent and not involved at all? Could that not have happened? Perhaps he went back into the jail to prove his innocence and Harold ``No Feet" Murphy flew into a rage upon finding out what happened and beat him senseless?

Colin : [Shouting] That's impossible! My father didn't do it.

Harvey: There... there [roughly thumps Colin's back in comfort]...don't upset yourself Colin of course your father is innocent! Alice manners please. Anyway why would he have to break out of jail in the first place if he wasn't going to confront Frederick, surely not to prove his innocence. Again it is probably more likely that Moe did not return because he did not leave at all but was assaulted in his cell in spite of a heroic stand by Harold, I'll wager. Now lad [turns back to Colin] stiff upper lip and don't be getting yourself all excited.

Alice : [Lower lip protruding] Don't scold me uncle - I was just trying to give a suggestion.

Colin : Well it was a stupid suggestion - he surely committed suicide, I bet there's a note here somewhere.

Clint : Well, until you find a note it's the only suggestion we can go on! So quit bitchin' and look.

Sr Immaculata: Mr Scar! Language please! You're only digging your own tunnel to Hell, I hope you know. ``For he who doth profain, does dig, dig, dig the Highway to Hell!", as it says in the Good Book! Now, about the question of a suicide note. Correct me if I'm [ahem] wrong, but I seem to remember that the poor lad was unable to string two sentences together, let alone write! I still believe, now I'm not pointing my finger at anyone, that foul play was involved. I will pray to Phili for guidance in this most trying of circumstances. [Pauses momentarily] I can't stop wondering if the cold presence last night in the Huxley house, and now the attempted murder here are somehow connected?

Colin : [Searching frantically around the stable, before turning indignantly to Sr. Immaculata] Attempted murder? Rubbish! Surely if someone wanted to kill him they would have tied a knot better than something a four year old could have come up with. What's that you say about him not being able to write? Surely he could spell a few words?

Onan : The good sister is right - I tried to teach him to write myself, but to no avail. Several of the towns folk also helped, but no one could get him to write anything more than

``Leslie is a girls name"

Why? I don't know, I don't even know anyone called Leslie.

Alice : Well, [Looking balefully at Colin who has resumed his search] I think Sister Macker is right about it being an attempted murder, and I just bet that Colin Murphy did it!

Colin : What?

Alice : Why else would you be so frantic about finding a suicide note that you planted here?

Colin : Rubbish, I was only looking to see if there was a note, obviously there's not.

Austin: [Awakens from his reverie, and seems poised to deliver yet another soliloquy] Do you never sit to ponder the thoughts of what may have passed through Frederick's mind? Burning questions must be answered, but time is never spent reflecting what may have caused such a tragedy. Pressure from work, his inability to advance his communication skills. My, I'd be tempted to do the same, where I as plain as he. Four deaths, for we must assume both the boy and the girl are surely dead, in such a short space of time. What does it all mean? Notice how the people that we question, seem to be forced to give up the ghost by curious forces. Who knew that we questioned Moe - for it is obvious that he did not die by his own hand. Some person is afraid that he may have revealed too much. But the death of this young man saddens me - I shall miss his constant Mooning. [Stops as if finished, then produces a piece of paper, obviously concealed in his left hand] Oh, I found this. [Shows it around].

SORY FOR ALL THE TROBBLE I COZED - IT WAS ME WHO BEET UP MOE MOE LAST NIGHT. I COODINT LIV WITH THE GILT.

FREDERICK.

Colin : Well, I guess you were all wrong - he could write after all, maybe he had advanced his communications skills.

Alice : Don't forget Aussie, Fred's not dead yet - Doc Proc's legendary medical ability could preserve him yet, at least, that's what Doctor Proctor said.

Harvey: An acutely perceptive observation Private, [glancing at the note] well this certainly appears to exhonerate Harold completely now doesn't it young Colin. [Turns back to Onan] Oh but what a strapping lad he must be to break into the gaol, overcome a campaign hardened veteran and then rough up Moe so. The boy must be as strong as an ox, [thoughtfully adding] phenomenal indeed!

Onan : [Indignantly] He was as strong as an ox, but there's no way he would have done such a thing.

Alice : I still think that Colin did it - to frame Fred for the crime his father committed.

Colin : Colonel! Make her stop, you know that's not true.

Doctor Proctor : While I cannot guarantee the survival or otherwise of the patient, I have temporarily attached some epidermal strands, removed from lower thigh, through the aryepiglottic region using the standard glossoepiglottidean technique, these strands effectively reroute the locution through this handy toilet roll insert I found lying around, back to the rear cranials and through the tongue. [Steps back from Fred, looking pleased with himself.] Keep your questioning short, this is only a temporary solution.

Fred : Can't take it any more, M - O - O - N, that spells Cooooaaahhh [Tails off]

Harvey: [Draws out the notebook] Coo... C-O-O-A-A-A..H...or maybe T or a stiffled A or many A's. No [scribing furiously] It doesn't make much sense. It might as well be M-O-O-N for all that it can tell us. [Turns back to Colin] Now lad remember what I said, calm. Look Alice would a sample of the lads' handwriting serve to convince you that he had no part in this [clearly pained by her persistance]. If so Colin is ready to do so, aren't you Colin?

Colin : Certainly [Scribbles on a blank page in the Troop note pad]

[HARVEY displays the page, it reads ``I am innocent and didn't do anything to this person who obviously committed suicide". FRED's note looks like a four year old wrote it, while COLIN's is normal handwriting]

Alice : This is a farce! The kind of countrified justice that led the Queen's View One to his death - Cooaahlin here obviously disguised his writing when forging the note.

Sr Immaculata: [Angrily] Lords sake, Harvey. Now is our chance to ask the poor lad [indicates Frederick] some questions. This nonsense can be sorted out at a later time. [Moves over to Frederick and holds his hand] Frederick, you poor thing, who did this to you? Who was it?

Clint : Alice, would you be so kind as to stop pointing random fingers! You might poke out someone's eye. Why don't we check your handwriting as well... Why don't we check everybodies handwriting? Not that it'll matter.

Alice : [Aggressively jabbing fingers around] Speak up Fred, tell us how Colin came in and strung you up like some plucked chicken, come on, spit it out.

Fred : Co - co - co - col - col - cohooooaaah

Doctor Proctor : He has lost consciousness again, and it will be several hours before he will be able to communicate again. [Turns to Ofan and Onan] Perhaps you would be so kind as to bring him to my surgery.

[Exit DOCTOR PROCTOR, and OFAN AND ONAN ONANOFF carrying FREDERICK]

Sr Immaculata: [Watches the others leave the stables.] I think Frederick was trying to say ``Cold". Perhaps he was referring to the cold presence which the Huxleys felt last night. I can't stop thinking that these two events are related. Tell me, does anyone know who Fredericks parents were, or how he came to be living here in a stable?

Harvey: It could have been that he merely wanted a cola [suggesting helpfully] you know the choice of a new generation. [Adding] I hear it is very good. No sister haven't got the foggiest but I'm sure one of the Onanoff's would. [Pauses, before continuing] Anyway Colin we're much obliged for that sample of writing of yours, exhonerates you completely I'm sure we'll all...well [grumpily] nearly all agree. As if there was any doubt [chortles aloud].

Colin : [Nodding viciously in agreement with Harvey] That's right - that cola sure is tasty, particularly when its cold, sister. I'd say he was hoping for a refreshing, ice-cold cola, to sooth his sore throat and pick him up a bit.

Alice : [Glaring at Harvey] I fail to see what is so funny, uncle. Is this the way justice normally works in this town? Throw an innocent man into jail but allow a clearly guilty one to go free because he's a town guard.

Colin : [Ignoring Alice] Sister, you surely know that Fred is an orphan. Onan Onanoff allows him to live here for free as he has no money at all. No one ever knew who his father was, but since his mother died, Onan has looked after him. You remember his mother, don't you Sister? Mad Alice they used to call her.

Sr Immaculata: [Thinks for a moment] Mad Mary! That's who his mother was. With all thats been going on these last few days...yes, now I remember perfectly. A sad tale, no doubt about it. [Looks at Harvey] I don't think Frederick was looking for some Cool, or whatever the name of that silly drink is. And I still don't believe Frederick tried to kill himself. Simply because I don't think that Frederick had the ablilty to make a noose.

Harvey: You have the right of it Sister. Most likely the person who tried to string up Frederick also attacked Moe in his cell, and again [with emphasis] I do not believe that it could hve been either of the Murphys.' [Looking around] As there is nothing further for us here should we not go and see Harold and hear what he has to say about the events of last night. [Adding] And anyway what is so compellingly clear that makes Moe innocent and Colin or Harold quilty? Again what motive could he have had? Vengence! It is precisely that both are town guards that makes that hard to accept. My God Alice these are trained professionals and not given to outbursts of emotion [becoming emotional] and loss of discipline. It grieves me no end that you have seemingly neither faith or respect in those whose sworn duty is our protection.

Alice : I have as much faith as Moe Moe did. I bet Harold did it and Colin tried to cover it up by attacking poor Fred.

[Exit ALL]
---oOo---

End Of Scene

Act 2, Scene 5. Time : Saturday 11.30. The Covent.
[ALICE, CLINT, AUSTIN, HARVEY and IMMACULATA are here, waiting in a small room. Enter SR MARY MOUSTACHE and SR MARY BEARD, struggling beneath the weight of a large box. They put it on a table before sprinkling some holy water on Austin.]

Sr Mary Moustache : Sr. Immaculata, here is all the material that remains from young Fred's stay with us.

Sr Mary Beard : God Bless the young lad.

Sr Mary Moustache : As you might remember, it was Sr. Mary Armpit who looked after the lad for the most part.

Sr Mary Beard : God rest her soul.

Sr Mary Moustache : However, I did help her in a few small ways, so I am familiar with the boy.

Sr Mary Beard : God bless the hands of Doctor Proctor in his attempt to aid young Frederick.

Sr Mary Beard : There is quite a lot of material left over, much of it of quite a personal nature, so I would appreciate it if the others [looks at Austin] would ask about the contents rather than rummaging through them in much the same way as a thief in the night rummages through a chapel looking for a chalice.

Sr Mary Beard : God save us and protect us from thieves in the night.

Sr Immaculata: Blesses herself and nods her head at the two nuns] Ah sisters, sure isn't God wonderful! [Glances with a knowing look at Austin] And isn't it a pity we don't all try to emulate his great deeds. But now, to business. Tell me Sister Mary, and of course, Sr Mary...are there any examples of the poor childs [blesses herself] handwriting, contained within that box there.

Sr. Mary Beard : Ah the poor child - writing was never his thing. He hated it with a passion. There are a few sribbles - Sr. Mary Moustache, if you wouldn't mind? [Sr. Mary Moustache rummages through the box] Now, knots, that was another case altogether, young Fred always had a thing for knots.

[SR. MARY MOUSTACHE holds a sample of FREDs writing up to the note, the two are very different, FREDs is far more childish]
Sr. Mary Moustache : God Bless us and save us, a forgery!

Alice : [Under her breath] Planted by Colin, no doubt.....

Clint : Alice. Is there something you should tell us about Colin? Did he throw himself on you in a fit of passion or, [looks her up and down] maybe he refused your fit of passion? Why is it that you are so desperate to fit the blame on the poor man? Vengeance? Maybe you just don't like him. Well?

[Upon hearing the lurid and, somewhat unnecessarily graphic term, ``fit of passion", SRs MARY MOUSTACHE and BEARD sprinkle some holy water on CLINT and bless themselves]
Alice : Look, Mr. Clunk, no one threw anyone on anyone anytime. It just seems remarkable to me that Cooaahlin here should be so keen to find a suicide note when we came in, when no one else expected to find one. And no, I don't like him.

Harvey: [Furiously] You bounder, how dare you slander my Niece so. [Moving towards Clint] Her opinion of Colin Murphy, and their relationship or lack of one, is her corncern not yours. Alice's breeding and character are that of a Lady and above reproach, unlike yours. You insult her, demean me and offend the Sisters here with your viperous tongue. Apologise now unreservedly [squaring up to him, fists clenched] or it will not be a sprinkling you will be getting, but a trouncing!

Sr. Mary Moustache : [Liberally dousing Harvey with holy water] Out! Out vile demon that has taken control of this man, out!

Sr. Mary Beard : God save the Colonel from whatever has possessed him.

Sr. Mary Moustache : There'll be no fisticuffs in this convent - its bad enough that we have to have an unrepentant thief [glances at Austin] but to have a brawl - this is unacceptable.

Austin : [Examines Maplin thoughtfully before rounding on Sr. Mary Moustache vehemently] Have you no forgiveness in your soul for a poor simple man who mistakenly wanders into a room and picks up a cup to try and have a simple drink of water? What kind of religious organisation sponsors such bitterness? Frankly, your hypocrisy makes me ill - such ugly behaviour is an offense to my beauty, I cannot be in your presence any longer.

[Exit AUSTIN in a flurry of whirling arms and coat tails]

Clint : [Looking at Harvey with an amused smirk] Alice's breeding? She's good, I didn't even see her skirt move.

Alice : That's because I'm not wearing a skirt, Mr. Clunk! [She is of course]

Sr Immaculata: Mr Scar! Must I remind you that this is a house of God! Your manners are unbecoming of the lowliest of single celled lifeform. Pray, keep your silence! [Turns to the two nuns, an exasperated look on her face] See, sisters! See what I must put up with? [Turns back to the party] It is my opinion that Frederick knew, or saw something that he should not have. Probably something to do with the young Huxleys abduction. This is why the evil one tried to kill him also. Lord bless us and save us from It's clutches.

Sr. Mary Beard : Amen.

Harvey: [Shakes the water off his tunic] Unacceptable is right but there will be no correction administered indoors, you can rest easy on that score, Sister. Now apologise or else step outside!

Clint : Why should I apologize? You said she was breeding and I disagreed. If anyone should apologize it is you, for accusing your own blood of breeding in a house of Phili. I did no more than bring the truth to light.

Alice : I think this is all a big misunderstanding. Uncle Harvey meant breeding as in family, not as in the taking of air into one's lungs, as Clunt seems to have thought. No one really meant any harm, nor to suggest that I was having sex or something.

Sr. Mary Beard : Shriek! [Blesses herself] God bless us and save us from such language!

Alice : Oh, sorry, its just that if some of the other terms for copulating-

Sr. Mary Beard : Shriek! [Blesses herself] God bless us and save us from such language!

Alice : Such as screwing-

Sr. Mary Beard : Shriek! [Blesses herself] God bless us and save us from such language!

Alice : Fucking-

Sr. Mary Beard : Shriek! [Blesses herself] God bless us and save us from such language!

Alice : Porking-

Sr. Mary Beard : Shriek! [Blesses herself] God bless us and save us from such language!

Alice : Or even the bizarre, ``bumping uglies" -

[Exit SR. MARY BEARD and SR. MARY MOUSTACHE, screaming and blessing themselves]

Alice : Were used, then the misunderstanding wouldn't have occured. [Notices the absence of the two nuns] Was it something I said?

Sr Immaculata: [Obviously outraged] In Philis name, you stupid little brat! ``Was it something I said?" ``Was It Something I Said?" Was it something I said? How dare you, you, you dense, airheaded, moron! Frederick looks positively power-brained next to you. [Looks, wild-eyed at Harvey] And it's obvious which side of the family she gets it from. [Immaculata moves very close to Harvey] I've studied larvae with better social graces than you! And they were dead! You are the biggest buffoon I've ever come across. A soldier? [Laughs sarcastically] You couldn't even dip one in an egg! And definitely not forgetting Mr Scar, here. [Swings around to face him] I wouldn't tinkle on you if you were on fire, you embarrasment to all things on two legs! Slime back to your pond, leech! [Immaculata picks up the box containing Fredericks things and opens the door] How dare you all embarrass me before members of my order. Leave before you defile this holy place with your rotten souls. You know the way out.

[Exit SR IMMACULATA, slamming the door behind her.]
Alice : [Timidly] Do you think she's upset at something?
[Exit ALL]
---oOo---

End Of Scene

Act 2, Scene 6. Time : Saturday 11.30. The Prison.
[HAROLD ``NO FEET" MURPHY, COLIN MURPHY and AUBREY are here. MOE's body is on the floor, his skull crushed almost beyond recognition. The cell door is open but there doesn't appear to be any damage done to the cell window.]

Harold : Honestly, Mr. Mayor, that's just how it happened, I was asleep on my bunk when the room suddenly became freezing cold. I stayed in the bunk for a small while longer, then I heard a terrible scream from Moe's cell, when I got down there he was dead.

[Enter HARVEY, ALICE and CLINT]
Harvey : [To Harold] Hail old man, how are you bearing up?

Aubrey : Where are the others?

Alice : Would you believe that their constant bickering was merely the fallout of the extreme sexual tension between them? That they have repaired to a secret inner sanctum within the convent to bump uglies?

Aubrey : No.

Alice : Well, would you believe there was a big argument and hardly anyone is talking to each other anymore?

Aubrey : Sadly, I find that all too easy to believe.

[Enter SR. IMMACULATA and AUSTIN. AUSTIN looks extremely happy but SR. IMMACULATA appears very angry.]
Aubrey : Ah, sister, I see you made it.

Clint : I think the first option would probably do them more good. [Looks at what's left of Moe] Ouch, that had to hurt.

Aubrey : Apparantly not that much. Doctor Proctor said that his head had been bashed at least five times against the wall and that-

Alice : Shriek! Someone attacked Doc Proc?!?

Aubrey : [Continues, unphased by the interruption] ...the first blow killed him instantly, such was the ferocity of the attack. There was also something about the sub-cranial tissue damage, but that makes about as much sense as Harvey's claim that the party are insane.

Austin: Pain. Ye know not the meaning of pain. I have seen such suffering in my short life - relatives of innocent victims slaughtered down in cold blood, by bloodlustful beings that possessed not an ounce of humanity. Witnessing someone drink cold ChilledBloom, on a winter's day - a cause for a bleeding heart. I would say that Moe here saw little that would befit the description of pain. [Pirouettes spritely to face Sister Immaculata, and continues with his sly smile] My good sister, it would be fitting for one of your occupation ot perform some kind of ceremony or ritual, at this present time, that is if you can remove yourself from your constant bickering for a few moments in time.

Sr Immaculata: [Grits her teeth for a moment] You do not need to tell me my duties, Sleaze. I'm well aware of the tasks my Order perform. All too aware. So pray, keep your unwanted advice unto yourself, unless it is of interest to either the case, or the party. Yes, the man is dead, but I cannot and will not perform any kind of [scathingly] ceremony or ritual on the body of a suspected child murderer. ``For only the innocent or repentent shall be granted absolution and welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven" Chapter 14, parable 340, I think you'll find. Until Moes innocence in this matter is proven, his spirit shall not be blessed. [Immaculata sniffs disdainfully]

Alice : Maybe he was repentant? Maybe in an effort to make peace with the big P he bounced his sconce off the wall - that's the kind of thing religion is about, isn't it? [Looks inquiringingly at Sr. Immaculata] Banging your head against a brick wall?

[Enter DOCTOR PROCTOR]
Doctor Proctor : Following my ministrations and the fortuitous lack of young Fredericks ability in all things filamentary and funicular, the patient will survive. Furthermore, following your failure to question the lad owing to an obviously important discussion about Cola, I thought it prudent to inquire into the cause of his predicament before putting him under sedation. Frederick affirms that it was indeed an attempt at suicide -

Colin : [Excitedly] See?!? See, I told you so!

Doctor Proctor : His act was brought about by a terrible fear upon feeling a [reads from a medical pad] ``Cold and horrible thing that came through the stable - M O O N, that spells ghost", apparantly.

Colin : Well, I'm glad we got that sorted out, okay, I think I'll head home with Dad now.

Doctor Proctor : One curious thing - Frederick was so overcome with fear at the presence of this ``Moonghost" he didn't attempt to bequeath any posthumous messages - he felt the same presence the night William Huxley disappeared and somehow became convinced that another child would be buried beneath the tavern.

Alice : So, what you're saying is that not only is Fred too stupid to kill himself, he's also too stupid to write a suicide note?

Doctor Proctor : Perhaps not syntactically, but the semantics are reasonably close - in the same way M O O N is close to ghost. But you are correct, Frederick did not write the note in question.

Sr Immaculata: Perhaps then, we should take another look in Moe's cellar. And Phili save us if we discover young Elizabeths body there. [To Colin] Tell me, who has keys for these cells? Apart from your trustworthy selves, of course.

Harvey: Well Sister, I don't think that if we are dealing with some vaporous wraith that we can simply just lock it up in the cells here. We will have to come up with something a bit more powerful than that to deal with it. In the army we didn't used to have much dealings with ghosts, thankfully what! What with all those battles, if all those blighters wanted to come back to whinge about this and that you'd never get a moments peace. Completely unsporting I think, shouldn't be allowed at all at all. When you're dead you should stay dead!

Alice : I'm sure Moe will oblige.

Colin : As the colonel will tell you sister - there are two copies of the keys for each cell, the one the guards have access to [points to a group of keys hanging from Harold's belt] which whoever is on duty holds, and the other keys are locked into the safe over there. The only people who know the combination to the safe are the Colonel and the Mayor.

Austin: Beware what you say, young man, as you tread upon treacherous ground. Who then was upon duty as of last night, when Moe's lifeforce was so brutally quenched? Do the keys still remain in the safe - and how is it you know so much about what goes on here? [Points a finger at Colin] You are yet a suspect in this case, and must provide a sound alibi as to your whereabouts for each and every slaying that has happened in the recent hours. Indeed you have written a note, but with your stronger arm I am sure. Prove to me thou art not capable of writing a similar note with your weaker hand, and demonstrating that it is not at all similar to the childish scribble of the note that was clearly not written by Fredrick. [Switches his gaze upon the Colonel] Would you oblige me, and open that safe - and verify that the keys are in fact in there proper place, were we might find a clue - perhaps leading again to another possible suspect - that of the two-faced thiever who's experience in locks may allow him to open such a safety box with relative ease. [Ponders a few seconds, slowly tracing a thoughtful finger up and down his left arm] And does the good sister or Alice, or whoever had that cursed lock that appears upon each attack, still remain in possession of said item? These are questions that must be answered, before we may apprehend the culprit of destruction.

Clint : [After a pause to make sure that Austin has finished] Yeah! What he said.

Harvey: Oooh Austin, lets not rake all over that old ground again. It has already been clearly established that the Constables Murphy have been guilty of nothing but the commendable exercise of their duty, under trying circumstances I might add. So can we finally leave it to rest so to speak. Now on the other hand your other suggestion has some merit...some merit indeed. I do not see the harm in opening the safe if only to allay suspicions, if it will, of that pedantic Locksmith. So if you will all kindly avert your eyes, I will open it..now!

Colin : [Indignantly to Austin] Of course I know about the key system, I'm a town guard, I work here!

Alice : [Waving the lock from Buckley's around angrily] Uncle Harvey, you have proved nothing of the sort - I agree with Aussie, that forgererererer Colin is involved in this. [Prods Harvey in the back with the lock] Eh? Eh?

[From without comes the sound of a noisy crowd]
Harvey : [Spinning around from the safe] Confound it child! It is difficult enough to enter this combination, but with your infernal prodding it is impossible - and what is that noise outside? [Shouts out the window] Keep it down out there, man on a mission in here. [Attempts to open the safe again]

[Harvey opens the safe. The crowd outside make angry noises, they are clearly protesting about something - it is difficult to hear them distinctly, but words such as ``Our children", ``Kidnapping", ``Fear" and ``Is Moe's beer really made out of piss?" are wafting into the prison. Some of the crowd have placards - demanding protection. Harvey stands back for all to see into the safe, which is about 3' by 3'. There are a set of keys hanging inside there, but also, crushed into the safe is the body of a child, badly decomposed. The room is lit up by another flash of lightening. Doctor Proctor rushes to the body and performs a quick inspection]

Doctor Proctor : [Gravely] I don't know how to explain this - but I can say with roughly 97% certainty that this is the body of Elizabeth Buckley. From the advanced state of decay - strikingly similar to the advanced shrinking of endo- and exo-skeletal material of the Huxley child - I would have to say that this body appears to have been decaying for perhaps 10 weeks, if not more.

Harvey: [Staggers backwards, hand across his mouth] Oh my god the stench. This is too much...just too much! This malevolent creature is just leading us around by the nose and sneering. Visitations from the damned we are simply not equiped to deal with. Good Sister, [looks imploringly to Immaculata] is there aryone in your order who has experiance of ghouls and such fell creatures?

Clint : [Waving away the stench] Well there's an interesting thought. Does anybody know of anyone who died about ten weeks ago, and maybe had a particular dislike of children? [To the outside] Shut your fucking pieholes!

Sr Immaculata: [Blesses herself and looks briefly at Clint] A fell creature? None but for Mr Scar, here. Now please do not disturb me while I bless this poor childs remains. [Immaculata kneels before the safe and begins praying]

Harvey: So, there is no real expert we can call on so. Ah well...in the firing line without any armour so to speak. Its going to be a bit sticky ...what! Anyway [continuing] carry on Sister...carry on [steps back to give her more room, blessing himself].

[Enter LENIN BUCKLEY]

Lenin : Snekov's shroud! What is that stench?

Aubrey : [Ashen faced] We've found another body...

Lenin : That's just what I want to talk to you about - the people are getting restless outside, we want to know just what the hell is going on at the moment - it's bad enough that we're all kept in the dark about what that damned cloud means, that no one explains where those blasted food parcels come from, but now there's some madman kidnapping children and you bastards still won't explain what's going on - well, let me tell you Mr Mayor and all you good people, the townsfolk aren't going to take any more of your shit!

Aubrey : But we don't know anything!

Lenin : [Looks around at the party] And I'm expected to go outside to an angry mob and tell them that? Dream on...

[There's a loud cheer from outside, ALICE goes to the window to investigate]

Alice : Oh no! This is too awful - they've just set fire to Moe's Tavern, no more beer!

Lenin : [Scowling at the dumbstruck party] That's just the start of it! The people know that Frederick is involved in this cover up, so they're going to go to the stables next, and if Fred hasn't got a good explanation about his involvement then they'll torch that too!

Doctor Proctor : My good man, young Fred is recuperating at the surgery, he is not physically able to give an explanation - perhaps not mentally either.

Lenin : That's hardly a good excuse.

[Outside can be heard cries of ``To the stables!"]
Clint : [To Lenin] Well deal! Now go outside an... [turns to Alice] ...no beer? [Sits down slowly]

Sr Immaculata: [Rises from her knees, her face as dark as a thundercloud. She walks purposefully to the window.] Stop right where you are! Are you, or are you not the chosen of Phili? Have you all not avowed to lead sinless and righteous lives? Have you not being instructed in the Good Book since you were all old enough to hear? Yet you decide to throw your better judgement out of the window and leap to frenzied violence! [She is almost screaming with rage by now] Let me tell you this, people. He who lights the fire shall live for eternity in fire! Now, in the name of Phili, return to your homes. It is a confusing time for all of us! Can't you see? This destructive behaviour is playing into the enemys hands! Next you will all be praying to the Dark One! Is that what you want? Because if it is, you are all doomed! [Immaculata picks out random faces in the crowd] For shame, Mr Tunic. Only yesterday you were praying in church! And Mr Ryan. Is this how you repay Phili for giving you your life? Go home and protect your children. They need you now, far more than Lenin Buckley needs a lynch mob! Your children need you!

Ryan : What about the other children? Their parents tried to protect them and look what happened! Who's to say that won't happen to one of my six daughters and eight sons?

Tunic : Praying, sister? Huxley prayed, didn't he? And Brendan Buckley, well, maybe he didn't, but Huxley sure did, and look what happened to his child!

[The mob continue to argue amongst themselves, before suddenly moving apart as though making space for something coming from the stables to pass through the crowd, they fall silent. The prison suddenly becomes freezing cold.]

Aubrey : [Pushing Immaculata out of the way] Don't listen to her! The town is filled with evil - we must burn it out of the town, starting with the stables, then check your neighbour, who is harbouring the evil one, is it you Tunic? Is that why you were praying so hard in the church, for forgiveness? [The crowd mumble angrily at Tunic] And you, Ryan! We all heard how Phili supposedly gave you your life after you fell out of that tree, how can we be sure that you didn't sign a pact with the devil and trade your soul for that of our children, you bastard! [Some of the crowd start pushing Ryan around] Fourteen children you have, an unnatural brood, even for a religious man!

Crowd : Hang them! Hang them!

Aubrey : [Getting carried away] Burn the evil out of the town, burn it out I say!

Sr Immaculata: [Gapes open mouthed at the Mayor for a moment or two. A vein in her throat begins to visibly pulse] How dare you! How...dare...you! If you ever lay a hand upon me again, you'll be the sorriest man alive! Do you understand me? This is the final straw, it really is. [She turns to the rest of the party] Not only do we have to endure slights from certain members of the community, now we have to listen to the evil dribblings of this utter madman. You sir, are the lowliest piece of filth I've ever set my eyes upon. You are an evil sinner and are damned to Hell! There can be no redemption for such a blatant abuse of your power. ``Burn the evil" you say? Start by setting fire to yourself, you dirty little belzebub! What do you say to that, tricky little man?

Aubrey : [Lands a fine punch on Sr. Immaculata's nose] More evil - once we've the stables done it's on to the convent!

[IMMACULTATA falls to the ground]
Crowd : Hurrah!

[The crowd proceed to set fire to the stables]
Aubrey : [Turns to the party] Catch me if you can! [Jumps onto a table, stands for a moment, and then slumps and falls to the floor, on top of Sister Immaculata]

Alice : [Jumping on top of the two] Got him!

[The room suddenly warms up again, and about ten seconds later, the fire in the stables burns incredibly brightly and then returns to the way it was before. AUBREY is now unconscious]
Harvey: When I said, things might get a little sticky from here on out, I didn't expect we would get the veritble king of all jaw-locking carmelised toffees! [Moves to the tangle of bodies] Well done Alice but I think you can get up off him now. I don't think he will be troubling anyone for a while. [To Procter] Medic...you're needed! [barking] Harold, fetch some buckets, we may have time to save the stables, Colin turn out the rest of the guard and quickly, we will need them if the mob moves on the compound. Are you all right Sister?

Proctor : How kind of you to advise me of my duties Colonel, otherwise I would surely have left the pair of them on the floor. [Examines the two] Nothing broken, although Sr. Immaculata appears to be in a state of shock, perhaps a kind word from a sympathetic female may be of help?

Alice : [Slapping Immaculata on the face] C'mon Immac, snap out of it, you're not the first woman to have a baby!

Proctor : Perhaps we might just let her rest. Our good mayor appears to be in a coma, I can do nothing for him right away.

Harold : Harvey, there's practically nothing left of the stables, but I'll take some men, a few horses and a couple of water pistols from the gun cupboard and defend the convent, but I have to wonder if we can defeat the evil that must lie inside it.

[Exit HAROLD and COLIN]
Alice : Golly, what do we do now? What happens if the angry mob comes back here?

[IMMACULATA begins slapping the unconscious AUBREY with her ruler]
Alice : [Attempting to stop her] Sister, behave yourself! This is hardly the manner in which to behave yourself - two children are dead, there is an angry mob roaming the streets and my favourite bar has been burnt down - get a grip!

[The fire in the stables seems to have died down. There seems to be very little left but the shell]
Harvey: We'll stand our ground, as simple as that, Alice. I'm not going to let some rough and ready mob led by that Pinko thrash this gaol...no way! Anyway I do not think they will be back for awhile so we have time to decide what to do. As we won't be fleeing [doesn't look round to check if there are any objections] our chioces are simple; we can wait for them here, and spend the time making the building defendable, or we can go to them. They outnumber us of course and their numbers would in the end swamp us, so, our best tactical option may lie in following after Harold where there are more men, water, a sounder structure in the Convent itself, and the use of horses should it prove untenable and we have to make a withdrawal. The only question it seems to me is what do we do with the Mayor? If he recovers consciousness I'm in favour of using him, unless he is overcome again, as we'll need every hand at the pump so to speak. If not I suggest we lock him in one of the cells until order is restored because he will only slow us down. Right lads whats it to be, time presses?

[The fire in the stables ceases completely, now it isn't even smouldering]
Aubrey : [Waking up] What happened? Where are the mob gone? What happened to the stables? Where are all the guards? Why is my ass so sore?

[From across the town the mob can be heard, it sounds as though a sizeable amount are about to come toward the prison]
Alice : Shriek! Is nowhere safe? The convent is gone, and now they're going to burn us out of here, what can we do?

[The prison falls silent as a large mob gathers around it - holding torches chanting ``Burn the evil ones "]

Aubrey : Will someone tell me what's going on? Sister, what on earth happened to your nose?

Sr Immaculata: You is what happened to my nose, Mr Mayor. You have incited the mob to evil. The convent has been raised to the ground! The convent! I just hope my sisters managed to escape in time. [Looks once more out the window] Oh Phili, what have we done to warrant your wrath?

Aubrey : You can't be serious! One minute I'm standing here steadfastly defending the jail - then...then...then it .. got .. cold?

Harvey: As I hope that my men managed to extricate themselves also . If they did no doubt they will be rallying to come here, but for the moment at any rate, if they did not perish, we must fend for ourselves. [Turning to Aubrey] You might try addressing the crowd again, and [mockingly], this time you might try to douse their enthusiasm for destruction rather than fanning it!

[From without comes a knock]
Alice : [Looking throught the peephole] It's Lenin Buckley - something about how the time of revolution has come, shall I let him in for a chat?

[There is a loud banging on the door, and from without comes the voice of LENIN BUCKLEY, ``Oh that's right - the bourgeoisie taking shelter in a monument to the forced control of the working class, how typical"]
Alice : [Looking out the window towards the convent] At least the convent isn't burning yet, it looks like Sr. Mary Beard is putting up a good fight with that ruler.

Harvey: Is he unarmed, on his own and holding a flag of truce, Niece?

Alice : I'm not sure, is a placard saying ``Down with the imperialist, oppresive, uncaring and useless so-called authorities who can't even find a child in a town hardly the size of a stamp, no, not foodstamp because these fascists are so well off they won't even know what a foodstamp looks like" a weapon? Phew! That's a big placard, I don't think he could fit it through the door.

Sr Immaculata: [Walks towards the door] What is your purpose, Mr Buckley? We can all hear you quite well from here! The door will remain fastened until we gauge your intent!

Lenin : I'm here as a representative of the commonfolk of the town - I want to come in and sort this whole thing out, perhaps now you'll listen to reason.

Harvey: [To Aubrey and the others] Well if you won't address the mob what is the harm Immaculata, in letting the pinko in, so long as he leaves his ego behind. Did you see the size of that clap-trap placard, enormous! Even if his ``reason" should be just as pompous and as longwinded, it will at least buy us some time and that is something. [strolls over to examine the walls again] Representative of the people indeed; leaders and men, well some lead and others are led [looks caustically at Aubrey]. My word, what does he want for this town ...[incredulously]...degenerate democracy!

Sr Immaculata: [To Harvey] Even you surprise me at times! As soon as that door is opened, do you think Mr Buckley will simply walk in, cap in hand? Do you? Or maybe it's possible, just possible, that the second the door is unlocked, that...mob is going to storm this house! They've tried to burn the convent. A place of Phili! A place of worship! Get that into your thick skull, you ballyhoo! [Immaculata blesses herself]

Lenin : Pshaw! How typical, an unelected religious type trying to run the town - even the unelected military dictator type can't stand up to her, where is the evidence of the democratic process? No wonder the common people of the town are rioting against the oppressive regime if this is the level of representation in Queens View today.

Aubrey : [Still clearly shaken] Er, seeing as I am the mayor, and seeing as he has offered to talk to us, perhaps we should let him in? If that's okay with everyone else, of course....[looks at the others for some reassurance]

Clint : [Removing his cigar with his left hand and blowing a ring of smoke at the mayor] Let the bastard in, and be quick about it. [Walks up to the door and speaks just loud enough for Buckley to hear] If you so much as breathe funny, I'll be happy to give you a new breathing hole in your neck [loudly unsheathing his sword].

Austin: [Pauses hesitatingly, as if for once unsure of himself, then slowly opens his mouth, shuts it again and finally settles to fondly, soothingly, stroking his left arm. Confidence restored, continues]. I am indeed surprised, Mr. Scar, that you are so eager to see the very person that you not so long ago attempted to cause injury to. I would verily warn you that he may have no kind word to utter in your direction, but then after that behaviour, nor would I. That is, needless to say, were you to require defense of a less physical nature - I hereby mean in a court of law - I would have all but the best to say on your behalf, fitting the financial compensation expected. As it stands now, however, you have naught that I seek, and so shall be expected to defend yourself from this wayward, verbose, and singularly obtuse Lenin. Bequeath unto him, that time which you yourself cannot stand to use for the verbal expression that is so unbecoming to a man of your extraction. [Addresses the party as a whole] Also try me not and protect me from physical abuse, for I have determined the cause of the children's mysterious disappearance, and would impart to you my latest theory of those cases, at the first available moment.

Alice : Aussie, you big silly! Clunt didn't have the punch up with Lenin, but with Brendan. I hope you have put more thought into your latest theory than into previous events. So lets hear it!

Doctor Proctor : Indeed, counseller Sleaze, I would be most interested to here you expound on your latest [pauses as though searching for a more suitable word] theory.

Lenin : [Still muffled a bit by the door] I can hear every word you're saying, you bastards, every single word, and you're right, oh by Trotsky's ice pick you're right, today is the day of the revolution, and you had better listen to the workers 'ere a red flag flies above the town hall tonight, red with the pride of the workers, and red with the blood of the Thatcherite conservative oppresive fascist regime supporters. I can hear you, Colonel, I can hear you plot an ambush like the cowardly civil servant you are.

Clint : [Snarling at Austin] Thanks for reminding us how much of a twit you are. Don't try so hard to be a man, you may pull a muscle, and with your small size, you can't afford it. [To Alice] Calling me Clunt remind you of what you are? [To the rest of the group] Enough talk, let the bastard in. Maybe I can practice beating on him the way I took care of his sissy brother, and his girlfriend [winking at Alice]. [Loud enough for Lenin to hear] Enough talk from you, 'Lemon'. One more smart remark out of you, and the only red you'll be seeing is your blood spattered across the floor. Then we'll see how much fight your so-called 'angry mob' has when we throw your tattered body in their midst.

Sr Immaculata: Mr Scar, when our good lord Phili [blesses herself] was giving out intelligence, you were certainly not only last in the queue, but forgot to even turn up! If you've nothing good to say, then say it...no I mean, don't say it. For as the Good Book reminds us, ``Those who keep schtum, keep respect, but know this, mortals, those who speak without thought, shall scream for eternity with a fiery pitch fork up the mmmnphh oh yes indeedy!" Masochista, book three, verse 1-3, I think you'll find. [To Doctor Proctor] Good Doctor, do you have anything for pain relief, for I do feel quite unwell.

Harvey: Oh for pity's sake stop this infernal bickering and just let the Bolshie in. Talking through that dammed door will just be playing silly buggers. It isn't working now is it? [looks to Immaculata], so why should it work in a minute. Let him in, he'll be out of their sight and won't be able to signal them. Remember we're the ones that need to buy the time. If we don't they're going to attack and we will be the ``tattered bodies in the street". [Turns on Clint] You buffoon, go on insult him some more and draw them on us sooner. Why give us a chance to live when you can get us all killed. Just be quiet and put away that sword of yours before you hurt yourself. Look Lenin Buckley is an idiot behind all that mumbo-jumbo, but a dangerous one..[intones]..unlike Clint, so when he rambles on we should pretend to listen, promise to change whatever he wants, as long as we can get him to stand down the mob. Once order is restored...things may be done and... they can all get used to the rule of law again. But order must be restored first, isn't that right Mayor, so lets let him in!

Alice : [Looking at Clint with a puzzled expression] Clunt? Remind me of what I am? No, I can't say it does.

[From without can be heard the voice of LENIN BUCKLEY, obviously addressing the crowd ``Comrades, they have threatened to kill me if I go to try and negotiate a peace. I come to try and find a way to stop the violence, to make our town a better place for everyone, and they tell - and I quote `Come on in, Buckley, and we'll cut you before you can even begin the peace process, we, the members of the oppressive tyranny of Queens View will ambush you the moment you come through the door, we shall throw your tattered body into the street, and then set upon purifying the rest of the town, starting with ``Animal" Green, ``Pyro" Barry and ``Knife" Dinan.'" The crowd appear to be somewhat upset upon hearing this, cries can be heard from them - ``No surrender", ``Burn them out" etc.]
Aubrey : I don't think Lenin Buckley will come in even if we asked him to!

Harvey: Well there you go Scar, you've landed us in a right ould pickle now! [Paces and stroking his moustache, muttering] ...dozy soldier imperilling the whole troop...all brawn...no brain...not an officer what!..got to think and quickly...[stops pacing] I need smoke. [Draws a silver holder from his left waist coat pocket, proffers a cheroot and a match, lights the slim cigar and draws deeply on it for several seconds filling the surrounding area with smoke-rings] I've got it! ``If the mountain won't come to Mohammed then", we'll just have to go to the mountain, as inflexible as it may be. [Looks around for approval] The alternative as I see it is death, which I'm sure we all agree [blows a snmoke ring up over Clint's head] is not the palatable end we all would hope for our efforts this day. [Points to the halo of smoke over Clint] You may yet become a saint Scar, or at least a soldier.

Alice : What mountain, Uncle? We're in the middle of a town - and I daresay that if there were an index of the flattest towns in the land that Queens View would most certainly be in the top ten - perhaps even the top five, so where are we going to find a mountain? There appears to be an awful lot of smoke coming from that cigar...

[The prison appears to be filling with smoke]
Aubrey : I don't believe it, they've set the place on fire! [Turns to Clint] You imbecile, this is all your fault - apologise this instant to Buckley!

Clint: Aubrey, how many times do I have to tell you, shut up! [Taking a step forward and giving Aubrey a hard backhand to the face]. Ah, I feel much better now. And if the plan involves teaching the bloody lot of them a lesson, then I'm all for it. So who's next to feel the fury of my kinetic blades of death?

Aubrey : [His face red from the slap] How - dare - you ! You are nothing but a cheap, ugly thug - your dress sense is laughable, your manners questionable, and frankly sir, you smell. Consider yourself fired. [Turns to Harvey] Throw him out to the mob, that's what they want.

Doctor Proctor : It seems curious to me - and I must confess, I am quite naive when it comes to such matters as negotiation, strategy and the extinguishing of fires - that rather than co-operate and conjure up a plan, the goal of which would be our escaping from a firey death, the party instead chooses to bicker amongst themselves, somewhat reducing my faith in their abilities and quite considerably increasing my anxiety as to our fate. Also, it appears to me that the mob's argument is with the local government, and the party in its employ, of which I am most certainly not a member - I am sure that the mob would wish me no harm, so, please assure me that we have a better strategy than fighting with each other, or I might find myself compelled to explain to Lenin Buckley how it is imperative for me to leave this building and treat any members of his mob who may have been injured.

Alice : You mean, like a rat leaving a sinking ship?

Doctor Proctor : My dear girl, that is exactly the phrase that springs to mind.

Harvey: [Looks at the rising bank of smoke and to the cheroot, drops and then stubs it] I think I have had enough smoke for today, thank you very much. [Grimly muttering] Out of the frying pan in to the fire...just like Nagorno gorge in 55' all over again. Trapped by those damned natives... damned fuzzies. Time to ``go to the mountain" [To all while steping in between Clint and Aubrey] and take our chances with the Bolshie Buckley outside wouldn't ye agree. Yes doctor, Imperative! [Turns and squares up to Clint, jabbing him in the chest with his finger] I'm going to break you for that when this is all over, you uppity little squadie, break you! You should know that! But at the moment other things are a little more pressing and we're going to need every man-jack out there if the fuzzies get ugly. So whats it going to be, my way or the high way! [A jab for each of these] You either sign up, shut up, and put up, unless called upon or I'll deal with you now rather than have you endanger this troop further. So whats it going to be?

Alice : Gosh! He's so masterful!

Clint: Golly, Harv, you sound just like my father. I have such fond memories of the old man, [looking Harvey straight in the eyes] and when this is over, I hope you bring on what you got, and I'll be happy to oblige you. As for now, do what you will, and if it suits my purpose I'll do it, otherwise to hell with you, I've never done what I've been told in forty years, and I'm not about to start.

Austin: [Assumes an authoritative posture, and sneers in a condescending tone] Lenin, Brendan - I've no time for either, and less time to distinguish. By Phili's left arm, save from nitpicking gritslickers and strike down those hypocrites that purpose to do your work. Which reminds me, why does he have such slovenly maidens with such full growth of hair do his vital work for him, when he might, with all his omnipotence and omniscience, do so himself with the mere snap of his fingers. [Focuses his admirable sneer upon Clint] Fine work, Mr. Scar, thou hast most recently bereft yourself of what few friend you had, and before you interject with some mundane remark to the contrary, I would assure you that soon you shall lose your only remaining friend to yet another one of your outbursts. And that friend, my good sir, goes by the name of Mr. Clint Scar. How do you now propose that we extricate ourselves from this pretty heated situation? Violence and force shall not be of benefit here. Parlaying may have some effect, but that I can assure you, with your participation most surely will lead to yet a more troubled scene. [Suddenly feels the heat upon his arm] Quick decisions are required, as Maplin is nagging me, and that I cannot stand for. Is there a back way out of this prison, that holds not only this towns malfaisants but also those that try to put that vile species in their place?

Sister Immaculata: You can start by shutting up! Enough of this foolishness, all of us! We are going to die here unless we do something immediately! [Turns to Harvey] Harvey, unless I'm mistaken, this prision has an underground tunnel. An escape route. The good lord Phili has whispered this to me. Praise be! [Immaculata starts prodding and pushing anything likely enough to be a secret trigger or lever]

Alice : [Clapping her hands] Oh goody! It really is getting too hot here, praise be to the big P!

[The jail is burning quite well now, and SR IMMACULATA's searching has so far yielded no results, save for the snapping off of an appendage from a rather risque statue]
Alice : Maybe you should ask him if he'll whisper a bit more?

Harvey: Your purpose is ours, at least for the moment, so I'll take that as a yes. [Soothingly while maintaining a safe distance from the Jousting Immaculata] You are mistaken, good Sister. No such passage exists or is likely to, it is a gaol after all, you remember... where the object is incarceration not escape. [Whispers, but not silently enough so as to be heard over the cracke of burning, to Alice] Niece, look to the Sister and stay close, she [raises his hand to his mouth, palm outward] may be becoming delusional. Of the early Philites, they used to say, in their martyrdom that they would conjour all manner of images in which to bear the torment as the flames rose higher. [Eyes the flames] I fear and love my God but I'm not ready to die for him just yet. [Strides to the door, purposefully, speaking aloud] ``Once more into the breach, dear friends!". [Back to the party, lays his gloved hands on the bolt, body set for action] Remember your word Scar. Pte. Sleaze, fall in and cover the rear! We are resolved then?

Alice : Well, that's a pretty mean prank of Phili to play isn't it? Telling a nun a lie?

Doctor Proctor : My good Colonel, while I concur that exiting from this building before it becomes a crematorium, I would suggest we discuss our strategy for when the door is opened - when last you spoke with the mob leaders I got the impression that relations were not the best.

Harvey: [Turning around] We all get tested in our own way, Alice. [ To Procter] Well briefly, the Mayor should listen to representations made by the mob through the scoundrel Buckley and then we will initiate the DOCTOR Q protocol. DOCTOR standing for (D)estruction and (OC)cupation of the (T)own, (O)ptions (R)equired, while the Q denotes the town; Queens View [waves his hand vaquely away, from the bolt]...I've copyrighted the protocol and marketed it, other towns being given a different prefix,...a much sought after item I'm gratified to say. I've alluded to it before but in its full form [stares roofwards, thinking] it has 117 detailed clauses, but, for security reasons and the need to know basis I will limit myself to saying, 1) [indicates by counting each with his finger] We treat with the AND- (A)narchist. (N)ihilist. (D)emocratic. insurgents, 2) promise to acede to their demands so as to end the rampage, 3) establish a committee of impartial and fairminded citizens...Buckley and his ilk... to oversee the implementation of these demands. Failure to pass these into law would be punishable by death. A committee which is to meet fourteen days after, a "cooling off period", its establishment, 4) establish the Committee by a once off election which is to take place on the ``twenty first day subsequent to the ending of violence" so as to allow for the cleaning up of the town, 5) reorganise and expand the Militia by absorbing the insurgents getting them to swear fealty to the agreed demands, the mayor, the law and the defence of the town, for breaking which again would be punishable by death 6) the Mayor then proposes new plans...rights freedoms, those sort of things... to the Committee in private session asking them to publically set up a Convention of all the citizens to ratify them, 7) mobilise the Militia to arrest the Committee for exceeding its brief and being dictatorial, 8) a month later purge the Militia for obstructing the business of the committee, 9) members of the Militia and the Committee would then be executed for not ensuring that theirdemands were passed into law. Hung as it were by their own words, 10) while the Mayor and former members of the Militia would return to office...initially they would excuse themselves from both the election and the committee on the grounds of prejudice...and state truthfully that they were unable to now pass into law the demands because there was no Committee and no provision was made to hold more elections. Simple isn't it doctor. Though I'm sorry I can't go into the specifics you'll understand; security...hush-hush and all that!

Alice : Doctor Q? What nonsense is that? Before we even get to step 4 the whole place will be burned to the ground! How about (D)art (O)ut of (C)ooler (T)hrough (O)pening (R)eally (Q)uickly? AND! Which of course means (A)nd (N)ow (D)ammit!

[The fire is getting fairly bad, the room is almost full of smoke and it is unbearably hot]
Clint : [Snickering to himself] Old Harv must have a M.S. degree, or a B.S. degree at the very least [walking toward the door and grabbing the metal handle of the door]. After you, our fearless leader, [as he opens the door for Harvey to exit through, waving his hand in the best doorman gesture while bowing slightly]. If this bullshit works on these people, I've got a bridge I want sell...

Harvey: A salute would have sufficed Scar without the comedy, thank you very much! But no, there you are man, flapping foppily like some Oriental Eunuch. Stand erect and show some pride..for Phili's sake! [Brusquely brushes past him and stands in the doorway, turns back] Now stay close all of you. [Faces the outside, shouting] Hold your fire, we're coming out, stand easy I say!

Lenin : So! The tyrannical regime that threatened to murder the peacemakers has decided that it is time to lower themselves to speak to the common man. Well, Colonel, before you step through that doorway, perhaps you would be kind enough to sign this form aceeding to all our demands? [Proffers a form to Harvey]

`Animal' Green : Forms! That bastard threatened to kill me and now you're going to let him go?

Lenin : Comrade, control yourself, the working class can show its moral worth by permitting the petite bourgeoisie the luxury of class mobility even though they themselves constructed an economy designed to oppress and handicap the class mobility of the workers upon who's toil rests this so called classless society. Let them come out.

Animal : Shut the fuck up! I'm sick of your shit! [Pushes Lenin directly at Harvey, the two of them career into the room.]

[From without comes the voice of `PYRO' BARRY, shouting and ranting. The door suddenly explodes in a burst of flame.]
Alice : Oh no, this is too awful! We can't get out the door, all the windows are barred, Phili is telling lies to Immackers, and .. and .. I think my eyebrows may be singed!

Harvey: Well I guess we're not going out that way then!

Alice : Brilliant deduction uncle, of course, if that fool Clunk had kept his mouth shut we might all be sitting outside around the negotiation table by now. Sister? Any miracles up your sleeve?

Austin: [Stands agape, staring at Harvey] What is this that spews from your mouth? Never have I heard such tripe from one being - you should form a sales crew for useless opinions and formalities. But time enough for such discussions at a later time. Clint, step forward with your usual eagerness and readiness for violence and open that window, as by all appearances Phili is unwillingly to do so, despite the presence of the most formidable Sr. Immaculata.

Sr Immaculata: Quickly now, out through the window! We have very little time left! [Immaculata coughs twice, for effect] Somebody, force open that window immediately!

Doctor Proctor : [Cough] Good sister, and the ever charming counseller Sleaze, those windows were designed precisely to prevent their being forced open, if ``Six-Gun" Tu and his gang of brigands failed to force the window open by tying sixteen horses, a giant pulley and one very big nun to it, it seems somewhat unlikely that a foul mouthed slug, with an IQ that would embarass a plant, who's natural inability is further handicapped by being trapped in an atmosphere even more smoky than Moe's tavern on the night he double booked the annual meeting of the Queen's View cigar club with the fire bellows demonstration and had the whole evening interrupted by Johnny Two-Eagle attempting to send a smoke signal, would be able to manage such a feat.

Lenin : Ah comrades, death, the great leveller. How curious that a worker such as myself, always looked down upon by that hated bourgeosie, should die in the company of such an odious group. Members of the rich, tools of the military, one who feeds off fear in the name of religion, but worst of all, a lawyer!

[CLINT storms across the room, muttering something under his breath and grabs the bars, attempting to bend them back. He has no success and jumps back from the window, looking around him]
Sr Immaculata: [Drops to her knees] Come, let us all pray to the great One! Only through atonement shall we seek and gain higher learning. True, in this case, that learning is the feeling of being fried to crispy bits, but with Philis mercy, He will look with pity on his righteous subjects and save them from the conflagration. [She looks at Lenin Buckley, through the thick and acrid smoke] So, you're well and truly smoked, Mr Buckley! All together now,
``Oh Phili, our guiding light,
Look on us now in our hour of plight,
For now our circumstance has turned so dire,
Please put out this damned hot fire!
Amen."

Lenin : [Looking incredulously at Immaculata] What kind of time is this to be praying? If your fanciful beliefs help us out, I'll eat my red flag!

[Suddenly, the whole building shakes, the ceiling first cracks, and then breaks. Through the smoke can be seen the sky.]
Alice : I hope you're hungry Len, it looks like Immaculata's prayer worked-
``There once was a big fat nun,
who really wasn't much fun,
She prayed to the great Phili,
And sounded quite silly,
But the roof opened and we could see the sun!"

Sr Immacuata: [Looks upwards, eyebrow arched. She looks at Alice] Alice, I'm so pleased you've learned something from your classical literature classes. Sister Haiku would be most pleased! I'll give you five out of ten for the attempt, as I'm not quite so sure about the content. [Immaculata looks from Alice to Harvey] Well? I think a most exquisite military mind should find no problem in devising a way for all of us to climb through the roof? And one that doesn't require complex pulley systems, draw bridges, siege towers or even bed sheets knotted together to form a rope. Quickly now! Our God has spared our lives, praised be [crosses herself]...do not let it be temporarily!

Alice : Five out of ten? That's a bit harsh, but its still more than I'd give Phili for his miracle - how are we supposed to climb up there? [Stretches up as high as she can reach] No, no good, I knew I should have got those high heels..

[The fire seems to have stopped growing somehow, although the interior of the building is quite unsafe]

Sr Immaculata: [Aghast] More than you'd give Phili for his miracle?? Young lass me girl, Phili helps those who help themselves! Has the Good Lord not given you legs to walk with, hands to pick things up with, a brain to....ah yes, hmmm!

Alice : To what? Look sister, just because I'm an intellectual giant beside you and your small town notions doesn't mean you should be intimidated by the thoughts that populate my mind - fantastic poetry, fiendishly difficult mathematical problems, answers to questions that even the greatest philosophers found difficult to - oh, my jumper's on back to front, how did that happen?

Lenin : Who gives a damn about all this? We still haven't got out and all you can do is argue about the petty trivial things that fill your small minds, how typical of the bourgeosie to consider one upmanship more important than saving their own thick hides, I tell you, if it was a group of workers trapped in here you'd not hear one word of contention, oh no, all that you would hear would be the quiet murmer of cooperation, concord and congeniality as we strove together to find a way up through the roof. That said, does anyone have a clue how to get out?

[From above drops a rope ladder]
Doctor Proctor : It appears that Phili has thought of everything - shall we proceed?

Sr Immaculata: Praised be his name, sure isn't He the best thing! Harvey, Scar, Doctor, any of you like to be the first, to make sure it's not out of the fire and into the frying pan? Well?

Doctor Proctor : Good sister, while nothing would give me greater pleasure than to put my personage at risk to try and ensure that no harm will come to you and the others, I must decline to do so, for being the only medical expert in a town that is currently the scene of a bloody riot, I feel it would be inappropriate and perhaps quite selfish to gamble with a life as valuable as my own, so, in the interests of others, I cannot go up first.

Alice : Uncle Harvey will do it, won't you, Harvey?

[From above comes a voice, barely aubible above the noise of the fire. It is difficult to understand, but phrases such as `low melting point of untreated pigskin', `highly volatile nature of the helium' are being used]

Sr Immaculata: Well, such bravery! Shame on you all! [Immaculata looks annoyed ] You men just mill around and remain frightened, while I check our escape route for danger! [Immaculata grabs the rope ladder and begins to climb]

[Before IMMACULATA has a chance to grab the ladder, CLINT leaps dramatically on to it, blows her a kiss and climbs up. Once up there he smiles down at the others before disappearing from sight. IMMACULATA then grabs the rope and ascends.]
Alice : [In a surprised tone] Well Uncle Harvey, it looks like you're not so brave after all.

[Exit ALICE, AUBREY and DOCTOR PROCTOR up the ladder]
---oOo---

End Of Scene

Act 2, Scene 7. Time: Saturday 1.00pm. The Prison Roof.
[DOCTOR PROCTOR, AUBREY, ALICE, SR IMMACULATA, CLINT and DR. JEROME K TRINDLE BSC PHD are here]
Jerome : Hail my good people, today is the day that Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc PhD steps into the breach and undergoes a daring rescue attempt, an attempt, I hasten to add which would not be possible without the Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending. [Takes Immaculata by the hand] Good sister, if you would do me the honour of gracing my craft with your presence, it would not only give me great pleasure, but would also hasten our escape from the burning building.

Sr Immaculata: [Eyes the hoverplane suspiciously] Why, I'd be delighted, my good man! Thank you. [Immaculata climbs onboard]

[Enter AUSTIN, dusting himself down]
Alice : About time, Aussie. [Climbs into the DJKTBPAHBH] Are you sure this is safe?

Jerome : Young lady, safety is my watchword. This machine is fireproof, waterproof, seaworthy, and airworthy. It is invulnerable and unassailable, consider yourself under the shadow of its wing, be assured that I have ensured that it is insured.

[Enter LENIN, who regards the DJKTBPAHBH suspiciously]

Lenin : I suppose riding in this thing is better than eating my flag.

[Enter ALL into the DJKTBPAHBH]
Alice : What about Harvey? What should we do?

Jerome : I would point out that the Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending, has generous seating for seven occupants and perhaps a small dog. There are currently eight of us, perhaps we should take that into consideration when deliberating about our tardiness?

[Enter HARVEY, with a tear in his eye]
Harvey : I've just said goodbye to the old dear, as uncomfortable and all as she was for her gaoler, I'll miss her. [Wipes away the tear] Gave her a jolly good salute too I did. [Looks around] Well [claps and clasps his hands] can't dwadle on sentiment and ceremony all day, that rope was a deuced good bit of luck all round...what! Now where's the chappie that got us off this sticky wicket. Well done that man, well played indeed!

Jerome : Sir, I am Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc PhD, newest, and, dare I say it most valuable member of the party. If you are finished bidding farewell to your venerable old pile, I would suggest you relocate yourself within the Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending - although, the coefficient of distance over time multiplied by the heat times the air density is inversely proportional to the sum of the weight of all the occupants.

Lenin : Forget the fat bastard! Lets just get the hell out of here before we burn to death.

Sr Immaculata: Mr Buckley! How dare your impudence! If anyone is to be left behind, it is you! You started this fire and you started this riot! Hurry along now, Harvey! Time is of the utmost importance.

Harvey: [Shocked, as a the balloon with eight faces fills his horizon] Delighted to make your acquaintance Sir and many thanks. [Leaps into the centre of the ballon without further adieu, exclaiming] And now this googlie, well batted again Mr. Trindle, a safe wicket indeed!

[HARVEY sails through the air with surprising grace, before landing heavily on CLINT. The balloon shakes a bit before the whole contraption falls off the edge of the building]
Jerome : [Feverishly rubbing his brow] Confound it, pi times the circumference of the product of the balloon times the belly...it should stay up. Quickly, everyone breath out, it should lighten us.

Lenin : Lighten us? How about getting rid of the last guy who got on?

[Inches from the flames, the balloon is suddenly swept up by a gust of hot air, and blown away from the building. It appears as though the mob are now trying to put out the flames. The balloon is quite large and everyone is fairly comfortable, except perhaps for HARVEY who is lying upside down on the floor. CLINT also doesn't appear too happy, especially since landing on him, HARVEY's boot now seems to be sticking into his mouth]
Jerome : Hah! I knew it, the Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending, saves the day. See how we fly through the air with the grace of swallow, the accuracy of an eagle and the speed of a panicking colonel.

Clint : [Removing Harvey's boot from his mouth and unceremoniously twisting his leg roughly to force Harvey to get off] Kindly remove yourself. The kind doctor has seem fit to rescue us with his contraption, and you try to undo his good deed by almost killing us with your swan leap. [Gets up and brushes himself off] Now on to the matter of this spectral murderer. Doctor, are there any medical records of deaths in the last four months. Maybe one of the recently deceased is involved in bringing about this evil.

[As CLINT stands up the balloon shakes and twists just like a boat]
Aubrey : Sit down you fool, before someone falls ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu... [Trails off as he falls out of the balloon into the mob below]

Jerome : Hmm, at least the weight heat ratio is somewhat more favourable now.

Doctor Proctor : [Glances over the edge at Aubrey, before turning to Clint] There have been no deaths whatsoever in the past four months, there has been no disease and all illnesses have been absent. In fact, since the cloud descended upon the town I have had very little business, and have not tended to any person who's complaint was of natural causes. The only patients I have dealt with were admitted because of some accident or other. While another, less modest practioner than I would claim credit for the lack of illness, I must confess I am at a loss for a cause.

Harvey: [Rights himself again with surprising grace and deposits himself in the place where Clint was sitting] Despite the uncomfortableness of the position. I was only trying to find an accomodation where all would fit and allow the balloon to maintain its flight. But I see its no longer necessary now that clown has decided to take matters into his own hands and throw the mayor into the arms of certain death, if he is not dead already after that fall. [Losing his temper] Not only was it sufficient to face down every A.N.D. in the town and place all our necks on the chopping block but now you've resorted to trying to murder the Mayor [pointing to his sheathed sword]. When we land if he is dead, so quick will you be in the dock and on that block, to follow him after, into the grave.

Alice : I bet Clunk did it because the mayor fired him, gosh, the nastiness of it, I bet there's no meaner man in all of Queen's View.

Jerome : Yonder lies my abode, my cunning is for us to land there, repair within and form a strategy to deal with the mob, who are clearly out of their minds with no intention other than murder, rape and pillage.

Alice : [Pointing to the convent, where people who were part of the mob are now sitting down outside it talking to some of the nuns and the town guards who were sent to defend it] They don't seem to be particularly good at murdering, raping and pillaging, do they? Looks more like a picnic than a riot, perhaps we should get Clunk to show them how to murder people.

[The balloon is slowly losing height, but JEROME either doesn't notice or is not concerned]
Clint : [Laughing at Harvey's words] Is your bite greater than your bark, little pug, for all I hear are the cluckings of a castrated rooster. Besides, we can get farther without that possessed mayor than with him. Perhaps it was the will of Phili that he be punished for striking the good Immaculata Mullane. [To Procter] Can you remember the ones who have been sick since the cloud appeared? Perhaps there is a correlation between these victims.

Austin: [Peers over the edge of the vessel] My, this is quite impressive. So is the good mayor. And indeed so is Maplin. [Pauses to examine himself, searching a few moments for some reflective surface, but finds none that compliments his physique. Unperturbed, addresses the party] Referring back to the theory I mentioned previously, and the good mayor's seeming lack of willpower to resist the spirits that did possess him at a certain point in time - I would put forward that the children have been replaced by doppelgangers and the original children have been missing for a quite a while now. It is then obviously possible to deduce that only doppelganger's may proceed safely through the cloud. This leads me to believe that each of us should somehow manage to acquire some full length mirror's, hypnotise ourselves into the belief that we are actually the reflection inside the mirror, and then safely carry ourselves through the cloud. From there we may then pursue this investigation in relative safety as they enemy will never have conceived of the possibility that we might actually escape their cunning trap.

Sr Immaculata: [Gripping onto the edge of the ship with all her might] Ohhh! This thing just isn't safe. Not safe at all, Lord bless us and save us. If the good Lord Phili wished us to fly, he'd have blessed us with wings and an appetite for worms! [Immaculata looks down, goes a deathly green hue and closes her eyes firmly] And Mr Sleaze, what a preposterous notion! Any old excuse to get a good look at yourself. Full length mirrors indeed! I wonder [Immaculata gulps] if this...contraption...could fly up and over the cloud? But to what end. The evil is in this village, and from this village it must be banished!

Alice : What a preposterous plan Aussie! Even more stupid than Tuppy Griffith's plan to attack HMS Gargantua with, and I quote, `a piece of cotton wool, a length a masking tape and a couple of toilet roll inserts'.

Jerome : [Mysteriously] Never underestimate the utility of toilet roll inserts. Sister, while Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD compliments your faith in the abilities of the Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending, you might recall that the cloud is effectively a dome over the town, hmm, how can I explain, if only I had a piece of cotton wool, a length a masking tape and a couple of toilet roll inserts I could make a model, but anyway, in short, to summarily explain in a precise, concise and direct manner, without any jargon or longwinded description of the behvaiour of clouds of the Cumulus family, no.

Proctor : An interesting idea, and somewhat more plausible than the Molist proposition put forth earlier, but there is no correlation between the two victims and my patients, however, I cannot comment on the realtionship or lack therof between patients who visited me in the past six months and their involvement or otherwise in the current riot.

Lenin : [Shouting at Clint] Sit down! Sit down you bastard! Sit the fuck down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down! You'll kill us all!

[The balloon is losing height at, to the party at least, seems an alarming rate, JEROME doesn't seem bothered by this.]

Harvey: [Shifting uncomfortably from cheek to cheek in the tight space that is his seat.] Look damn the full length mirrors, if we don't do something soon [peeks at the ever more disturbing image of the ground rushing up to meet them] we all be like them after a plummeting fall, broken into a thousand pieces! [Addresses Jerome] Can we crash land safely at this speed or do we have to ditch somebody to survive? [A baleful eye falls across Clint and Lenin] Now if needs be, who's it going to be? You [waves an unsteady hand, with all the motion] who tried to kill us or you [same hand waving wildly, as he steadies himself aginst the side with the other hand] who tried to kill us!

Lenin : [To Harvey] What about you, you fat bastard? You kept us waiting back at the jail, you're the one who jumped aboard even though it was patently obvious even to a moron like yourself that it was already full, you're almost as much to blame for the mayor falling out as that other bastard who's standing up all the time! Sit down you fucking langar! [Moves as though he wants to stand up, but clearly knows he can't]

Jerome : [Regards Harvey with a hurt look] `Crash land safely'? Good lord man, what kind of talk is that? The Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending, was built to soar through the air like a bird, to float on gentle buffs of air as does the ship when it sails on the sea, it was not meant to crash land, I have never heard such a preposterous notion in my life.

Alice : So, it can't crash?

Jerome : Of course it can, it just can't crash land. When the Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD aeronotic helium based hoverplane, patent pending, crashes, it does so with style, an explosion that the town has never seen the like of before. In fact, if we don't lose some weight very soon it probably will crash, just a pity I haven't quite finished the design of the Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD Anti-Crash Oxygen based sac.

Clint : [Sneering at Lenin] If you, the ``leader of the people," would have read your physics books instead of burning them, you would understand that weight is independent of whether one is standing or sitting, and to lessen the weight on this vessel, we must toss someone over the side, and if you continue to be counter productive in your actions, you'll be the first to go. [To the doctor in a calm voice] Good Doctor Trindle, would you happen to have a man-sized air rebuffing device, composed of several large cloths sewned together and strapped on to the body which would increase the drag coefficient of the body to the point that its rate of decline would not be disasterous upon impact?

Sr Immaculata: [Her face now an ashen grey] We going to crash! Heaven on earth, but we're all going to get dashed on the rocks below! Arrrghhhhhh! Arrrrrhhggggggghashhhh! ahhhffff!

Jerome : Ah, you're referring to the much rumoured Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc. PhD. Gravitational Force Reduction unit, I do happen to have a prototype on me [Produces a silk hanky with four pieces of string attached to each corner, the end of each string is attached to a Barbie Doll] Pretty cunning, don't you think?

Lenin : Cunning? You propose to use a second hand snot rag to prevent the greatest dissaster in the history of Queens View, and you call that cunning? [Turns to Clint] As for you you stupid bastard, I never said standing up made you heavier, it just rocks the basket we're all sitting in, how the fuck do you think the mayor fell out? For the last time, sit down!

Alice : Is anyone here familiar with that big house up on Icsun hill? With the large glass house?

Jerome : Why yes, that's my house, why do you ask?

Alice : Because we're only about thirty feet from crashing into it and are closing the gap pretty quick.

Jerome : Quick, everyone blow at it, the wind might blow us to a more favourable crash site, that glasshouse is the site of countless experiments that would be ruined if we are to crash there.

Harvey: [Clearly surprised by Clint's apparent grasp of aerodynamics and struggling not to let it show] If you mean a parachute why don't you just say so. This is hardly the time or the place to go showing signs of intelligence, especially after your performance back at the gaol. [Snapping] And what do you mean ``you'll be the first to go". Hadn't the Mayor that particular distinction after all? Now in these our last possible moments before we all go, don't be tormenting us further with coefficients of this and that like it was some university lecture you were attending. Just stand there and try to be as inconspicious as possible. [looks to Immaculata] We may need you to lead us in praye....[trails off and turns to Jerome in the midst of her screaming, hands clutching the supporting ropes tighter, whitening all the while. Regards the nose rag with dismay and looks to Jerome hopefully expecting him to say that this was his little joke, before producing the paruchutes. Begins to speak three or four times before he does] And not to say anything about ruining us if we were to be impaled on the glass! What if we we to all lean back in the balloon would the upwelling air currents not carry us over the glasshouse, the house, and deposit us safely on the other side. [Nods repeatedly at Jerome] You're the expert that would work wouldn't it. [Looks for reassurance before adding] Hang on what is on the other side?

Jerome : [As though it were common knowledge] The other side? My cactus garden of course. If we lean over, it may work, of course, it may also result in the basket toppling over and us all falling out.

Alice : Well, Immac? The big P been whispering to you lately? Any hints on how to get out of this mess?

Harvey: Quick everybody grab something, especially you Sleaze you dozy soldier, and lean over...lean over!

Austin: [Stares unabashedly at the size of Immaculata's mouth, and wonders how much fur is selling for in the good ol' town of QueensView] Get a grip you screaming wench of Phili. I am sure Master Jerome has all under his control, for if he does not your heaven and earth shall soon become simultaneously attainable. However, I would urge you to sign this form [withdraws a hint of a form from underneath his tunic] vindicating me once and for all of the accusations you and your ilk have unfoundedly cast upon my person, and also granting me permission upon your demise to claim what is rightfully mine - that which should belong to no woman, yet you so aboundedly possess.

Sr Immaculata: [Looks calmly at Austin and shakes her head sadly. There is no sign of panic on her face] As I suspected, Sleaze. Once again you have failed to comunicate even an inkling of human compassion to a member of the party in distress. It is obvious you have your own agenda in all of this, but while we all must share the same path for the time being, at least try and share the same species! Sign a form? [Immaculata laughs mockingly] Your petty forms are merely an extension of your own inadequacies in the art of being human! Me and my order accused you, justly, of thieving from our convent, for that is indeed what you did! Seven times seventy signed forms will not vindicate you in the eyes of Phili [blesses herself] for your past deeds. Only repentance will redeem you soul, tricky little man! [Immaculata peers over the side of the ship and turns back to face Sleaze] But I imagine you'll find that out for yourself, all too soon.

Jerome: Dr Jerome K Trindle B.Sc. Ph.D. may yet be able to save this most courageous party from utter extinction - [Jerome mumbles a few words, and melodramatically waves his hands] - with an Enlarge spell, targeted on the Helium contained within the Dr Jerome K Trindle B.Sc.

[The balloon suddenly enlarges, lifting the contraption just above the glass house. Its speed is dropping dramatically, but it is gaining height constantly, and is heading towards JEROME's house. Despite everyone's to-ing and fro-ing, the basket remains fairly level.]
Alice : Well, it might have stopped us from hitting the glasshouse, but can't you make it stop growing? At this rate we'll burst out through the top of the sky!

Jerome: [Reaching for a small knob at the base of the balloon] Certainly, fair lady! I'll just open the valve at the base here slightly, the helium will escape slowly, and we can hopefully make quite a smooth landing, maybe even missing the buildings completely! Depending, of course, on the air temperature, wind, and of course, my most excellent spell, which I thought would have finished by now...

Harvey: [Speaking vaguely in the direction of Jerome who he is unable to see from the leaning back position] Carry on Dr. Trindle, carry on! But you will let us know when its all over won't you...won't you [pain is starting to express itself on his face from being in that position]! Alice are you all right dear, not too uncomfortable I hope [grimaces as he swivels his head round furiously trying to locate Alice amidst the cushing mass of bodies]? The boffins still have to perfect the comfort side of air travel yet...what! [laughs weeekly].

Sr Immaculata: [From within the crush of bodies] Whoever is poking me in the small of my back with something, had better stop right now!

Harvey: If thats you Pte. Sleaze with that bloody form again...!

Alice : [Sitting on the opposite side to the crush of bodies] Hold on, explain the plan to me again, something seems to be wrong here....but at least I've got plenty of space.

[JEROME, who has been looking fairly pleased with himself up to this point, suddenly looks taken aback as his knob comes off in his hand. The contraption suddenly comes to a halt, about 20 feet above JEROME's house]

Lenin : Snekov's shroud! We're caught on the chimney - just think, if it were a poor persons house, there'd be no chimney for us to get caught on. [Shifts uncomfortably within the tangle of people] Ow, just what the hell is that thing poking into my back?

[The contraption is now balanced precariously on the top of the chimney, and the balloon is beginning to deflate. It looks as though the slightest movement could topple the basket over. A large bird lands on the basket, it creaks and rocks from side to side.]
Clint : [Remaining motionless and maintaining his position] Can somebody reach the rope and grappling hook with the minimum amount of movement?

Alice : Aaah aah aaah [Stifles a sneeze]

Jerome: [Jerome tries for a few seconds to put the knob back in, then sighs and gives up. The rope is coiled close to his feet] Dr Jerome K. Trindle B.Sc. Ph.D. is possibly able to attain the rope. [Grunt Jerome pulls the rope closer with his left foot, picks it up and hands it to Clint] The rope, Mr. Scar.

Sr Immaculata: Dr Jerome. Does your chimney contain rungs inside the funnel, for the chimney sweeps and the like? For if it does, someone can cut through the base of the basket, enabling us all to climb down the chimney to safety. [Immaculata scans the horizon]

[Jerome pulls out his trusty pocket knife, and cuts a hole roughly the size of the chimney in the base of the basket]

Jerome: There you are, good sister! But, Dr Jerome K. Trindle B.Sc. Ph.D. will have to go first, to disable the Dr Jerome K. Trindle B.Sc. Ph.D. Intruder Alert and Apprehend Mechanism, built into my abode.

[Jerome ties the rope to himself, lowers himself into the chimney and starts to climb down the rungs. Exit ALL down the chimney after JEROME]




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2001-06-01