“Swamp of Souls"
Written by Steve Gerber
November 20, 1995
LARGE PANEL. Leave room for title and credits in the art and space for indicia at the bottom of the page.
FLASHBACK: One year ago. Moments after page 24 of Sludge #4. New York Harbor. U/S from water level to the mouth of a large (about twelve feet in diameter) sewer pipe extending out of a concrete retaining wall. SLUDGE is standing in the pipe with one arm extended out over the water with his hand wide open. He’s just dropped the dead body of VEFFIR VOON IYAX, the talking alligator toward the water. The body is falling, face-first, directly into our POV. Veff’s tongue is hanging loosely from his limp jaws, and his “neck” is clearly broken.
1 BLURB: One year ago.
2 BLURB: New York Harbor.
3 BLURB: “In my world,” the reptile had growled, “I am the subject of a proverb: ‘No entity meets VEFFIR VOON IYAX more than once.’”
4 BLURB: In Sludge’s case, at least, it proved TRUE.
5 BLURB: After their battle in the sewers, NO ONE would ever meet Veffir Voon Iyax again.
CREDITS: [BOXED; SET IN TYPE]
STEVE GERBER [PENCILLER NAME] [INKER
NAME] [COLORIST NAME]
Writer Pencils Inker Color Design
[COLOR TEAM] [YOUR NAME]
Interior Colors Letterer Editor
Inset panel. C/U on Sludge. He spits into the water. Good riddance!
6 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST; BOLD LOWERCASE LETTERING) =sptoooi=
7 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Give my regrets-- REGARDS-- to the sea orphans.
8 SLUDGE: (SAME) Urchins.
Sludge turns and walks away, back into the sewer pipe.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) After while, alligator...!
2 SLUDGE: (SAME) See you...
3 SLUDGE: (SAME) Damn head.
Veff’s body in the water, sloshing amid the usual trash: beer cans and assorted waste paper, a bridal veil, some unidentifiable bones, etc. The body is just starting to sink.
4 BLURB: Reduced from fearsome predator to insignificant flotsam, Veffir Voon Iyax drifted out to sea.
Suddenly, the prow of a boat—something the size of a Coast Guard cutter, not a speedboat—headed out to sea runs right over Veff’s body, breaking its back and ploughing it underwater.
5 BLURB: His final journey would not be peaceful.
L/S: Underwater. Borne by the churning water, Veff’s body travels under the hull of the ship, toward the stern.
6 BLURB: His REMAINS would suffer the same brutal indifference he accorded his VICTIMS.
C/U on the ship’s propeller. Veff’s tail catches on the propeller and winds around its stem.
7 BLURB: His BONES would be snapped and ground by the machinery of mere men.
8 BLURB: His FLESH would curb the HUNGER of foragers as savage as himself.
Rear angle on the ship, sailing out toward the Statue of Liberty, unaware that it’s towing Veff’s body with it.
9 BLURB: And the cruelest blow of all-- in time, he would be FORGOTTEN.
10 BLURB: Even by the one who SLEW him.
FULL-PAGE SHOT. PSEUDO-FLASHBACK (actually a Sludge hallucination). Circa fifty years ago. A hi-tone Manhattan nightclub of the 1940’s. On the raised platform stage, Sludge, dressed in white tie and tails, is leading a swing band whose members include LORD PUMPKIN on clarinet, PISTOL on drums, BLOODSTORM on sax, VEFF on trumpet, Whale’s ZOMBIE (Sludge #5) on trombone, and the transformed MISS CHIU at a glistening white grand piano. The white-and-gold music stands in front of each musician are emblazoned with the with the initials “FH” in decorative script. Fronting the band as its singer is EDNA. She’s standing at an old-style microphone (large, circular in shape), dressed in a long, but tight-fitting sequined evening gown provocatively slit up one leg. In F/G, we can see the silhouetted heads of couples dancing to the music.
1 BLURB: FIFTY years ago.
2 BLURB: Somewhere beyond remembering.
3 BLURB: The elegant EDNA, backed by FRANKIE HOAG & HIS 7th AVENUE SEXTET, serenades the after‑theatre crowd.
4 EDNA: (UPPER & LOWER CASE; ITALICS; MUSICAL NOTES; BREAK LINES AS INDICATED, PLEASE, SO THE WORDS SCAN AS SONG LYRICS)
Bie meir bist du sludge,
Please don’t hold a grudge,
Bie meir bist du sludge
Means you’re a shtoonk.
Closer on Edna, singing. The microphone—which suddenly has facial features: gleaming eyes, slavering jaws, monstrous reptilian fangs—is leaping off its standing, trailing its cord. The effect should be snake-like, with the microphone itself as the snake’s head and the cord as its body.
1 EDNA: (UPPER & LOWER CASE; ITALICS; MUSICAL NOTES; BREAK LINES AS INDICATED, PLEASE, SO THE WORDS SCAN AS SONG LYRICS)
Bie meir bist du sludge,
You smell like molding fudge...
2 EDNA: For the love of mike-- what--?!
Edna screams and knocks over the microphone stand, as the mike loops its cord around her, pinning her arms to her sides.
3 EDNA: (BURST; DOUBLE-UNDERLINES OPEN FOR COLOR) HOAG-- HELP!!
Sludge hurls his baton away and charges toward Edna to help.
4 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST) SLOP THE MUSIC--!!
In the second or two it took Sludge to react, the microphone has wrapped its cord around and around Edna’s entire body. The end of the cord with the microphone is wrapped around Edna’s neck, and is choking the life of out of her. Sludge tries desperately to pull the cord from her body, but it’s no use. She’s dying.
5 SLUDGE: Hang on, baby-- we got every WORM on TAPE--!
6 SLUDGE: Every tapeworm...!
7 SLUDGE: Every WORD on...!
C/U on Edna, as the last breath is squeezed out of her, and her face turns a lifeless blue.
8 VOICE: (OFF-PANEL) I knew it-- I KNEW it!!
9 VOICE: (OFF-PANEL; BURST) She’s wearin’ a WIRE--!
FLASHBACK: Two years ago. “Match cut” from Page Five, Panel 5 to Edna’s face (she’s now wearing a different, much more contemporary hairdo) with a human hand around her throat.
1 BLURB: TWO years ago.
2 BLURB: At the corner of Dread and Memory.
3 VOICE: (OFF-PANEL) You said you TRUSTED her, man!
4 INDIAN: (OFF-PANEL) Now, how am I supposed to trust YOU?
Interior: seedy Manhattan hotel room. Night. Wider shot of Edna and her antagonists. At center of panel, Edna is in the grip of a huge South American Indian type, a brawny Mayan in an Armani suit. Her blouse has been ripped open to reveal her waist encircled by straps of adhesive tape, holding a microphone and battery pack tightly to her body.
The Indian’s other arm is extended past Edna’s head, firing a gun at a Man (Caucasian, about Edna’s age) at left of panel. The bullet is blasting through the Man’s chest.
At right of panel, in B/G, the Indian’s two confederates—also of Mayan descent, but not as well-dressed—are gathering up stacks of money and sealed plastic bags of cocaine, and stuffing them into a couple of attache cases.
5 INDIAN: He’s eatin’ lunch with JESUS, muchacha-- and you--
6 INDIAN: You’re gonna look SO UGLY with your brains blowed out--!
Angle past the Indian’s head, in F/G, as he turns to look toward the door of the room. It’s swinging wide open as FRANK HOAG, followed by a couple of uniformed cops, bursts in. All three have their guns drawn.
7 HOAG: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) FREEZE!!
Tight angle on Edna and the Indian. Grinning, he shoves the barrel of his gun into her mouth.
Tight angle on Hoag. He fires!
C/U on the Indian. A startled look on his face, as Hoag’s bullet bores a hole right between his eyes.
Exterior: the seedy hotel. Hoag and Edna are coming down the sidewalk, toward our POV. Hoag has his arm around her shoulder, and Edna is wearing his trench coat over her ripped blouse. In B/G, we see an ambulance pulling up and the two uniformed cops shoving the Indian’s confederates into the back seat of a squad car.
1 HOAG: That took STONES, kid. You did good.
2 EDNA: Does that mean you’ll drop the CHARGES against me‑‑ or do I go on PAYING for my mistake FOREVER?
3 HOAG: There’s OTHER ways to pay for your mistake...
4 EDNA: Let me guess. MY place or yours?
Interior: Edna’s apartment. The bedroom. Edna, wearing very little, is lying in bed, smoking a cigarette and looking indifferent. Hoag, still fully dressed, is standing at the window, his back to her.
5 BLURB: Hers.
6 HOAG: I know it’s corny, but...I’d feel BETTER about this if I thought you LIKED me a little.
7 EDNA: I can TOLERATE you, Hoag. Don’t ask for the moon.
8 EDNA: Anyway, why SHOULD you feel better about USING me?
Small panel. Close on Hoag, looking back over his shoulder at O/P Edna. There’s a sad, almost childlike smile on his face.
9 HOAG: Damn. When she's right, she’s right...!
Hoag has turned around to face her. He shrugs. She sits up in bed, looking offended.
10 HOAG: Forget it, Edna. You earned your break. Stay CLEAN, and I won’t bother you again.
11 EDNA: Listen to the high and mighty goddam COP!
12 EDNA: All of a sudden, I’m not FINE enough for New York’s finest--?!
Hoag starts for the door. Edna is bounding off the bed to stop him.
13 HOAG: I’m having an attack of CONSCIENCE, that’s all.
14 EDNA: Yeah? Well, I’M having an attack of HORNINESS!
15 EDNA: Happens every time I almost get my HEAD shot off--!
Tight on Edna and Hoag. He puts up only token resistance, as she grabs his face in her hands and kisses him passionately.
Interior: A working class bar, several weeks later. Hoag and Niall Quinn are having a drink. Quinn is needling Hoag about sleeping with his informant and enjoying Hoag’s obvious irritation.
1 BLURB: Mulligan’s Bar. Ninth Avenue.
2 BLURB: Some weeks later.
3 QUINN: Sleeping with your INFORMANT-- christ, you got a SUICIDE WISH, Hoag?
4 QUINN: You know what they’ll DO to you if it comes out at TRIAL?
5 HOAG: We got the TAPE as evidence. It’s not gonna matter.
Closer on Hoag. Takes a sip from his glass and shoots a sidelong glare at Quinn.
6 HOAG: Besides, we didn’t get involved till the operation was OVER.
7 HOAG: There’s no ETHICS violation.
Hoag gets up to leave. Quinn continues the ribbing.
8 QUINN: Yeah, right. I mean, how could a little PILLOW TALK influence a witness...?
9 QUINN: Hey, what’s the RUSH? Meeting her for DINNER?
10 HOAG: Shut up and get DRUNK, Quinn.
11 HOAG: You’re BETTER at that than humor.
Exterior: Edna’s apartment building. Evening. (Give this building some distinctive feature—maybe a large address number over the door—so we’ll recognize it when we see it again on Page 19.) Hoag approaches just as she’s coming out the doors. He’s still ten or so yards away. Leaning against the far side of the stoop from Hoag is a WINO—wool cap, tattered overcoat, shabby pants and shoes—with a bottle dangling casually from one hand. Neither Hoag nor Edna pays any attention to him. She’s waving to Hoag, calling out hello.
12 BLURB: Shortly...
13 HOAG: (THOT) Hell, if I WROTE OUT her testimony for her‑‑ and ADMITTED it-- she’d still be more credible than--
14 EDNA: Frank-- HELLO!
Closer on Edna and the Wino. As she steps down onto the sidewalk, he whirls and flings the contents of the bottle in her face. She reacts, startled.
15 WINO: Hey, lady-- buy ya a DRINK?
Inset panel. perspective shot down the sidewalk. In B/G, the strange guy, seen from back, is already off and running. Hoag has started to run after him, but halts, reacting to a SCREAM from O/P in Edna’s direction.
1 HOAG: Crazy s.o.b.-- why the hell did you--?
2 HOAG: FREEZE, or I’ll--
SFX: (SCREAM) huuuaaaaaa
LARGE INSET PANEL. Close on Edna. She looks up, still screaming. Her face has been doused with acid, and it’s burning badly.
SFX: (SCREAM) ooohgaaaahhd
END FLASHBACK: LARGE PANEL. The present. In the sewers. Tight angle on Sludge, sitting up suddenly in the stream of sewage where he’d been sleeping. His eyes are bulging; his mouth is wide open in a bellow of helpless rage. He looks as if he’s awakened from a nightmare in what, for humans, would be a cold sweat. This wasn’t like any of his other hallucinations concerning Edna. He’s just dreamed what actually happened between the two of them!
3 BLURB: Metropolitan Sewer District.
4 BLURB: The present.
5 BLURB: The former Frank Hoag awakes from a nightmare, bellowing in terror and rage.
6 BLURB: He shivers.
7 BLURB: The sewage that encases his human remnants has turned clammy. It clings like cold sweat to the contorted flesh beneath.
Longer shot. Sludge, looking very shaky, knees buckling a little, gets to his feet. He has to lean on the wall of the sewer to support himself. He reacts, glancing back over his shoulder, to a voice from O/P.
1 VOICE: (OFF-PANEL) Finally REMEMBERED, huh?
He turns around to see the semi-transparent hallucinatory Edna floating in the air above the sewage stream. She’s dressed exactly as we saw her on Pages Seven and Eight, and her face is badly disfigured—burned.
2 EDNA: Ready to remember the REST of it, Hoag?
3 EDNA: How you never CAUGHT the guy...?
4 EDNA: How that CHANGED you...?
5 SLUDGE: No.
Another angle. Sludge turns, starts to walk away from Edna. She floats through the air after him.
6 EDNA: How you drifted away from your FRIENDS...?
7 EDNA: The CHOICE you made when you found out what my SURGERY would cost...?
8 SLUDGE: NO, DAMMIT--!
Past the vanishing figure of Edna to Sludge as he tromps away into the sewers.
9 EDNA: You’re changing AGAIN, Hoag. Something’s eating at you from INSIDE.
10 EDNA: Sooner or later, you’ll have to deal with the TRUTH.
11 SLUDGE: Later...
Perspective shot down the sewer. Sludge has become just a tiny figure in the darkness.
12 SLUDGE: MUCH later...
Exterior: under the Atlantic Ocean. The present. A shark slices through the water. Clamped in the shark’s jaws is the skeletal tail of Veffir Voon Iyax. What’s left of the body—also mostly skeletal, but with ragged patches of alligator skin and meat clinging here and there to the bones—dangles beneath the shark and drags along the ocean bottom as it swims.
1 BLURB: Again, the present.
2 BLURB: Under the Atlantic Ocean.
3 BLURB: The few patches of MEAT left clinging to the remnants of Veffir Voon Iyax provide a SNACK for a passing traveler.
Longer shot. At left of panel, Thirty or so feet ahead of the shark, a strange, glittering turbulence is forming in the water. The shark is swimming straight toward it.
4 BLURB: On the BRIGHTER SIDE, however...
The shark attempts to swim through the turbulence, but instead slams into it, snout first. The shark’s jaws open, dropping Veff’s body. (The glittering stuff is an energy field of some kind.)
5 BLURB: The shark’s jaws are destined to be the PENULTIMATE stop on his excursion into indignity.
As the shark turns tail and swims away, the turbulence takes the form of a breach, like the one we saw in Dr. Lalama’s New York apartment in Sludge #11. Veff’s body drifts toward the breach...
6 BLURB: A force DISTINCT from chance or nature has seen fit, albeit a year too late, to INTERVENE on his behalf...
...and into it. We should see the lower half of Veff’s body still on the earth side. His head and upper torso have vanished into the breach.
7 BLURB: ...and summon him HOME.
LARGE PANEL. W/A. The other side of the breach. Night. We’re in the same swamp that Sludge, Shelley, and the Bash Brothers visited in Sludge #11! This breach, though, isn’t located in mid-air like the one Dr. Lalama accidentally created. It’s sitting right on the water of the swamp and positioned so that the lip of its bottom touches dry land.
Two ALLIGATOR-MEN of the same race as Veff (we’ll call them HESSSHITES) are pulling his skeletal remains out of the breach onto the shore. A half-dozen other male and female Hessshites stand a little way back on shore, weeping and wailing. Prominent among this group is a character we’ll call AMBROVE UHOK, a priest or medicine man of the tribe. He’s leading the others in a mourning ritual. Standing beside Ambrove Uhok is PAH GORAH, a young female Hessshite, consumed with grief.
1 BLURB: Moments later, and untold LIGHT YEARS away, others of his kind pull the carcass from this gash in the fabric of space.
2 PAH GORAH: O wise AMBROVE UHOK-- are you CERTAIN this is he?
3 PAH GORAH: I implore you‑‑ say that some ghastly MISTAKE has been made!
4 PAH GORAH: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) hsssh
Tight on one of the Pah Gorah and Ambrove Uhok. Pah Gorah is weeping profusely, tears pouring down her snout. Ambrove is placing a consoling hand on her shoulder.
5 AMBROVE: Alas, PAH GORAH, I employed the keenest of my skills to ATTUNE the breach to Iyax’s psychic signature.
6 AMBROVE: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) hsssh
7 AMBROVE: There can be no error. This WAS Veffir Voon Iyax.
Close on Pah Gorah, tears still streaming.
8 PAH GORAH: I LOVED him, Uhok‑‑ but had not the COURAGE to follow where he led‑‑
9 PAH GORAH: --to cast aside all trappings of civilization‑‑ and BURST the very bounds of the WORLD!
Longer shot. Veff’s remains now lie on the muddy ground. Ambrove Uhok stands over them, head bowed.
10 AMBROVE: Few DID, my child.
11 AMBROVE: Perhaps few ever SHALL.
12 AMBROVE: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) hsssh
13 AMBROVE: Prepare a FUNERAL procession. We must bear our fallen tribesman to the CITY.
PAGES TWELVE & THIRTEEN
DOUBLE-PAGE SPREAD - NIGHT
In F/G, seen from back, moving solemnly down a grassy slope toward the city, is the funeral procession, led by Ambrove Uhok. Immediately behind him are two Hessshite women carrying torches. Behind them, four men carry a makeshift bier—more like a stretcher, really; woven out of reeds and vines from the swamp—on which rests Veff’s body. Bringing up the rear are the rest of the Hessshites from the swamp, also carrying torches.
Spread out below them, surrounded by swamp foliage on an immense, eerie scale, is THE KINGDOM OF HESSSH.
It’s a walled city on the order of first-century Jerusalem. As ancient cities go, this isn’t a small place—it’s home to perhaps 50-100,000 Hessshites.
The city’s main gate is a massive sculpture of an alligator head with jaws open wide. You have to pass through the alligator’s jaws to enter the city.
Most of the city’s structures are built of mud or stone. There are minarets, domes, spires, multi-story habitations. The city is lit by torches, braziers, and lanterns.
The swamp waters around the city are patrolled by Hessshite troops riding in primitive “swamp buggies.” These are constructed entirely of wood, however, and instead of propellers, though, these have paddle wheels, like the old Mississippi River steamboats. The paddle wheels are turned by energy from a baseball-sized chunk of the star foam seen in various issues of The Strangers. (It looks like chunks of Styrofoam, basically.)
In the sky over the city, there’s air traffic—auto-gyro type craft constructed like ships with wooden hulls and metal girding. The bodies of these craft are cigar-shaped. The pilots and passengers sit in bucket-like seats with their heads and shoulders protruding from the top of the craft. The auto-gyro propellers also utilize the star foam as their power source.
Far in the distance, the swampland turns into forest and then rises into a range of jagged mountains.
There’s no moon, but the sky is thick with stars—enough to provide the light of a full moon on earth. Although the Hessshites don’t know it, they live on the Alderson disc (a.k.a. the Godwheel) in an area of the galaxy where the stars are much more closely clustered.
Take some time with the design of this place. We want it to inspire awe and send a bit of a chill up the reader’s spine—and make it worth the double-page spread.
1 BLURB: Some hours later, at the far end of the swamp, the procession approaches the HATCHING PLACE of Veffir Voon Iyax and the thousand generations that preceded him...
2 BLURB: THE KINGDOM OF HESSSH!
3 BLURB: From the ramparts to the highest towers to the marshy streets, the CRY goes out:
4 BLURB: A noble son of Hesssh has returned, without his life.
Inset panel. Circular vignette at lower right of Page 13.
Exterior: Looking through a tower window of a large, opulent house—not quite a palace, but definitely the home of a wealthy family. Framed in the window are VEFFIR VOON EEYAX, Iyax’s brother, and his consort, ATUU ITME. They’re looking out over the city, toward the O/P funeral procession. Neither seems particularly unhappy at the sight. In fact, it seems to be all Itme can do to keep from laughing with glee.
5 EEYAX: So it’s TRUE-- Ambrove Uhok found the BODY.
6 EEYAX: My BROTHER is dead.
7 ITME: Heavens. What a tragedy.
8 ITME: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) hrr-hrr
Interior: the tower room. Eeyax has turned away from the window and is walking toward the center of the room. He’s not grieving, but he’s troubled. Itme, still near the window, poses provocatively.
1 EEYAX: Be not so quick to REJOICE, Itme. Iyax, not I, was elected HEIR to the HOUSE OF VEFFIR.
2 EEYAX: Without the support of the populace‑‑ including his FOLLOWERS‑‑ I have no CLAIM on our legacy.
3 ITME: Perhaps you should throw off your CLOTHES, like HE did. I wouldn’t mind...!
Itme, doing her best seductress routine, fairly slithers toward Eeyax. She looks like she’s about to break into the Dance of the Seven Veils. Eeyax regards her with a mixture of desire and frustration. He wants her, but he wishes she’d take this situation a little more seriously.
4 ITME: BACK TO PREDATION!
5 ITME: We’ve lost touch with MOTHER MUD!
6 ITME: Civilization has dulled our SENSES, numbed our INSTINCTS!
7 EEYAX: YOURS appear intact.
Itme is practically slithering against Eeyax’s body, teasing his snout with her dancing fingers. It’s taking all of Eeyax’s will to control himself.
8 EEYAX: You and I may SNEER at Iyax’s PREDATORI movement, but others DO NOT.
9 EEYAX: And THEY will demand RETRIBUTION for his death.
10 ITME: Naturally‑‑ and that YOU be the one to exact it.
11 ITME: It becomes, therefore, a matter of PERSUASION.
Close on Eeyax and Itme’s faces. She “kisses” him on the side of the snout.
12 ITME: We must convince them they crave a LEADER‑‑ not another MARTYR.
13 ITME: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) hrh-hrh
LARGE PANEL. Exterior: WIDE DOWN ANGLE on a torchlit square in the center of Hesssh. Later, but still night.
In the center of the courtyard, the mud-splattered remains of Veffir Voon Iyax lie in state on a stone bier. Ambrove Uhok stands at the head of the bier. He holds a chalice filled with swamp mud, and he’s chucking handfuls of it onto the body. (Sort of a swampland “ashes to ashes” ritual.) Standing at Iyax’s right hand, are Eeyax and Itme. Eeyax is speaking to the crowd, faking a posture of courage in the face of bereavement. She’s giving him that look of unconditional love that Ronald Reagan always got from Nancy.
Encircling the bier, several steps back from The plaza is filled with mourning Hessshites. Most are just weeping. But some are on their knees, wailing to the heavens. And others, zealots, are flagellating themselves with weird little whips attached to the ends of their tails.
1 BLURB: A short time later...
2 AMBROVE: From mud didst thou arise, to mud thou dost return...!
3 EEYAX: Citizens of Hesssh! I know the THIRST that blisters your gullets-- and the only POTION that can QUENCH it!
4 EEYAX: I beseech you, Ambrove Uhok-- work your DIVINATIONS on my brother’s BONES!
Angle on Ambrove Uhok, gripping one of Iyax’s ribs with each hand. (He’s handed the chalice of mud to an “altar boy” at his side.) Ambrove Uhok’s eyes are glazed. He’s going into some kind of trance. The Hessshites around him bow their heads reverently.
5 EEYAX: (OFF-PANEL) Show me the FACE of his SLAYER!
6 AMBROVE: Yes...yes...it is here...
7 AMBROVE: Etched deep in the bone...in the scrawl of eternal LOATHING...
With a sudden yank of both arms, Ambrove Uhok pulls up on Iyax’s ribs, breaking them from the body. As he does so, a misty, semi-transparent image of Sludge rises from Iyax’s remains. The Hessshites around Ambrove Uhok draw back in horror!
8 AMBROVE: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) BEHOLD-- THE ASSASSIN!
Angle on Eeyax. He raises a fist to the heavens and swears an oath of vengeance.
9 EEYAX: I swear to you, brethren-- I shall CROSS OVER to the realm where Iyax met his end--
10 EEYAX: --and deliver unto you this DEMON, so that all may drink of its BLOOD!
Perhaps a little too dramatically, Itme throws herself at Eeyax’s feet and clasps her arms around his legs. He turns his head away, as if he doesn’t want to hear what she’s saying.
1 ITME: No! NO! We shall not ALLOW it!
2 ITME: You are the LAST of the House of Veffir! Your obligation is to POSTERITY-- to live, to SPAWN!
Angle on a thoughtful Ambrove Uhok and several other Hessshites, looking toward O/P Eeyax. Their reaction is less hysterical, but substantially the same.
3 AMBROVE: Atuu Itme is CORRECT, Eeyax. You cannot place yourself at risk. Your clan is as VENERABLE as our kingdom itself.
4 AMBROVE: You must find ANOTHER to undertake the quest.
Angle over the heads of the crowd to Eeyax. His eyes are downcast, his fists clenched; he’s exhibiting the burden of his station in life, and playing it to the hilt.
5 EEYAX: You cannot DENY me vengeance! I MUST--
6 VOICE: (FREE-FLOATING BALLOON; NO POINTER) No!
7 VOICE: (SAME) Stay!
8 VOICE: (SAME) Your seed--
9 VOICE: (SAME) Your duty--
10 VOICE: (SAME) The pool--
11 VOICE: (SAME) Long live Veffir--
Small panel. Angle on Eeyax, arms at his sides, head bowed in resignation.
12 EEYAX: You have spoken. I accept your will.
13 EEYAX: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) hrssh
Eeyax strikes a dramatic pose, pointing toward the distant mountains.
14 EEYAX: Come the morn, I shall depart for the MOUNTAINS OF MUUT to engage a stalker from among the SMOOTHBODIES.
15 EEYAX: And if necessary, all the RICHES of my house shall be committed to this cause!
Eeyax and Itme, in F/G, are walking away, arm in arm, from the cheering crowd.
16 EEYAX: Was I CONVINCING, Itme?
17 ITME: Indeed, my love.
18 ITME: But when the time comes, let ME negotiate the PRICE.
CUT TO: Next day. W/A. An encampment of the MUUTARS (description to follow) in the Mountains of Muut. It looks like exactly what it is: the aftermath of a biker party! The Muutars are a barbarian motorcycle gang. Their bikes, like the Hessshite swamp buggies and flying machines, are constructed of wood with metal girding, and powered by star foam. (The chunk of star foam could be placed either where the headlight would be, or under the seat, like a gas tank.)
Of those Muutars we can see, most are sprawled on the ground, dead drunk, with their “old ladies” draped over them. The ground is strewn with half-eaten food—pieces of a beast carcass, assorted fruits and berries, etc.—and empty kegs, bottles, pitchers, and goblets.
There’s only one tent. It’s black, trimmed in silver, and the largest and meanest of the bikes is parked at its flap. Like the others, this bike is wooden, but there are metal studs on the wheels and the axles extend out into razor-sharp saw-like instruments. (Think of the villain’s chariot in Ben Hur.)
Eeyax and Itme are landing in one of the Hessshite flying machines. One of the Muutars is looking up at the flying machine through a drunken haze and calling out.
1 BLURB: The Mountains of Muut.
2 BLURB: Shortly after sunrise.
3 MUUTAR: PRINCESS DIE! Visitors from the lowland!
Close on the flap of the black tent. F/F shot of PRINCESS DIE, as she steps out of the tent. She’s looking in the direction of the flying machine and is clearly less than joyous about its arrival.
4 PRINCESS DIE: I don’t recall inviting any REPTILES to breakfast.
5 PRINCESS DIE: What dismal wind blows YOU into my morning, Hessshites?
Eeyax and Itme are already out of the flying machine and on the ground. Itme is holding a little jeweled chest. Princess Die strides toward them.
6 EEYAX: We’ve come to tender a proposition‑‑ a FEE in exchange for doing what you do BEST.
7 PRINCESS DIE: You’re not configured to APPRECIATE what I do BEST, lizard.
8 PRINCESS DIE: But make your offer, anyway.
Die and Itme stand face to face. There’s a competition going on between them. The prize is dominance of the situation. Itme holds up the chest for Die to see.
9 ITME: Eeyax tells me you pride yourself on your STALKING skills.
10 ITME: He also says there is one treasure of the Veffir clan which you COVET.
11 PRINCESS DIE: No-- which they STOLE.
12 PRINCESS DIE: Surely you don’t expect me to believe it’s in that CHEST--?
Close angle on the chest as Itme lifts the hinged lid. Inside, resting on a bed of velvet, is a white, shriveled, mummified heart! Princess Die’s hand is reaching toward the chest.
1 ITME: (OFF-PANEL) See for yourself-- the HEART OF HIMSOMEL!
2 PRINCESS DIE: (OFF-PANEL) You egg-laying IMBECILES! You’ll never leave here ALIVE unless--
As Die’s hand passes under the cover of the box, a bolt of lightning-like energy courses up her arm and immobilizes her. She screams in pain. Itme smirks.
3 PRINCESS DIE: (BURST) --AAAAAAA
4 ITME: It is WELL-PROTECTED, princess-- by Ambrove Uhok’s most POTENT blessing of preservation.
Princess Die staggers back a++way from Itme, who calmly closes the chest.
5 ITME: Eeyax will instruct him to REMOVE it, if we reach an agreement-- and you SUCCEED at your task.
6 PRINCESS DIE: And what would THAT be?
Angle on Itme, with Eeyax standing close behind her.
7 ITME: To cross the barrier between worlds and bring back the ASSASSIN of Veffir Voon Iyax.
8 EEYAX: Think of it. The relic will be yours to BURN.
9 EEYAX: Your GREAT-GREAT-GRANDFATHER can at last go to his rest in the SWAMP OF SOULS.
Tight on Princess Die. She rubs her shoulder, trying to restore circulation in the arm that took the shock. She regards the O/P Itme and Eeyax with pure contempt.
10 PRINCESS DIE: You’re as LOW as they come, Eeyax.
11 PRINCESS DIE: But you’ve just hired yourself a BOUNTY HUNTER.
Exterior: Edna’s building in New York. The present. Night. Sludge, seen from back, is watching from an alleyway across the street.
1 BLURB: Earth.
2 BLURB: 9:09 p.m.
3 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) Gotta be YEARS...
4 BLURB: (SAME) At least two.
5 BLURB: (SAME) Maybe fifty.
6 BLURB: (SAME) Something like that...
7 BLURB: (SAME) Probably doesn’t even live here anymore.
From Sludge’s POV: a man in jogging gear enters the building.
8 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) She might, though.
An elderly woman exits the building.
9 BLURB: 9:21 p.m.
10 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) Gotta be one or the other.
A pizza delivery guy enters the building as a young couple exits.
11 BLURB: 10:06 p.m.
12 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) Fifty-fifty proposition.
A man in a business suit goes in.
13 BLURB: 10:44 p.m.
14 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) Maybe two.
Giving up, Sludge starts to shuffle off into the alley—but the glint of a quarter on the pavement catches his eye.
15 BLURB: 11:17 p.m.
16 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) Maybe not.
17 BLURB: (SAME) Anyway, I’m calling it a QUARTER.
18 BLURB: (SAME) A night.
C/U on Sludge’s hand as he picks up the quarter.
19 BLURB: (SAME) A quarter.
Sludge holds the quarter between his thumb and forefinger and thinks about it.
20 BLURB: (SAME) Find a PHONE in a deserted spot and I could call it an EDNA.
21 BLURB: (SAME) What the hell was her NUMBER...?
22 BLURB: (SAME) 2, 2, 50...?
Sludge turns back to the building. A woman about Edna’s size, her head covered by a scarf, is walking up the stoop carrying a bag of groceries. Sludge reacts with surprise. He’s sure it’s Edna!
1 BLURB: (SLUDGE BLURB) 25, or...6 to 4...
2 BLURB: (SAME) Never DID have a head for--
3 BLURB: (SAME) Wait! Is that--?
4 BLURB: (SAME) Nah, can’t--
5 BLURB: (SAME) Yeah, CAN-- must be--!
Without looking where he’s going, Sludge charges out of the alley into the street, calling out to the woman.
6 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST) ENNNNDAA!!
C/U on Sludge, car headlights shining in his face, as he looks O/P, reacting to:
LARGE PANEL. Sludge is rammed by a taxicab!
SFX: (LARGE) Pa-krruMMPCH
Angle past the woman, seen from back, as she turns around, dropping her groceries. She sees Sludge standing there with the taxi’s front end wrapped around him. He’s trying to get free, clawing at the air in her direction.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Edna...?
2 SLUDGE: (SAME) It’s okay...I won’t hurt you...it’s ME...it’s...
3 WOMAN: Oh my god...!
The woman turns toward our POV and rushes into the building, terrified. We can see clearly that she isn’t Edna.
4 WOMAN: POLICE! Somebody call the POLICE!!
Sludge backs away from the taxi. His goo clings to it like chewing gum to the sole of a shoe, making it difficult for him to pull free. The horrified CABBIE and his FARE have gotten out of the cab and are backing away in the other direction, away from Sludge.
5 SLUDGE: Don’t-- I didn’t mean to-- just forgave myself, y’know...?
6 SLUDGE: FORGOT.
7 SLUDGE: Y’know?
8 SLUDGE: Guess not.
He slinks back into the shadows of the alley.
9 SLUDGE: Aah...
10 SLUDGE: Ya pays your QUARTER, ya takes your pants off.
Close on Sludge, caught in a blinding flash of light from a source O/P, in front of him. Sludge is raising his arms to shield his eyes from the light.
1 BLURB: Suddenly...
2 PRINCESS DIE: (OFF-PANEL; BURST) SLAYER OF VEFFIR VOON IYAX!
LARGE PANEL. Sludge’s head and shoulder, seen from back, in immediate F/G. A breach has opened in the air, several yards in front of him at a height just over his head. Princess Die and THREE MUUTAR BIKERS are roaring out of the breach on their cycles, diving at Sludge. Each of the bikers has a different weapon, each a sort of punkish version of an ancient weapon: a three-bladed sword, a mace, and a crossbow with a pistol grip that fires three or four bolts at once. (For convenience’s sake, we’ll call the three bikers SWORD‑BIKER, MACE‑BIKER, and CROSSBOW‑BIKER.) Die herself is wielding a whip that crackles with some sort of unearthly energy.
3 PRINCESS DIE: Long ago was it written that no GOOD DEED goes UNPUNISHED.
4 PRINCESS DIE: I am the fate you have brought upon YOURSELF by killing the hated lizard!
As Die’s bike sails over Sludge’s head, she snares his neck with the whip. The energy surges through his body like electricity, and his goo begins to boil and pop. Sludge is clearly in agony.
1 PRINCESS DIE: As princess of the Muutars, I sing your PRAISES!
2 PRINCESS DIE: But as HOSTAGE to the Heart of Himsomel--
SFX: (whip snapping around Sludge’s neck) thwit
Die’s bike hits the ground, yanking Sludge off his feet. He flops to the ground on his back, with Die’s whip still around his neck and his muck still boiling and popping.
3 PRINCESS DIE: I must abet the Hessshites’ RETRIBUTION!
4 PRINCESS DIE: May the souls of the swamp FORGIVE me!
SFX: (very small; Sludge’s goo bubbling) =ftp= =pof= =sspop= =blb=
As Sludge struggles to get up, Sword-Biker flies past Sludge and stabs his weapon into Sludge’s gut as he passes. Blood and goo spew.
5 SWORD‑BIKER: May you feel my REMORSE as well as my BLADE!
SFX: (sword entering Sludge) Shupp
W/A. Sludge is just barely sitting up now, with blood and muck still spouting from his gut. Mace-Biker is riding at Sludge, swinging his weapon, about to bash him in the head. Sword-Biker is skidding around to make another pass at Sludge from the back.
6 MACE-BIKER: May the exalted dead of Muutar reveal to you our SORROW!
SFX: (very small; Sludge’s goo bubbling) =fpp= =ptp= =stpp=
Now in a kneeling position, Sludge reaches out with one arm and grabs Mace-Biker’s arm, yanking him off his bike.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Yeah-- and I hope the BLUEBLOOD OF HAPPINESS--
Sludge swings Mace-Biker like a club at the oncoming Sword-Biker.
2 SLUDGE: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) ‑‑builds a nest in your INTESTINES!
Mace-Biker is impaled on the three-bladed sword, and Sword-Biker’s bike tips up and backward, hurling Sword-Biker out of his seat.
3 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) ...bird.
4 MACE-BIKER: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) =auggph=
SFX: (blades entering mace) chuNCh
W/A. Sludge is on one knee now with one foot solidly on the ground. He’s grabbing at the whip around his neck, trying to pull it loose, as he struggles to stand up. Behind him, Die is struggling to pull him back down. She’s losing the battle.
5 PRINCESS DIE: SUBMIT, beast! Do not make me TORMENT you further!
6 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Huh. Torment is my LIFE, lady...!
Head-on shot of Crossbow-Biker. He fires straight into our POV.
SFX: (BOWSTRING) TUNNNG
The bolts from the crossbow land in a pattern across Sludge’s chest. More goo. More blood. Sludge howls in pain—and rage.
1 SLUDGE: (HEAVY, WAVY BALLOON BORDER; STAGGERED LETTERING; OPEN FOR COLOR) RAUUHHNNG
SFX: (arrows striking sludge) =thut= =plukt= =fluk=
In one prodigious surge of effort, Sludge rises to his feet. His guts are still bleeding. Blood is flowing from where the arrows are lodged. His face is contorted (even more than usual) in an expression of monumental anger. He looks like a big, gooey Rambo.
2 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST) WHY-- ARE YOU-- DOING THIS FOR‑‑?!
W/A. Grabbing the length of the whip in both hands, he yanks Princess Die off her bike and into the air.
3 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST) I KNOW DON’T YOU-- DON’T KNOW YOU‑‑ NEVER HURT YOU‑‑!
Small panel. Princess Die lands face-down at Sludge’s feet. Sludge’s hand is reaching toward Die’s fin.
4 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) But I CAN...!
Grabbing Princess Die by her fin, Sludge lifts her to eye level. (Her feet dangle off the ground.) The whip is dropping away from his neck, falling to the ground. Die has lost her cool completely, screaming in pain—the result of Sludge’s touch on her fin. He looks like he’s going to haul off and ram a fist into her face.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) AND I WILL...!
2 PRINCESS DIE: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) HYEEEEEEE
C/U on Sludge’s face, as Princess Die rakes her nails across it! They leave trails of silver fire, not blood, and Sludge reacts with extreme surprise and pain.
3 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Yeah, yeah-- but I’m SORRY, so it’s okay, ri--
4 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST) --IIIAAARGG
Sludge drops Die and reels backward, ribbons of silvery flame trailing from his face. We see that Die’s fin has been grossly deformed by Sludge’s touch. Its tip has become a large, ugly ball that flops the entire comb over to the side of her head.
5 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Oh gah-- hahrr-- hot--
6 SLUDGE: (SAME) Wha dih-- oh gah-- oh gah--
Sludge pitches forward and splats—literally—on the floor of the alleyway. Goo and blood splash from his chest and torso.
SFX: (Sludge hitting the pavement) kphLat
Angle past Sludge’s face, in F/G, lying on the pavement, to Die, Sword-Biker, and Crossbow-Biker in B/G. (Mace-Biker is dead.) The flames have gone out, but Sludge’s face looks like a chunk of burnt coal—hard, black, with a rough, jagged surface. We can barely make out his features. Die is pointing at Sludge.
7 PRINCESS DIE: I meant-- to spare him the SLASHES OF FIRE‑‑!
8 PRINCESS DIE: But never, never-- have I known such PAIN!
9 PRINCESS DIE: Prepare him for the journey BACK.
LARGE PANEL. Exterior: the Muutars’ camp. W/A. Die, Sword-Biker, and Crossbow-Biker are roaring out of a breach into the midst of the camp, with Sludge, snared in a net, in tow behind the bikes. The Muutar camp has been devastated. Die’s tent is in flames. The remaining bikes have been smashed to pieces, and the remaining Muutars are in much the same condition. They, and their “old ladies” lay strewn about the camp in varied states of dismemberment. Die and company register shock as they see what’s happened.
1 BLURB: The other side:
2 PRINCESS DIE: By the MANGLED HANDS of MUNGG--!
3 PRINCESS DIE: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) WE HAVE BEEN BETRAYED!
Close on Die. She’s furious. Little tongues of silver flame are leaping from the nails of her hand.
4 PRINCESS DIE: Our errand was a RUSE to remove me from camp!
5 PRINCESS DIE: Eeyax must have learned who was LOOTING the Hessshite TRADING PARTIES on their way through the mountains!
Tight angle on Eeyax and Itme, peering up from behind a rock overlooking the camp. Itme is making a little pointing motion with one finger toward the O/P camp.
6 PRINCESS DIE: (OFF-PANEL) We were careful to leave NO SURVIVORS, and yet--
7 PRINCESS DIE: (OFF-PANEL) --plainly not careful ENOUGH!
LARGE PANEL. Another W/A on the camp, as a dozen or so fierce Hessshite warriors, armed with spears and swords, leap down from the rocks at Die, Sword-Biker, and Crossbow-Biker. It’s an ambush!
SFX: (Hessshite battle growl) rrHesssshh
1 PRINCESS DIE: BLACK MOONS OF SKETT!
2 PRINCESS DIE: The Hessshite devils are not DONE with us‑‑!
One Hessshite warrior drives his spear through Sword-Biker’s chest.
3 HESSSHITE: DIE, MUUTAR SWINE!
4 SWORD-BIKER: (STAGGERED, LOWERCASE LETTERING) =hrauugh=
SFX: (SPEAR PIERCING SWORD-BIKER) Vunch
Two Hessshite spearmen leap on Crossbow-Biker, knocking him off his bike even as he shoots. One of the Hessshites takes a bolt through the neck, the other through the chest.
5 BOW-BIKER: Die we might-- but we’ll drag you WITH us--
6 BOW-BIKER: --through the very gates of HELL!
SFX: (crossbow firing) tunnng
SFX: (Bolt thru Hessshite’s neck) zissh
SFX: (bolt into Hessshite’s chest) Shukkt
Die, meanwhile, has drawn both her sword and her knife. She lobs off the head of one Hessshite with the sword and brutally stabs another with the knife—but there are already four more rushing toward her.
1 PRINCESS DIE: I DESERVE to perish--
2 PRINCESS DIE: --for according Eeyax even a FLYSPECK of trust!
SFX: (sword decapitating Hessshite) shwhok
SFX: (knife stabbing Hessshite) thuhch
Two of the oncoming Hessshites grab Die’s arms just above her elbows, effectively keeping her from using the knife, the sword, or her fingernails on them. The other two Hessshites lunge forward with the intent of tackling her around the waist. (Although she doesn’t know this, they don’t intend to kill her. Eeyax wants to bring her back to Hesssh alive.)
3 PRINCESS DIE: Your souls are as COLD as your BLOOD!
4 HESSSHITE #1: Is that supposed to be an INSULT?
5 HESSSHITE #2: Oh, YES! They think we ENVY their tender skins and tepid fluids!
Bracing herself on the two Hessshites holding her arms, Die swings up her legs and kicks the two oncoming Hessshites in their snouts before they can reach her.
6 PRINCESS DIE: You DECEIVE yourself, Hessshite.
7 PRINCESS DIE: We “smoothbodies” are TOUGHER than we appear!
SFX: (Die’s feet hitting Hessshites) FOMMP
In a display of raw power, Die draws her arms in front of her (her arms are still bent at the elbow, as if she were using one of those Nautilus pectoral machines) and smashes together the heads of the Hessshites holding her. The sword and knife fall from Die’s hands as the Hessshites’ heads meet.
SFX: (Hessshites’ heads cracking) krunkk
Die comes running to the aid of Crossbow-Biker, who’s now on his back with two Hessshites on top of him and another poised to lob off his head with a sword.
8 PRINCESS DIE: How MANY of you craven lizards does it TAKE to defeat a lone Muutar?
Die rakes her nails violently across the sword-wielding Hessshite’s chest—setting his entire torso aflame. He drops his sword and screeches in agony.
1 PRINCESS DIE: Fight ME, Hessshite-- not a man who cannot MOVE!
SFX: (Die’s nails raking Hessshite) frritch
2 HESSSHITE: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) =HYEEESH=
As Die reaches down to grab the two Hessshites off Crossbow-Biker, she’s struck in the back of the head with the stick end of a spear.
3 PRINCESS DIE: Are you good for more than DEAD WEIGHT, reptile? Stand and--
4 PRINCESS DIE: (LETTERING
GETS PROGRESSIVELY SMALLER)
SFX: (STICK HITTING DIE’S HEAD) THokk
Angle past the blade of a sword coming straight down in F/G, into Crossbow-Biker’s chest. He looks up toward Die—and rattles in pain as he cries out her name. (We don’t actually want to see the wound the sword is making. A little squirt of blood from where the O/P point tip of the sword will be much scarier.)
5 BOW-BIKER: Prin--
6 BOW-BIKER: (LOWERCASE LETTERING) =uhawwg=
7 BOW-BIKER: cess--
8 BOW-BIKER: (LOWERCASE LETTERING) =rrehhung=
9 BOW-BIKER: Die--
SFX: (sword entering bow-biker’s chest) chooch
Wide panel. Crossbow-Biker lies dead with a sword through his chest. Die lies unconscious on the ground, near him. Sludge, still unconscious himself and still snared in the net, lies a short distance away. A few of the Hessshite warriors are still standing around. Eeyax and Itme walk calmly, regally, onto the scene of the carnage. Eeyax is waving his hand at Sludge and Die, giving orders to the remaining Hessshites.
10 ITME: They fight with glorious FURY-- I’ll give them THAT.
11 EEYAX: How very GENEROUS of you.
12 EEYAX: SHACKLE the female and my brother’s assassin!
13 EEYAX: They’re coming HOME with us-- to face EXECUTION!
CUT TO: LARGE PANEL. A World War II European battle field. This should look like a panel straight out of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. Almost dead center in the panel, Charging straight toward our POV is Sludge—wearing a U.S. infantry uniform and helmet of the period, and firing a machine gun! His face is still hard and blackened. He’s flanked by Edna (at left of page) and Princess Die (at right of page), also decked out as G.I.’s, and also firing tommy-guns at the O/P enemy. Bullets are tearing up the ground at their feet. In B/G, mortars are exploding, kicking up clods of earth and clouds of dust.
1 BLURB: Fifty years ago...give or take.
2 EDNA: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER; OPEN FOR COLOR) SUCK LEAD, RATZIS!
3 EDNA: Ya MADE this our fight--and we’re gonna WIN it!
4 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Their ARM is off by a MULE!
5 SLUDGE: (SAME) Aim.
6 SLUDGE: (SAME) How’m I gonna get my PURPLE HIMSOMEL if they can’t HIT me?!
7 PRINCESS DIE: They are perverse to the CORE, sarge!
8 PRINCESS DIE: Whatever you WISH is what they WITHHOLD!
9 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Mile.
The “Nazis,” charging out of a forest, firing at the O/P Sludge and company. They’re the Hessshites from the biker encampment, including Eeyax and Itme. Eeyax is done up as Hitler himself, complete with the little mustache. He’s the only one who isn’t firing. Instead, he’s gesturing skyward with the barrel of his gun.
10 EEYAX: Amerikaner SEWAGE! You vish to HOORT and DIE?!
11 EEYAX: Der Reich vill HAPPILY oblige! ACHTUNG!
U/S past Sludge’s head and shoulders to the sky. A breach has opened in mid-air, and dozens of World War II-era bombs are dropping out of it, straight toward him.
1 EEYAX: (OFF-PANEL) From out of NOVHERE-- und for no good REASON--
2 EEYAX: (SAME; BURST) Der BLITZKREIG rains down on your KOPF, slime-hund!!
Close on one of the bombs as it lands at Sludge’s feet. Instead of exploding, though, it cracks open like an eggshell and spews out innumerable baby Hessshites!
SFX: (bomb breaking open) krruk
SFX: (baby Hessshites; scatter TINY sfx around panel) =hsish= =hhiss= =ssihh= =hsihs= =ihhss=
LARGE PANEL. W/A. Other bombs have fallen all around, and the baby Hessshites from all of them are leaping and crawling all over Sludge, Edna, and Die. They try to slap and brush the tiny lizards away, but they’re being overcome by sheer numbers. To right of panel, Hitler/Eeyax laughs uproariously.
3 EEYAX: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!
4 EEYAX: You vill be OVERRUN und consigned to der CESSPOOL of history!
5 EEYAX: Und I vill be hailed as der ÜBERGATOR! I‑‑
Interior: a Hessshite dungeon. Sludge is manacled, wrists and ankles, to the stone wall of the dungeon cell. He’s sitting on the floor, apparently just waking up from his stupor. His face is still charred and blackened.
1 EEYAX: (OFF-PANEL) --may even RULE in Hesssh, thanks to you two.
Wider shot. Sludge is at left of panel. Die is chained to the opposite wall. Die’s hands are encased in what looks like a ball of black marble, so that she can’t use her fingernails. Eeyax and Itme stand in the center of the dungeon cell. Eeyax is speaking to Die. He hasn’t yet noticed that Sludge is awake. Itme looks irritated with Eeyax.
2 EEYAX: By delivering you into the maw of Hessshite JUSTICE, I have assured myself--
3 ITME: She doesn’t CARE, Eeyax-- and your GLOATING ill befits a future sovereign.
4 PRINCESS DIE: Don’t LISTEN to her, Eeyax! Give yourself a moment’s SILENCE--
Eeyax and Itme leave through the door of the cell. Die is defiant.
5 PRINCESS DIE: --and you might have to face the fact you’re not HALF the reptile your BROTHER was!
6 EEYAX: You disappoint me, Princess-- such a CHILDISH attempt at provocation!
7 EEYAX: Veffir Voon Iyax is dead. So is our RIVALRY.
Small panel. Angle over Sludge’s shoulder to to Die, struggling against her chains to no avail.
8 PRINCESS DIE: How could I have been such a FOOL-- as to TRUST any Hessshite--?!
9 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Beats me...but I wish to hell you HAPPENED.
10 SLUDGE: (SAME) Hadn’t.
C/U on Die. She stops struggling, startled, and looks at O/P Sludge.
11 PRINCESS DIE: Is that SYMPATHY in your voice, beast?
12 PRINCESS DIE: My shame is COMPLETE...!
Sludge gives a tug on his chains, trying to see how strong they are.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) So’s my conviction.
2 SLUDGE: (SAME) Confusion.
3 SLUDGE: (SAME) I killed that lizard’s BROTHER, huh?
4 SLUDGE: (SAME) Funny, ain’t it-- how the PAST comes back to hunt you?
Close on Die, looking resentful, bitter.
5 PRINCESS DIE: The past was their WEAPON against me.
6 PRINCESS DIE: Generations ago, my noble ancestor HIMSOMEL led my people into WAR against the Hessshites-- and LOST.
7 PRINCESS DIE: They cut out his HEART and kept it as a TROPHY.
Sludge gives another tug on his chains, harder this time, but he can’t break them.
8 PRINCESS DIE: (OFF-PANEL) Until it has been BURNED and its ashes scattered upon the SWAMP OF SOULS--
9 PRINCESS DIE: (SAME) --his SPIRIT cannot enter the land of the dead.
10 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Hnph. Won’t budge...!
Another angle on Sludge and Die. Sludge is struggling to get to his feet. Die looks furious at him.
11 SLUDGE: (SAME) Look, you and me are in pretty much the same car-- BOAT-- at this point, right?
12 SLUDGE: (SAME) Except for this HEART, I mean?
13 PRINCESS DIE: “Except for”--?
14 PRINCESS DIE: Are you MOCKING my people’s most SACRED beliefs?!
C/U on Sludge. He shakes his head “no.”
15 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) I don’t know from RELIGION, lady. I was a bad cop an’ a WORSE Catholic.
16 SLUDGE: (SAME) I’m just sayin’, maybe we can hump-- HELP-- each other...!
Tall panel: Virtually the full height of the page and about a third of the width.. At top of panel, just below the border, are Sludge’s and Die’s legs, seen from about the knees down, dangling in the air. At bottom of panel stands a Hessshite MAGISTRATE, wearing something like judge’s robes (and maybe a British judge’s wig, if you’re in a silly mood) and reading a proclamation from a scroll. In B/G are the stone walls of the courtyard where Iyax’s funeral was held (Page Fifteen). Blurb and dialogue balloons should be placed beneath Sludge and Die’s legs and above the Magistrate.
1 BLURB: Daybreak.
2 MAGISTRATE: Oyea, oyea! Let it be DECREED:
3 MAGISTRATE: For her crimes of PLUNDER and SLAUGHTER, the Muutar Princess Die is hereby sentenced to DEATH.
4 MAGISTRATE: For the heinous ASSASSINATION of Veffir Voon Iyax, the dripping blue MONSTROSITY is likewise sentenced to DEATH.
LARGE PANEL. The rest of the page. Extreme long shot from a POV at the rear of the courtyard. Now we can see clearly what’s going on. Sludge and Die are hanging by heavy shackles and chains over the side of a black-painted Hessshite autogyro, hovering over the courtyard. Sludge’s face is still charred. Die’s hands are still encased in the black marble ball. Itme is piloting the gyro. Eeyax is in the rear seat. The chains are anchored on the outer hull of the gyro just below the opening of Eeyax’s seat. The Magistrate is standing on some sort of raised platform beneath the autogyro. The square is again full of Hessshites. In F/G—at the rear of the courtyard, that is—Ambrove Uhok and Pah Gorah, who is naked except for her headpiece, are leading a contingent of equally unclothed Predatori into the courtyard. (Ambrove Uhok is dressed as we saw him before.) The Magistrate and the other Hessshites are turning in their direction, looking aghast, scandalized! Pah Gorah has one arm raised over her head, demanding to be heard.
5 MAGISTRATE: Punishment shall be administered IMMEDIATELY and in the manner prescribed by--
6 PAH GORAH: (BURST) STOP!!
7 PAH GORAH: We of the PREDATORI-- we to whom Iyax was SPIRITUAL GUIDE-- demand this execution be conducted according to OUR ways!
8 CROWD: (FREE-FLOATING BALLOON; NO POINTER) They’re NAKED--!
9 CROWD: (SAME) A disgrace--
10 CROWD: (SAME) Scandalous--!
11 CROWD: (SAME) --no shame?!
12 CROWD: (SAME) Indecent--!
Angle past the hem of the Magistrate’s robes toward the crowd. Pah Gorah and Ambrove Uhok, followed by the other Predatori, are marching toward the Magistrate. The other Hessshites, covering their eyes, looking revolted, part like the Red Sea, letting the Predatori through.
1 MAGISTRATE: Hessshite LAW takes precedence above all other‑‑
2 PAH GORAH: Like Iyax, WE do not live by YOUR rules!
3 PAH GORAH: We obey only the PRIMAL LAW of PREDATION!
Close on Pah Gorah. Her jaws are dripping. Her hands are held out, palms up, fingers curled into claws—a “gimme” gesture.
4 PAH GORAH: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER, OPEN FOR COLOR) We DEMAND the right-- to EAT the assassin ALIVE!!
Angle on the crowd. General consternation. Some of the females have raised their hands to their mouths in horror. Some of the males look like they’re about to hurl. The rest just look appalled—and angry. The crowd is about to become a mob.
5 CROWD: (FREE-FLOATING BALLOON; NO POINTER; LOWERCASE LETTERING) =bwwecch=
6 CROWD: (FREE-FLOATING BALLOON; NO POINTER) Sickening...!
7 CROWD: (SAME) Barbaric--!
8 CROWD: (FREE-FLOATING BALLOON; NO POINTER; LOWERCASE LETTERING) =urraukk=
9 CROWD: (FREE-FLOATING BALLOON; NO POINTER) Revolting‑‑!
W/A. A fight breaks out between the Predatori and the other Hessshites. In B/G, the Magistrate is pleading for order to no avail.
10 MAGISTRATE: ORDER! ORDER!
11 MAGISTRATE: CALM yourselves, citizens-- I beg you!
12 MAGISTRATE: An execution is no occasion for VIOLENCE--!
Angle on the execution gyro. Itme is piloting it higher. Eeyax looks down over the side, alarmed. Sludge and Die, whose arms, heads, and shoulders are visible at the bottom of this panel, look up.
1 EEYAX: Itme! No! The magistrate hasn’t FINISHED--
2 ITME: Now is not the time to stand on FORMALITY, my love.
3 ITME: Your DUTY is clear!
D/S on Sludge as the courtyard grows smaller beneath him. He’s grabbed the chain above his shackles with one hand, while painfully oozing the other arm up through its shackle, so he can now reach a higher spot on the chain.
4 ITME: (OFF-PANEL) Your allegiance belongs with Hessshite LAW!
Same angle. Sludge grabs the higher point on the chain with one hand.
5 ITME: (OFF-PANEL) You SAW the display of CONTEMPT for the Predatori!
Same angle. Sludge brings his lower hand, still shackled, up to meet the other hand, in effect climbing the chain.
6 ITME: (OFF-PANEL) Their numbers are FEW-- and their influence SCANT!
Side angle on the autogyro. Sludge has repeated the maneuver, raising himself to a position just below Eeyax’s seat. Neither Eeyax nor Itme sees this yet.
7 ITME: All Hesssh will proclaim you a HERO for complying with the law--
8 ITME: --and completing the DROP, as it requires!
Sludge is lifting one leg up to climb into Eeyax’s seat. Eeyax horrified.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Better check if you get points FOREVER.
2 SLUDGE: (SAME) ...for EFFORT.
Eeyax clawing uselessly at Sludge, as Sludge hauls Die up to safety.
3 SLUDGE: (SAME) ’Cause there’s not gonna BE any DROOP today!
4 PRINCESS DIE: No, no-- SWING me-- toward the PROW!
C/U on Itme. As she looks over her shoulder to see what’s going on, Die’s ankles lock around Itme’s neck and her calves come together against Itme’s throat, choking her.
5 PRINCESS DIE: (OFF-PANEL) I have a SCORE to settle with the LADY!
6 ITME: (LOWERCASE LETTERING) =gh-hrrk=
LARGE PANEL. Wide shot to show positions of Itme, Die, Sludge, and Eeyax. Die is on her back on the top of the gyro, her head near the stem of the rotor, her legs locked around Itme’s neck. She’s trying to yank Itme out of the cockpit. Sludge is standing in the rear seat, holding Eeyax out over the side of the gyro by the cloth of his robes. Eeyax’s legs are pumping furiously at the empty air beneath him. The gyro itself is wobbling in the air, very unstable due to all the activity and shifting of weight.
7 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) You don’t kick quitting an’ scratching--
8 SLUDGE: (SAME) --quicking-- quit--
9 SLUDGE: (SAME) &#$%
10 SLUDGE: (SAME) --you’re gonna drip YOURSELF!
11 SLUDGE: (SAME) Drop.
Small panel. Close on Sludge, looking upward as a huge dark shadow falls over him and the gyro.
12 SLUDGE: (SAME) Not that I’d MIND, or--
13 SLUDGE: (SAME; NORMAL SIZE BALLOON; VERY SMALL LETTERING) Oh damn.
PAGES THIRTY-NINE & FORTY
Wide panel across top half of both pages. The execution gyro is dwarfed by a massive flying barge, carrying the enraged Predatori. Think of this craft as a primitive version of the old S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier. It’s shaped like an alligator with legs splayed and the tail straight up. At the tip of the tail and at all four feet are propellers. The back of the alligator is flat, like an Egyptian barge and big enough to carry a couple of dozen Predatori. Pah Gorah stands on the snout of the alligator, shouting orders to her troops. The other Predatori are firing a rain of flame arrows down at the gyro, and more than a few of them are hitting their mark. The gyro is catching fire. Sludge has let go of Eeyax, letting him plunge toward the thickly-forested ground far below.
1 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BALLOON) Sorry, bet-- all bubs are OFF.
2 SLUDGE: (SAME) I got a BIGGER problem here...!
3 PAH GORAH: (DOUBLE BALLOON BORDER, OPEN FOR COLOR) BRING THEM DOWN!
4 PAH GORAH: Send them plummeting to the floor of the world, where we may FEAST on their BROKEN BODIES!
SFX: (Eeyax screaming as he falls) hyyaaassssh
With a tremendous twist of her hips, Die torques Itme out of the pilot’s seat and over the side of the gyro.
5 PRINCESS DIE: Your life is ENDED, Itme!
6 PRINCESS DIE: Go! Join your lover in HELL!
SFX: (Itme screaming) heeeeeesh
Angle on the ground. Itme lands on the ground with a terrifying impact. Her neck, arms, legs, and tail are twisted and broken. In B/G, the body of Veffir Voon Eeyax lies on its broken back, draped over a tree limb.
Angle on the gyro. Die, now standing in the pilot’s compartment and facing the rear of the gyro, uses the “bowling ball” to smash through the wooden hull of the ship, just forward of the propeller stem. Sludge, standing in the passenger seat, gapes at her in puzzlement. Flame arrows are still whizzing by them, and the gyro is ablaze.
7 SLUDGE: (SLUDGE BURST) HEY! Patrol yourself! This crate’s ALREADY fallin’ apart--!
8 PRINCESS DIE: I haven’t lost “patrol,” beast. I KNOW what I am doing.
SFX: (“bowling ball” smashing wooden hull) funnch
Angle over Die’s shoulder to the breach she just smashed in the hull. Die has exposed the starfoam at the base of the propeller mechanism. She’s moving the “bowling ball” toward the starfoam.
Closer angle on the starfoam, as the “bowling ball” makes contact. The “bowling ball” begins to melt.
Still closer angle. The bowling ball evaporates away, freeing Die’s hands.
C/U on Sludge, watching with some amazement.
Wider shot. Sludge rips out the entire propeller assembly…
…and hurls it upward, starfoam-first, at the Predatori barge.
Inset panel. Upper left corner. The starfoam strikes the underside of the barge’s sculpted gator jaw.
LARGE PANEL. The Predatori barge explodes! It’s engulfed in flames and breaking apart in mid-air. Some Predatori are dropping toward the ground, others are going up in flames. In F/G of panel, carried away from the explosion on the shockwave, is the gyro. Sludge, very pleased with himself, is looking back at the exploding barge. Die is facing the front of the gyro (and the reader), looking groundward, alarmed.
Angle past the stern of the gyro toward the swamp, far, far below. A weird, fuzzy yellow cloud seems to be floating above a part of the swamp. Die is in a panic. They’re hurtling toward the Swamp of Souls! To immerse oneself in its waters while still alive is a blasphemous act to Die’s people.
L/S. The gyro plunges into the fuzzy yellow cloud. It’s actually a flock of dweeks, the strange floating fuzzballs from Sludge #11.
Angle on Sludge as the gyro passes through the flock of dweeks. They’re scattering in a panic. They don’t like being hit by plunging gyros—and they like Sludge’s goo even less. The air should be swarming with dweeks in this shot. Sludge is waving his arms around, trying to drive them away. He recognizes them. (“You mean, the Swamp of Souls is that swamp?!”)
W/A. The gyro crashes in the swamp, breaking into pieces on impact. Steam billows as the flaming gyro hits the water. We can’t see what’s happened to Sludge and Die.
Swamp. Some flaming debris from gyro scattered over the surface of the water. Sludge is on his hands and knees, crawling toward Die, who’s lying on her back in the water, either dead or unconscious—we can’t be sure which.
C/U on Sludge. He looks around, hearing a familiar, menacing, squooshy sound.
The viscous-jelly “protohumans” (also seen in Sludge #11) are rising from the bottom of the swamp, surrounding Sludge and Die.
The protohumans all “throw” themselves at Sludge and Die, enveloping them in their jelly substance.
W/A. The protohumans sink back beneath the water, as if sucked under by a vacuum hose. Sludge and Die are sucked down with them.
CUT TO: The nightclub from Page Three. Sludge, in his Sgt. Fury duds, is seated at a little round table with Edna on one side and Die on the other. (They’re also in their G.I. outfits.) A candle in a glass burns at the center of the table. Waltzing up to the table is the nightclub’s “cigarette girl”—Pumpkin, in a cute little black-and-white uniform with a skirt that stops above the “knees.” (Yes, we can see his weird, spindly wooden legs.) He wears a wig and a little pillbox hat on his head and, of course, the obligatory high-heels. He’s carrying a tray in front of him at waist height. It’s held by a strap around his neck. The tray would ordinarily contain cigars and packs of cigarettes, but instead it’s piled high with Zukes. “Cigars, cigarettes, zukes?” he’s asking the trio.
Sludge looks at Edna, puzzled. Is this a dream? A fantasy? A hallucination? Do you go to a nightclub if you die in the Swamp of Souls? Edna is shrugging—a “who knows?” gesture—and telling Sludge to go with the flow.
Sludge takes a Zuke from Pumpkin’s tray.
Sludge bites into the Zuke.
Sludge’s head explodes! No blood or flying brains or anything—just goo erupting in all directions, leaving nothing atop his neck and shoulders.
Exterior: The swamp. Extreme W/A. The substance that forms the protohumans is rising up from beneath the water in a shape that looks like a pair of lips! Sludge and Die are rising out of the lips and high into the air on a powerful jet of water. The swamp is literally convulsing and spitting them out! It can’t digest Sludge’s sludge.
Sludge and Die fly over the treetops of the forest that surrounds the swamp…
…land on their backs on the crest of a hill beyond the forest…
…roll down the hillside, out of control…
…and come to a bumpy halt in the Zuke patch at the bottom of the hill! They’re both apparently unconscious.
The Zuke patch. Night. Having lain here for hours, Sludge and Die are just coming to their senses. Sludge on his hands and knees is looking around at the Zuke plants in astonishment. He’s thinking: “I wasn’t dreaming! There’s a lifetime supply of the stuff! Enough to turn me back human and keep me that way!” Die, of course, has no idea what he’s talking about.
With a crazed, almost panicky look in his eyes, Sludge starts gathering armfuls of Zukes, yanking whole plants out of the ground. He’s acting as though they were going to get up and walk away if he doesn’t nab them at once.
Die struggles to her feet. She looks at the O/P Sludge, worried. She thinks he’s lost what little of “it” he had. She tells him to calm down. Zuke grows wild in this region. Her people have used it for centuries as an aphrodisiac.
Wider angle. Sludge and Die both look up, startled, at a voice from O/P. The voice is echoing Die’s remarks, telling Sludge to be at peace, at one with himself.
Angle past Sludge to Ambrove Uhok and Pah Gorah, who stands beside him with her head hung in shame. Sludge is dropping an armful of Zuke, ready to go on the attack again. Ambrove has both hands raised in a gesture of peace. Ambrove is saying that Sludge, in his way, has done a great service to Hesssh. With the last of the Veffirs dead, and in the aftermath of this morning’s tragedy, the people may at last come together to heal one another.
Angle on Die, giving Ambrove a sidelong look. She’s not at all ready to forgive. “Wonderful,” she says. “In your spirit of unity, you can march against my people like the Hessshite armies of old.”
Ambrove shakes his head “no.” There will be no war, he tells Die. Even the Predatori have seen too many of their own kind fall today. Pah Gorah, a tear streaming from her eye, says that their taste for blood has been more than sated.
Sludge lumbers menacingly toward the two Hessshites. Pah Gorah flinches, but Ambrove stands firm. Sludge wants to know why the hell they’re bothering to tell him all. It’s not as if he or Die care what happens to the damn lizards. Ambrove replies, “Because I wish to help you, and you would not have allowed me near unless you understood why.”
Ambrove makes a magical gesture, and a breach starts to open in the air above Sludge and Die. Ambrove tells Sludge that he’s sending him, and the Zuke patch, back to his own world. Die reacts angrily. What about her?! Does Ambrove intend to leave her here alone to perish?
Small panel. Close on Ambrove, smiling wickedly. His face is starkly lit by the energy of the breach. “No,” he says. “Some enmities last forever.”
LARGE PANEL. The sewers of New York. Sludge and Die, along with the Zuke patch, have materialized in some little nook of the system, like the one where Veff first appeared back in Sludge #4. Die realizes she’s knee-deep in muck and reacts with disgust. She can’t believe Sludge—or anyone—could live here. For his part, Sludge is marveling at the Zuke plants, remembering that Pumpkin used to feed them dead bodies, and thinking that they ought to thrive on the organic soup down here.
C/U on Sludge, jamming a couple of Zukes into his mouth and gnawing vigorously. He won’t have to live in the sewers much longer, he tells her. A few more of these things…a couple of convulsions…a little writhing around…and he’ll be as human as the day he was born, yessir!
Exterior: Edna’s apartment building. An indeterminate time later. A man in a trenchcoat, seen from back, is standing at the door of the building, speaking to an Elderly Woman, presumably a tenant. The woman is saying that, yes, she knew Edna—very troubled girl, never seemed to smile—but she moved out some time ago. The man asks if she left a forwarding address.
Closer on the front door of the building. The woman is calling back inside, to an O/P someone named Guillermo, presumably the “super.” She asks if he knows where in the world Edna might have moved to.
Guillermo, a Hispanic man in his thirties, dressed in work clothes, joins the elderly woman and the man in the trenchcoat (still seen only from back) at the door. Guillermo says she left an address, but he was only supposed to give it to one certain person. No one else was supposed to know. He asks the man in the trenchcoat what his name is. The man in the trenchcoat answers: “Hoag. Frank Hoag.”
Guillermo shrugs and starts back into the building. “Sorry, man. You’re not the one.” The woman looks up at Hoag (whom we’re still seeing only from the back) sadly. She asks if there’s someplace he can be reached if she hears from Edna again. He says no.
Hoag is now facing us as he walks down the steps to the sidewalk. His face is completely human again! In B/G, the woman is calling to him. Don’t rush off! Maybe she can talk Guillermo into giving him that address. He says thanks, but it’ll have to wait.
Close on Hoag, raising one hand into the panel so he can look at it. It’s dripping with sludge. He has to get home and take his medicine, he murmurs.