I have a few scraps of paper on the computer desk and I sometimes write a title to write about the next day. Last night I wrote News. As you know I love News, its been an interest for 50 years. In my head I’m still 20 by the way. So this morning I was going to spend the hour writing something on that theme. Then I remembered this 1 act play I wrote maybe 28 years ago. So here it is. Forgive typos etc, I wrote this on an old Atari 1040 and copiesdit to a modern PC years later. Remember this was written before 24 tv news and before Sky was a twinkle in Rupert Murdoch’s eye.
Betting On Disaster ©
An office with one wall covered in tv monitors from floor to ceiling , in
front of that is a large desk/counter . There are phones and intercoms on
the counter plus an array of buttons . Almost a directors gallery but not
quite . There are three men seated in front of the counter , Mark , David,
Terry , besides them is an empty fourth chair .
The first Mark ,who is in his late twenties, in front of him are some
yeast tablets , there is also a body building magazine , though he is no
body builder himself , he is very fashion conscious .
Next is David , much older he has half moon glasses on , beside him is
a battered thesaurus , he is doing a crossword , he is wearing clothing of
a high quality though they would be more suited for Basil Rathbone in an
old Sherlock Holmes mystery . He looks up at the monitors occasionally he
is only half interested , he has seen it all so many times before .
Then Terry who is fat and spotty , his fashion sense may have been buried
with the crock of gold , its lost somewhere over the rainbow . He has the
remains of several Whimpys in front of him , along with paper cups of half
drunk coffee . He is reading the Sun , there is a colour photo of “little
Sammy Fox” , he spills food over the picture and picks it up , he belches
as he does so.
A very old man with waistcoat and gold chain enters he is leading a new
recruit .The recruit is all crew cut and collar and tie , he is fresh from
George:This is your new boy , he’ll be taking my old position .
David :Thanks George .
Mark :We hope he’s as good as you were , I mean are .
George:Were is the correct word .
Mark looks embarrassed by his lack of tact .
George:I’ll still be here a while longer till my retirement .
Terry :What’s he called ?
Frank :I’m Frank .
David :You look a bit young to me , have you just finished your finals ?
Frank :Yes , I only left Strobeford a month ago .
Mark :Is that one of the new ones ?
David :Yes it’s the newest one in Cambridge , it was founded with the money
from the Aids Vacine back in 98 .
Terry :You any relation to the Strobeford’s .
Frank :Lord Strobeford was my uncle .
David :That explains it then . His best friend owns this outfit .
Terry feeds his face and though a mouthful of chips adds .
Terry :Crossover nepotism .
David :The very thing .
George:I’ve got other errands to run so I’ll leave you to it .
George slowly leaves , dragging one side of his body , he’s had a stroke .
Mark :Thanks , George .
Frank stands not knowing what to to . So Mark motions him to sit in the
spare seat .
Mark :Its quite straightforward really , we watch all the satellite feeds
as they come in ,then we speak to the tv stations by this equipment
Mark waves his hand expansively .
Mark :We give them a mix of sport , sensation and human interest .
Terry :Earthquakes and volcanoes and plane crashes and fires in skyscrapers
Mark :People getting married while they parachute from 30000 feet .
Terry :People finding long lost relatives after searching for years .
Mark :I always like those stories , its my soft spot .
Terry :He has other soft spots too , but I shouldn’t mock the afflicted .
David :Very occasionally we give them news .
Mark pushes some paper over his “body building ” magazine ,before resuming
his “induction speech” .
Mark :All human life passes before us and we help share it with the world
Terry :I have to admit I like the reunions after many years of separation,
especially when the shock and the excitement gives them a heart
Terry breaks into laughter , Mark scowls , Frank looks ill at ease . David
looks up from his crossword .
David :It always strikes me as ironic how something which people crave so
much is their undoing for a finish . If they only stayed happily
ignorant then they’d be alive . Instead they search for years only
to die of a heart attack when they meet their relatives .
Terry :But think what great tv it makes !”Father found after fourty years”
then the added bonus , “Father dies in the arms of a daughter he
never knew” , and the pictures of a daughter in tears chasing the
ambulance only to be dragged back by customs – now that’s what I
call really good tv .
Mark :You always gloat Terry .
Terry :But its true .
David :It is true , though Terry does dwell on the sensational aspect .
Mark :Well Frank that’s about it ,if you watch us at work you’ll soon get
the hang of it .
Frank :Thanks .
Frank sits down at his place a little unsure . So Terry leans over to
Terry :See the screens marked 1 to 20 , well each of these buttons will
transmit the pictures , all you do is push the button at the same
time pressing the other set of buttons .
Frank :Could you show me ?
A light flashes at Frank’s position Terry leans over and presses before
speaking into the mike at Frank’s position .
Terry :CL communications here , what do you want ?
Voice :Can I have some soccer from Brazil ?
Terry looks up and scans the screens , he then presses the button to match
the picture then presses the “phone” button again .
Terry:They are coming now .
Terry then turns back to Frank .
Terry :See its easy . Press one lot to answer ,then press tv button ,then
press answer button again . The computer does the rest . I forgot
to say there’s an ear piece to so you can pick out the sound for
the feed you’re viewing .
Frank :Seems straightforward .
David :Occasionally we ring them and tout the services , there’s a list on
a pad besides you .
Frank :You’re not very busy now are you ?
Terry :Not really , but when the sports results come in then we get very
David :People don’t want news , they want entertainment .
Frank looks at the monitors , there is a mixture of sport and disaster on
the screens , then in a corner on its own he sees another monitor .
Frank :What’s that ?
Mark :That’s Northern Ireland , we don’t get much call for it nowadays .
David :Most of it is fed straight to West Africa . It’s the only foreign
news they can afford . Andingi Shatola is the world expert on the
“100 years War in Northern Ireland” .
Frank :You all seem pretty blase about things
David :We’ve seen it all before that’s all , news is the same as history
– it repeats itself .
A burp from Terry rings out .
Mark :And so does Terry .
Terry :You’re quite the little wit today aren’t you .
David :Please don’t start or you’ll give the lad the wrong impression .
Frank :But you must get excited every now and then . Seeing things happen
Terry :It’s all the same really , bad news spreads fastest , always has
and always will .
Mark :Except Royal Births , King Harry’s triplets a few years ago caused
a sensation , and we got the news first .
David :I have to admit that the appetite for Royal news is amazing .
On one of the many screens a volcano is seen errupting . Mark watches
open mouthed . He puts the volume up so all can hear .
Reporter:Here at the base of Mount Saint Helens we can see a plume of red
hot ash and fire bursting skyward trying to touch the sun .
Mark :That’s a bad one , though it does look very pretty like a Turner
painting in some strange way .
Terry :I wonder how many are dead or injured or covered in red hot ash
like the Romans at Pompeii. (HE IS EXCITED)
David :Thanks for saying Romans its given me the last answer for my
David looks up from the crossword to see the disaster at Mount St. Helens
David :They shouldn’t call it a mountain anymore , way back in 1980 over
1500 feet was ripped off by a volcano , then in 99 another 2000ft
went . Its just a hill really .
Terry :But it still spits death and shakes the earth with gigantic hicups
Frank :This is the first time I can remember it errupting .
David :Shows your age doesn’t it .
Mark :I’ll send this to everybody then .
Mark starts pressing buttons at his position , he silences the reporter as
Terry :See how Mark did that , Frank , well you do the same .
A scene of blood an mayhem appears on one screen , Frank flinches , Terry
puts the voice on broadcast .
Reporter:Behind me is the stomach churning sight of yet another victim of
the Cambleforth crusher . This person , for police have yet to
establish the sex , will be the seventh victim of the crazed man
who has struck so much terror into the North of England .
Terry :Brilliant I just love a good who dunnit , the real thing is so
much better than Agatha Christie .
Mark :I bet you’d love to be there , smelling the blood .
Terry :Of course I would ,I haven’t been stuck behind a desk all my life
David :What never ceases to amaze me is that its always the North that
produces these mass murderers ,I know the North is not a nice
place to live in , especially after Sellafield exploded and fell
into the sea , but if you don’t like the area you can always come
and live in the south , providing you are not radioactive and do
have a job to go to .
Terry :I bet this killer is a wrestler or an American football player ,
he has to be , the first thing he does is crush their ribs then
Mark :I think we can do without the details . Besides its boring now .
Frank :How can you all be so callous , so detached , its real people not
robots you are talking about . People’s fresh and blood , not so
many lumps of meat hanging on a butchers hook .
Reporter:Police say they still don’t know if more than one person has been
killed , such is the carnage .
Terry :I’ll send that to the Far East , they love Agatha Christie too .
Frank looks on disbelieving as the other three scan the pictures and press
their transmit buttons . One one monitor a picture of a little boy appears
Frank watches with interest , we hear that report .
Reporter:Paulo Caltonat , was out playing this morning when he did not
return his parents went and looked for him , all they found was a
The child’s mother appears holding the shoe .
Reporter:Then the family dog started to bark , they found the child , but
were unable to rescue him , he was trapped down an old well . It
was 8am then , it is now 1pm . For five hours he has been trapped
Terry sees Frank staring at the rescue picture so he nudges David .
Terry:I bet you a dinner at Diablo’s that they get the boy out by the time
we finish tonight .
David looks at the picture for a second to judge the events .
David:The kid will die .
Terry:The last time we had one of these the kid lived .
David:This time he had no breakfast so he’ll be hungry sooner and in that
David shakes his head , Terry looks uncertain .
Terry:Well a bet’s a bet , It’ll brighten up our day anyway .
Mark :Sometimes I think you two are real bastards .
David:News people are bastards.(SAID MATTER OF FACTLY , AS IS ALL HE SAYS)
Frank turns to them , he’s only just noticed they have been talking .
Frank:It’s bad that isn’t it ? I hope the kid gets out .
Mark :Of course he will . (OBVIOUSLY LYING)
Terry:He’ll suffer but he’ll get out .
David:The kid’s had it .
Frank is really shocked by David’s matter of fact attitude . He glares at
Frank:How can you say that , don’t you want the kid to live ? Haven’t you
got any feelings ?
David:I’m a media man , I have no feelings , the number of times I’ve seen
death and destruction . (SAID MATTER OF FACTLY)
Terry:Murder and mayhem . (SAID WITH RELISH)
Mark :Suffering and suicide . (SAID QUIETLY)
David glances at his “echo” before continuing .
David:It no use having feelings they get in the way , you’re not paid to
have feelings , ok stuck here you can have the odd sniffle if you
like , but the lads at the sharp end cann’t afford to do that .
Terry:They have deadlines to meet , planes to catch , satelites moving out
of position .
Mark :Or even mule trains to catch .
Terry:Do remember old Johnnie Campelton , he once used a carrier pidgeon
to get some film out .
David:Didn’t he win an award for that .
Terry:Yes the Kodak News Award . One or two tried copying him after that ,
only the natives in some famine ate the pidgeons .
David:I remember now , that must have been twenty years ago .
Frank shakes his head in disgust , he looks back at the monitor .
Frank:The kid’s fallen further down the well . They’re going to get some
pot-holers to go down after him .
David:It looks like dinner will be on you Terry , and don’t forget dinner
includes a good bottle or three of wine , the 97 is a good vintage .
Terry:It’s not over yet , besides I heard the 96 was a better vintage .
David:We’ll have one of each then .
Terry:Suits me , seeing as you’ll be paying , I’ve heard they’re calling
in a mining engineer to help .
David:That’s not on the feed .
Terry:I’ve plugged into the radio service .
David presses a few switches then listens intently to his earpiece .
David:I still say the kid’s had it .
Frank:You’re a pair of absolute bastards .
Terry:That’s one of the more polite things we’ve been called .
At this point old George comes in carrying mugs of coffee , he places one
at each position , a fifth mug he has for himself .
George:Coffee’s here . How’s the world today lads ?
Mark :There’s an interesting human interest item .
Terry :A kids fallen down a well .
David :The kid’s a gonner .
Frank :These bastards are betting on the outcome .
George:They’ve been doing that as long as I’ve know them .
George looks at Frank as they sip the coffee , George fingers the chain of
his pocketwatch , the chain has trickets hanging from it , one could be a
cross . Frank is glued to the rescue attempt .
George:How long has the kid been trapped ?
Mark :A few hours , since breakfast their time .
George:So he’ll be hungry .
Terry :And thirsty .
David :And he’s slipping further down the well . At least one good thing
can be said of it all .
George:What’s that ?
David :I’ll be having a really good dinner tonight .
David lights up a really foul cigar .
Frank :I need some air .
Frank storms out .
Terry :I don’t think the kid has the stomach for the job .
Mark :Perhaps he’s a non smoker ?
George:I better be off then , I’ve got my rounds to do .
David :Thank’s for the coffee , its the only good news we can gaurantee .
George walks away giving a backward glance at the rescue of child on tv .
George:I hope the kid’ll be ok . (MURMURS)
David:I think Frank will have to start to grow up or he won’t last long
Mark :Come on give him a chance , it took me a while to get in the swing
of things .
Terry:I still think you’re a bit of a softie .
Mark :I still care if that’s what you mean .
David:But at least you control your feelings ,this Frank will be a nervous
wreck by the end of the day .
Frank returns , he has washed his face .
Frank:Any other good stories ?
Terry:There’s been a spillage of chemical waste in Sommerville .
Frank:I know Sommerville my father has a place a few miles from it .
Mark :Is it a nice area .
Frank:Very quite place , though there is a new town nearby and the old
quarry has the chemical works , you cann’t actually see it .
David:You can now there’s a cloud hanging over the entire area .
They all look at the pictures from Sommerville , a cloud in the sky and
people closing all doors and windows , some driving away
Frank:My girlfriend lives in that cottage , luckily she’s away .
David:It doesn’t look too bad , we have one a month nowdays .
Terry:The Europeans think GB stands for Grimey Bilge , what with all the
crap we import .
David:It was worth œ80 billion to the economy last year .
Mark :But what about the environment ?
Terry:It doesn’t matter it all goes to the North , well past Oxford anyway
Mark :It’s that attitude that killed all the seals off back in 88 .
David:I heard the World Wildlife people say there were over a 1000 pair
now , so that’s not too bad .
Terry:What’s wrong with a few species dying off anyway
Frank:You all sound like the pundits down the pub , nothing really
matters so long as the price of a pint stays reasonable .
Terry:You forgot to mention so long as the head’s not bigger than the
David:I cann’t abide pubs that do that , its a cardinal sin .
Mark :I hate unwashed glasses myself , I mean you never know what you may
Frank:You really are the most selfish lot of bastards I’ve ever met .
David:Oh do grow up , cann’t you tell when we are joking .
Terry:I wasn’t joking .
Mark :I was only half joking , well- unwashed glasses ARE unhealthy .
David:Can we get back to work , looks like a major crash on Brazilian
They all stare at the scene , bodies everywhere and a mangled mass of
trains and track .The reporter speaks , David puts it on the tannoy so all
Reporter:Here in Santa Jorge we witness a scene of utter carnage , a train
appears to have hit a petrol tanker that got stuck on the level
crossing ; the train , a local train was full , it was market day
David:That Jenkins is a real good actor , he looks as if he IS really
concerned for the people .
Terry:Isn’t he the grandson of the late great Peter Jenkins .
David:The very same grandson .
Terry:The top journalism prize is the Jenkins , didn’t John Jenkins get
it too ?
David:Yes , that’s why this David Jenkins is trying so hard to live up
to his father’s and grandfather’s reputation .
Terry:Like you say he is a good actor .
Mark :Oh I know him , he did actually try to be an actor before he went
into this game .
David:Only his acting has improved .
Reporter:The scene is one of utter devastation with human remains littering
the area , the smell of death hangs over like a dark cloud , this
dark day will never be forgot .
Mark :I thought he’d break into Shakespeare then .
Frank:I don’t believe you , of course he’s touched , I am and I’m miles
away , a whole continent away .
Terry:Really? (GENUINELY SHOCKED)
David:You’ve a lot to learn then . We’ve all seen it all before , hundreds
of times , you get used to it , it becomes routine .
Terry:Boring even .
Mark :Years ago people were shocked when a Pope was shot , even us ,but
times have changed so much .
Frank:I don’t think I want to become like you .
David:Then you’re in the wrong job .
Old George comes in and hands a message to David .
George:The boss wants to know how Frank is doing .
David:What’s he want me to do , write him a bloody school report .
Terry:Just say “He shows promise for the future , once he gets used to the
working environment he will be a welcome addition to the team ” .
Mark :You must have a degree in bullshit .
David:Just say he’s settling in nicely .
George looks up at the pictures of the train disaster , he nervously plays
with the chain to his pocket watch .
George:That’s a bad one . There must be people trapped inside too .
David:There always are in these cases .
Terry:Better off if they died judging by the look of some of them .
Frank:These ghouls think the reporter on the scene is pretending to be
moved , they say he’s acting so he can get the “Jenkins” award .
George:It used to be called the “Michael Burke” award when I was a lad .
David:Who’s Michael Burke , even I cann’t place that name .
George:You’re making me feel ancient now . As for young Jenkins though , I
hate to have to say this but he IS acting . Look at his eyes , and
haven’t you seen him glance at his watch all the time .
David:I was about to tell him that , Jenkins is hurrying so he can meet
the deadline for the next satelite feed .
Frank looks more closly and he has to agree with them . George pats Frank
on the shoulder then leaves ,as George leaves he glances at the scenes of
destruction on the monitors .
Frank:You’re right then , but somebody must care , they MUST .
Mark :Old George does , but it got him nowhere it just left him drained
and worn out .
Terry:You have to restrain your feelings or else you are left dried out
like a prune , you must be professional .
At that moment one screen lights up with the “Miss Striptease Results”
Terry:Bloody Hell look at the tits on her .
David:The rest isn’t too bad either . (SAID MATTER OF FACTLY AS USUAL)
Mark :So much for the restraint .
Terry:Wait till the “Body Builders” come on then we’ll see about restraint
Frank:I thought we were a news channel ?
David:This is part of the results service . The Miss Striptease is 50
years old , it started when people got fed up of the Miss Beauty .
Mark :I saw a video about that at the library , it was very quaint .
Terry:All” I want to meet people , look after animals and old people and
above all be happy” .
David:They didn’t mention the fact” favours” were offered .
Terry:And gratefully received !
Terry laughs like a drain , David chuckles softly . Mark looks embarrassed
They all resume their work for a while . Until there is a space report .
David puts it on the tannoy .
Reporter:Today will be the 30th landing on Mars , all is expected to go
well though everybody will be holding their breaths , for as you
may remember the last landing ended in disaster when the crew of
ten all died when a retro rocket misfired and so caused a crash .
The crew on the Mars settlement are also hoping for a safe
landing as due to the previous disaster their return home has
been delayed by two years .
David:I’d forgotten all about that , its just like clockwork .
They all press their controls to send the pictures everywhere .
Terry:Oh I remember the crash the last time , it was really good , I’ve
got it on tape at home in fact . I watch it whenever I have a
a hangover , I get so excited I forget my headache .
Mark :I bet you’ve got tapes of “Miss Striptease” too .
Terry:Of course , the space striptease ones are the best though .
Terry laughs like a drain .
David:It’s still seems odd that with all the progress in space we still
don’t have many woman up there .
Frank:I like all the harmony there is in space .
The other three stare at him .
Frank:You know Russia , America , Japan and Australia all co-operating .
David:Am I hearing things ?
Terry:No he really did say it .
Mark :I know I was a triffle naive when I started but not that much .
Frank:I don’t care what you cynics say , I think it’s nice , it shows the
true human spirit .
Terry and David exchange looks .
Terry:Go on David you tell him .
David clears his throat before he speaks .
David:Many many years ago there was an accident at a Nuclear reactor ,
this was before fision and fast breeders were commonplace . The
place was called “Three Mile Island” in America , then a few years
later a real disaster occured at a placed called “Chernobil” in
Russia . I call it a disaster , nothing compared to when Sellafield
fell into the sea or when Minsk was wiped off the face of the earth.
or when Los Angeles just dissappeared .
Terry:The Americans didn’t mind about L.A. as they call it because as they
said at the time “We’ve Lost Aids” . As Aids was rampant in the city
then , the vaccine not being yet discovered .
David:To continue , these civil nuculear accidents showed the
Superpowers, as they were then called , what the world would look
like if they ever used their arsenals . So they decided to reduce to
10% of what they both once had . So they then had a surplus of
rocket fuel , so it was decided to head for Mars . It was of mutual
benefit and prestidge . The Russians spent the money saved not on
guns but on American grain so it worked out well for everybody .
Terry:The Japs always wanted to go into space but wanted a partner , so
when one night a drunken Australian P.M. said Australia would go
to the Moon and then beyond , while at a reception at the Japonese
Embassy , the Japs showed it on tv .
David:The P.M. couldn’t back down , so Australia and Japan joined forces .
Frank my boy , its got bugger all to do with harmony , it just plain
bloody sense , its cheaper than the arms race and once this planet
is finished , which will be in 200 years at the rate we’re going the
Yanks and the Russians want somewhere else to go . As for the Japs
its an adventure , and the Australians will do anything for a laugh.
Terry:It was the Australians who started the space striptease before the
tv companies bought some timeshare on a supplies vessel .
Frank:Your joking .
Terry:Staight up . An Aussie was in space , when they beat the West Indies
at cricket so he got pissed on Australian Champagne , as did his
female crew . It ended up in the first space striptease , and nine
months later two of the Japs gave birth . The Aussie and his two
wifes and children went to live on the statelite relay station on
the dark side of the moon .
Mark :I bet you’ve got tapes of that space first too . (DISGUSTED)
Terry:Of course , its antique footage worth a bit no doubt , but I
wouldn’t sell .
Mark :A true collector . (SARCASTICALLY)
On one screen an update of the trapped infant appears , Frank puts it on
Reportor:Sadly it looks as if the trapped infant has given up his fight
for life , he’s made no sound for two hours now . The rescue will
continue but it looks as if there will be no rejoicing when it is
On the monitor the picture move from the reporter back to the mother
clutching her child’s shoe .Frank lowers the volume , he sheds a silent
tear for the dead infant .
David:Well Terry it looks like dinner is on you .
Terry:You win some , you lose some .
Frank looks at them in disbelief , then he storms out .
Terry:What’s the matter with him .
David:He won’t last the week .
Mark :I better see if he’s ok .
Mark gets up and heads for the door . Terry shouts after him .
Terry:He’s got a girl friend already , you won’t get a look in .
David:It never ceases to amaze me how naive the youth of today are .
Terry:They’ve got no backbone at all .
On one screen an update of the chemical spillage at Sommerville .
David:It looks like the chemicals were much more toxic than first expected
Terry:They always lie when something happens .
David:They started flying the stuff in when locals blockaded the roads .
Terry:It’s progress no doubt .
Frank and Mark return , Frank has washed his face .
Mark :Did we miss anything ?
Terry:Not really , the chemical spillage is worst than they admitted .
David:But that’s par for the course , but who care’s anyway -its up North.
Mark :I suppose you are right .
Frank shakes his head in disgust .
Terry:Do you want to go double or quits ?
David:You mean for two dinners ?
Terry:Why not its been a boring day so far .
David:What’s the bet ?
Terry scans the screens .
Terry:I say they’ll be at least ten dead at Sommerville .
David:Your pushing your luck .
Terry:The weather report says its windy so they’ll be a wider spread .
David:Does this bet include deaths caused by panic as well or just direct
Terry:Well I thought you’d give me a chance and include the indirects too
David:I’m a fool to myself but you’re on ,it has been a slow day after all.
Mark :Cann’t you to give it a rest , you can see the boy is upset .
David:Dear me , you’re not going soft on us are you , after all this time
Mark :Let’s just say I have some tact .
David:Don’t say that word you’ll excite him . (DRYLY)
Terry:You’re right there .
Mark turns his back on them in disgust
David:So the bet is on . I’ll put it on all the screens , there should be
two or three crews up there .
The screens now all show Sommerville with a poison cloud over it .
Frank looks at the pictures with a heavy heart .
Terry:Look there’s an ambulance .
David puts the volume on tannoy for that picture .
Reporter:Here at “The Haywaine” there has been an unfortunate death .An
aged couple hearing of the alert tried to leave their cottage ,
sadly the man , a Mr John Demkin , while helping his wife
downstairs tripped and broke his neck , his wife also fell
breaking her pelvis . She was still alive when discover by a
policeman who had come to help evacuate them . She died of shock
shortly after hearing that her husband of sixty years was dead .
Terry:Two down eight to go .
David:Sixty years married , you only get thirty years for mass murder .
Mark :I think its sweet being married for sixty years .
Frank:I know them . (HE SAYS QUIETLY)
Terry:Not any more .
Frank is in shock now , he hasn’t got the strength to answer back
David:It looks like the usual story , pretend there is no emergency , then
admit there is a slight problem .
Terry:Then say the problem is just a little worse than anticipated , but
still no cause for alarm .
David:Then before the ink has dried on the press release its bingo .
Terry:Total disaster .
David:And where did we leave the emergency plans , does the kit still
Terry:There is a silver lining – it makes great tv .
David:Always . (HE’S GETTING BORED NOW)
Mark :I just heard on a radio feed the Cambleforth Crusher has been caught
Terry:Was I right , was he a wrester ?
Mark :No but , he was in an American football team . Only he got kicked
out when the trainer found him with his wife , the woman set him up
just to annoy her husband .
Terry:Don’t tell me all his victims look like the trainer and his wife .
Mark :Yes . You always spoil the fun , you should have let me spin it out.
Terry:I would normally , as you are so good at spinning things out , but I
am only interested in this poison cloud for the moment .
Mark :You really like the way I tell things . (HE IS FLATTERED)
Terry:Of course . (OFF HANDEDLY , HE IS CONCENTRATING ON THE SCREENS)
David:You do brighten the day for us , everything is oh so predictable .
Mark is really flattered , he is beaming with pride . We look at them in
turn . Mark his ego boasted , David bored , Terry on edge over the bet ,
Frank in the depths of sorrow . Old George comes in with coffee and a pile
of food for Terry .
George:How’s things ?
David:Terry is afraid he’ll have to stand me two dinners .
George passes out the coffee and leaves the tray by Terry . Frank awakes
slightly from his torpor , he picks up his coffee and sips it .
George:You betting on the poisoning ?
Terry:Only another eight deaths then its David who will be buying the
dinner . An old couple have died already .
Mark:They are playing double or quits .
George:It looks bad . What’s the matter with the boy .
Mark:All this is too much for him , he knew the people who died too .
George goes over to Frank , he gives him a reasuring pat on the back ,
then before turning to leave he looks from Mark to David and Terry then
back to Frank , then to the screens , reporters jostling to film the
bodies of the old people being put in the ambulance . George looks at his
pocket watch then leaves the room , still clutching the watch .
David:What’s this .
On the screens a police car has hit another car . Both are mangled .
Terry:They look dead , the bodies haven’t been moved yet .
David:That’s another three dead .
Terry:No another four , look there’s a toddler in the back .
The reporter on the screen speaks .
Reporter:We came across this scene while on our way to a local hospital.
The camera moves around the scene , we see all the dead clearly .
Reporter:There is nothing we can do for them , so we’ll carry on to the
We see Terry smiling now .
Terry:That’s six then , it looks like dinner will be on you . As I’m
feeling generous instead of two dinners for me on two nights I’ll
let Mark come with us
Mark:That’s good of you but I may be doing something else tonight .
David:Not washing your hair ? (QUIETLY)
David:You’re not wasting a change to eat at my expense ?
Mark:Oh all right then I’ll come .
Mark picks up the phone and a hurried conversation ensues , before
slightly flustered he puts it down .
Mark:It’s all settled I’ll be going out with you two .
Mark tidies the phone and edges it away . David and Terry exchange smiles.
Terry:That’s so long as another four die .
Mark:I almost forgot that .
David:It looks like the reporting teams are all heading for the hospital.
Terry:Deathbed gasps and hands clutched in love as one “half” dies .
Mark:Those things still bring a tear to my eye .
On the screens we see three victims swathed in bandages and tubes .
Reporter:These three men were at the chemical company when calamity came .
David:Sometimes I wish they’d cut the alliteration , it sounds as it he is
describing an old John Wayne film – “Calamity Came” .
Terry:That’s quite good that “Calamity Came”
Mark:Look , I think those three are going to die .
The three watch as the screens show the men in their final death throes .
The reporter is moving forward looking for an exclusive interview when the
worker literally dies on him . The reporter is seen mouthing “Oh shit” in
his disappointment . So the reporter does not try to interview the other
two . He switches to an oration .
Reporter:As we stand here behind me these brave men fight their last brave
fight . The struggle for life itself , but it is all in vein , we
can hear them gasping for breath , choking for air , clutching
the hands of the nurses in one last desperate act of gratitude .
We look back at David and the others again .
David:Well that is nine , one more and the dinner is on me .
Terry:That reporter should go into politics he is so corny .
Mark:It’s true what you say but I still find it touching .
They notice Frank still clutching his coffee , he is at breaking point ,he
is glaring at the screens .
David:You can leave if you want to Frank.
No reply from Frank .
David:You can leave now if you like Frank .
Terry:Yes go , you just aren’t suited for this .
Mark:It’s not everybody’s cup of tea .
Frank:Perhaps I should .
George comes in at that moment .
George:The old man wants to know if you lot are on strike ?
David:We’ll be back to normal soon .
Terry:As soon as I win my bet .
There is a rush of activity on the screens , a body is rushed in on a
Terry:Looks like number ten and dinner is served .
Reporter:This young girl crashed her car when she swerved to avoid an
ambulance . It does not look good .
The nurses on screen cut away the clothes of the girl and a heart shock
machine is wheeled forward . We hear Terry say “God what a body , what a
waste” . We see the face now .
Frank:Jane ! Jane ! Jane ! (SCREAMING)
David:What’s the matter with him ?
Mark:It cann’t be his girlfriend he said she wasn’t there .
One the screen we see the doctor applying the shock , the girl’s body
flinches . We see Frank again .
Frank:Jane ! Jane ! Jane !
Terry:I think it is his girlfriend . What a waste , what a body . At
least I get dinner .
Frank jumps up and begins to throttle Terry , on the screens behind
another shock is given to the girl . The body of the girl jumps , then the
doctor listens for a pulse . Frank stops to look . As he loosens his grip
on Terry he sees the doctor shake his head . The girl must be dead .
Frank:No , No , No Oh God No .
Frank moves forward and touches the face of Jane on the screen . As he
strokes her hair on the screen a sheet is slowly brought over her face .
Frank screams “You Bastards” and punches one of the monitors.
There is a loud bang and flash , everything disappears .
We are now outside and two maintenance men are forcing the door open .
1st Man:The breakers tripped out , all the teams are screaming blue murder
all the satellite feeds have gone dead .
They open the door to the room David and Co were in . Only it is covered
in cobwebs , as the maintenance men enter a dove flies out .
On the desk are three Toby jugs each has a face , David , Terry and Mark
to one side is a cracked statue of an angel . The men move to a breaker
switch , before they get to it the lights come on . They hear a loud
chuckling . Outside in the corridor is George , it is him who is chuckling
He is looking at his pocket watch . We see it clearly there is a cross on
the chain , and a Star of David and a little Budda and a little sword .
The face of the pocket watch has Father Time on it . The maintenance men
look after George they are about to question him when he disappears as he
walks down the corridor . We hear news reports from offices down the
corridors . All is good news .