The Mysterious Mr If, Part the Eighteenth

We’re there, or nearly — the penultimate episode of my mysteriously unproduced screen masterpiece is upon us at last. In our previous installment, Sheena escaped the clutches of If, but he fulfilled his diabolical goal of obtaining his own police file — but why? Meanwhile, Inspector Turner narrowly escaped an exploding building with a plank nailed to his scrotum, and Howie, the human exhibit at Edinburgh Zoo, achieved little.

Now read on…

INT. BOTTLE BANK – DAY

Smoky light filters through the open mouth of the bank. If is gurgling on a hookah and leafing through his file. The ballerinas snog each other, bored.

MR. IF

Ah, the Great Duck Heist of 1898! I got away with fifty ponds. Such happy mammaries. Committing arson while dressed as a naan bread – they laughed when I said I’d do it, but I proved them wrong. Committing treason, live on stage, while personating an admiral of the royal fleet and cuckolding an ironmonger. The best notices I’ve ever had. Bliss!

He slams the file shut and sticks it in his Gladstone bag.

MR. IF

My record of infamy will go last into the furnace so I can join the nothinged world as it melts like cheese atop a hot pencil. All colours running together, a riot of emotions and flesh, feathers and bacteria, science and soup.

He punches a Ballerina in the stomach.

MR. IF

Quickly, Gaston! My cheddar violin! My toothpaste sword! My sandals of truth and my nitrogen smock! To battle!

INT. TURNER’S OFFICE – NIGHT

Police Headquarters. Howie, Sheena and Turner sit gloomily together, stumped. A big map is full of pins marking If’s outrages.

Turner is covered in sticking plasters and bandages.

HOWIE

How are the –

TURNER

I’m fine.

HOWIE

You know, where the nails –

TURNER

I’m FINE.

He crosses his legs with an air of finality, winces, and uncrosses them.

SHEENA

So we have no clues?

TURNER

Everything’s a clue. Or nothing is. Either way, they don’t mean anything.

HOWIE

It’s like wrestling alligators and God at the same time.

Howie turns on the news.

NEWSCASTER (OS)

The Lord Provost has been dragged naked through Drylaw by hunchbacks, a milliner’s shop has turned to fat, and everybody in Musselburgh has grown a leg. And a disturbing new cult is welcoming these escalating incidents of freakishness. This report, now:

EXT. STREET – DAY

A parade marches. Banners read IF IS, THE END IS NIG, BRING ON THE NOTHING and HISTORY IS DEAD, DEATH IS HISTORY.

Some of the MARCHERS wear animal masks, tutus or top hats. They chant:

MARCHERS

What do we want? NOTHING! When do we want it? FOREVER!

NEWSCASTER (V.O.)

They call themselves the Iffies and their demands are simple: an end to physical matter and the establishment of a big ice rink. I spoke to some of these queer ducks.

A Hippy Chick is interviewed:

HIPPY CHICK

It’s not New Age. It’s not Old Age. It’sNOWAGE.

An Old Duffer:

OLD DUFFER

If IS, daddy-O! He’s a happening cat! He’s hep to the beat and he’s wild in the street.

A Rotund Dutchman:

ROTUND DUTCHMAN

Ve vill tear down your vallsh and make love in the ruinsh while the lasht men fight to the death for scrapsh of oxygen, ishn’t it?

INT. TURNER’S OFFICE – NIGHT

Sheena flicks off the set.

SHEENA

Something’ll turn up. We can beat this. He’s a criminal and we’re the law.

Turner and Howie look at her curiously.

SHEENA

…in a way.

A bell rings –

INT. DORMITORY, POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Sheena, Howie, Turner and Thrower pile into the dormitory.

Duffle is awake again. Wide awake this time. He’s out of bed, in nightgown and cap, arming himself to the teeth.

TURNER

Duffle! Should you be up?

DUFFLE

Twenty years asleep but it’s all been worth it – God willing, If is mine! I don’t know who you all are, but follow me if you value your existence!

EXT. UNIVERSITY BUILDING – NIGHT

If swirls about using a Ballerina as cello, a rose clenched between his teeth. His bow saws her midriff, produces eloquent gypsy threnodies.

He passes the rose, with a kiss, to a second Ballerina.

MR. IF

Seconds out, round three. In which virtue is punished, vice rewarded, death triumphs, and the apocalypse is delivered by induced labour. Tights, comrades, achtung – let bottle commence!

If gestures with his bow to a single lighted window in the university building.

A distant clock strikes bong.

INT. BOTTLE BANK – NIGHT

Two Ballerinas load a blue bottle into a mortar and FIRE!

EXT. UNIVERSITY BUILDING- NIGHT

The bottle explodes as a firework in the night sky with an inappropriate WOOF!

INT. COMPUTER ROOM, EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY – NIGHT

The Prof frowns at another baffling printout from his computer: a hand made of millions of 0s.

He is seized by sticky hands.

EXT. STREETS – NIGHT

Turner’s knackered police car roars through the chillEdinburghnight, directed by Duffle.

DUFFLE

I dreamed it all – I hope to God it doesn’t come true!

MONTAGE:

POLICEMEN run pell-mell through the streets. They near a tunnel, and stop, hesitating. Before them, a twenty-foot chicken emerges hesitantly from the tunnel.

A lone CONSTABLE cycles along. He skids to a standstill and dismounts, horrified. Large fish are swimming in the air around him. He blows his whistle, but it makes the sound of a foghorn.

A Black Maria van roars through the streets. Viewed from the driver’s seat, the road seems to get nearer, until we are skimming along an inch above the white lines on the road surface. The van has become tiny. A TODDLER picks it up and rattles it. High-pitched screaming from within. The child sticks one end of the van in his mouth. Furious honking.

NEWSCASTER (v.O.)

Strange tights in the sky! Wasps the size of bagpipes – bagpipes the size of women! Plates of meat that come to life and kill their owners!

Victorian illustrations flash up depicting new outrages.

NEWSCASTER (v.O.)

Cairo: pyramids open to emit giant glass noses. Chandelier tycoon retracts like telescope.

We see this in engraving form – Cheops unfolds, a Dwarf startled amid glassware.

NEWSCASTER (V.O.)

Washington: James Joyce reborn as swordfish prophesying war. Assassin feasts on own hair.

And this – a moustached fish in a hospital bed, radiant light beaming upon it. A gunman consumes his pigtails.

NEWSCASTER (V.O.)

Oslo: lost Pyrenee found under bushel. Songstress gutted by windmill.

Stray mountain. Windmill with axe-blades.

NEWSCASTER (V.O.)

Beijing: Great Vole of China mates with local blimp. Musketeers electrified. Is the world coming to an end – or what?

A rodent mounting an airship, lightning strikes swashbucklers – then the image combusts.

EXT. EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY – NIGHT

Duffle and the others pull up outside. Strange lights within.

Another firework WOOFS above.

Duffle hurries up to the bottle bank and fires two shots into its mouth. Squeals from within.

THROWER

Steady on!

DUFFLE

No time!

SHEENA

He’s in the university?

TURNER

The professor! Quick – science is what separates us from the animals!

HOWIE

Not me!

But they run into the building.

To be CONCLUDED…

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