Timeless, Sc 5 – 6
So Herbert has a clock. As far as clocks go, it tells the time pretty well. But can it do what Aunt Wells says it can?
But for the avid reader, let’s not waste any more time. Here’s the next instalment of the Timeless script.
***Classroom with the History Teacher***
(Transition into a classroom, just before class starts. A group of students all milling around, doing what teenagers do, all in the background. Herbert sits at her desk, her friends around her. They are in the midst of a very deep discussion. When the teacher enters, the focus shifts from him to the kids as he turns his back on them.)
Max: No, but listen, no, because if you go back in time and change the tiniest thing –
Vera: It could be a huge problem in the future?
Vera: But – what if you go back to stop something from happening? Like a bad thing?
Max: I don’t know, but –
Vera: Or… or it could change nothing at all.
Max: How come?
Vera: Because maybe, ok listen, what if everything is predetermined? You know, like… like fate? What if you go back in time to stop yourself from breaking a nail, but then, because you try to stop yourself, you are the reason you break your nail in the first place?
(Everyone looks at Vera for a moment.)
Drake: When did you get smart?
Vera: I mean, what if you, shut up, what if you go forward in time? Then you see that things aren’t all that great. Then you come back and try to change it, but you –
Max: End up causing the problem? Like a self-fulfilling –
Vera: Profit, yes.
Vera: That’s what I said.
Teacher: (Entering suddenly) Sit down, shut up. (The students quickly get to their places.) Maxwell!
Max: Yes, sir?
Teacher: Stop breathing so loud.
Max: Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.
Teacher: Can anyone tell me where we left off yesterday? (Silence) Of course not. Yesterday, I gave you an introduction to the history of Newton. (Blank stares from everyone in the class) As in… the city you live in? (Sighs) Hopeless. Very well then, let’s recap. Newton is one of the first and oldest functioning cities on earth. Can anyone tell me why? (Silence) No? (Silence) The first opportunity I, willingly, give you to speak and you have nothing to say. Right. Newton sits at the centre of the disc – there’s an easy question. What is the disc? (Vera raises her hand) Oh no. Is there anyone else? (Sighs) Fine. Yes?
Vera: The disc is Earth, sir.
Teacher: Gracious me, we have a genius in our midst. Now, when the first humans appeared, this was an obvious location to settle down as it had an abundance of natural resources. Despite the dangers posed by the predatory dinosaurs that roamed the area… (he turns his back to the class and writes on a blackboard. He continues to drone on in the background while the focus shifts to the group of kids.)
Max: (to Herbert) Psssst. Pssssssssst (Herbert turns in her seat to face Max. Whispers) Are you sure that’s what your aunt said?
Herbert: About what?
Max: About your sister. That some guy from the future kidnapped her.
Herbert: Yes, because of the special machine she invents in the future.
Max: Yeah, but why not just come back and… you know… (Draws finger across his neck)
Herbert: No idea.
Max: No idea?
Herbert: Not even a little one.
Teacher: Maxwell, this is your second warning.
Max: What? Second? But sir –
Teacher: Your heavy breathing was the first. One more and I will box your ears so hard, they’ll flap you out of my classroom, understood? Now, the ancient Newtonian philosophers who founded the principles of Democunism tried their hardest to eradicate the prevailing pagan ideals amongst their contemporaries, in other words, the worship of the natural gods, such as Zeus, Hades etc. But it was not until Prometheus bestowed the gift of fire upon mankind that… etc.(fades away)
Vera: (Whispers) Cuddlier teddy bears?
Vera: Did she say cuddlier teddy bears?
Herbert: I don’t really think that was the point, but yes. Look, I know it all sounds a little – (Drake whistles and turns his finger around his ears. Herbert gives him a sharp look) …but that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t true.
Max: It does seem a little far-fetched, though, Herbert, to be honest.
Herbert: What if it works? I mean, this morning I turned the knob and –
Drake: You tried it?
Drake: Did it work?
Herbert: I’m… I’m not sure. But that doesn’t mean anything. I could have done it wrong. It all makes sense though, doesn’t it? Georgie just disappeared. Not a single clue –
Drake: How does she know?
Herbert: What do you –
Teacher: Please keep it down, Herbert, the sound of your voice is exquisite agony to my ears. It was around this time that King Arthur came to power and established the Kingdom of Newton. As you all know, this happened when he pulled the sword from the stone and (Fades out)
Drake: (Whisper) I mean, how does she know what happened to Georgie?
Herbert: I don’t know. She never said.
Drake: I don’t think she knows either, Herbert.
Max: Take it easy, Drake.
Drake: She was crazy way before I met her. Don’t let her make things worse by giving you false hope.
Herbert: What’s that supposed to mean?
Drake: Your sister’s gone.
Drake: She’s not coming back.
Vera: Maybe now isn’t the best time –
Drake: You should just let it go.
Herbert: Let it go?! Why wouldn’t I take any chance I can get? No matter how crazy it is?
Drake: Because you’ll end up like your kooky aunt, that’s why.
Herbert: That’s it!
(Herbert lunges at Drake. They struggle for a bit which causes the class to devolve into chaos before they get pulled apart by the teacher.)
Teacher: I was hoping I would have a reason to put you in Manual Labour today, Drake, but now I have Herbert too! Oh, happy day.
Max: But sir –
Teacher: And that makes three! Vera!
Vera: Yes, sir?
Teacher: I’d hate to break up the gang. You’re going with them.
Vera: (Disappointed, but not surprised.) Yes, sir.
Teacher: Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. And let’s face it, the four of you were never going to make history anyway. Get out of my sight! (They stand aside) Aaaaand you! (Pointing to Myra, who has said and done nothing till now. She gets a fright, and stands stock still) Who are you?
Myra: Myra, sir.
Teacher: I don’t know you.
Myra: I’m new sir.
Teacher: Mmm. (Looks her up and down) I don’t like your nose. You’re going with them. Class dismissed!
(Myra nods. She stands beside the others. The rest of the class leaves along with the teacher. The five stand motionless for a while.)
Max: (After a moment) Soooooo… Are we ditching?
Herbert: Max’s house?
Herbert: (To Myra) Are you coming?
Myra: I don’t… really know you guys…
Herbert: You’ve been sentenced to Manual Labour.
Max: And we’re ditching that.
Vera: And if we ditch, and you don’t –
Drake: Someone’s bound to find out where we are.
Herbert: So, you’re one of us now.
Myra: You’re cutting class? This was all part of your plan? (They all smile at her) I think I’m going to like it here.
Drake: Herbert? I –
Herbert: I know you mean well.
Drake: Friends? (Herbert spits into her hand and holds it out. Drake smiles, spits in his hand and they shake.) Your aunts still crazy though.
Max: So, we, what, turn this little knob and –
Herbert: And push the little button.
Max: Right. How far are we supposed to turn it?
Herbert: What do you mean?
Max: Well, there aren’t any numbers on it. How’re we supposed to –
Vera: Do we guess?
Drake: What do you mean there aren’t any numbers on it?
Vera: Look. It shows you what time it is and all but –
Max: It’s not like you can set it to a certain year you want to go to…
Herbert: Give it here. (She looks it over.)
Drake: …(cont.) I mean, that’s going to make things difficult.
(They all nod while looking at the clock.)
Max: Speaking of which, how do we even know where –
Max: When Georgie is?
Herbert: Aunt Wells said the Villain came from the future. So that’s where –
Herbert: When Georgie must be. So that’s where I’m going.
Drake: Well, I mean that depends on whether she was telling –
Herbert: She was.
Drake: And there’s a lot of time to look through in the –
Herbert: (Firmly) I’ll find her.
Drake: (Looks at the clock) Alright.
Vera: Well? Turn the knob then!
Herbert: (Breathes a deep breath) Here goes. (She turns the knob a little. Everyone holds their breaths. Nothing happens. They all look at each other a little sheepishly)
Max: Did it work?
Vera: Don’t think so.
Drake: Did you push the button?
Drake: Well, it’s not surprising but I have to admit I’m a little disappointed.
Myra: Give it here. (Everyone looks at her. Herbert hands her the clock. She inspects it. Shakes it gently by her ear.) Oh, obviously it’s dust in the gears. (She flips it around and opens the back) Jip, look. There’s your problem. There’s a cog loose. It’s not quite making contact with whatever that gizmo over there is. That’s probably what makes the time travel happen. Just need to (She blows on it hard) Then just a delicate little turn here… (Takes out a tiny screwdriver and gives the screw a small turn) That should just about do it. (She holds out the clock to give it back to Herbert. They all stare at her.) My dad was a clockmaker. I used to help him out because I have small hands. I could get into all the tight spots. He always said I have a soft touch.
Herbert: Thanks. Ok, so. We turn this little knob. And then we… push… (They all come closer and hold their breaths again)… this… little… button… (She pushes the button. Nothing happens)
Myra: (Grabs the clock out of Herbert’s hand.) Of course, sometimes what you need isn’t a soft touch, but a heavy hand. (She draws back her hand to slap the clock.)
Group: Noooooo! (Myra slaps the clock and all vanish.)
***Conflict between Aunt Wells and Villain***
(Inside auntie wells living room. All is dark. A sudden flash of light, like thunder. Then another. On the third flash, the Villain stands centre stage as if appearing out of thin air. All is a dark again. Very dim lights come up on Villain standing centre. From behind her comes two almost human creatures. They behave a little like overexcited Jack Russells; Villain snaps her fingers. The creatures stand at attention. Villain lazily points in one direction, Creature A goes that way. Villain points in another direction, Creature B goes that way. They are clearly looking for something. Villain slowly surveys her surroundings.)
Creature A: It’ll always be in the last place you look for it.
Creature B: In the last place you look for it.
Creature A: The last place…
Creature B: …You look for it!
(They keep searching frantically. Wells appears suddenly, looking very annoyed)
Wells: Obviously, it’ll always be in the last place you look for it. You won’t be looking for it anymore once you’ve found it. (Everyone stops what they’re doing and looks at Wells. After a moment, the creatures make a sudden lunge for Wells. She doesn’t move. Before they can get to her, the Villain snaps her fingers again. Creatures freeze. Snaps again, they turn and go to their master. They circle around her, never leaving her side. When Villain moves, she moves as if they aren’t there.) It’s about time… You’ve gained weight.
Villain: (Raises her finger and points at Wells.) You’ve got a beard.
Wells: It’s growing on me.
(They stare at each other before breaking into laughter and going in for a hug)
Villain: How long has it been?
Wells: Hundreds of years, at least.
Villain: I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner. But you know how it is.
Wells: I’m afraid I don’t. I don’t make a habit of kidnapping little girls.
Villain: We both know that isn’t strictly speaking true.
Villain: You know why I’m here. I know you have it, so let’s not beat about the bush.
Wells: (they slowly start to circle each other, the atmosphere suddenly tense. Wells tries to subtly make her way to the door) It’s not here. I’ve sent it off.
Wells: (Shakes her head) When.
Villain: You’re lying.
Wells: Not my style.
Villain: (Realises suddenly Wells is not lying) No!
Wells: (with a slight smile) It’s not too late you know. You could choose a different path. A path with meaning.
Villain: (Takes out some sort of weapon. Bored and nonchalant) Every path is the right path. Every path is the same path. At the same time. We take all the paths all the time. So some version of me agrees with you, while another is being handed that clock without a fuss. While another is prying it from your wrinkly old hands, you prune. You have absolutely no idea what you’re dealing with.
Wells: (Reaches the door. Standing with her back to it, she tries to turn the knob but finds that it is locked. sighs in resignation. Villain smiles and holds up a key) Of course, you locked the door. I suppose you barred the windows too? (Villain nods slowly) Right. So what now? You use your genius intellect or some nefarious invention of yours to torture the location of the clock out of me? (Villain reveals the weapon is a shovel, holds it menacingly towards wells. Wells laughs)
Villain: Is now the time to laugh?
Wells: No, I’m sorry. It’s just… I thought you were a genius before. But using a shovel… that is truly ground-breaking. Hang on, is that mine?
Villain: (coming closer) Your shed was open. Last chance.
Wells: (Plainly) You and I both know I’m not telling. (After a moment) Why’d you do it? Why’d you take her?
Villain: (Quietly, after a moment) She must not be allowed to grow up.
Wells: You really have changed, then. (Moment) Well… your time’s running out. Herbert could’ve found her by now.
Villain: (With a hint of doubt) She hasn’t succeeded yet. Or else I wouldn’t be here.
Wells: Doesn’t matter. I gave her the clock. It’s only a matter of time. (Villain hesitates. Wells smiles) You know I’m right.
Villain: (Drawing herself up) It’s not over yet. (She tosses the shovel onto the floor and retrieves some manacles from inside her cloak, hands them to her creatures.) You’re coming with me.
Wells: Second little girl you’re kidnapping this month.
Villain: (Snorts) Hardly little. (Snaps for the creatures to bind Wells.)
Wells: Yes, alright, ok, you’re taking me hostage. No need to be snotty too. (Creatures bind her.) So, where are we going?
Villain: You’ll see soon enough.
Wells: Sounds ominous. Well… what are you waiting for? Let’s get a move on. (Looks Wells up and down. Then waves her hand in the air. They disappear.)
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