C21st GODS - THE SCRIPT
1. A simple graphic page: dark water, with blood spreading and pooling across it. White text. This will be a developing motif across each of the three chapter titles.
1. Close on what looks like a patch of rough sea, waves moving across its surface.
2. Pulling back, we can see an edge to the water, which might be coastline - but is in fact the border of a puddle. What we took for waves are now just ripples.
3. A man's boot splashes into the puddle, and the waves shatter crazily.
4. A large panel. An ELDERLY MAN dressed poorly in old-fashioned clothes is walking his dog along a track that runs through tangled woodland, past the back of a dilapidated manor house. Beyond the mansion we can see a distant cityscape, a mismatched skyline of crumbling gothic architecture and ultra-new glass and steel skyscrapers.
In this panel, we can only see the man and his dog as tiny figures in the F/G.The dog has begun to bark frantically, and the man has paused to look towards the house.
Ruff! Ruff Ruff!
1. Close behind the ELDERLY MAN. We can see the back of the mansion, beyond a wrought-iron fence and a stretch of grounds left to grow wild. The mansion is a solid rectangle of stone over three floors, ugly and hard-lined, long past its prime. Some of the windows are boarded, maybe the brickwork has crumbled in places. Think along the lines of a smaller, rundown Versailles.
2. Following the ELDERLY MAN's viewpoint, and perhaps with his head still in panel to anchor our perspective, we close in on the mansion. Although it's still a long way away, our view is closing on one particular large double window on the third floor. This should be of suitable dimensions for someone to come crashing through it in a few pages' time.
3. Closer on the window, and we see the shadowy figure of a WOMAN. Although we can't make out much detail in this panel, she's in late middle age, a fact she'd normally disguise with the sort of camouflage that wealth can buy, but is readily apparent now. She's dirty, disheveled, half starved, and scratched.
Currently, she's clawing and hammering at the window, screaming with frantic desperation - though still just in silhouette at this point.
4. Closer still on the window. For the first time we can see the WOMAN clearly. But now another figure is rising out of the darkness behind her - the indistinct, cloaked shape of a CULTIST. He has an arm hooked over her shoulder, ready to drag her back into the room, while her hands still grasp desperately for the glass.
1. The title and credits run in a vertical bar along the left hand of the page. Hard block military font, white on black.
BY: TALLERMAN / SUMMEY
2. A large, almost full page panel. We're looking at the front of the mansion now, where a police car is pulled up on a weed-strewn gravel forecourt before a big portico doorway. It should be clear that this is the same house that we were just seeing the back of.
Other than the city skyline, the car should be our first indication that this is the near future. Although it's not in the best of condition, its design should subtly tip us off that we're not in the here and now.
Two POLICE DETECTIVES have just got out of the car, and are staring up at the building. The cop to the right is our protagonist, CONNOR. CONNOR is in his late thirties, but looks older, haggard with the stresses of his career. However, he's smartly dressed and exudes a sense of determination. He takes his job seriously; perhaps too seriously. Let's start him in as good a place as possible here, so that he has as far as possible to fall over the next couple of chapters.
The cop to the left, O'KEITH, is in his early fifties, has a scruff of red hair and is somewhat overweight. Both of them look out of their depth.
1. This is going to be a dialogue-heavy page. Feel free to ignore the page / panel breakdown I've suggested if you can find a better way to get everything in. Let's try and get as much visual information of the mansion in as we go, as it's going to be our location for much of this chapter.
My suggestion would be a three tier page, with this as our only large panel, taking up two thirds of more of the first row. Let's get a good look at O'KEITH and CONNOR. O'KEITH appears on edge, eager to get out of there and trying to put a front on it. CONNOR is intense and distracted, like a dog with a scent.
Waste of time, you ask me.
Not sure I did.
Some old pisshead out walking it off, gets the heebie jeebies.
2. Close on CONNOR. He's reaching down to pick something from the floor near the door. We see that it's a padlock, crudely cut. Someone has forced their way into this building recently.
Could be. Could be our missing rich lady.
3. Next line. O'KEITH looks uncomfortable. Maybe he's sweating a little. Whatever's going on here, he wants no part of it.
Rich folks don't kidnap rich folks.
4. CONNOR tilts his head, a dreamy expression on his face, as though listening to something only he can hear.
5. CONNOR, speaking to O'KEITH but not looking at him.
Did you hear that?
6. Third line, small panel. O'KEITH, genuinely surprised. He really hasn't heard whatever it is CONNOR thinks he's heard.
7. Small panel. CONNOR looks round at O'KEITH for the first time.
A scream. You didn't hear that?
8. O'KEITH is adamant, and getting really nervous now.
There wasn't any scream.
9. CONNOR, not paying any attention to his partner, reaches for the door handle.
I'm taking a look inside.
1. A large panel. CONNOR and O'KEITH have entered the mansion, which though currently in a severe state of disrepair, was obviously once grand. The angles are slightly off; perhaps there's a broken statue, or moldering furnishings; maybe squatters have spray-painted graffiti at some point. This first room is a long entrance hall, with stairs curving to a landing above and doors leading off on the left and ahead.
2. CONNOR and O'KEITH pause near the bottom of the stairs, both of them looking nervous.
3. Abruptly, a sound echoes from another part of the large building. Both detectives look up, alarmed.
4. CONNOR and O'KEITH share a startled look, while CONNOR gestures off panel, indicating that he's going to explore.
5. O'KEITH starts up the staircase, while CONNOR approaches one of the doors at the end of the hall.
1. Another dialogue free page, as CONNOR continues to hunt through the corridors. Break this one up however you see fit; three of four panels, or maybe even one montage, should do it. Let's make it oppressive, a little Film Noir, with a growing sense over the course of the page that Connor is being dragged deeper into the mansion almost against his will.
1. O'KEITH climbs a flight of stairs. It should be clear that these aren't the stairs in the entrance hall, that he's wandered into an altogether different wing of the house. As with the previous page, the design here is oppressive, claustrophobic.
2. O'KEITH is moving down a long corridor. There's not much light, maybe just a couple of shafts entering through breaks in the rotting walls. At the far end is a doorway, and there's a second exit halfway along. The farther doorway should be the brightest point in the panel, with sunlight slanting in from somewhere beyond it. The other doorway is sunk in darkness, just an outline.
3. Closer in. As O'KEITH approaches the farthest doorway, a shadowy figure appears in the other one, behind him. Despite the darkness, we recognise the CULTIST from Page 3. Now, however, his hood is drawn back, and he holds a short, curved knife in one raised hand. Though we can't see much of him at this point, the CULTIST is a normal-looking man in late middle age, with a nondescript face and greying hair. Other than the knife, the only strange thing about him is the ankle-length black robe he's wearing.
O'KEITH is oblivious to the fact that there's someone behind him.
4. CONNOR hears his partner scream, and begins to hurry towards the sound.
1. A large panel. CONNOR arrives in time to see the CULTIST just finishing off stabbing to death his partner. He's looking up, startled, like a mean child who's been caught doing something bad. Maybe O'KEITH is lying in the light around the doorway and we can see how that his shirt is red with blood, or maybe they're both in shadow. Either way, there's a lot of blood pooling on the floor.
2. CONNOR steadies himself against the wall with one hand, reaches towards the CULTIST with the other. Probably shouting at him isn't the best of ideas, but he's not thinking too clearly.
3. The CULTIST bolts, through the doorway at the far end of the corridor.
4. CONNOR draws a gun, maybe from an ankle holster or behind his waist - let's try and imply that this isn't something he does often. Unlike some other weapons that we'll see later in the story, this is definitely a gun from our own time, a .38 police special or something like that.
5. CONNOR gives chase.
PAGE 10 / PAGE 11
1. A big panel, or maybe two panels, taking up most of a double spread.
CONNOR enters a large room. Perhaps we can convey this with a small establishing panel and then show the main image from his POV? There are windows in the B/G - the windows we saw from the other side on Page 3 - and the CULTIST stands poised in front of these, holding his dagger upraised.
To the left, in the mid-ground, is the suggestion of a body on the floor. The WOMAN we glimpsed on Page 3 has been brutally sacrificed, although we should get impressions of this more than a full picture.
The other significant feature of the room is beyond the murdered WOMAN's body. On the floor sits a statuette of CTHULHU, with its name written on the wall behind, with the U's appearing like V's, so that it reads CTHVLLV.
We don't necessarily need to get all of this information here, though, since we'll be seeing most of these elements in more detail over the next couple of pages; just enough to set the scene.
2. The remaining panels on these pages should be towards the bottom and perhaps concentrated on Page 11, so that the order of the action is clear.
CONNOR looks appalled, bewildered. This is completely outside of his prior experience.
3. The CULTIST, deciding this isn't a fight he can't win, hurls himself towards the window.
4. In the same moment, CONNOR shoots the CULTIST and wings him in the shoulder, which only serves to help propel him to his doom.
1. CONNOR rushes to the shattered window.
2. From CONNOR's POV, we see that the Cultist's body is sprawled below, spread-eagled on the overgrown lawn we saw earlier. From the way his limbs are bent, it seems very unlikely that he'll be getting up again.
3. CONNOR moves away from the window, to investigate the body in the room.
4. Again from CONNOR's POV, we see the body of the WOMAN. While this maybe shouldn't be too graphic, it should be clear that her corpse has suffered a fair bit of sacrificial punishment - this wasn't any normal murder.
5. Reaction shot of CONNOR, wide eyed, looking baffled and horrified and as though he might throw up.
1. CONNOR moves on to the statue of CTHULHU. It's a crude thing, about a foot tall, sharp-angled and abstract, and it's sitting in the murdered WOMAN's blood.
2. CONNOR is appalled and entranced by the CTHULHU statue, unable to take his eyes off it.
3. CONNOR squats before the statue of CTHULHU. We can see from the way the shadows have shifted that time is passing.
4. As per the above panel, but now, muffled voices are drifting up from the floors below. Let's represent this with a couple of disembodied speech bubbles, with the text in each a line or two of indecipherable scrawl.
1. COP 3, a woman in her mid-to-late twenties with short, dark hair, enters. She's much younger than CONNOR, newer to police work, and correspondingly less prepared for what she's seeing.
2. COP 3, trying to talk to CONNOR.
What happened? What happened to O'Keith?
3. COP 3, already pretty traumatized, looks down to realise she's just trooped O'KEITH's blood into the room.
4. COP 3 tries again to engage CONNOR.
Who did that?
5. CONNOR nods dreamily towards the shattered window.
6. COP 3 walks over to the window, looks out.
7. COP 3, not looking at CONNOR this time, still staring out through the broken window frame.
There's nothing out here.
1. A large panel - outside the mansion, late afternoon. Police cars are pulled up outside the mansion and a number of police are loitering around. In the B/G there's also a single black jeep with blacked-out windows. Two cops are carrying out O'KEITH's body on a stretcher.
In the F/G, CONNOR is ranting at his POLICE CHIEF, a hard-faced man in his fifties, though we can't hear their conversation as yet.
2. A smaller panel, close on CONNOR and the POLICE CHIEF - though we can still see the bustle going on behind them.
There was a body. You can't tell me there wasn't a body. Three fucking floors.
3. The CHIEF is replying to CONNOR, but his eyes are on a figure in the B/G, a large-built middle aged man with short cut silver hair, wearing a black suit and dark glasses and looking like a stereotypical Secret Service agent. This man, who's standing close to the mysterious black jeep, is the HEAD SPOOK.
Keep your voice down.
1. CONNOR looks back over his shoulder to follow his CHIEF's gaze, and now we see that too more government SPOOKS are loading something that might easily be a body bag into the back of the blacked-out jeep.
2. Close on CONNOR, still following his gaze, as one of the SPOOKS slams the boot of the jeep closed, while the other, having noticed CONNOR watching, moves to shield his partner from view.
What is this?
3. CONNOR rounds on the CHIEF angrily.
What the fuck's going on here?
4. The CHIEF is caught between rising to CONNOR's challenge and trying to conciliate him; he doesn't like this much more than CONNOR does, but he has his orders and he knows enough to know that he should be keeping his nose out of this one.
It's in hand, Connor.
5. A large panel. We draw back and up, to a bird's eye view, and though CONNOR and the CHIEF are still recognisably the centre of our focus, we have a clear view of the scene around them and the front of the house. The three SPOOKS are now near the main doorway, and we can see that they're pulling rank on the police, maybe flashing IDs, that kind of thing, and the police are already starting to back off and pack up their things.
Let this one be someone else's problem.
1. CONNOR sits hunched over a disarrayed desk in his office, head in hands. A heap of ignored paperwork has built up and overflowed from his in-tray.
But I couldn't.
2. A similar panel to the above, but now the covering of the desk has changed. The overflowing papers have been shoved aside to make way for stacks of books, maps, pages of scrawled notes, articles cropped from newspapers, etc., which CONNOR is poring through feverishly.
I'd seen things I didn't understand. I couldn't just walk away.
3. Similar to the above again, but our view is in close, and now CONNOR is focusing on a couple of blurry photographs, which look like they're prints of shots taken on a cheap smartphone. They're both of the CTHULHU statuette from the mansion, but the one that's currently in the forefront is focused on the writing behind it, the word written as CTHVLHV.
I had one word. Enough to start digging.
4. Now CONNOR's looking at the second photograph, which is concentrating on the CTHULHU statuette itself. Shot from a skewed angle, grainy, it looks particularly weird and wrong. Maybe we can see a little of the blood pooling near it.
And I had to dig. Wherever it led.
Because one thing I knew for sure...
PAGE 18 / PAGE 19.
These two pages are a dialogue-free splash montage of CONNOR's investigations and the sacrificed bodies it's been turning up. Break this up however you like and make changes if you feel you have better ideas, maybe keep it in panels if you think that works better. This has the scope to be particularly gory, but I think we should dial it down, keep everything in the shadows as much as possible and let the reader use their imagination.
An abandoned warehouse, evening. A corpse hangs crucified and eviscerated, with to the left the characters TU and to the right the characters LU, written in blood, in the same angular font as appeared beneath the statue of Cthulhu, making it more like TV and LV. As well as CONNOR, policemen and police pathologists are milling around.
A grubby apartment kitchen. Two corpses, a man and a woman, sit facing each other, cross-legged on the tiled floor. We can just make out that their faces have been flayed off. Between them is a statuette of CTHULHU like the one in the mansion, and the corpses are posed with their arms outstretched, their hands linked and resting on the statue's head.
A factory. Four bodies are strung from chains overhead. Their arms droop loose but their legs have been spread wide and their feet roped together, so that they form a large human cross. They've been eviscerated, and their blood and viscera have splashed across the concrete floor, utterly drenching yet another CTHULHU statuette.
Connor's voiceover continues from the previous page. Let's make it as prominent as possible.
"There would be more bodies."
1. CONNOR's investigations grow more occult and obscure. As per Page 17, but now the books that CONNOR's surrounding himself with aren't even in English: texts in Arabic, Sumerian, and Aramaic litter his desk, maps of an antediluvian Earth, obscure histories of the Dagon people and spell books, perhaps even a copy of the fabled Necronomicon. Let's play up the contrast with Page 17 as much as possible. What was once a police detective's office now looks like the study of some mad historian.
But the corpses, the sacrifices - that was only the scum on the surface.
2. This will likely by the largest panel on the page. Still in CONNOR's office, and now he stands before a map tacked on a wall. It can be a real city or an imagined one, but either way, let's subtly convey some of the background themes here: as we saw in Page 2, Panel 4, this city has a modern - in fact, a slightly futuristic - core, surrounded by much older, decaying buildings.
The other important detail is that the map is marked with shadowy photos of people and places, news clips and such, all joined up with pins and lines of thread, like a police investigation board but far more chaotic.
Prominent on the map should be the snapshot of the CTHULHU statue that we saw on Page 17, and the thread lines should spider-web out from it, ending in the pictures of people, who are all - though this shouldn't be too obvious - politicians, celebrities and such.
Turned out, the word was a name. And it led to other names.
Some of those, I knew already. The rich. The powerful.
3. Closer in on the map, and CONNOR is midway through removing one of the photographs, ready to put it into a report that we'll see on the next page. The photo shows a man named HASTUR, a gaunt, aristocratic figure in his sixties, dressed (though we probably can't see it in the photo) in a mustard-coloured suit. HASTUR runs a club called CARCOSA, so perhaps we could see a bit of that as well, in another photo or a news clipping. If so, it's a garish, weird-looking place, the epitome of the ancient / futuristic theme we have running through: glass and polished metal, but with the sign in an ancient font, that kind of thing. But because this is information we'll be feeding in over the next few pages, let's keep it subtle at this stage.
The ones we weren't supposed to touch.
1. The CHIEF's office, day. It should be a stark contrast to CONNOR's lair: well lit, clean, with a large window behind the desk. Again in contrast, there's not much on that desk besides a family photo, an overstuffed file and a computer - which should be a little futuristic, perhaps a paper-thin touchscreen hovering or something that. The folder is CONNOR's, and it should be conspicuous, to indicate that it's the subject of conversation. Maybe the CHIEF is holding it or has a hand on it.
The CHIEF is in the middle of bawling out CONNOR.
This has gone too far, Connor.
2. Small panel. CONNOR, too, gestures at the file.
It's barely even started.
3. The CHIEF and CONNOR withdraw a little from each other, each of them desperate in their own way. Although CONNOR can't see it, the CHIEF really is trying to protect him.
I can't protect you anymore.
It's never been me you were protecting.
4. The CHIEF leans back into the conversation, making one last attempt at reaching CONNOR.
Do you know the difference between a case and an obsession?
5. CONNOR, stubborn, oblivious to what the CHIEF is desperately trying to tell him.
There's no difference. Not this time.
6. The CHIEF - starting to give up now, trying to hide behind professionalism. He's done his best and now he just wants to wash his hands of this.
Exactly. And that's why you have to put a stop to this. That's why I'm putting you on mandatory leave.
7. The CHIEF's mask slips. We see for a moment how genuinely unhappy he is with the situation. He's losing a good detective here.
Get your head together, for Christ's sake. Remember what your job is.
1. CONNOR stands, very still. For a moment, we think that maybe the CHIEF has got through to him, or at least that he's going to accept what he's been told.
2. Then CONNOR furiously sweeps the file he brought in from his CHIEF's desk, sending it exploding across the room. He should really look like a crazy person here - this is our first solid indication that maybe things aren't all there in CONNOR land, maybe he isn't quite the hero he thinks he is.
3. Large panel. A weird, high angle. CONNOR marches out of the room, sheets of paper and photographs and pages of occult symbols and hand-written nonsense flurrying around him. This is another glimpse into CONNOR's crazy, the fact that he's seen fit to present this stuff as an official police report.
But I'd never forgotten.
4. Close on a couple of photos lying on the tiled floor: these are the ones we saw on Page 20, Panel 3, HASTUR and the CLUB CARCOSA.
And it was far too late to stop now.