THE METROPOLITANS — Episode Thirty Two — Physics Special

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A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture

By Tony Carden

 

Episode Thirty Two – Physics Special

 

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Richard P. Feynman

 

Beneath the limestone crags of the Jura mountains, four individuals dressed in long white coats lead a cortege. Behind the vanguard, a squad of security guards pulled along a slightly fat and balding individual dressed in blue shirt and beige cargo trousers. The guards were none too gentle with their prisoner.

‘In there.’ One of the men dressed in white pointed.

The group marched into a large chamber. A very large metal and plastic machine with wires coming out at all points dominated the room, leaving hardly enough space for the party to congregate. Some of the group whispered at the sight.

‘Order.’ The leader of the whitecoats bellowed. His words echoed loudly in the concrete lined chamber.

Another of the men in white stepped forward. ‘We are here to inquire into the heresy by Alessio Schiacciata that Physics was invented and built by men.’ He frowned at Alessio, now brought before the four leaders. ‘How do you plead?’

‘Not guilty of course. I was just try__’

‘Silence! You do not have permission to speak.’

‘How can I defend…’ One of the guards grabbed him and bent his head down.

‘You may only speak if you are given permission to answer questions.’

The third MIW now intervened. He pointed his outstretched finger at Alessio.

‘You, Schiacciata have ventured to meddle in things that you ought not and with the most grave and dangerous subjects that can be stirred up these days. Not only that, you dare speak of things that are held as holy writ.’ His interlocutor nodded at the guard who was restraining him. ‘You may now speak.’

Alessio looked at his accuser. ‘I am a humble man. A man driven by the search for truth. All I tried to do was get to the bottom of the question about gender equality in physics…’ He turned to those around him, ‘…and science more generally.’

‘See!’ The leader roared.

‘Guilty.’ The other three pointed at Alessio. ‘Condemned by his own words.’

Those in the chamber shouted out. ‘He’s gripped by an evil hand.’

The leader raised his hands to demand quiet. ‘Indeed. He must be made to repent.’

Alessio stood tall. ‘I wish to state that all I have done is follow the scientific method…’

‘Be quiet. You stand condemned of the most heinous of heresies. One that is worth,’ he turned to gaze at the huge machine behind him, ‘the severest of sentences…’ he paused to let his words sink in, ‘…banishment from the community of scientists!’

Alessio broke free from the guard. ‘No! I do not deserve that!’

‘Sixteen hundred judges have put their name to the verdict.’ The MIW pulled out a smartphone. ‘We state, in the strongest possible terms, that the humanity of any person, regardless of ascribed identities such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, gender presentation, or sexual identity is not up for debate. The thin veneer of scientific rigour with which Schiacciata’s talk was followed by open discrimination and personal attacks, which we condemn unconditionally. We strongly express our view that the science case presented by Schiacciata is fundamentally unsound.’ He turned to Alessio. ‘So it is. You are condemned.’

Alessio raised his hand in fist and shook it. ‘I curse the time devoted to these studies in which I strove and hoped to move away somewhat from the beaten path. I repent having given the world a portion of my thinking; I feel inclined to consign what is left to the flames and thus placate at last the inextinguishable hatred of my enemies.’

‘Are you therefore repenting of your sin?’

‘Henceforth, I will neither hold, defend, nor teach chrysopoeia in any way whatsoever.’

‘I am pleased you recognise your error and have gone too far in your research.’ He clicked his fingers. ‘Now you must sign your confession.’

One of the guards brought forward a large gold bound book and held it up. The MIW opened it and turned the pages. He gestured at Alessio. ‘Come here.’ He pointed at the page. ‘Read and sign.’

The guard turned the book so Alessio could read it.

‘I held, as I still hold, as most true and indisputable, the opinion of Ptolemy, that is to say, the stability of the Earth and the motion of the Sun. I affirm, therefore, on my conscience, that I do not now hold the condemned opinion and have not held it since the decision of authorities…I am here in your hands–do with me what you please.’

‘That is it!’ The leader smirked. ‘Whereas you, Schiacciata, of Pisa, are in the year 2018 denounced to for holding as true the false doctrine and, so that you will be more cautious in future, and an example for others to abstain from delinquencies of this sort, we order that all your writings and comments on be prohibited. We condemn you to formal imprisonment in this holy quantum machine at our pleasure.’

The crowd roared its approval.

‘Take him away.’

‘No, no, no, …I only tried to tell the truth.’

The guards seized Alessio and dragged him towards the huge machine. One of them ran ahead and opened a panel.

Alessio turned his head towards the MIW. ‘You can’t do this to me!’

‘You’re a sad case. Haven’t you heard of postmodernism?’

Alessio screamed as he was stuffed into the machine.

‘Now the following go out to all the world.’

 

Coda

 

The Most Illustrious Lord Cardinal Millini notified the Reverend Fathers Lord Assessor and Lord Commissary of the Holy Office that, after the reporting of the judgment by the Father Theologians against the propositions of the mathematician Galileo (to the effect that the sun stand still at the centre of the world and the earth moves even with the diurnal motion), His Holiness ordered the most Illustrious Lord Cardinal Bellarmine to call Galileo before himself and warn him to abandon these opinions; and if he should refuse to obey, the Father Commissary, in the presence of a notary and witnesses, is to issue him an injunction to abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or from discussing it; and further, if he should not acquiesce, he is to be imprisoned.

 

How little have times changed…

 

 

JUST A REMINDER

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There is a compendium of the first twenty-five episodes now available on the Amazon Kindle store for your delight.

Click here to view

 

*   *   *

INDY REF2 AND THE LOST CRUSADE

Part 5

The story so far…

Several years after his encounter in Trafalgar Square with Panama hat, Indy finally manages to best the radical European group and steal their banner, which he delivers to his mentor Brody. Escaping from his students in his political theory class, Indy is picked up by henchmen employed by William Donovan. At this meeting, Indy hears about the missing elements of Orwell’s key political treatise and the fact Donovan has information as to their whereabouts. Agreeing to go and search for these, Indy is told that the manuscript might be in Venice, Italy.

The story continues…

 

EXT. A RESIDENTIAL STREET – DAY

 

A FORD RENEGADE speeds down the tree-lined street.

 

EXT. PROFESSOR HENRY REF2’s HOUSE – DAY

 

The Ford Renegade pulls up in front of the house. Indy climbs

from the car and hurries up the walkway. Brody is a step

behind.

 

BRODY

Your father and I have been friends

since time began. I’ve watched you

grow up, Indy. And I’ve watched the

two of you grow apart.

(beat)

I’ve never seen you this concerned

about him before.

 

They climb the porch and notice that the front door is ajar.

They exchange a quick look of concern as they enter.

INT. THE HOUSE – LATE AFTERNOON

Indy approaches the half-open front door.

 

INDY

Dad?

(to Brody)

He’s an academic A bookworm. He’s

not a practical man.

 

He pushes open the door. He enters the house and calls out.

 

INDY

Dad? Dad?

Indy opens one half of the curtains dividing the hall from

the sitting room.

 

We see the place has been ransacked.

Brody sees Indy’s face and opens the other half.

BRODY

Dear God.

 

They walk into the room.

BRODY

What has the old fool got himself

into now?

INDY

I don’t know. But whatever it is,

he’s in over his head!

Brody picks up some mail from Henry’s cluttered desk.

INDY

Dad?

 

BRODY

It’s today’s mail. And it’s been

opened.

Indy turns and sees the pile of torn papers and envelopes.

Then something hits him.

INDY

Mail! That’s it, Marcus!

He immediately empties his pockets of his own mail taken

earlier in the day from his college office and finds the

envelope with the Venice postmark.

INDY

(as he tears it open)

Venice, Italy!

BRODY

What is it?

 

Indy uncovers a small book. It looks like a JOURNAL or DIARY.

Indy flips through it: Page after page of handwritten notes

and diagrams. Brody glances at it with great curiosity.

 

INDY

It’s Dad’s Political Notes. Every idea

he ever followed. Every discovery he

made. A complete record of his search

for the Truth. This is his whole

life. Why would he have sent this to

me?

 

BRODY

I don’t know. But someone must want

it pretty badly.

INDY

Do you believe, Marcus?

 

As Indy asks the question, he turns to a PAINTING on the

wall: A depiction of the House of Commons in full sitting.

 

A SECOND PAINTING on the wall shows the US Congress

Congressmen are on their feet waving the Stars and Stripes.

There is a large crowd in the public gallery.

 

INDY

Do you believe the Truth actually exists?

 

BRODY

The search for the Truth is

the search for the divine in all of us.

Brody sees that Indy is unsatisfied by this response.

 

BRODY

But if you want facts, Indy, I have

none to give you. At my age, I’m

prepared to take a few things on trust.

 

INDY

Call Donovan, Marcus. Tell him I’ll

take that ticket to Venice now.

 

BRODY

I’ll tell him we’ll take two.

EXT. AIRFIELD – DAY

A LIMO is parked beside a PRIVATE AIRLINER that bears the

DONOVAN CORPORATE LOGO. Brody peers inside to Donovan and Indy.

BRODY

Tell me, what’s going to happen when

we get to Venice?

 

DONOVAN

(overlapping)

Don’t worry. Professor Goebbels will

be there to meet you.

 

BRODY

(overlapping)

Goebbels?

DONOVAN

(overlapping)

I maintain an apartment in Venice,

at your disposal.

 

BRODY

Oh, well. That’s good. Thank you.

Brody and Donovan shake hands. Indy steps from the back seat

of the limo. He turns back to Donovan and shakes his hand.

DONOVAN

Professor Ref2. Good luck. Be very

careful. Don’t trust anybody.

INT. AIRLINER – FLYING – DAY

 

Indy opens the Political Notes and thoughtfully turns through

the pages. He stops at one page and glances at an INFLUENCE DIAGRAM

of what might be a political crisis. Below the diagram is

a SERIES OF NUMBERS.

 

EXT. THE PRIVATE AIRLINER – FLYING – DAY

SUPERIMPOSED over a MAP that traces a course from London

to Venice, Italy.

 

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. VENICE – BOAT LANDING – DAY

Indy and Brody disembark from the Water Bus onto the Boat

Landing as other Gondoliers steer their boats in the water.

 

INDY

Ah, Venice…

BRODY

Yes. Uh, how will we recognize this

Doctor Goebbels when we see him?

 

INDY

I don’t know. Maybe he’ll know us.

Suddenly a WOMAN comes up to him. Attractive features. Blonde

hair. Eyes that are bright and intelligent. She looks like a model.

 

ELSA

Professor Ref2?

INDY

Yes?

 

ELSA

I knew it was you —

She looks at him with an appraising expression that is

brazenly flirtatious.

ELSA

You have your father’s eyes.

Indy is instantly attracted to her.

INDY

And my mother’s ears. But the rest

belongs to you.

 

ELSA

Looks like the best parts have already

been spoken for.

Indy grins, enjoying the repartee. The Woman turns to Brody,

who tips his hat.

 

ELSA

Marcus Brody?

BRODY

That’s right.

 

The Woman, DR. ELSA GOEBBELS, extends her hand to Brody.

 

ELSA

(introducing herself)

Doctor Elsa GOEBBELS.

Indy’s grin fades. Brody registers a look of surprise.

 

BRODY

Uh… how do you do?

 

CUT TO:

EXT. VENICE CANAL – DAY

Indy, Brody and Elsa walk along the narrow canal, lined with

buildings on either side.

 

ELSA

The last time I saw your father we

were in the library. He was very

close to tracking down the missing sections

I’ve never seen him so excited.

He was as giddy as a schoolboy.

 

INDY

Who? Attila the Professor? He was

never giddy, even when he was a

schoolboy!

 

Indy can’t take his eyes off Elsa. Perhaps he’s feeling a

bit like a schoolboy himself right now. As they cross over a

bridge to the opposite side of the canal, Indy steals a flower

from a street vendor. He holds it out to Elsa.

 

INDY

Fraulein — will you permit me?

 

ELSA

I usually don’t.

 

INDY

I usually don’t either.

 

ELSA

In that case, I permit you.

 

Indy gives her the flower.

 

INDY

It would make me very happy.

 

ELSA

But I’m already sad — by tomorrow

it will have faded.

 

INDY

Tomorrow I’ll steal you another.

 

BRODY

(cutting in)

I hate to interrupt you — but the

reason we’re here —

 

ELSA

(interrupting)

Yes. I have something to show you.

 

She hands a slip of paper to Indy.

ELSA

I left your father working in the

library. He sent me to the manuscript section

to fetch an ancient plan of the city.

When I got back to his table — he’d

gone — with all his papers — except

for that scrap which I found near

his chair.

 

Indy extends the scrap of paper to Brody.

 

INDY

Roman numerals.

 

EXT. VENICE PIAZZA – DAY

 

Elsa leads Indy and Brody into the large piazza. People walk

about and sit at tables in front of a large building.

 

ELSA

Here is the library.

 

They have arrived at the front steps of the library.

 

INDY

That doesn’t look much like a library.

 

BRODY

It looks like a converted church.

 

Elsa leads the way inside.

 

INT. THE LIBRARY – DAY

Indy, Brody and Elsa enter, their heels CLICKING across the

marble floor.

 

We notice, along with Indy and Brody, that the library

contains many political posters stuck to its walls.

 

ELSA

In this case it’s the literal truth.

We’re on holy ground. These columns

over here…

 

She indicates FOUR HUGE MARBLE COLUMNS that go from floor to

ceiling.

 

ELSA

…were brought back as spoils of

war after the sacking of Byzantium

during the Crusades. A political act.

 

Indy glances at the Columns, then notices a poster

that depicts a man flag held high with several people behind him,

one which looks a lot like Elsa. Indy lingers

for a moment in front of the poster.

 

ELSA

Now please excuse me. The library’s

closing in a few moments. I’ll arrange

for us to stay a little longer.

 

The minute Elsa is out of earshot.

 

INDY

Marcus — I’ve seen this poster

before.

 

BRODY

Where?

 

Indy whips out the Political Notes and opens it to the diagram he

noticed in the airplane.

 

INDY

Right here. In Dad’s Notes. You see?

 

Brody glances at the Notes, then at the poster — noticing

that the Roman numerals in question have been worked into

the poster’s design.

 

BRODY

Look, Indy. The Roman numerals!

 

INDY

Dad was onto something here!

 

BRODY

Well, now we know the source of the

numbers, but we still don’t know

what they mean.

 

Indy and Brody now see Elsa approaching. Indy quickly tucks

the Notes back into his pocket.

 

INDY

(explaining to Brody)

My dad sent me his Notes for a

reason. Until we find out why, I

suggest we keep it to ourselves.

 

ELSA

Find something?

 

Indy doesn’t reply. He’s looking in five directions at once.

His eyes moving across the walls and ceilings — charged

with the thrill of discovery.

 

BRODY

(to Elsa)

Uh, yes. Three, seven and ten. That

poster seems to be the source of the

Roman numerals.

 

ELSA

My God, I must be blind

 

INDY

Dad wasn’t looking for Orwell’s missing

passages… he was looking

for the complete manuscript itself.

 

Elsa wears a blank expression.

 

INDY

Don’t you get it? The complete manuscript is

somewhere in the library!

Look.

 

Indy’s eyes travel up one of the four huge marble columns.

 

INDY

Three.

 

Indy looks again to the poster. He points.

 

INDY

Three!

 

Indy has discovered that each Column is numbered with a Roman

Numeral. Indy hurries away toward Column VII. All Brody and

Elsa can do now is try to keep up with him.

 

INDY

Seven.

 

He points again to the poster.

 

INDY

Seven… Ten.

 

He looks down to the scrap of paper in his hands.

 

INDY

And ten. Now where’s the ten? Look

around for the ten.

 

Indy walks past aisles of book-lined shelves. He stops, turns,

then looks down.

 

INDY

Three, seven and ten.

 

He climbs a spiral staircase leading up to a LOFT and looks

down at Brody and Elsa. The floor beneath their feet is an

elaborate tile design containing a huge “X” — visible only

from this higher angle.

 

INDY

Ten.

(wryly; to himself)

“X” marks the spot.

 

Indy rushes down the staircase and goes to the CENTER TILE

where the two sides of the X intersect. He blows dust away

from the tile and tries to pry it up, but cannot.

 

Indy rushes past Brody to a cordon held in place by a brass

stand underneath the stained-glass window.

 

Indy raises the brass stand and timing his actions, hits the

tile precisely as the Librarian stamps a book. The Librarian

regards the stamper curiously.

 

Indy continues to pound at the tile as the Librarian resumes

his stamping, still puzzled by the SOUND ECHOING through the

library.

 

Finally Indy breaks the tile. As he bends to remove the pieces

of broken tile, a TWO-FOOT SQUARE HOLE IS REVEALED.

 

Cold air and a wet, rancid smell escape from the hole.

 

INDY

Bingo.

ELSA

You don’t disappoint, Professor Ref2.

You’re a great deal like your father.

 

INDY

Except he’s lost, and I’m not.

ELSA

Lower me down.

Indy is impressed with Elsa’s spirit, and cooperates agreeably —

holding her by the hands and lowering her into the hole.

When her feet finally touch ground below, Indy releases his

grip on her and slips the Political Notes to Brody.

 

INDY

Look after this for me, will you?

Then Indy disappears into the hole.

 

INT. CATACOMBS BELOW LIBRARY – DAY

Indy jumps down a steep step. He reaches back to help Elsa.

INDY

Come on.

 

Indy and Elsa glance around. This is really a horrid place.

Dark and dank. Foul smelling. Elsa turns. She removes a

cigarette lighter with a unique ivory four-leaf clover design.

Indy and Elsa inspect faint chalk marks on the walls.

ELSA

Political symbols. Middle 20th Century.

INDY

Right. Just the time Orwell might have been here.

Bingo.

 

ELSA

The communists would have their

own messages and hidden chambers

around here.

 

Indy takes the lighter from her and lights their way down a

dark passageway.

INDY

That’s right. If there’s a cash of propaganda

hidden down here, that’s where we’ll find what we’re looking for.

INT. LIBRARY – DAY

 

THREE MEN carrying guns make their way down the spiral

staircase toward an unsuspecting Brody. One of the Men, KAZIM,

raises his gun and brings it down hard on Brody’s head.

BRODY

Ohhhh…

 

Kazim gestures with his gun toward the now-unconscious Brody.

The other two men take Brody’s hands and drag him into one

of the book-lined aisles.

INT. ANOTHER PART OF THE CATACOMBS – DAY

DECOMPOSING CORPSES rest in niches carved into the stone

walls. Grotesque skeletal remains with rotting linen stretched

across blackened bones.

Indy holds the lighter up as he and Elsa inspect graffiti

Scratched on the walls.

Elsa spots a symbol on the wall that she doesn’t

recognise. As she blows away some cobwebs:

 

ELSA

What’s this one?

Indy only has to give it a quick glance to know.

INDY

The Will of the People.

 

ELSA

Are you sure?

INDY

(deadpan)

Pretty sure.

Indy holds the lighter up and he and Elsa enter another dark

passageway.

 

ANOTHER PART OF THE CATACOMBS

Indy steps to the wall and runs his hand over the stone. He

scrapes the cobwebs away to reveal the ROMAN NUMERAL “X.”

INDY

Watch out.

 

Elsa now holds the lighter as Indy rams his shoulder into

the wall. The wall collapses on impact and Indy falls through

into another room.

ANOTHER ROOM – THE CATACOMBS

As Indy falls through the hole in the wall onto rocks

surrounded by bubbling, green, slimy liquid. He is

surrounded by mouldering and mildewed old manuscripts, resting in niches. Elsa holds the

lighter as she peers in at him through the hole in the wall.

INDY

Petroleum. I could sink a well down

here and retire.

Indy reaches up and tears a page from one of the

manuscripts, which breaks apart and falls into the oil-slick

water.

Indy uses the scrap of paper and rolls into a tube to fashion a crude

torch, which he then dips into the oily water.

INDY

Give me the lighter.

ANOTHER PART OF THE CATACOMBS

Using the paper torch to guide their way, Indy

and Elsa come upon a NARROW PASSAGEWAY. The water is knee-

deep and TEEMING WITH RATS. Thousands of them crawling on

one another’s backs. SQUEALING. Squirming. Thrashing in the

water.

INDY

Oh, rats…

Elsa gasps as the rats scamper between her legs.

Indy moves forward through the rat-infested water as Elsa

follows, still gasping in horror. Suddenly he slips into a

hole. Recovering his balance, he reaches out to Elsa.

INDY

Come on!

She gasps once again, terrified. Indy lifts her and carries

Elsa as he moves forward.

THE CATACOMBS – THE HOLE IN THE WALL

Kazim and his men step to the opening Indy made earlier and

shine their flashlights through to the rat-infested water.

ANOTHER PART OF THE CATACOMBS

More rat-infested water as Elsa, now walking again, follows

Indy through another passageway lined with mouldy old posters.

Indy reaches for a wall to steady himself and inadvertently

grabs a poster. It comes loose in his hand as rats

scurry about and leap at him from all directions.

He takes a moment to compose himself, then steps across the

water to Elsa’s side. He steps into the water, then reaches

up to help Elsa do the same.

INDY

Come here.

LARGE LIBRARY CHAMBER

The chamber is flooded with black, briny water.

INDY

Look…

In the centre of the chamber, jutting up above the water, is

what amounts to a “reading lectern” on which rest SEVERAL DUSTY

MANUSCRIPTS. They move toward the lectern.

Indy and Elsa begin to inspect the MANUSCRIPTS

like the scholars that they are. These are big

foolscap documents held together by cotton ribbons.

INDY

It must be one of these…

ELSA

Look at the titles of these works

and the handwriting.

One manuscript rests above the others.

ELSA

It’s this one.

Together they begin to open the cotton binding — SLOWLY and

DELICATELY it slides away and drops away.

THE MANUSCRIPT

It is a manually typed, using a courier font, double spaced. Indy and

Elsa look at it… Elsa gasps.

INDY

This is it! We found it! Look — the

Complete manuscript. It’s the

same wording as the bowdlerised edition. The

index is the second marker!

Indy unfolds a piece of paper and holds it beside the manuscript.

ELSA

What’s that?

INDY

It’s a note Dad made of Orwell’s notes on his manuscript.

ELSA

Just like your father — giddy as a

schoolboy.

Indy laughs.

ELSA

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he were

here now to see this?

INDY

(chuckles)

He never would have made it past the

rats! He hates rats! He’s scared to

death of them!

CLOSE – A HAND

 

As it lights a match.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL KAZIM

Dropping the lighted match into the oil-slick water.

INDY AND ELSA

Elsa holds the torch. Indy looks around. Listens. Something

is wrong. And then he sees the GLOW OF FIRELIGHT dancing

across the Catacomb walls.

This is followed by THOUSANDS OF RATS FLEEING from around

the corner of the Narrow Passageway, STAMPEDING toward Elsa

and Indy — SHRIEKING and SQUEALING as they approach.

The rats literally wash over them — like a rodent tidal

wave — in their efforts to escape a:

HUGE ORANGE BALL OF FIRE

ROARING around the corner hurtling towards them — feeding

on the oil slick; consuming the oxygen.

Elsa SCREAMS.

INDY

Get back! Back against the wall.

Indy braces his back against the lectern and TOPPLES THE LECTERN

with his feet. It CRASHES down into the water.

INDY

Quick! Under it!

They jump into the water beside the bobbing, overturned

lectern.

INDY

Air pocket!

Elsa hesitates. Indy literally DUNKS her and pushes her

underneath.

UNDER THE LECTERN

Elsa surfaces into the air pocket created by the lectern,

SPUTTERING and SPITTING.

Now Indy pops up into the air pocket. He looks at Elsa —

they are both soaking wet.

INDY

Don’t wander off.

ELSA

What?

Indy disappears under the water and swims out from under the

lectern.

ELSA

What?

 

UNDER THE WATER

Indy swims, looking for an escape route.

UNDER THE LECTERN

The rats are beginning to force their way inside, swimming

through the water and climbing on Elsa, who squirms and

screams in terror.

Indy pops back up through the water.

INDY

I think I’ve found a way out. Deep

breath.

Elsa groans. They take a deep breath and both dive under the

water.

To be continued…

 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

You can contact the author at:

[email protected]

 

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