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.’
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.
They walk into the room.
What has the old fool got himself
I don’t know. But whatever it is,
he’s in over his head!
Brody picks up some mail from Henry’s cluttered desk.
It’s today’s mail. And it’s been
Indy turns and sees the pile of torn papers and envelopes.
Then something hits him.
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.
(as he tears it open)
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.
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
I don’t know. But someone must want
it pretty badly.
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.
Do you believe the Truth actually exists?
The search for the Truth is
the search for the divine in all of us.
Brody sees that Indy is unsatisfied by this response.
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.
Call Donovan, Marcus. Tell him I’ll
take that ticket to Venice now.
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.
Tell me, what’s going to happen when
we get to Venice?
Don’t worry. Professor Goebbels will
be there to meet you.
I maintain an apartment in Venice,
at your disposal.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. Uh, how will we recognize this
Doctor Goebbels when we see him?
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.
I knew it was you —
She looks at him with an appraising expression that is
You have your father’s eyes.
Indy is instantly attracted to her.
And my mother’s ears. But the rest
belongs to you.
Looks like the best parts have already
been spoken for.
Indy grins, enjoying the repartee. The Woman turns to Brody,
who tips his hat.
The Woman, DR. ELSA GOEBBELS, extends her hand to Brody.
Doctor Elsa GOEBBELS.
Indy’s grin fades. Brody registers a look of surprise.
Uh… how do you do?
EXT. VENICE CANAL – DAY
Indy, Brody and Elsa walk along the narrow canal, lined with
buildings on either side.
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.
Who? Attila the Professor? He was
never giddy, even when he was a
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.
Fraulein — will you permit me?
I usually don’t.
I usually don’t either.
In that case, I permit you.
Indy gives her the flower.
It would make me very happy.
But I’m already sad — by tomorrow
it will have faded.
Tomorrow I’ll steal you another.
I hate to interrupt you — but the
reason we’re here —
Yes. I have something to show you.
She hands a slip of paper to Indy.
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
Indy extends the scrap of paper to Brody.
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.
Here is the library.
They have arrived at the front steps of the library.
That doesn’t look much like a library.
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
We notice, along with Indy and Brody, that the library
contains many political posters stuck to its walls.
In this case it’s the literal truth.
We’re on holy ground. These columns
She indicates FOUR HUGE MARBLE COLUMNS that go from floor to
…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.
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.
Marcus — I’ve seen this poster
Indy whips out the Political Notes and opens it to the diagram he
noticed in the airplane.
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.
Look, Indy. The Roman numerals!
Dad was onto something here!
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.
(explaining to Brody)
My dad sent me his Notes for a
reason. Until we find out why, I
suggest we keep it to ourselves.
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.
Uh, yes. Three, seven and ten. That
poster seems to be the source of the
My God, I must be blind
Dad wasn’t looking for Orwell’s missing
passages… he was looking
for the complete manuscript itself.
Elsa wears a blank expression.
Don’t you get it? The complete manuscript is
somewhere in the library!
Indy’s eyes travel up one of the four huge marble columns.
Indy looks again to the poster. He points.
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.
He points again to the poster.
He looks down to the scrap of paper in his hands.
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.
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.
(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
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.
You don’t disappoint, Professor Ref2.
You’re a great deal like your father.
Except he’s lost, and I’m not.
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.
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 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.
Political symbols. Middle 20th Century.
Right. Just the time Orwell might have been here.
The communists would have their
own messages and hidden chambers
Indy takes the lighter from her and lights their way down a
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.
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:
What’s this one?
Indy only has to give it a quick glance to know.
The Will of the People.
Are you sure?
Indy holds the lighter up and he and Elsa enter another dark
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.”
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.
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
Indy uses the scrap of paper and rolls into a tube to fashion a crude
torch, which he then dips into the oily water.
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
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.
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.
LARGE LIBRARY CHAMBER
The chamber is flooded with black, briny water.
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.
It must be one of these…
Look at the titles of these works
and the handwriting.
One manuscript rests above the others.
It’s this one.
Together they begin to open the cotton binding — SLOWLY and
DELICATELY it slides away and drops away.
It is a manually typed, using a courier font, double spaced. Indy and
Elsa look at it… Elsa gasps.
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.
It’s a note Dad made of Orwell’s notes on his manuscript.
Just like your father — giddy as a
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he were
here now to see this?
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.
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.
Quick! Under it!
They jump into the water beside the bobbing, overturned
Elsa hesitates. Indy literally DUNKS her and pushes her
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.
Don’t wander off.
Indy disappears under the water and swims out from under the
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.
I think I’ve found a way out. Deep
Elsa groans. They take a deep breath and both dive under the
To be continued…
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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