EXPLORATI ON BRI GADE
EXPLORATION BRIGADE (OF FUN EXPLORING)
John Bailey Owen
ACT ONE EXT. DEEP RAINFOREST - BRAZIL - 1873 ARTHUR PERRY, young naturalist and son of Naval hero Commodore Perry, sprints through the murky jungle. He carries a wooden box with numbered switches and a mouthpiece - a primitive portable telephone. Perry shouts into it. PERRY If you’re thinking of coming to our rescue, now would be a good time! He desperately cranks a handle on the phone and tries again. PERRY (CONT’D) I need the soldiers, now! Behind him, a formation of flying machines crashes through the growth. Confederate flags wave on top of each. They look a little like helicopters made out of 2x4s. Spinning blades on their noses mow through everything in their path, and their mounted rifles blaze. Perry begins bashing the phone with the receiver. PERRY (CONT’D) God! Drat! You! Grant! EXT. WHITE HOUSE LAWN - WEEKS EARLIER Perry is standing outside the gate of the White House. Inside, the grounds are unkempt and desolate. Perry looks for a place to announce himself, and finally comes across a shack. Inside, a dirty-looking GUARD is asleep under newspapers. The guard opens his eyes. He speaks slowly in a weird Appalachian accent. GUARD Yeah? PERRY I’m here to see President Grant. The guard stands up and points toward the White House. GUARD He’s in that there buildin’. PERRY Yes, I - I know that.
The guard shrugs and gets back under his newspapers. PERRY (CONT’D) Are you all right? GUARD Nope. Civil War done took my head out. He twists his neck, showing that the back of his head is almost 100% concave. Then he turns back to Perry, puts his finger in his mouth and pops his cheek. INT. WHITE HOUSE - ENTRANCE Perry enters the White House to find it deserted. The carpets have giant wet stains and the wallpaper is peeling off in sheaths. A possum bursts out of a column, hissing. It calms down and vomits, and then eats the vomit back up. INT. OVAL OFFICE Perry steps inside the Oval Office, which seems deserted, too - until he notices a shadowy figure by the windows. PERRY President Grant? The figure steps forward - it’s a SCARY-LOOKING BUM with a sledgehammer. He rushes towards Perry, but a voice calls out from across the room. This is President ULYSSES S. GRANT, prawled out on a busted-up velvet couch. GRANT (drowsily) No, Taters. Don’t smash my guest. Grant props himself up, looking deeply hungover. GRANT (CONT’D) Young Perry! Eager to discuss why I brought you here. But first, would you pour me a little eye-opener? He points to a liquor bottle nearby and Perry gives him a shot. Downing it, Grant points at another bottle. GRANT (CONT’D) Now an eye-widener. Downs it. Another.
GRANT (CONT’D) Brain-hardener. Downs it. GRANT (CONT’D) Brain-softener. Downs it. He shivers with the brain-softening goodness. GRANT (CONT’D) And one for good luck! He grabs a bottle by the neck and takes a long, long swig. GRANT (CONT’D) Followed by a quick power-nap. Grant instantly falls back asleep. INT. OVAL OFFICE - HOURS LATER Perry is standing in front of Grant’s desk. It’s now evening. GRANT ...Then one day I found Taters inside the walls! He said he had squatters’ rights. (to Taters) And what with the Depression and not being able to pay for a staff, I don’t know what we’d do without you, Taters! PERRY Very nice, Mr. President. But I was wondering why you called me here. GRANT You know, Young Perry, that I came up with your father at West Point. PERRY Of course. He treasured those days. GRANT A true hero! His opening of Japan! His defense of the Union! (then) It has always puzzled me, why you didn’t follow in his footsteps.
INT. PERRY ESTATE - 20 YEARS EARLIER A DOCTOR stands by the huddled figure of COMMODORE PERRY, who is draped in furs. A 6 YEAR OLD PERRY cowers behind the legs of his NURSE. DOCTOR His condition is worsening. Have you been following my instructions? NURSE Yes, sir, I DOCTOR No! The son must be the one to put the mercury on the syphilitic brain! The little boy! PULL BACK to reveal that the top of Commodore Perry’s skull has been sawed off. His brain pulses gently. A BUTLER steps up with a little speaking horn. BUTLER It is time for the daily recreation of Commodore’s victory at the Battle of the Burning Hills. SERVANTS enter, holding makeshift weapons. Across from them enter MEN IN IRON MASKS, holding flamethrowers. COMMODORE PERRY Let the hills burn, boys. INT. OVAL OFFICE - PRESENT PERRY I suppose I wasn’t cut out for it. GRANT Too cowardly, eh? PERRY More that I’ve always loved nature, so I became a naturalist. GRANT Right! I was trying to remember the name of the loser-thing you did. “Naturalism!” (chuckling to himself) So losery. Anyhow! That’s exactly why I need your help. Taters!
Taters grabs a portfolio, and pulls out a huge map of the world, red dots painted in a dozen areas. GRANT (CONT’D) There are...incidents are cropping up around the globe. Grant points to a dot in Siberia. GRANT (CONT’D) Kamchatka Peninsula. A ten-mile high volcano appearing overnight. Lights reported overhead - of a color never before seen by man. He points to a dot in Nepal. GRANT (CONT’D) Krol Ko Monastery. Townspeople say that the monks woke up one morning to find themselves invisible. He points to a dot in Brazil. GRANT (CONT’D) And of particular interest now...the Amazon Rainforest meteors which bestow special knowledge to their finders Grant rummages in his desk and pulls out a piece of paper. It is a childish crayon drawing of a sailboat with the words “EXPLORATION BRIGADE” scrawled below. Grant nods expectantly. Perry has no idea what he’s supposed to take away from this. Grant writes “OF FUN EXPLORING” underneath “Exploration Brigade.” PERRY I...see? Grant sighs as if could it be more obvious. GRANT I’m forming a fake scientific expedition! That way, we can investigate these without arousing suspicion! And I want you aboard! To lend the voyage naturalistic credibility! Perry is perturbed.
GRANT (CONT’D) Don’t worry! I’ve got a mosttalented crew lined up! They’ll handle everything. You’re just along for the ride! PERRY Mr. President, I have no GRANT All the freedom in the world to write in your dream-journal about your flower-dreams, or whatever. Grant winks and nudges him. GRANT (CONT’D) I hear they have lady-shaped flowers down there! Perhaps you’ll finally find a wife! PERRY I suppose that I could go if... GRANT Lovely! First up: those mysterious meteors! The steamer to Brazil leaves next week! Grant pulls out a ticket and hurries Perry towards the door. Perry tries to ask more, but Grant cuts him off. GRANT (CONT’D) Taters will be in touch! (then) Just don’t get into any scandals! Dealing with so many of them these days! Did you know, Congress just passed a law saying that until I have all my scandals under control, I have to execute one cabinet member a week? Grant draws back a curtain looking out onto a garden below. A swollen, formally-attired CORPSE is swinging in the wind, hands tied behind its back. PERRY They can’t have said that! Mr. President, they can’t have! Grant looks at Taters, who shrugs. Grant throws down his hat.
GRANT Damnit, Taters! I said to bring accurate reports from Congress! He paces back and forth. An idea comes to him. GRANT (CONT’D) Taters, run out and put a burlap sack on his head. Taters crawls through a splintered hole in the wall. Grant turns to Perry. GRANT (CONT’D) Nobody will be able to tell who it is, you see! They watch in silence as Taters climbs the scaffold. GRANT (CONT’D) (musing to himself) Not high quality burlap, though. They’ll still get his eyes. Yes, the crows will still get his eyes. EXT. CITY ON THE AMAZON - SEVERAL WEEKS LATER Perry steps off a ship onto the bank of a small port city at the mouth of the Amazon river. It is peaceful and charming. Interesting plants abound! Perry makes some sketches, and then follows a sign that points to the market. He walks over a little hill and... EXT. RIVER MARKET ...into a roiling mass of unbelievably poverty-stricken BEGGARS. They rush towards him. One grabs Perry’s arm, alternating between senseless babble and agonized screams. BEGGAR 1 ARRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH! (then) Bla-blo-blah-ga-la-la! He looks Perry in the eye. BEGGAR 1 (CONT’D) My craziness is based in the agony center of my brain. (then) ARRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Perry digs into his pockets, and fills the beggar’s hands with coins. Another beggar wrenches Perry away, tears streaming down his cheeks. BEGGAR 2 The rats...they ate my teeth... CLOSE ON the beggar’s toothless gums, scored with rat-bites. Perry digs into his pockets again when a WOMAN grabs him she’s young and pretty, but instead of typical 19th century lady-wear, she’s dressed like she’s on safari. LUTECE Mr. Perry? PERRY Yes. Are you LUTECE Lutece Masterson. I’m here to escort you to the Pride-Eagle. She looks at his coin-filled hand and shakes her head. LUTECE (CONT’D) And to stop you getting ripped off. PERRY These men are in great distress! Why, that one actually seems to... (peering closer) Have lost his head? He points at a beggar with a perfectly rounded-off neck sticking through his rags. Lutece rolls her eyes. LUTECE And you’ll lose your shirt if you give handouts to every beggar. She thrusts a pair of heavy gloves into his hands. LUTECE (CONT’D) Put these on. PERRY Why? Lutece pulls a pair on herself and then grabs two red-hot pokers from a blacksmith’s forge, tossing one to Perry. LUTECE It’s just what you’ve got to do down here. Move aside, people!
She swings the poker out around her to clear a path, and drags Perry along with her. EXT. JUNGLE PATH - LATER We catch up with the two as they walk down a winding path. Perry is discussing his work and his past. PERRY ...so this will be my first time in the field in South America. LUTECE Sounds like you’ve got your fake identity down pat. As for me: (in a “newsie” voice) As history’s First Female Reporter, I’ll keep the world abreast of our scientific discoveries! She pauses for dramatic effect. LUTECE (CONT’D) But will the forces that propel my wandering uterus interfere with the machinery when I send newswires? Follow along to find out! Perry looks at her, confused. LUTECE (CONT’D) What? Was I not convincing? PERRY If that’s your “fake” identity, what’s your real one? LUTECE Grant didn’t brief you? Don’t worry, I’m fully qualified. Seen action in Central Asia, gone undercover with the Lakota, the Modoc, the Comanche... They turn a bend and we see the Pride-Eagle: it’s a small ironclad steamer with many mounted turrets. On the deck, the CAPTAIN, mid-30s and African-American, is drilling an entire squadron of MILITARY MEN. CAPTAIN What are we here to do?
MEN (UNISON) Fight to the death! CAPTAIN How will we die? Each of the soldiers gives a different answer: MEN From gunshots!/ Festering wounds left untreated!/ Jungle sickness!/ Electrocuted by electric eels in an execution pit!/ Hung! Or is it hanged? Hanged! CAPTAIN Yes. All those are true and likely! He notices Perry and extends his hand. CAPTAIN (CONT’D) Hi, there. I’m leading the troops on this deathspedition. (then) Sorry, that came out all wrong. I meant to say “death-expedition.” PERRY Guns? Soldiers? What is this for? LUTECE Well, the Neo-Confederacy isn’t going to blow itself up. Perry’s jaw drops. Out of nowhere, a MESSENGER in a rowboat appears. MESSENGER Telegram for Arthur Perry! Perry raises his hand slowly. MESSENGER (CONT’D) Young Perry STOP. Possible I left out a detail or two STOP. Need you to help root out the ascendant NeoConfederacy STOP. Okay bye bye I love you STOP. Sorry that I love you slipped out for some reason STOP. However I do love you as a friend STOP. Okay bye bye love you STOP. The messenger wipes his brow as Perry continues to gape.
MESSENGER (CONT’D) Any of you got some fresh water? Gotta row back to Florida tonight, and I’ll tell you, saltwater don’t refresh one as much. LUTECE You can’t drink saltwater! MESSENGER Now you’re talkin’ crazy. That’d be like saying Perry here’s lack of qualifications for this mission means he ain’t gonna surviRight then, the messenger clutches his chest and falls facefirst into the water. Ominous music swells. CAPTAIN Look! The ion differential is causing him to The messenger’s chest begins to expand rapidly - and then explodes. The music becomes even more ominous! CAPTAIN (CONT’D) Look! A family of river dolphins! Two dolphins and their small children surface and play cutely. The music stops being ominous. Then the babies start tearing the messenger’s entrails out! The music stays unominous. CAPTAIN (CONT’D) It’s called nature, folks. The baby dolphins start burrowing their snouts into the messenger’s brain through his eyes. CAPTAIN (CONT’D) A human baby would do that if they got the chance. Nine times out of ten. END OF ACT ONE
ACT TWO EXT. AMAZON TRIBUTARY - DAYS LATER Perry and Lutece are in a canoe, rowing through the mist. As they row, we FLASH BACK INTERMITTENTLY in V.O. to the Pride Eagle, as the Captain and Lutece explain the stakes. PERRY (V.O.) The meteors are in a colony of NeoConfederates? CAPTAIN (V.O.) Call themselves the Confederados. They escaped down here after the war and founded a colony. PRESENT: Perry and Lutece turn down into a slow-moving tributary. Giant trees crowd out the light. Tattered Confederate flags hang from their boughs. LUTECE (V.O.) Since the meteors came, they’ve had a rapid increase in technological sophistication. We suspect that they’re going to use it to attack the US. PERRY (V.O.) But why me? LUTECE (V.O.) These Southern creeps, their minds won’t comprehend a woman traveling unchaperoned. I need someone to act as my husband. PRESENT: A crocodile snaps. Behind the hum of the jungle, strange grinding, mechanical sounds pop up - punctuated by what sound like screams. CAPTAIN My men don’t have necessary. I’d go this skin of mine nonstarter.
(V.O.) the social graces if I could, but makes it a
PERRY (V.O.) (overdoing it) That?! Don’t you think we’re past all that? As a culture? A people?
PRESENT: Perry looks over at the telephone box from the show’s intro. CAPTAIN (V.O.) We’ve managed to get our hands on some of their technology. This lets people talk to each other from far away. So if something goes wrong, we’ll come get you. PERRY (V.O.) Be reasonable! I’m a naturalist! CAPTAIN (V.O.) Well, Mr. Naturalist, draw yourself a nature-picture of this: you, with your head shot off. After you’ve blown your cover due to lack of experience. And before all that? You got tortured for hours. Days! (beat) I always find drawing pictures of your fears helps alleviate ‘em. PRESENT: Perry and Lutece come to an engraved sign sticking out of the water: “WELCOME TO NEW SLAVETOPOLISTOWN.” Its motto: “Slaveryum Est Benefacticum.” CAPTAIN (V.O.) This here’s as far we go. Canoe’s waiting. (then) God, those girlish screams of his. Someone put a rag in his mouth and strap him into the canoe. EXT. AMAZON RIVER - CONTINUING THE PRESENT PERRY God, you know what I miss? That rabble of beggars by the river’s mouth. Let’s go back! I’m going back! I’ll walk! He begins to step right out of the canoe. Lutece pulls him back. LUTECE We’re close. As Lutece scans the banks, a GUARD in a tattered Confederate uniform jumps out from the brush holding a rifle.
CONFEDERADO GUARD Halt right there, y’hear? State your business-doins! Perry and Lutece put their hands up. LUTECE I take it this is New Slavetopolistown? CONFEDERADO GUARD An what if’n it is? What’n then’n? LUTECE My husband and I fled from the tyranny up North, hoping against hope that -CONFEDERADO GUARD I asked about your business-doins, plain’n’simple-like-n’such! What’re you usin’ all them words for? He points the rifle at Perry. CONFEDERADO GUARD (CONT’D) You! Why’d you and your word-talkinwife come here? A very long silence. PERRY Because slavery...is... (lamely) ...good. Lutece cringes. Perry has blown it. But then the guard grins. CONFEDERADO GUARD Sure is! He pulls a little microphone-y thing out of his chest pocket. CONFEDERADO GUARD (CONT’D) We got some visitors, y’all! He tosses his gun down and pulls a lever sticking out of a nearby tree. Gears turn, and the wall of brush pulls away on a mechanized track to reveal: A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN TOWN in the middle of the jungle, choked with vines and vegetation. The most prominent building is a colonnaded mansion, where the columns are giant living trees.
RAINFOREST ANIMALS walk to and fro in what look like RUDIMENTARY MECH-SUITS, made out of wood and gears. A stately WOMAN holding a parasol covered in moss steps up. Though she’s young, her hair is silvery. She’s wearing a belle-style gown, but its colors are faded, and it is speckled with mold. LADY EVARDINA I’m Lady Evardina. Welcome to New Slavetopolistown. Now, ain’t this nice -you’re just in time for luncheon. EXT. NEW SLAVETOPOLISTOWN - BANQUET AREA - SOON AFTER Perry and Lutece are seated next to one another at a long wooden table in the open air. Along with about FIFTY CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS are the leaders of New Slavetopolistown LADY EVARDINA and THE COLONEL, Lady Evardina’s ancient, wizened husband. He has a long, twirly beard. Evardina pats his shoulder. LADY EVARDINA ...So when the war was lost, my dear husband led all us down here. THE COLONEL Carpetbaggers. Carpetbaggers! LADY EVARDINA The carpetbaggers and their honeyed words. They convinced most of our slaves that they didn’t need to come with us. Can you imagine! The Colonel spits. MAMMY, an ancient woman in moldy maid’s clothing appears, scowling. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) But Mammy insisted on coming along! MAMMY The unspeakable circumstances I’ve been subjected to since birth done left me real fucked up in the head! The Confederados nod appreciatively. Good old Mammy!
LADY EVARDINA When we got here, it was hard. The Why, we thought we’d never get a respectable number of slaves again! THE COLONEL Skystones. Skystones! LADY EVARDINA But then the Lord started sending us them skystones. He enlarged our minds...Made all you see possible. A liveried SLOTH strapped into a gear-machine mech-suit moves haltingly around the table, pouring water. The mech-suit can’t compensate for his utter lack of motor skills, and water floods everywhere. The Colonel rockets up in his seat. THE COLONEL Doom-weapon! Doom-weapon! LADY EVARDINA That’s right. The Colonel, he’s got a feeling that the skystone that arrived just last week? She drops into a whisper. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) It’s gon’ give us exactly what we need to take back those United Snakes. Perry and Lutece steal a glance at each other. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) We do hope you’ll be able to stay for the Cleaving next week. That’s when we’ll bring the stone out of hiding and open it up! The sloth reappears with trays of food. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) What does Slothy have here, Mammy? MAMMY Caterpillar-mush grits, brackenfungus-mash, tree-tadpole smushum, and fresh carrion-flower. (prodding the sloth) Go on now!
The sloth makes its way around the table, trying to pass out food. His hands drag through the food, his claws break plates. The Confederados dig in. Mouths smeared with black ooze, they look up at Perry and Lutece, who take their forks and raise them to their lips. EXT. BANQUET AREA (TWENTY MINUTES LATER) A CAPYBARA, dustpan attached to his head, clears away Perry and Lutece’s massive piles of vomit. LADY EVARDINA What a spirited purging! Your body will get used to jungle food eventually. Come to crave it. She shovels more into her mouth. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) All it asks in return is a little daily bleedin’-coma. Blood begins to trickle out of the Confederados’ ears. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) When we come to, we’ll show you to your rooms in the Big House. Every Confederado slumps down onto the table. Lutece and Perry look at each other and nod. Simultaneously: LUTECE/PERRY Looks like a nice chunk of time to search for that hidden meteor / Looks like a nice opportunity to call the troops in right away! PERRY ...To kill these people. LUTECE Nope. What I said. Perry is incredulous. Lutece shrugs. LUTECE (CONT’D) Congress pays me by the hour. PERRY That’s no reason to risk our lives! Lutece gets serious.
LUTECE You know how much Congress pays women? 10 cents to every dollar they pay men. Perry frowns, chastened. LUTECE (CONT’D) Try feeding a family-sized laudanum addiction on that. Now, come on! EXT. NEW SLAVETOPOLISTOWN (MONTAGE) A montage of Lutece and Perry searching for the meteor intercut with scenes of daily life in New Slavetopolistown. - METEOR SEARCH: Lutece and Perry sit at the dining tables. They both do that thing where you simulate eating by turning sideways and moving your mouth up and down while pushing the food past it. - DAILY LIFE: Lutece and Perry see the colony’s “plantations” - fields pulsing with fungus-mounds, tended by mech-suit chameleons. - METEOR SEARCH: Lutece and Perry leave the tables packed with coma-slumped bodies. They walk down a jungle path and see a huge, intriguing pile of dirt and sticks. But when they approach, TERRIFYING TARANTULAS jump out at them. - DAILY LIFE: A sign from the “Cultural Preservation Tuesdays.” CHILDREN sit rapt while an OLD CONFEDERATE speaks of the golden past. OLD CONFEDERATE And then, we would make the slaves do slavin’... - METEOR SEARCH: Lutece and Perry come to a clearing filled with holes - are they meteor craters? They step forward and MORE TARANTULAS jump from the holes, chasing Perry and Lutece in a scary, well-organized pack. - DAILY LIFE: Perry and Lutece are at a ball in the evening torchlight. Near them, a Confederado trips over a root and gets a terrible compound fracture. We cut to a number of animal-slaves operating on him. Later, he emerges triumphantly - with an absolutely mangled arm. - METEOR SEARCH: Lutece and Perry find a giant boulder. A crack forms, and a HUGE TARANTULA bursts out. To Perry and Lutece’s surprise, it stands there, not chasing them.
Then it raises its abdomen and shoots a hail of baby giant tarantulas at them. INT. BIG HOUSE - PERRY AND LUTECE’S ROOM - A WEEK LATER Perry and Lutece are dressing in jungley formalwear for an evening out. Perry is pacing back and forth, running his hands through his hair. PERRY We’re running out of time. We need to find that meteor before they find us out! A baby tapir with a tarnished silver platter on its back waddles over, carrying cufflinks made out of river stones and sticks. Perry kicks the tray away. PERRY (CONT’D) Willful beast! I said to bring the lichen links! (then) Oh, God, I’m as bad as they are! Lutece calmly pulls a rope of jeweled moss around her neck. LUTECE No, you’re just settling into the part. You’ve been holding your own out there! PERRY That’s just because like everyone in the 19th century, I have a naturally high baseline of racism! (then) Let’s call in the soldiers! That communication-box is still stashed behind the storehouse. LUTECE Don’t be a coward. We’re so close. PERRY I don’t know how much longer I can take it. Lately I’ve had this feeling that I’m suddenly going to blurt everything out. LUTECE Why would you do that?
PERRY I don’t know! What if it just happens? Just like what if someone were talking to you, and you just spat right inside their open mouth! LUTECE Why would you do that? PERRY I don’t know! But now that I’ve thought of it I can’t get it out of my head. Every conversation! I think about it every conversation! A buzzer sounds. LUTECE The carriages for the opera! EXT. JUNGLE OPERA - EVENING Lutece and Perry pull up to an amphitheater in chariot-style carriages pulled by mechanized anteaters. They hop off and take their seats. While they wait for the curtains to open, Lutece scans around with her opera binoculars. LUTECE Wait a second... We see Lutece’s POV of the Big House through the binoculars. LUTECE (CONT’D) Look at those doors up there. Don’t they seem a little odd? POV: giant circular doors...they look exactly like the outline of a meteor. LUTECE (CONT’D) And look! A crane, right next to it! POV: A huge crane directly built onto the side of the house. LUTECE (CONT’D) And some sort of signage... POV: A big sign is painted onto the building. “Come see the meteors that will save us! Free to all of New Slavetopolistown, and not a secret!” Perry looks through his own binoculars. After a moment:
PERRY Truly shocked we missed that. LUTECE Well, the whole not eating anything since we’ve arrived has really degraded my ability to see things. PERRY Yeah. A lot of the time now, I’m only seeing shapes. PERRY’S POV through the binoculars: with his stomach growling, Perry’s vision of the Big House keeps losing its focus, and degrading into a jumble of circles, triangles, and rectangles. PERRY (CONT’D) Do you think we’ll have enough time to extract it during coma hour? LUTECE Why wait till then? If I do it now and it turns out to be right, no more being chased by spiders. PERRY (shuddering) Maybe one day, mankind will be advanced enough to burn this terrifying spider-realm to the ground. Lutece gets up but Perry grabs her hand. PERRY (CONT’D) Do you want my help? LUTECE That’s sweet. But I’m trained for this... She grasps his hand. They lock eyes for a moment. Then they snap out of it, and she looks down. LUTECE (CONT’D) You have the tiniest little wrists. She steals off. Perry leans back in his chair, content they’re going to make it out alive! But only a few moments later, Lady Evardina arrives and swoops down next to Perry. LADY EVARDINA All alone, are we?
PERRY Lutece had...tummy trouble. Evardina gives him a knowing nod. LADY EVARDINA If there’s one thing the weaker sex isn’t weaker in, it’s euphemisms for our oddly chronic gastrointestinal distress. PERRY Where is your spouse this evening? She seems not to hear him. The baby tapir walks up with several glasses filled with vile looking liquids on his tray. Lady Evardina moves in closer. LADY EVARDINA Gin and mold, Mr. Perry? PERRY I’m quite all right, thank you. Lady Evardina raises an eyebrow, impressed. LADY EVARDINA I love a man who controls himself. The rest get so riled and insane when they drink gin and molds. PULL OUT to see ginned-up men fighting, rolling on the ground frothing, etc. One group is prostrating themselves. CONFEDERATE GUARD Hail the Ant-King! May he give us the paranoia to suspect that there are frauds in our midst! Evardina places an empty glass on the tapir’s tray. LADY EVARDINA (to the tapir) Top that off for me, won’t you? (to Perry) A lady sticks to sweet tea. So much more wholesome. EXT. JUNGLE KITCHEN The baby tapir walks up to Mammy, who smashes a pile of frogs with a mallet and tosses them into the glass. An adult tapir fills the remainder with horse-like gushes of piss.
EXT. JUNGLE OPERA LADY EVARDINA But you know, a lady ain’t just made out of sugar... She grabs Perry and leans in for a kiss. Perry pulls back. PERRY Lady Evardina! What are you doing? LADY EVARDINA You can cut the act now. Perry’s face fills with terror. Evardina puts a finger up. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) Oh, yes. All that unease and awkwardness and fear of yours. Your true identity is clear... (beat) You’re a love-slave in need of a mistress. A mistress most harsh. Perry is speechless. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) Come along, slavey. To my boudoir. Evardina grabs his wrist, and tries to pull him along. PERRY Lady Evardina! I’m married! She laughs wryly. LADY EVARDINA The laws of society don’t apply here. Here it’s laws of nature, like having slavery. And the laws of the Ant-King! Perry raises an eyebrow. Evardina pulls out a sabre and jabs at him with it. LADY EVARDINA (CONT’D) So I had some gin and mold, too! So what! Now go! END OF ACT TWO
ACT THREE As Evardina forces Perry up and towards the Big House, the curtains unfurl and the opera begins. Unbelievably dramatic music as a soldier in a SLAVE COSTUME sings. OPERA SLAVE A slave am I, So happy and free! Free in my soul Is the freedom I mean! AUDIENCE MEMBER (to his neighbor) This is so good already. Perry sees Lutece’s shadow moving around and tries desperately to stall, but Evardina keeps pushing him onward. INT. BIG HOUSE Evardina leads Perry up the stairs in the Big House. Waterdamaged portraits of Confederate generals line the walls. She gets to the door of her bedroom, and INT. LADY EVARDINA’S BOUDOIR Sure enough, there’s Lutece, working to attach the hook of the crane onto the meteor. Lady Evardina gasps. PERRY It’s not what it appears to be! LADY EVARDINA Silence, worm! She pushes Perry to the ground, then smashes a red button on the wall. An alarm begins ringing out over the PA system. PA SYSTEM Business-doins apparently lied about! Business-doins apparently lied about! Evardina and Lutece begin a frantic fight to gain control of the crane’s controls. On the side, Perry stands awkwardly. PERRY How may I help? Both Evardina and Lutece look back at him. He’s so frightened that they can’t help but laugh before they get back into it.
LUTECE I’ll handle the fighting, Perry! Run to safety, all right? Perry ignominiously slinks down the stairs. The crane smashes through the side of the house, revealing the scene to the operagoers below. Evardina calls out to them. LADY EVARDINA Quickly! Man the fleet! A rumbling - and then a giant fleet of PRIMITIVE ATVS AND FLYING bursts out of the ground. The Confederados jump on. At that moment, Lutece manages to smash the crane’s hook across Evardina’s face, causing a gruesome tear. She connects the hook to the meteor, and then grabs on as it swings out of the house - and right on top of a soldier on an ATV. She flings his corpse away, and then a voice rings out from behind. PERRY Look! I’m destroying your only food! Come chase me! Everyone turns to see Perry stamping on the mold. Holding her jaw together, Evardina points at him. LADY EVARDINA Send one or two people to stop him! The rest of you, focus on the main threat, which is, of course, the theft of the skystone! The ATVs and flying machines begin their pursuit of Lutece. Perry curses. Then he has an idea. PERRY Slavery is bad! Everyone stops in their tracks. PERRY (CONT’D) It sucks. Gasps and painful cries of fear, then: LADY EVARDINA Send everyone after him! Every single person!
The vehicles swerve around and begin chasing after Perry. He grabs the Captain’s phone-box from behind the storehouse, and darts off on the path toward the river. PERRY If you’re thinking of coming to our rescue, now would be a good time! We connect back to the OPENING SCENE as Perry gets no response. And although he runs as fast as he can, and the Confederados’ vehicles are crappy, he’s still done for. When he reaches the river, there’s nowhere else to go. The vehicles box him in, and he prepares to die. But at that very moment, the Pride-Eagle appears out of the jungle mist, the Captain at the prow. His soldiers stand behind him, bayonets glittering. CAPTAIN You rang? Perry falls to his knees in relief. Evardina calls out from her flying machine. LADY EVARDINA Lava-cannons, boys! The riders flip switches and some firehose looking cannons rise up from the vehicles. The cannons barf up hot lava on every soldier, killing them instantly. PERRY Drat! As the Confederados approach, a flower catches Perry’s eye. PERRY (CONT’D) That flower! It has similar markings to the Texarkana Bluebell the one that caused those temporary paralyzations! What if... Right then, hundreds of TINY POISON DARTS whiz out of the jungle and hit the Confederados. Thunderous crashes and billows of smoke as their aircraft fall. Perry stands rigid. Then, out of the smoke steps an AMAZON CHIEF. For a moment, he and Perry look at each other in silence. He turns away, when Perry calls out after him. PERRY (CONT’D) You stopped them! Why?
AMAZON CHIEF Slavery... Other TRIBESMEN emerge from the jungle. The smoke clears further to show the Confederados knocked out on the ground. AMAZON CHIEF (CONT’D) ...It is good. And last week, we run out of slaves. The tribesmen unroll a vine carpet filled with emaciated MISSIONARY CORPSES, which the tribesmen push into the river. They begin tying ropes around the Confederados’ necks. PERRY But you’ve spared me? AMAZON CHIEF I look inside your heart. I see you are not like them... Perry is touched. AMAZON CHIEF (CONT’D) You not make good slave. Too wussy. Too die from jungle sickness. Not good enough even for little child’s slave. He shrilly imitates Perry running from the machines. AMAZON CHIEF (CONT’D) “Help! Help! I don’t want die!” The tribesmen crack up as they drag away their quarry. Perry rolls his eyes. PERRY Before you shot these guys from your hiding spots, I was going to solve everything with my naturalist skills. AMAZON CHIEF “Naturalist, naturalist!” The tribesmen crack up again, and melt back into the jungle. INT. WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM - SEVERAL WEEKS LATER The remnants of the Pride-Eagle and her crew have returned to America with the meteor. Now, a dubious-looking Perry speaks in front of the PRESS CORPS.
PERRY And that’s how we found a new kind of rubber. It will...help America. REPORTER (raising his hand) There are a few inconsistencies in your recounting, sir. Specifically-Grant points over at Lutece, hand on his cheek in amazement. GRANT Look! The First Female Reporter can write in shorthand! Lutece steps in front of the podium and “proudly” shows off her skills on the page of a notebook. The room is astounded. REPORTER 2 I thought it was impossible for the female hand-system to operate at such a high-level. REPORTER 3 It must be a parlor trick. Yet it is performed with great skill! Grant then points to the Captain, who, we see, survived the lava guns. The lower half of his body has been replaced with wooden mech-suit technology. GRANT And that’s the first naval captain to become half woodmachine! The press applaud thunderously, and take pictures with huge flashbulbs - all of which explode, showering glass and flames everywhere. The room fills with pained screams. REPORTER 1 Dear Lord! Why can’t we find a better way to take photographs?! INT. OVAL OFFICE - LATER THAT AFTERNOON Grant sits with his feet up on his desk, smoking a pipe. GRANT You see why I sent you, don’t you? I knew you could be a hero.
Perry notices a speech on Grant’s desk with the title “On Commodore Perry’s Son’s Death.” It begins: “He lived a coward’s life and died a coward’s death. But we must remember that he was a famous man’s son. Let’s have some of that honorable sheen rub off on this administration, all right?” GRANT (CONT’D) Go on and show our big, strong hero the secrets, Taters! PULL OUT to see that the meteor has been dragged into the Oval Office, a trail of shattered floorboards behind it. Taters emerges with his sledgehammer, whacks the rock a little, and then jams a crowbar inside. Grant pulls Perry along to see. And This isn’t a meteor at all - it’s some sort of SATELLITE! The heat from reentry has melted its outer features off. Within it sits a DEAD ASTRONAUT. His visor is shattered...from the inside out. He is surrounded by wooden crates. Stenciled on their side: “MISSION TO PRESERVE HUMAN CIVILIZATION IN THE FACE OF THE CATACLYSM.” Taters pries the lid off a crate and pulls out thick stacks of documents. CLOSE ON the documents: they’re schematics and diagrams with titles like “SIKORSKY S-76 HELICOPTER” and “MICROWAVE OVEN.” PERRY These are like those flying machines they had! A tiny bit, I mean. These diagrams look much, much better. He pores through other documents. PERRY (CONT’D) But where do they come from? GRANT We haven’t a clue! But they sure are fun to have around. There’s a DING from inside Grant’s desk. He opens the drawer to reveal a wooden microwave. He removes a plate of meat. GRANT (CONT’D) Like this mutton-steamer! Piping hot mutton, whenever you desire it! PERRY Can you use it for foods other than mutton?
GRANT No. (then) Taters! Get out of there! We see that Taters has worked himself into the spacesuit. GRANT (CONT’D) It’s my turn to go inside. Grant pulls on the suit. He wriggles around, pulling out a hunk of festering flesh, flinging it to the ground. Then he picks up a crate plastered with “WARNING!” signs. PERRY Perhaps it’s the doom-weapon! Grant lifts out a two-foot-long tactical nuclear missile. GRANT Not a bit! Those warnings must be there because this mystery-object looks like a shark! He tosses the nuke on top of his desk. It lands with a clang. GRANT (CONT’D) Nice of those future-fellows to warn us, so we wouldn’t see it and get the “sharky-darkies!” Grant grabs Taters’s sledgehammer. GRANT (CONT’D) That’s a word I just made up. It’s for when you’re afraid of a shark! Now, to make sure none of my guests are frightened... Grant begins whacking the nuke with the sledgehammer. A thick green gas begins seeping out of the tip. GRANT (CONT’D) Look! Colored Entertainment-Air from the future, to reward us for heeding the warnings on the crate! He wipes his brow. The room is filling with the gas. GRANT (CONT’D) Off you go to Siberia, Young Perry! END OF SHOW