“Welcome: To the Palace of the Mountain King!” yells Joe Longthorne. He’s cross-legged in fanciful silver ball-gown, plumes of white feathers around the collar. Sat upon The Iron Throne, a peacock’s splendour of daggers elevated upon cascading steps, he motions his head downwards to Jetfire, Heller and the others. All are caged but for John Craven.
“Driving home for Christmas”, he harks, “These people are just the same as me!” Risen from his throne clapping, he ponces grandly down to meet them. He teases ruby fingernails along the bars of Jetfire’s cage. “Well, well. What have we here? A Transformer. More than meets the eye, I’ll say! Aye Eye!” he laughs now. “Well my darling. I must say I’ve never tried to impersonate one of yours. What crimes have you committed?”
“I-I..you..Your government won’t allow me to live here, unless I work for the arms companies. But I ha-have a degree in neuroscience that could help many people.”
“I see, you’re, caught” Words tickle out as Longthorne reaches through the bars and strokes Jetfire’s arm.
“You sold us out John Craven. You’re a traitor!” yells Heller, unable to control himself.
Longthorne laughs again. A light girlish laugh, at first endearing like the best bowl of cereal then obsequious, as if steeped in milk for four days. Yet not sour. “John is here at my pleasure. Think what we could do by ruling together John. I could dress for you and you could dress for me. Lipstick and eyeliner, oh, it’s so much fun.”
“Well, it’s not out of the question” said John raising an eyebrow and smiling. With the same smile he shakes his hairy head like a jolly dog. ‘No’. “No, I’m afraid it wouldn’t work Joe.”
“Oh come now. I’ve dressed as hundreds of celebrities. But the truth looks so good on you.”
Miley Merrick rattles her cage fiercely and slides to it’s base. Tori reaches through. “It’s okay Elephant Girl. You’ll be noticed soon.”
“You there! Let those women go!” demands Carnacki.
“You’ve had so many identities that you don’t know who you are anymore. Who’s really in charge here?”
Heller saw Longthorne was shaken by this observation and pressed home the advantage. “Did they do to you what you’re going to let happen to John Craven? Filled full of wires and zapped with shocks to become just another tool of the State?”
Longthorne rages. “What about you Autobot? Do you think I’m just a weapon?”
Jetfire spoke with sadness.
“I just know myself. I’m Jetfire. That is who I am and I’m glad of it. I can think of nothing worse than not knowing who one really is.”
Just then the ground quakes.
John Craven rushes to the window. “Joe, it’s the London Met dressed as Boba Fett. Hundreds of them.”
Six officers enter the room and surround the prisoners as the news-reader darts behind Tori’s cage.
“Whooooo disrupts my Coronation?” asks Joe.
“Coronation Longthorne? This is bad comedy!”
It was the Wooden Blocks. Haunting mannequins, ghosts of expression. Daniel Cameron, and with him his lieutenants Neil Clegg and Gordon Osborne. “Why are these scroungers not in rehabilitative security at the Winter Snaps?”
“You serve at my leisure Daniel.” cautioned Longthorne.
“Oh?” Cameron’s face puffs like a blowfish. He turns to Neil and Gordon. “Haw Haw Haw Haw” he yawps and they echo his cackles. “We serf at his leisure?”
The words sound baby-speak, mocking, twisted.
“HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW” and for a full minute all the politicians and guards hawed.
“Joe, if you can be anyone, don’t be a no-one”, says Jetfire and there is silence.
“Who played you Joe?” asks Heller.
Joe looks over to John Craven beaming back a broad smile. He tosses bunched keys across the room.
“I won’t allow it!” yaps Gordon and stamps his feet three times. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair!”
Now see Joe Longthorne punch Neil Clegg in the face.
“Target Special Agent Longthorne!” yells Daniel Cameron.
Every heavy firearm in the room raises to Daniel Cameron’s head until he is clear of their sights.
“He’s slipped into costume!” calls one of the shock troops, aiming his weapon at Gordon. All guns turn. Everyone is still. John Craven and Tori Amos pause with those caged, watching, considering. Then, Daniel Cameron moves. He’s running off stage there, like a big yellow-belly scaredy-cat and is shot full of rapid bangs. The sound echoes around Chumberly Village Hall. You could almost run around later with your friendsand pretend to be shooting Daniel Cameron, that’s how loud it was. The London Met Boba Fett shock troopers turn on each other. Their guns are squeezy washing up bottles with water inside and they squirt shots and fall to the floor. There is one left standing.
“Joe Longthorne!” he says, approaching Neil Clegg. He detaches his cartridge from his gun and shakes it up and down then opens it by screw top. He bashes the base of it and tomato ketchup drollops out and covers Neil Clegg’s bloody nose. Then the trooper kicks him in the bollocks.
“Arghieee, that really hurt. Mummmieeee!”
Our heroic band are out, rescued, but Miley Cyrus bum-rushes the Shock Trooper into an open cage and it closes behind the two of them. Captain Heller’s gun points to the Chancellor’s head. The Surfer comes around to join him.
“Not so fast Gordon Of Osborne.”
“I knew we’d find out who’s really behind this.”
Osborne pulls his own face off. “He was inside one of those Shock Troop uniforms.” says Joe, who were beneath the mask. “I dressed him in it after I punched Neil Clegg.”
“I’m glad” says John Craven.
“Now I am free I can begin to heal this battered heart. Thankyou, my new friends.”, he says eagerly shaking the robot’s hand. “I have something for you.”
Joe reaches into his pocket and pulls out two small books, which he gives to Jetfire and Captain Heller.
“Passports: Jetfire, for your citizenship and Captain Heller – we’re going to need a good leader to take this country from the dark ages. What do you say? Will you stay and help?”
“And forget all this ever happened?” asks Heller sceptically.
“I agree. And don’t you all have homes to go to?” asks Carnacki. “Now, shoo! Off you pop! Out into the street!”
And with that the performers exit, pushing Miley and the trooper off-stage.
* * * Curtains * * *
‘Do they Know it’s Christmas?’ charges towards the speakers. It’s a cover version by Rammstein. The actors bow; we clap.
“Well Ta Gnat Thank Gad It’s Tham, In Staidddd of Yoo”
They take a second bow and throw out Punk prowls and Kung-Fu kicks.
* * * Curtains * * *