On the horror serial GRAVEL, I work in a style called "scriptment." It’s partway between a full script and a "treatment," or detailed synopsis. It’s not quite a short story, not a Marvel-style outline, neither fish nor fowl nor arse eel. This thing then goes to Mike Wolfer, who adapts it into a full script. Some people have asked how much of GRAVEL is me and how much is Mike. Here’s the opening of the scriptment for GRAVEL #3, out in store this week:
* * * * *
"ON ILKLEY MOOR BAHT’ AT"
OPEN ON: A TRAIN cutting through England in the morning.
Inside: in an otherwise empty carriage, William Gravel on the phone, his kitbag next to him on the seat.
Gravel: "…yes, she’s dead too. But you know that, or else you wouldn’t be asking me what’s next. Listen, I’m in no mood for stupid fucking games. I think it’s time you told me who you are."
Phone: "William, old sock. I understand you’ve been busy, but you’re really not thinking, are you?"
Gravel: "Yeah, and I didn’t go to fucking university or learn how to flex me arsehole for the pleasure of my betters. So I’m hanging up now."
Phone: "Who benefits from the Sigsand Manuscript being collected and reconstituted, Gravel?"
Gravel: "Me, with a bit of luck. Bye."
He switches the phone off, tosses it in his kitbag.
Pissed off, he settles back, looks out the window at the trees and fields.
A voice from off: "Shite, ennit? Southern England looks like it were made by fucking Lego."
"Aah, I dunno about that. I mean, rather here that up fucking north, know what I mean?"
And then he realises that he was alone.
And SYKES is sitting opposite him. SYKES is a very old man, but his hair’s still black. Dressed in a heavy, thick black jacket, a thick blue sweater under it, a black scarf, black trousers and heavy boots. He always has a tall shepherd’s crook in his hand, which he uses like a walking staff. Very very pale — the only colour in him is his blue eyes and the blue sweater, cobalt blue.
Gravel can only breathe "…Sykes." He is almost frightened. Certainly surprised.
"Aye. Sykes it is. I thought it were time we had a talk, Bill."
Gravel’s hand steals into his kitbag, closing around his gun inside there.
"A talk? Or another shot at killing me."
"Nay, I’ve got no trouble with thee, William Gravel, so you let go of your gun there. I want to talk."
He stands up. "But not down here. I get a rash on me privates if I come further south than Watford Gap. Come home to Yorkshire with me."
Gravel closes his hand around his kitbag, standing. "Listen, you’re here now, let’s just walk up to the buffet car, get a couple of pints and talk there…"
And suddenly he’s standing up on a blasted bleak Yorkshire moor under a sky that’s grey and black.
And Sykes turns away from him, walking across the moor. He sings:
"Where hast thou been since I saw thee? On Ilkley Moor baht ’at.
“On Ilkley Moor baht ’at! On Ilk-ley Moor bah-t’at…"
Gravel makes a face. "Do what?"
Sykes: "It’s a song, Bill. The oldest song I know. On Ilkley Moor baht ’at."
Gravel: "Does it translate into English, you Yorkshire bastard?