Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (19 page)

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 17.

THE SHADOW/MONSTER punts Yrmenlaf's head (or maybe just his helmet) across the room, right at Wealthow!! She ducks…BAM!! Yrmenlaf hits the table!! A second later…

 

CRUNCH!! The monster's scaly, talon-like HAND sinks into the table, just above Wealthow's head! It lifts the table like it was a balsawood toy, then clubs and pummels the last of the charging thanes…

 

HROTHGAR, trembling violently, stumbles towards the monster, waving his sword…

HROTHGAR

(screaming at the beast)

Fight me!! Fight ME!!!

There's a pause…none of the surviving thanes move…

 

THE MONSTER slowly turns to face Hrothgar. With every move the monster makes, it MOANS and WAILS! Its crippled joints CRACKING and POPPING. The creature stands right over Wealthow, its deformed legs straddling her head. Putrid yellow drool pools onto the floor in front of her…

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

(in tears)

Fight me! Damn you! Fight me!

THE MONSTER suddenly ROARS a painful, angry, and tormented BELLOW…right in Hrothgar's face…

GRENDEL

NNNNAAAAaaaaaaaaay!!!!!

THE MONSTER'S foul breath ruffles Hrothgar's sheet, nearly blowing it off…knocking Hrothgar backward, onto his ass!

 

WEALTHOW, watching from the floor, realizing that something odd is being played out, more than just a garden variety monster attack.

 

With one hand, the monster grabs two dead thanes by the legs…and rockets up through the chimney!!!

 

WHOOOOSH!!! A GIANT RUSH OF WIND as the fire pit FLARES and WHIPS…and the room goes dark.

 

We HEAR PEOPLE SCREAMING AND SOBBING, in the darkness.

 

Then a torch is LIT, and another, and another….

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 18.

In the silence, we see that THE MEAD HALL has been destroyed.

 

UNFERTH emerges from the piss pit, covered in excrement but alive.

 

WEALTHOW approaches Hrothgar, her face pale with shock.

WEALTHOW

What was…that?

WE SPIRAL IN into HROTHGAR's blood-spattered face. And he says:

HROTHGAR

Grendel.

CUT TO:

15 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - NIGHT

15

The monster (who we now know is named GRENDEL), silhouetted by the cool light of the full moon, shambles into his lair -- a cave mouth, inside of which is a placid pool of clear water.

 

Grendel drops the bodies of the dead warriors onto a corner of the cave where the bones of men, both bleached and fleshy litter the floor. It is a strange and unnerving place.

 

We only see Grendel in fleeting glimpses and in shadows. But from what we see he is huge, and strangely misshapen. His eyes are empty and sanguine, but his corneas are flecked with glittering gold. His teeth are horrible atrocities of nightmarish proportion. He is more or less naked, and hairless.

 

WE HEAR A WOMAN'S VOICE…melodious and young. This is GRENDEL'S MOTHER.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Grendel? Hwaet oa him we as?

Grendel turns suddenly, surprised by her voice. Like a boy who has been caught masturbating.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

What have you done? Grendel?

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 19.

16 HIGH ANGLE -- GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S P.O.V.

16

The CAMERA is on the ceiling, looking down at Grendel and the pool.

GRENDEL

Mother? Where are you?

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Men? Grendel…we had an agreement.

The CAMERA DROPS off the ceiling and SPLASHES into the pool…a moment later WE SURFACE and “SWIM” toward Grendel. Floating inches above the waterline.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Fish, and wolves, and bear, and sometimes a sheep or two. But not men.

GRENDEL

You like men. Here…

It offers the CAMERA a body. We “swim” closer…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Not these fragile creatures, my darling. Remember, they will hurt us. They have killed so many of us…of our kind…

GRENDEL

They were making so much noise. They were making so much merry…it hurt. Hurt my head.

Tears begin to run down Grendel's face. He drops the warriors, they float on the surface of the pool.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

(sharply)

Was Hrothgar there?

GRENDEL

I did not touch him.

Something SLITHERS past the CAMERA…something GOLD and SCALY, perhaps a tentacle, or a long lizard's tail…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Good boy. My poor sensitive boy.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 20.

The tentacle reaches out for Grendel and gently caresses his tortured, pitiful head.

CUT TO:

17 EXT. HEROT -- DAWN

17

THE DULL SUN peeks out from under the dark, cold clouds. Hard frozen snow covers the ground. TIME HAS PAST, it's the dead of winter

 

The castle and it's keep are covered in a blanket of new snow. A WOMAN'S SCREAM pierces the frigid air…

CUT TO:

18 INT. HEROT - HROTHGAR'S QUARTERS - MORNING

18

Hrothgar and Wealthow are asleep in their bed -- a straw pallet, covered with cloth and deer hides.

 

UNFERTH appears and respectfully touches Hrothgar's shoulder.

UNFERTH

(whispering)

My lord?

HROTHGAR

(waking)

Hnh? What?

UNFERTH

My lord. It has happened again.

CUT TO:

19 EXT. MEAD HALL DAY

19

HROTHGAR, UNFERTH AND WULFGAR (the King's Herald) along with a CONTINGENT OF THANES stand before the mead hall's great new doors. The doors are much thicker and fortified with great iron straps.

HROTHGAR

How many this time?

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 21.

UNFERTH

I could not tell. They were not whole. Five. Ten…it was Nykvest's daughter's wedding feast.

WULFGAR

He's coming more frequently.

The three men stare at the pink spreading on the snow from under the door's threshold.

HROTHGAR

The new door hasn't been touched.

UNFERTH

Nay. The Grendel devil obviously came and went through the skorsten.

Unferth points to the smoke vent in the hall's roof…a blood stained trail cuts through the snow…down off the roof, and across the compound grounds.

HROTHGAR

(almost sad)

When I was young I killed a dragon, in the Northern Moors. But I'm too old for demon-slaying now. We need a hero, a cunning young hero, to rid us of this curse upon our hall.

WULFGAR

I wish you had a son, my lord.

UNFERTH

You can wish into one hand, Wulfgar, and shit into the other, see which fills up first.

Hrothgar turns to the small crowd of subjects who have gathered…

HROTHGAR

Men, Build another pyre! There's dry wood behind the stables. Then burn the dead.

(now louder, with royal authority)

And close this hall! Seal the doors and windows! And by the King's order: There shall be no further music, singing or merrymaking of any kind!!

(takes a deep breath and turns away)

This place reeks of death.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 22.

Hrothgar shuffles off through the snow. Unferth and Wulfgar fall-in alongside…

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

(quietly to Unferth and Wulfgar)

The scops are singing the shame of Herot as far south as the middle sea, as far north as the ice-lands. Our cows no longer calf, our fields lie fallow, the very fish flee from our nets, knowing that we are cursed. I have let it be known that I will give half the gold in my kingdom to any man who can rid us of Grendel.

UNFERTH

My King, for deliverance our people sacrifice goats and sheep to Odin or Heimdall…with your permission, shall we also pray to the new Roman God, Christ Jesus…maybe He can lift this affliction?

HROTHGAR

The gods will do nothing for us that we will not do for ourselves. No, we need a hero.

THUNDER RUMBLES!!

 

CRACK!!! LIGHTNING FLASHES…

 

Illuminating WAVES…200 feet tall…

20 EXT. THE STORMY SEA - DAY

20

Great gray sheets of rain sweep a stormy Northern sea. he clouds, black as pitch. The ocean is furious. CRASHING like an angry orchestra!!

 

A Nordic sailing vessel (under full sail) crests a giant wave and thrusts…

 

BEOWULF straight toward the LENS…into an EXTREME CLOSE P…this is the same man we saw earlier, in the autumn of his life, but now he's in his twenties.

 

Standing on the deck…he wears leather armor studded with hand pounded iron. At his hip is a heavy, hand forged ancestry sword.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 23.

His cape, a tapestry of heavy black weaves and animal skins, blows in the wind. Freezing rain pelts his chiseled face.

 

At the oars sit FOURTEEN THANES. Their hands, bloodied and pierced with slivers, tug at the wooden oars.

 

Beowulf, holding the mast for balance, remains undaunted by the HOWLING WINDS and the walls of water surrounding him. He stares at where the horizon
must
be.

 

WIGLAF, now in his late thirties, clambers up to where Beowulf is standing…

WIGLAF

(shouting above the wind and rain)

Can you see the coast? Do you see the Dane's guide-fire?

BEOWULF

I see nothing but the wind and the rain.

WIGLAF

No fire? No stars by which to navigate? We're lost! Given to the sea!

Beowulf looks at him and starts
LAUGHING
…a laugh of challenge.

BEOWULF

Ha! The sea is my mother! She will never take me back into her murky womb!

WIGLAF

That's fine for you. But my mother's a fishwife in Uppland. And I was rather hoping to die in battle, as a warrior should.

(he becomes more serious)

The men are worried the storm has no end, Beowulf…

Beowulf rests his hand on Wiglaf's shoulder.

BEOWULF

(looking up to the sheets of falling rain)

This is no earthly storm! That much we can be sure. But this demon's tempest won't hold us out!

(then to Wiglaf with a grin)

Not if we
really
want in.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 24.

Wiglaf looks at Beowulf with wide, questioning eyes. Is Beowulf mad? Even if he was, Wiglaf would follow him into the mouth of death herself. Wiglaf turns to the other thanes, whose morale needs charging as well.

WIGLAF

Who wants to live!?

All of the thanes HEAVE A MUTUAL RESPONSE…
they do.

WIGLAF (cont'd) (CONT'D)

Then pull your oars! Let's see you do it! For Beowulf! For gold! For glory!! HEAVE!!!

Good ol' Wiglaf. He's managed to get the men GRUNTING ENTHUSIASTICALLY with every stroke. He looks at Beowulf, illuminated by a FLASH OF LIGHTNING. Who wouldn't follow him?

CUT TO:

21 EXT. THE DANISH CLIFF TOPS - STORM

21

Five spears stand together, their blades pointing to the vortex of the Cimmerian storm above.

 

The spears belong to the SCYLDINGS' WATCH, a Dane whose duty it is to watch the coast for invaders. He sits at a camp set up next to some ancient cliff-side ruins of unknown origin. He cooks a field mouse over a small fire.

 

At sea…LIGHTNING FLASHES.

 

The Scyldings' Watch jumps up, squinting his eyes to scan the horizon…something's there.

 

ANOTHER FLASH…and sure enough something
is
there. A tiny craft with bright shields hanging from its sides. And a golden dragon is emblazoned on its sail.

 

His mouth falls open. He drops his mouse kebab and jumps onto his HORSE, grabs his greatest long spear, then spurs his horse down a near vertical drop of the cliff-side.

CUT TO:

22 EXT. SEA SHORE -- LATER

22

In the rain, Beowulf and his men are hauling their boat up onto the beach.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 25.

WIGLAF sees something…he points down the beach.

 

THE SCYLDING'S WATCH is galloping full-out down the beach…coming straight towards us, he lowers his long spear…ready to impale the first man he reaches.

 

Beowulf takes a few steps toward the armed rider, unafraid.

 

Faster and faster the rider and his spear come at us…closer and closer…until the spear point fills the screen…then…

 

The rider STOPS…the spike an inch from Beowulf's nose!! Beowulf didn't flinch.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

Who are you? By your dress, you are warriors.

WIGLAF

Yes. We

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

Speak
! Why should I not run you through right now? Who are you? Where are you from?

BEOWULF

We are Geats. I am Beowulf, son of Edgethow. We have come seeking your prince, Hrothgar, in friendship. They say you have a monster here. They say your land is cursed.

Scyldings' Watch doesn't move.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

Is that what they say?

WIGLAF

Bards sing of Hrothgar's shame from the frozen north to the shores of Vinland.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

It is no shame to be accursed by demons.

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