Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (8 page)

FREAKED-OUT THANE

Fucking fuck! It's the monster! Get yourselves awake!

The freaked-out Thane kicks one of his sleeping drunken mates to wake him, but the sad warrior has drunken himself into oblivion. Even another, harder kick doesn't help. In fact, most of the Thanes in the hall have drank so much mead that they're dead to the world…passed out.

 

The singing Thanes (who are now the freaked-out Thanes) draw their broadswords…but it's too late, for Grendel is upon them.

 

With one mighty swing Grendel hurls the table of Thanes aside, sending some of them into the massive firepit, and others tumbling across the floor.

 

Wiglaf is awoken by the CLAMOR.

 

Grendel LAUGHS as he stomps on TWO SLEEPING THANES, crushing life out of their slumbering bodies.

 

A few of the THANES WHO WERE THROWN INTO THE FIRE roll out and try to beat the flames from their bodies. Some of them, unable to continue despite being roasted alive, fall to their knees and slump too the ground in burning heaps.

The hideous creature picks one man up, who is too drunk to know what's happening to him, and throws him down onto his bent leg, SNAPPING his back with a LOUD CRUNCH.

 

Grendel starts LAUGHING to himself with every dead Thane he stomps on.

 

Then, Grendel comes to Beowulf…naked and laying on the floor. Beowulf is like a nice, soft, shell-less morsel by comparison to the greasy, armor-wearing thugs he's been killing. He raises his foot to crush Beowulf.

 

Then, from behind Grendel…

WIGLAF

Die demon!

Wiglaf strikes at Grendel's back with his sword, but the blade BREAKS against the creatures tough skin.

 

Grendel spins around and strikes at Wiglaf, who manages to hold up his small shield just before the massive arm swats him aside like a defenseless kitten.

 

Wiglaf slides backwards and into a rack of spears which CRASH down around him.

 

Grendel turns around and faces Beowulf again, but Beowulf isn't there.

 

Grendel SNARLS.

 

Beowulf, naked as the day he was born, leaps onto Grendel's back and locks his arm around Grendel's neck in a chokehold.

 

The monster jerks forward, causing Beowulf to topple head over heels over Grendel's head. He lands on his back with a HARD THUD, knocking the wind out of his lungs.

 

Grendel then grabs a keg of mead and raises it above his head, with the intention of slamming it down onto the already stunned Beowulf's head.

 

But before Grendel can gore Beowulf, Wiglaf is upon him, attempting to run the monster through with a spear.

 

Beowulf grabs a length of golden chain -- part of Hrothgar's treasure…

 

ONE OF HROTHGAR'S THANES wakes up and comes to help, or die.

Beowulf lashes the chain around Grendel's hand and pulls it tight. The monster lets out a HORRIFIC SHRIEK and rips the chain free from Beowulf.

 

Then, angry Grendel lashes the chain like a whip, causing it to wrap multiple times around the neck ONE OF HROTHGAR'S DRUNKEN THANES. While it can be argued that the Thane died then and there, no one would argue that he lived after Grendel yanked on the chain, causing the head to SNAP free from the body and rapidly tumble across the floor toward

76 BEOWULF

76

who kicks it aside like a soccer ball.

 

Beowulf is PICKED UP by Grendel, like a child holding a large doll. Grendel obviously plans to bite Beowulf's head off, but in a maneuver made famous by Scottish soccer hooligans, but originally invented by Swedish heroes, Beowulf HEADBUTTS Grendel -- a head to forehead crash that leaves blood spilling from Grendel's face.

 

Grendel is dazed and hurt, for the first time on one of its nocturnal expeditions. It begins to WHIMPER.

 

Beowulf takes advantage of this by biting Grendel's cheek, at the same time that his hands fasten around Grendel's throat.

 

Grendel shakes Beowulf as if trying to free himself from something that's bad and hurting him, shaking himself desperately -- and Beowulf FLIES OFF, crashing into some dead bodies, which cushion his fall.

 

Beowulf then runs toward Grendel, who is trying to flee towards the open door at the end of the hallway that leads out of the mead hall, still dragging the chain along behind him.

 

Beowulf, fearing that Grendel might escape, dives for the chain and grabs it, causing him to be dragged along with it into the

77 HALLWAY

77

which leads to the large main doors to Herot, and ultimately to the outside.

 

In mid-slide Beowulf manages to hook the chain onto a large nail half sticking out of a massive support beam, jolting Grendel to a stop just in the threshold of the door, with an unsettling POP OF DISLOCATION in his shoulder.

The chain, hooked onto the nail, has yanked at the beam so hard that it has ripped it partially from the wall. Support stones, wood planks, and mud-fill begin to shower down from above as the hallway begins to partially collapse.

 

Grendel ROARS in agony and pain as he tugs at the chain and claws at his wrist's shackle.

CUT TO:

78 INT. HEROT - HROTHGAR'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

78

We can hear, slightly muffled, the THUDS and CRASHES of the battle between Grendel and Beowulf going on. Hrothgar lies in bed, covered with furs, beside Wealthow, listening to the noise.

 

Then the NOISE STOPS.

 

Wealthow begins, very softly, to cry.

WEALTHOW

He is dead. Beowulf is dead.

HROTHGAR

I had hoped it would be otherwise.

Hrothgar shakes his head. Then he moves closer to Wealthow, and reaches out a hand to paw at her breast. Wealthow hits at it.

WEALTHOW

Monsters come out of your cock. How can I let you inside me, knowing you were in her?

HROTHGAR

I should never have told you.

WEALTHOW

(getting progressively more turned on as she talks)

Poor, poor Beowulf. Now he is dead, and he will never make love to me. He will never touch me with his strong hands, and his hot mouth.

Hrothgar looks uncomfortable at this.

CUT TO:

79 INT. HEROT - HALLWAY - NIGHT

79

Beowulf, who is by now cut, bruised, and bloodied sees that Grendel is captured and unraveling the chain from his wrist. Beowulf scrambles to action and runs toward Grendel.

 

Grendel, who sees that Beowulf is running toward him, quickens his efforts to free himself.

 

But it's too late…

 

Beowulf slides like he was coming in to home base and kicks the door closed with his foot, SLAMMING the heavy wooden portal onto Grendel's arm. He has Grendel caught by the arm, and while Grendel can flail wildly he can't seem to get loose. The demon lets out the SCREAM OF A CAGED HOWLERMONKEY.

BEOWULF

(holding the door shut on the flailing arm)

Your days of blood-letting are finished, demon!

GRENDEL

Let…Grendel…free!

Beowulf is a little shocked. He didn't expect to be able to hold a conversation with this nemesis.

BEOWULF

It speaks!

GRENDEL

I speak! I think! I am!

BEOWULF

Perhaps you are…but you won't be for long!

He begins pressing the door shut with the wedge, causing the sinewy tendons to begin to SNAP and Grendel's bones to POP free from the socket. Grendel SHRIEKS.

BEOWULF

Think you now of the Thanes whose lives you've stolen! Think you of them as you die your demon's death!

And with one powerful lunge with the wedge Beowulf causes the door to SLAM shut. The arm, with a SQUISHY RIPPING SOUND, falls free from its socket and lands on the floor with a satisfying MEATY THUD.

Beowulf stands there, staring at the arm for a moment…when suddenly it grabs his foot. He kicks wildly at it, finally shaking it loose.

 

The arm flops around on the stone floor for a few moments like a beached fish and then suddenly seizes into a contorted position of agony.

 

Beowulf, for the first time, is freaked. He stands there, leaning against the door, breathing heavily in great gasping WHEEZES.

 

Several Thanes, swords drawn and bodies bleeding, appear at the

80 OPPOSITE END OF THE HALLWAY

80

looking at Beowulf. Wiglaf pushes himself to the front of them.

WIGLAF

Grendel's arm! You've done it! You've killed him!

(turning to the other men)

He's done it! He's torn the limbs from the beast!

They all begin CHEERING.

81 BEOWULF

81

on the other hand, doesn't seem so confident. He quickly turns and pulls the door open, revealing

82 THE OUTSIDE OF HEROT

82

As if a nightmare is over -- it's placid and quiet and there is a marked absence of Grendel around.

MATCH CUT TO:

83 THE OUTSIDE OF HEROT

83

The nightmare
is
over. But it is now morning, and all is well. We hear HAMMER BLOWS, rhythmic as sex.

84 INT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - DAY

84

CLOSE ON: Grendel's arm is being NAILED into a massive wooden beam in the mead hall.

It is Beowulf who wields the massive blacksmith's hammer. Beowulf laughs as he nails Grendel's arm to the wall, and we wonder, which one is the monster?

CUT TO:

85 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - DAY

85

 

From the inside of the great cave, the outside world is a bright and hot place. Grendel comes stumbling in from this world of light and heat into the safety of the cave. He is in silhouette and we can see that he is missing his arm.

 

Grendel shambles awkwardly, dripping crimson blood as he goes, toward the placid clear waters of the cavern's pool.

 

Grendel is making A DREADFUL SOUND as it goes, one arm missing, into the pool, with little or no sense of balance, stumbling and half-falling. It should take us a few moments to realize that the noise Grendel is making is SOBBING.

 

Grendel falls through the dark water of the pool, blood from his shoulder, from the missing arm, pumping out into the water, until everything is red and we

CUT TO:

86 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S LAIR - DAY

86

Grendel comes up from the pool in her cave. Tears are running down his face. He is dying -- nearly dead.

GRENDEL

Mama…mama…he hurt me…mama…

There is no answer. Grendel collapses to the floor, and then he bellows, sobbing.

GRENDEL

Mama!

There is A RUSTLING NOISE and the SOUND OF A RUSHING WIND.

 

Grendel's mother sits beside him. She wears a black cowl and cloak, that covers her from head to toe, and she has her back to us.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Oh Grendel, my son. My poor son. I warned you. You must not go to them--

GRENDEL

He killed me, mother.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Who killed you, Grendel my son?

GRENDEL

He tore my arm away, and my life's blood has spilled onto the ground, and it hurts so…Grendel hurts so bad…

Grendel's Mother's golden hand strokes his forehead. She has a beautiful hand, with slightly-too-long golden fingernails.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

I know. Sleep now, my sweet son. Sleep forever. Mother is here.

GRENDEL

Mama? I do not know his name. So strong. He hurt me.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

He will pay, my darling. In the fullness of time. I love you so much, Grendel my son.

The life has gone from Grendel's eyes: they have misted over, like the dead eyes of a rotten fish. There is silence in the hall beneath the earth.

 

EXTREME CLOSE ON: Grendel's mother's lips.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

He will come here to me, he who did this thing to you. And he will pay.

87 EXT. HEROT - VILLAGE - DAY

87

Yrsa is talking to Isolde the Fat and Gitte in the muddy grass.

GITTE

He's dead?

YRSA

The creature's arm is nailed to the wall of the hall. They say Beowulf ripped it off with his bare hands.

Isolde and Gitte look appropriately amazed.

CUT TO:

88 EXT. HEROT - STOCKADE - DAY

88

A Pyre is being assembled. Thanes are picking up the dead bodies -- and bits of bodies -- from the night before, and throwing them onto the pyre. Standing beside it are a handful of WOMEN sobbing, and a few CHILDREN. And Wiglaf.

 

We however SWING AROUND from the pyre and ENTER THE HALL, where Hrothgar is standing in front of GRENDEL'S ARM and is making a speech to Beowulf and everyone else.

HROTHGAR

This hall has been a place of sadness and misery and blood. From today the monster's reign has ended. And we owe thanks to one man and one man alone: Beowulf. Come here, lad.

He puts his arm around Beowulf's shoulders. Beowulf grins out at the crowd. It's hard to believe that this grinning, friendly guy is the same naked lunatic who ripped Grendel's arm off the night before.

HROTHGAR

Beowulf, I love you like a son. With Grendel dead, you
are
a son to me. And a son deserves his reward.

(to thanes)

Come on -- bring it out!

A couple of thanes haul out a closed chest.

HROTHGAR

Well, go on, open it.

Beowulf opens the chest. It's filled with gold and silver stuff -- goblets, rings, torques and so forth.

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