Chain Gang - Create your own Storylines
If you’ve ever felt inspired by Radio 7 to create your own storylines, here’s your chance to have some broadcast.Chain Gang Homepage
Award-winning author Robert Shearman has written the first part of a drama – and we want you to send us your plots for the remaining episodes. Over thirteen weeks you can help Robert unfold an exciting tale.
Chris Hayward's Storyline
Chain Gang episode 5: Original story submission by Chris Hayward.
Lisbon, 1550 : in the third year of the Portuguese inquisition, a woman anxiously awaits news of her husband. John is a wealthy merchant of English descent, and a protestant who believed "wrongly" that his riches and connections would protect him.
Then news arrives that John has been released and is on his way home. The woman does not seem pleased. For she was the one who betrayed him to the Inquisitor, wanting him out of the way so she and her penniless lover could marry and live together on John's riches.
John arrives. She isn't sure if he knows of her treachery or not. She asks how he came to be released. He says has done a deal in return for his life. She assumes he recanted his faith to the inquisitors.
But the deal was not with earthly powers. The Keepers of the Book, a shadowy sect, said to be in league with the devil, is rumoured to be ready to perform any ruthless deed for anyone desperate enough, and able to meet their payment terms - a hefty down payment in gold, plus a debt that will demand payments in kind from generations to come.
(This episode reads a bit like a parody of a Jacobean revenge drama, but it has to be delivered full-blooded and earnest to work! There’s no blank verse here, but it should feel like it might be. At a pinch.
(ISABELLA to be played by the other MRS F, ENRIQUE by BRIAN, and JOHN by our new character introduced last week. This may – or may not – prove significant!
(Some suggestion of medieval music, into:)
ENRIQUE: My lady.
ISABELLA: What news?
ENRIQUE: The intelligence is true. Your husband has been released.
ISABELLA: O my Lord! –
ENRIQUE: - And returns to Lisbon even now.
ISABELLA: I have long dreamed of this. Dreams of blood, and of vengeance. We should have killed him when we had the chance. Our spid’rous schemes have failed, when a blade would have been so much more sure.
ENRIQUE: Hold fast, madam. Our lord is free, but has no reason to suspect our treachery. That we gave him to the Inquisition, so we could safely love. We must still dissemble – you as honoured wife, me, the honourable servant.
ISABELLA: And if he suspects?
ENRIQUE: Then the blade.
ISABELLA: Kiss me.
ENRIQUE: In earnest, a thousand times over. But we must make ready. I think he is here.
(Because, underneath this, heavy footsteps have approached on wooden floors – now there is a battering against a heavy door.)
JOHN: (behind doors) What, are my own doors turned against me?
(And they burst open.)
ISABELLA: (nervous calm) My lord, forgive me. In the years of your absence, I have had to be cautious.
ENRIQUE: My lord. Is there any service I can perform?
JOHN: Get out.
ENRIQUE: My lord.
(The doors close. JOHN speaks dryly to ISABELLA’s nervous attempts to sound bright – this is cat and mouse.)
ISABELLA: My own husband. I thought I should never see you again. Let me look at you. Well.
JOHN: Do my scars not frighten you?
ISABELLA: No, my lord.
JOHN: They should.
ISABELLA: What did they do to you?
JOHN: (coolly) They tortured me. What would you expect? But the scars, they came after.
ISABELLA: Would you like some wine, or...?
How did you escape? Did you recant?
JOHN: I renounced my Protestant faith, ‘tis true. And renounced a lot more besides. I made a deal.
ISABELLA: The Inquisition don’t make ‘deals’...!
JOHN: Indeed not. But there is a higher power even than the Catholic Church. And one I pledged allegiance to, to buy my freedom. Have you heard of the Keepers of the Book? Ah, at last, I see you’re frightened.
ISABELLA: A myth, surely...!
JOHN: That they are the Devil’s creatures, all true. And their help comes at a price, and must be paid off for centuries ahead.
ISABELLA: (terrified) And can I... assist... the Keepers?
JOHN: (a dry laugh) We’ve already a task for you. The Book is magic. It reveals the future yet to come.
(And, quick, the flash of a knife out of its hilt. ISABELLA gives a guttural cry. And her body falls to the ground. With some real sadness:)
And sadder truths I should have realised ere now.
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