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THE TASMANIAN TIGER by Paul Williams SCENE INSIDE ANNAíS CAR DRIVING ALONG A BUSY HIGHWAY WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN. ANNA IS LISTENING TO MUSIC, INDIE STUFF A FEW YEARS OUT OF DATE, AND SPEAKING ABOVE IT. ANNA: The last Tasmanian Tiger died in 1936. So why am I, Anna Murian, looking for it sixty nine years later. Because Iím crazy. Yeah Iíll admit that, no bones about it. But if Iím crazy then what are the people who say theyíve actually seen the tiger? SCENE WICKSONíS GARDEN A GATE IS CREAKING AS JOHN SWINGS IT BACK AND FORTH. WICKSON APPROACHES, OUT OF BREATH WICKSON: Come away from that gate boy. Thereís chickens to kill. JOHN: In a minute. WICKSON: Sheís not going to come any quicker just Ďcos youíre standing at the gate waiting. In fact sheís not going to come at all so put your overalls on and get to work. Unless you want blood on your jeans. Fine first impression that would make. SCENE ANNAíS CAR ANNA: Thereís a whole host of them. Some were on their way home after a few bevies too many. Others were wardens in national parks or police officers. A lot of us have low opinions of the cops but this is something else. How can they save the population from rapists and muggers when theyíre hallucinating? Seeing something that isnít there. SCENE WICKSONíS GARDEN THIS IS THE BACK GARDEN. WICKSON IS RESTING. JOHN APPROACHES. JOHN: Two chickens left for you to sell. WICKSON: (NOW FULLY AWAKE) There was four in there. JOHN: Three left, two to sell and one for dinner. WICKSON: Have you been thieving again? Cos if you haveÖ JOHN: Not me. Thereís a hole at the back of the shed. WICKSON: Show me. SCENE ANNAíS CAR ANNA: This is my first, and probably my last, cryptozoology trip. A guy phoned last week, said heíd seen my advert in the paper and wanted to chat to me about the tiger. So Iím heading to eastern Tasmania to meet him. He could be a psycho so thatís why Iím taping this. I also told my mother where I was going. Twenty three years old and Iím still reporting back to mommy. Told you I was crazy. But there have been tourists reported missing in the area recently. Better to be safe than sorry. The only way I could find the truth was come out here and see the witnesses. See if theyíre mad or mistaken or if theyíre telling the truth. See if they really did see a creature that shouldnít exist now. SCENE CHICKEN SHED THREE CHICKENS SQUAWKING AS JOHN AND WICKSON PUSH PAST THEM JOHN: See. WICKSON: You made that. JOHN: I never did. WICKSON: Blood as well. JOHN: It wasnít me. WICKSON: Who was it then? Youíre trying to impress that girl arenít you. Trying to make her think that it was the tiger. JOHN: It was. It must have been. WICKSON: Then whereís its prints boy? Only marks there are the ones you made. Go away. JOHN: Are you still going to town? WICKSON: Whatís the point with only two chickens left to sell. Three is worthwhile, just. Two never. You wanted me to leave you alone with her didnít you? JOHN: It doesnít matter. WICKSON: It matters to me. Only person allowed to have romantic liaisons around here is me and Iím too old for that now. SCENE ANNAíS CAR ANNA: Iím heading out here with an open mind. I donít expect the tiger to leap out and say hi and I donít expect John Wickson to be a raving loony. But either of those things could happen. You just never know. Second is more likely than the first though. SCENE WICKSONíS GARDEN FRONT GARDEN. THE GATE IS CREAKING WICKSON: Donít break my gate. JOHN: Itís rotting anyway, needs replacing. WICKSON: Then replace it. Plenty of wood in the forest and a chopper indoors. JOHN: Gates are interesting arenít they? Like doors they form a barrier. Telling the outside world not to cross this point. WICKSON: I donít want anyone to cross this point but do they listen? JOHN: Precisely. There arenít the same barriers in nature and yet animals know where they should be and where they shouldnít go. Instinct directs them. WICKSON: Well you can tell your journalist friend where she shouldnít go. JOHN: If she wants to come sheíll come. The thing about barriers is that those who want to disregard them will do so. WICKSON: Should never have taught you to read. Or stolen those books. SCENE ANNAíS CAR ANNA: Weíre getting closer and it is right out in the middle of nowhere. I asked the man at the petrol place if he knew John Wickson and he just laughed and pointed upwards. At least he didnít try to stop me so the guy canít be considered that dangerous. I didnít ask about the tiger. If I start saying why Iím here everyone will tell me third hand stories that relate to a neighbourís tabby. Real cryptozoologists get that a lot. SCENE WICKSONíS GARDEN A CAR IS APPROACHING IN THE DISTANCE, JOHN IS EXCITED JOHN: Sheís coming. WICKSON: Might be someone else. That car looks a bit posh for a small time journalist. JOHN: Who else could it be? WICKSON: Donít know but Iím ready for them. BULLETS BEING PUT IN AN OLD-FASHIONED GUN JOHN: You canít shoot her. WICKSON: My land. I can shoot intruders anytime I want but on this occasion itís just a deterrent. CAR DRAWS CLOSER THEN STOPS. DOOR OPENS AND ANNA, A LITTLE NERVOUS STEPS OUT. JOHN: Itís her. ANNA: Do you mind putting that gun away? WICKSON: Who are you? What do you want here? ANNA: My nameís Anna Murian. A guy called John Wickson asked me to come here. WICKSON: Nobody of that name here. JOHN: Itís me. WICKSON: You donít have a surname and youíre not stealing mine. JOHN: She asked for one. ANNA: Did you expect me to go looking for a guy called John in Tasmania? WICKSON: Didnít expect you to come at all. ANNA: Well I have. If thereís a problem Iíll go back but would appreciate some money for my travel expenses. WICKSON: Would you indeed? What about Johnís fee for giving you whatever he was going to give you? ANNA: I specified clearly that no payment would be involved. WICKSON: How can journalists get stories without paying for them? ANNA: There isnít a price on truth, Mr Wickson. WICKSON: An idealist. JOHN: Youíd better come inside. ANNA: When the gun is taken away. You can see Iím not dangerous. WICKSON: We have to be careful up here. Thieves come in all shapes and sizes. JOHN: And take chickens. WICKSON: Be quiet boy. ANNA: If I wanted to steal Iíd go to a rich guyís house when he wasnít there. Even if I took all your possessions Iíd still have to beg to get enough fuel for my trip home. WICKSON: Whatís that supposed to mean? ANNA: That Iím not a thief. WICKSON: Okay, you can come in but I donít trust you. Letís be quite clear about that. ANNA: Iím not asking you to trust me. Other way round. WICKSON: Is it? ANNA: John wants me to trust him. To believe him. JOHN: Will you do that? ANNA: It depends on how honest he is. WICKSON: Nobody else trusts him. ANNA: Iím sure thatís not true. JOHN: It is. WICKSON: Nobody talks to him apart from me and Iíd rather trust a rabid kangaroo. JOHN: We can talk outside if you prefer. ANNA: Itís warm enough. JOHN: Yes. ANNA: Iíd quite like a drink. JOHN: Iíll bring you something. WICKSON: Just water. In a mug not a glass. JOHN HURRIES AWAY, STILL NERVOUS ANNA: Thereís no need to be hostile. WICKSON: Thereís no need for you to be here. ANNA: Your son invited me. WICKSON: Just told you heís not my son. Real parents abandoned him nineteen years ago. God knows why they left him on my doorstep. Perhaps they thought Iíd eat him. ANNA: Or they thought you needed to practice your parenting skills. WICKSON: A girl in the village didnít want her parents to know. He was probably conceived in my woods. Couples still come up here without permission. Donít seem bothered by the gun. ANNA: Shooting them is a bit extreme, not to mention illegal. WICKSON: Private land. What would you do if you caught a couple copulating in your car? ANNA: Probably let them get on with it. WICKSON: I value my privacy. ANNA: So do I but I wouldnít kill anyone to protect it. WICKSON: Think we would have land here if our ancestors hadnít killed the abbos? JOHN COMES BACK, SLOWLY. HE DOESNíT WANT TO DROP THE DRINKS JOHN: There you are. ANNA: Did you wash the mug? WICKSON: Why should it need washing? There arenít any germs in my house. ANNA: There probably isnít a bath either. WICKSON: Hurry up and get yourself out of here. WICKSON WALKS OFF ANNA: How do you survive with him? JOHN: Heís not that bad. ANNA: You could leave. JOHN: I donít know anywhere else. Apart from the woods and I like the house. There is a bath. I use it sometimes. ANNA: Iím not interested in your personal hygiene. Presumably you saw the tiger in the woods. JOHN: Yes and sometimes it comes right down to the house. ANNA: Why? Thereís miles of countryside out there. Why would it come near people? JOHN: I think itís searching for something. ANNA: Food? JOHN: Possibly. It took a chicken last night. ANNA: You saw it? JOHN: No (UNSURE) I didnít see it. ANNA: Is it just chickens that you keep here? JOHN: And pigs. Iíll show you. SCENE THREE CHICKENS MOVING ABOUT SLOWLY AND SQUAWKING JOHN: These are the chickens. ANNA: Just three. JOHN: Weíll have one for dinner. ANNA: And then? JOHN: Weíll get some more. ANNA: Itís not on a big scale though is it? JOHN: Itís enough for us to survive on. Just. ANNA: And the tiger. You said that it took some from here. JOHN: See the gaps. ANNA: That looks like it was pulled away by a human and thereís no hair. JOHN: Why would there be hair? ANNA: A tiger would have left some marks. JOHN: What else could have done it? ANNA: You or your step-dad. JOHN: No. ANNA: The chicken could even have made its own way out, the woods flimsy enough. JOHN: Then where is it now and why didnít the others follow? ANNA: I donít know but I canít believe you until I see some real evidence. JOHN: Arenít you going to take samples of the blood? ANNA: What for? JOHN: To analyse it and ascertain the species. ANNA: Iím not a professional zoologist Mr Wickson. JOHN: Please call me John. I donít like that name. ANNA: Because you donít like Wickson. JOHN: No. Just John is better. Itís what heís always called me. ANNA: Do you have any other family? JOHN: No. SCENE OLD-FASHIONED TELEPHONE BEING DIALED AND RECEIVER LIFTED WICKSON: Hello, is that the star? Hurry up please Iím calling long distance. Donít have the money to listen to static. (LISTENS) I just wanted to ask if you employed a journalist called Anna Murrain. (LISTENS) Youíre sure. PHONE IS SLAMMED DOWN SCENE PIGS GRUNTING IN A SMALL ENCLOSURE. FOOTSTEPS SQUELCHING THROUGH MUD ANNA: Theyíre in better condition. JOHN: He has more experience with pigs. ANNA: I was being sarcastic. This is a breeding ground for disease. Enough to turn anyone vegetarian. JOHN: We do our best. ANNA: I passed a lot of farms on the way here. The vast majority looked clean. Why donít you give up, try something else? JOHN: There is nothing else. Wicksonís only ever been a farmer. ANNA: Okay so heís too old to change. What about you? What are you going to do when he knocks on Satanís door. JOHN: I havenít thought that far ahead. ANNA: Do you ever think at all? JOHN: I called you down here didnít I? ANNA: And I still donít know why? JOHN: To see the tiger. ANNA: Has Wickson seen it? JOHN: No. He doesnít believe. ANNA: So when you see it near the house you donít call him to have a look? JOHN: Heíd shoot it. ANNA: Why does that upset you? JOHN: Doesnít it upset you? ANNA: I donít make a living slaughtering pigs and chickens. Why is the tiger different? JOHN: I donít want to eat it. ANNA: You could sell it. Be worth a lot more than these. JOHN: Itís beautiful. ANNA: Some people think pigs are beautiful. If you donít want people to hunt the tiger then why I am here? I will tell the world if I see it. You understand that donít you. I will use it to make my career and get some money. JOHN: I needed to know that someone believed me. Otherwise Iíd go crazy. ANNA: Assuming youíre not mad already. JOHN: Maybe I am but I know whatís real and whatís not. Sometimes I think that itís following me. Watching me all the time. Just waiting for the right moment. ANNA: I donít think that the Tasmanian tiger has ever been dangerous to people. JOHN: It wants something from me. Iím sure of it. ANNA: Like what? JOHN: I donít know. ANNA: Have you tried communicating? JOHN: Iím scared. ANNA: Grow up. Thatís all I can advise. I donít have time for people who are scared. ANNA STARTS TO LEAVE JOHN: Youíre not going, are you? ANNA: Iím going back to my car for a nap then I might consider going into the woods tonight to look for the tiger. JOHN: Tonight? ANNA: Tonight. If you wonít show me Iíll go home. JOHN: Iíll be there. SCENE FOOTSTEPS ON A ROUGH PATH WICKSON: (SHOUTING) Hey you. Stop right there. FOOTSTEPS STOP WICKSON: Turn round so I can see your face. ANNA: Are you that unaccustomed to looking at women? WICKSON: Just turn round. SLOWLY ANNA TURNS ANNA: Youíve still got the gun. WICKSON: Too right I have. Who are you? ANNA: We had this conversation earlier. WICKSON: I just called your paper. Theyíve never heard of you. ANNA: I donít work for the paper. I merely placed an ad in it. WICKSON: You said you were a journalist. ANNA: I said I was a researcher. An independent cryptozoological researcher. WICKSON: A what? ANNA: A cryptozoologist is someone who looks for, and studies, animals presently unknown to science. A researcher is someone who finds information on a given topic. WICKSON: Donít believe you. ANNA: The definitions are in any good dictionary. WICKSON: I donít believe thatís your reason for being here. ANNA: Thatís your problem. WICKSON: Wrong, itís your problem lady. I want you off my land. ANNA: Is the car far enough? Thatís where I intend to sleep. ANNA CARRIES ON WALKING WICKSON: Stop. ANNA: You asked me to leave. WICKSON: Who paid you to come here? ANNA: Nobody paid me. Independent, in my dictionary, means someone who works alone. WICKSON: It costs money to buy petrol and place ads. ANNA: My grandmother left me some cash. This is how I want to spend it. Doing something different, trying to uncover the truth. WICKSON: What happens round here is none of your business. ANNA: John invited me and I shall stay until he either asks me to leave or I am satisfied that there is nothing worth researching. SCENE WICKSONíS FOOTSTEPS GOING INDOORS WICKSON: Sheís a liar. JOHN: Sheís genuine. WICKSON: Sheís not from the newspaper. This is all your fault. JOHN: What are you sacred of? Sheís here to see me. WICKSON: Itís all a pretence. Has she seen anything? JOHN: No. WICKSON: Thereís fresh mud on your boots. Youíve took her for a walk havenít you? JOHN: Only to see the chickens and the pigs. WICKSON: The chickens and the pigs. Only. Youíve ruined me do you know that? SCENE ANNA: I told them I was sleeping but I spent a few minutes walking round the back of the chicken pen. The hole in the fence is rather neat for something supposedly torn by an animal and I suspect a hoax. John, despite his denials has to be responsible. There simply isnít anyone else. Iíd like a confession before I go. KNOCKING ON WINDOW ANNA: Go away. JOHN: (MUFFLED) We need to talk. SIGHING, ANNA UNWINDS THE WINDOW AND COUGHS ANNA: I am trying to sleep now so that I will be awake tonight. If you keep bothering me Iíll just go home and not bother with our expedition to the woods. JOHN: Wicksonís going mad. ANNA: Youíve only just noticed. JOHN: Heís threatening to kill you. ANNA: Real killers donít advertise their intentions. Heís all mouth. JOHN: Youíre not worried. ANNA: Not in the slightest although it would be nice to know why heís so paranoid. JOHN: He thinks youíre from the revenue. ANNA: (LAUGHING) I assure you Iíve got no interest in his tax bill. JOHN: He never gets a bill, thatís why heís worried. ANNA: Whatís he got to pay tax on? Annual income from the chickens and the pigs must be close to the exemption although heís not clever enough to know that. JOHN: He gets rents. ANNA: People pay to stay here? JOHN: Not here. In the woods. He lets campers stay there. ANNA: When heís not shooting them. JOHN: There are fences all the way round. Sometimes trespassers climb them but most people ask for permission. ANNA: Even so it canít be much of a business. JOHN: He does okay. Look he hates authority interfering with his business. ANNA: Iím not interested in campers or any other aspect of his business. JOHN: He hasnít got a licence for his car either. ANNA: Thatís not my concern. JOHN: Come to dinner in the house tonight. ANNA: Thanks but Iíve brought my own food. JOHN: Share it with us. He might start to believe you. ANNA: I donít care if he believes me or not. JOHN: Please. ANNA: You just want me there so that he has a go at me instead of you. JOHN: Thatís not fair. ANNA: Too right it isnít. Whoís cooking? SCENE ANNA, WICKSON AND JOHN EATING. BOTH MEN ARE NOISY EATERS AND WICKSON TALKS WITH HIS MOUTH FULL WICKSON: Well this is cosy isnít it? All sitting down together for dinner. ANNA: Iím very grateful for the invitation. WICKSON: Donít thank me. It was his idea. He said that if you were from the Revenue youíd be more sympathetic if I gave you a cup of tea and a bite to eat. ANNA: Iím not from the Revenue. WICKSON: And Iím not sympathetic. I know the rules. If an agent accepted anything then theyíve compromised themselves. You had a drink earlier as well. ANNA: I donít know how revenue agents work but Iím pretty sure they canít be compromised over a glass of water. WICKSON: Donít you pay any tax? ANNA: Not earning enough and I wonít be unless I make a lot of money out of the tiger. WICKSON: There isnít a tiger here. Go to India for the real species or Sydney? ANNA: Sydney? WICKSON: Theyíve got a museum there havenít they? Only place youíre going to see a Tasmanian tiger. Stuffed on a pedestal. Bring the meat out boy. EXIT JOHN ANNA: I get to share your chicken as well? Iím honoured. WICKSON: I like to spoil my guests. ANNA: I would have made a contribution to the meal but donít think you would have appreciated the concoction I was going to heat up tonight. WICKSON: Donít worry girl. ANNA: Your attitude really has changed. WICKSON: That bothers you? ANNA: Only the reasons for it. WICKSON: If you want to spend a night in the cold and rain looking for something that doesnít exist then you can. I donít care provided you donít damage anything belonging to me. ANNA: So youíre starting to believe that Iím a genuine cryptozoologist? WICKSON: Nothing genuine about it. ANNA: Iíll prove you wrong. WICKSON: Wouldnít have been allowed in my day. ANNA: In your day Iíd have been chained up in the kitchen or the bedroom. WICKSON: People knew their place then. ANNA: Who gave them that place Mr Wickson? JOHNíS SLOW FOOTSTEPS, PAUSE AS HE PUTS DOWN PLATES AND CUTLERLY ANNA: Do you only have two plates? WICKSON: John doesnít use a plate. Go on John. Show her how you eat. JOHN: Iím not hungry. WICKSON: He doesnít want to embarrass himself. (STERN) Do it boy. Now. SLURPING AS JOHN BITES INTO CHICKEN ANNA: Thatís disgusting. WICKSON: He never learnt to use a knife and fork. Sure you want to spend a night in the woods with him little Missy? ANNA: It isnít even cooked. WICKSON: Yours is. Get stuck in. ANNA: Have you always eaten like that? WICKSON: Heís never had a cooked meal. Even as a baby he wanted blood on his teeth. Like a vampire. Maybe heíll start necking you outside. JOHN: I wonít hurt you. WICKSON: Whatís the matter? Arenít you hungry? ANNA: This is probably better raw. Didnít your mother teach you how to cook? WICKSON: Died before she had the chance. Iíve had to improvise. ANNA: I could give you some lessons. WICKSON: What does a researcher know about cooking? ANNA: Just as much as a farmer. And it is a female job by your ideology. WICKSON: Dead right there but Iím not letting you loose in my kitchen. ANNA: Donít worry. It would have to be fumigated first and thatís a manís job. Shame that neither of you are capable. WICKSON: Nothing wrong with a bit of natural dirt. All this modern rubbish about cleaning up is just an excuse to sell chemicals. ANNA: Chemicals? WICKSON: Washing liquid, spray-on stuff. Fancy gloves. People out here have lived for centuries without all that. Good food and good clean air. Thatís all you need. ANNA: In the absence of good food Iím going for a cigarette. JOHN: Iíd better go as well. WICKSON: Go and wash, get ready for your nocturnal adventure. Stay outside for a minute. Iíve got a phone call to make. SCENE ANNA IS SMOKING A CIGARETTE. ANNA: Want one of these? JOHN: Thanks. CIGARETTE LIT JOHN: Wickson doesnít smoke anymore. ANNA: You call him Wickson? JOHN: Thatís his name. ANNA: Not Dad. JOHN: He told you that heís not my Dad. ANNA: You donít know who your parents are? JOHN: Sometimes I think that I should. When Iím outside, especially at night I feel that my motherís here. ANNA: If she was from the area she would come looking for you. Excuse me a minute. SCENE WICKSON: (QUIET) You can come out as arranged. Thereís nothing to worry about. TELEPHONE RECEVIER IS PUT DOWN SCENE JOHN: Where did you go? ANNA: Just had to check something. Are we ready then? JOHN: Now? ANNA: Why not? THEY START WALKING JOHN: I always feel cold at nights. I just want to run and run forever to keep warm. ANNA: Iím not running when I canít see a foot ahead of me. JOHN: Itís not that dark. ANNA: Itís pitch black. JOHN: I can see okay. ANNA: Is there a torch in the house? JOHN: Iíll go and see. JOHN WALKS OFF. TAPE RECORDER ACTIVATED. ANNA: Iím beginning to regret this now. I should have brought a torch. And a gas stove and some camping equipment. Iím feeling like an amateur, which I am. That stuff with the blood samples proves it. John knows these woods but what happens if he leaves me alone or worse tries it on. Maybe he just wanted to get a woman alone in the woods. I heard Wickson on the phone just now saying that heís arranged something. Is it an elaborate deception. Do they want me to star in a snuff movie? RUSTILING OF TREES AS SOMEONE APPROACHES ANNA: Is there somebody there? PAUSE JOHN: Iím here, with a torch. ANNA: Well, switch it on. JOHN: How do you do that? ANNA: Give it here. CLICK AS ANNA ACTIVATES THE TORCH ANNA: Donít you normally use it? JOHN: I can see perfectly. ANNA: I guess your eyes acclimatize if youíre out at night often. JOHN: Never had a problem before. THEY CARRY ON WALKING UPHILL JOHN: Weíre following one of the tigerís trails. ANNA: One of? It uses different routes to come to the house? JOHN: Two or three. No obvious pattern. ANNA: So youíve studied its movements? JOHN: Iíve walked through the woods a lot, following traces. Look. Thereís a fairy recent print. ANNA: Maybe. JOHN: It is. ANNA: Shine your torch on it. A CAMERA IS USED ANNA: That should come out. JOHN: Are you convinced now? ANNA: No. That could come from anything. If the tigerís here I have to see it to believe. Nothing else will convince me. JOHN: It wonít come out when youíre here. ANNA: If youíre sure of that why have you brought me here? JOHN: To give you an idea of territory. All animals are shy. Surely you know that? If you intrude in their environment they will avoid you. ANNA: Sheís shown herself to you. JOHN: Maybe not deliberately. Or maybe whatever she wants has to be provided by me. ANNA: Such as? JOHN: Donít know. ANNA: Whatís that over there? JOHN: I donít see anything. ANNA: It looks like a tent. JOHN: Just a tent. Nothing to worry about. ANNA: Some of Wicksonís tourists? JOHN: Yes. Where are you going? ANNA: To have a look. JOHN: Theyíll be asleep. ANNA: The entrance is open. (CALLING) Hello. (PAUSE) Arenít you scared of burglars out here? JOHN: You canít go in. ANNA: If theyíve been here a while they might have seen the tiger. SLOW FOOTSTEPS THEN ANNA SCREAMS AND RUNS BACK OUT, GASPING. JOHN: Theyíre just dead. ANNA: Just dead. These arenít your chickens. Theyíre real people. JOHN: Not anymore. Now theyíre just like the chickens. ANNA: Weíve got to call the police immediately. JOHN: Wickson wonít let you use the phone. ANNA: I have a mobile. JOHN: This mobile? ANNA: Give that back. JOHN: It wonít work out here anyway. ANNA: Give it back. JOHN: I canít have hunters coming here looking for the tiger. ANNA: Two people have just been killed. JOHN: Wasnít the tigerís fault? ANNA: How do you know what killed them? JOHN: Donít know. ANNA: Yes you do. Stand there in front of me. Get behind the bodies. JOHN: Why? ANNA: I donít want you behind me when I examine them. JOHN: You donít trust me. ANNA: Because youíre not telling me the truth. Theyíve been shot havenít they? A predator attacked them afterwards. Plenty of scavengers here. JOHN: I didnít shoot them. ANNA: But you know who did. Wickson? Why? JOHN: I donít know. He didnít tell me. He doesnít tell me anything. ANNA: Then why support him? JOHN: Heís all Iíve got for now. ANNA: You canít hide the bodies. JOHN: Thousands of people go missing every year. They had no relatives or close friends. Just a couple of kids who could be anywhere. ANNA: How do you know theyíve got no relatives? JOHN: They said so, ANNA: When? JOHN: When they came to the house one night last week. ANNA: Wickson approved that? JOHN: He often lets tourists through. ANNA: How many of them wind up dead? (PAUSE) This has happened before hasnít it? Those reports of missing people. They came here. ANNA STARTS TO MOVE QUICKLY JOHN: Where are you going? ANNA: To get help and a cigarette in that order. SHE STARTS RUNNING THEN SLOWS ANNA: I canít see what Iím doing but he doesnít seem to be following. Iíve got this on tape so that anything will be recorded. In case it wasnít entirely clear John Wickson has just shown me a tent containing the bodies of a man and a woman, probably in their early twenties although itís hard to tell as a scavenger has been at the bodies. Thereís definitely bullet holes there though. Now Iím going back to the house then to the car where I will light a cigarette and leave. I canít light up here. I need my hands free to hold the torch. Of course he can see the beam and follow me, if he wants to. YAPPING IN BACKGROUND ANNA: Now heís just trying to scare me. MORE YAPPING ANNA: The tiger was supposed to yap. (SHOUTS) Stop it. MORE YAPPING ANNA: That was ahead of me. Johnís behind isnít he? Hopefully a long way behind. MORE YAPPING ANNA: So whatís in front? SHE STARTS RUNNING THEN SUDDENLY GASPS WITH SHOCK AS SOMEONE HAS STEPPED OUT IN FRONT OF HER SHAMAN: Be quiet little girl. Keep still. ANNA: What? Let me go. SHAMAN: Still. THE YAPPING GETS NEARER THEN SUDDENLY DIES AWAY. THE SHAMAN SIGHS. SHAMAN: It will not harm me. It knows. And now I am protecting you. ANNA: Knows what? Who are you? SHAMAN: You could say I am the owner of this land. ANNA: Youíre an Abbo. SHAMAN: Such prejudice is uncalled for. Especially when I have just saved your life. ANNA: If that was a Tasmanian tiger it wouldnít have hurt us. SHAMAN: Are you quite sure of that? ANNA: How often have you seen it? SHAMAN: I created it. ANNA: Youíre mad. SHAMAN: (LAUGHING) We are one with the land. We understand its language. And sometimes we help it restore the balance. ANNA: What balance? SHAMAN: Revenge. When we see your people killing indiscriminately we think of ourselves and we want to help. ANNA: You didnít help the campers. SHAMAN: There is no medicine that cures a bullet. And I cannot bring humans back from the dead. ANNA: What can you do? SHAMAN: Ask the tiger when you meet. SCENE DOOR OPENING QUICKLY, ANNA IS OUT OF BREATH WICKSON: Didnít expect you back so soon. Has lover boy run out of steam? ANNA: We found the tent. WICKSON: Hard to miss really. ANNA: Apparently the same canít be said for the tourists. WICKSON: Tourists? Teenagers wasting their lives. When I was their age I was working hard. ANNA: Now they havenít got the opportunity. Why did you shoot them? WICKSON: Donít accuse me of murder girl. One other person here quite capable of using a gun. ANNA: Why would John kill them? WICKSON: Thought theyíd seen his precious tiger. ANNA: The tiger that he invited me here to see. WICKSON: Maybe he wanted to confess. Heís right behind you. ANNA: Go on then. Confess, Iím listening. JOHN: I havenít done anything. I didnít even see the people. He told me to wait indoors. WICKSON: Didnít want to scare them away. ANNA: You said earlier that you had seen them. JOHN: I forgot. WICKSON: Thereís a lot that youíve forgot and a lot more that you should forget. ANNA: Two people have been killed. Nobody can easily forget that. WICKSON: People get killed in the city all the time. Go and solve those crimes. ANNA: Iím not a detective. Iím not a tax inspector. Iím not a journalist. Iím just someone who wants to know the truth. WICKSON: The truth is that you shouldnít have come here. ANNA: Are you going to shoot me too? JOHN: No. WICKSON: He likes you. ANNA: Iím going and Iíll see you both in court. WICKSON: If you say anything Iíll blame you for the killings. ANNA: Iíd like to see you try. WICKSON: Your prints are all over the tent. ANNA: No forensics linking me to the bodies. WICKSON: Wonít be no bodies. I saw you take them away to be buried. ANNA: Really? WICKSON: John saw that too didnít you John. JOHN: (RELUCTANT) Yes, if anyone asks. WICKSON: So do us all a favour and keep your pretty mouth shut. ANNA: Iím going. JOHN: Wait. ANNA: No. You asked me out here to prove that you werenít crazy. Well you are. People have been killed because of you. JOHN: I said that I wouldnít hurt you. ANNA: Your father might. WICKSON: Already told you that Iím not his father. ANNA: Youíre a liar and a murderer and Iíll make sure that the IRS investigate you even if the police wonít. Goodbye. WICKSON: Come back. ANNA: Iím going. WICKSON: Thereís something that you should see. Get out John. Go and play with your rabbits. ANNA: Rabbits? WICKSON: It isnít just chickens that he eats raw. EXIT JOHN WICKSON: Come upstairs. Look lady you wanted to see this. ANNA: See what? (PAUSE) You go first. WICKSON CLIMBING STAIRS FOLLOWED BY ANNA. A DOOR OPENS THEN A CUPBOARD. ANNA COUGHS, THEREíS A LOT OF DUST. WICKSON: Thereís your tiger. ANNA: A skin. WICKSON: A female tiger. Been there nineteen years. Very well preserved. Even the moths leave it alone. Perhaps they know something. ANNA: You killed it. WICKSON: It was taking my chickens. I shot it and now the whole thingís happening again. ANNA: So why not shoot the new tiger instead of the tourists? WICKSON: Iím not saying anything about the tourists. Maybe they saw too much. ANNA: If they saw the tiger then why are you shielding it? Surely itís better for you to have people coming here to look. You could charge them to camp out. WICKSON: A few dollars here and there. ANNA: Better than nothing which is what you have now. WICKSON: I can get more. ANNA: (SLOWLY) I heard your phone call earlier. WICKSON: Youíre a nosey devil arenít you? ANNA: Thereís a hunter coming isnít there? WICKSON: Five hundred dollars to look, five thousand if he sees it and twenty thousand if he kills it. Some people have more money than sense. He might even buy this skin and give me some peace. ANNA: You want to get rid of it? WICKSON No shot animal rests easily. ANNA: What about the ghosts of the tourists? Do they rest well? WICKSON: Shouldnít have been on my land. Town kids think itís funny to be out in the country. Never had to kill an animal or light a fire. Yet they laugh at me. Think Iím stupid. SCENE CAR DRIVING AWAY ANNA: Thatís the end of my Tasmanian adventure. Wickson flatly refused to let me stay on his land a moment longer. Neither he nor John knew about this tape which Iíve hid in my knickers. No way that either of them were going down there. So Iíve got recorded his attempted blackmail, his willingness to conceal the deaths of two people and the suggestion that he murdered them plus what must be an illegal offer to a hunter. State police are going to get the tape in a couple of hours. Iím parked at the bottom of the hill now, trying to get my head round this. Iím considering the possibility that John Wickson is a lycanthrope, a man who turns into a tiger. Maybe itís his skin. Maybe thatís how Wickson controls him. No it canít be. Wickson would have killed him if so. MOBILE RINGS ANNA: Hello. JOHN: (DISTANT) Anna. Come back. Quickly. MOBILE IS DEACTIVATED ANNA: He said it wouldnít work properly here. Should I go back? I am supposed to be an investigator. SCENE CAR STOPPING. A GUN FIRES. ANNA RUNS UP THE PATH SCENE ANNA ENTERING QUICKLY ANNA: John, what have you done? JOHN: I had to shoot him. He was going to hunt the tiger. ANNA: Hunt you? JOHN: Like he hunted my mother. YAPPING SOUND JOHN: Itís okay, she wonít hurt you. ANNA: Youíre sure? JOHN: I was talking to my child. ANNA: Your child? JOHN: I have a real family. When I change. Hopefully I can make the change permanent now. The skin stopped me, held me to this house. ANNA: Why not tell me? JOHN: Would you have believed me? I wanted you to see for yourself. Now you can ensure that the Tasmanian tiger is left in peace. We deserve that. ANNA: Youíre a man not a tiger. Whatever causes the transformation can be treated. It doesnít have to affect you forever. You could be a normal person, especially now Wicksonís not around. JOHN: Normal. (LAUGHS) You donít understand. ANNA: Donít I? JOHN: Iím not a man who turns into a tiger. Iím a tiger who turned into a man. JOHN RUNS AWAY SCENE ANNA IN HER CAR, WHICH IS PARKED ON A QUIET ROAD. ANNA: Iím still not sure how to report all this. John Wickson didnít have a human mother; he was the cub of the tiger that Wickson shot. Somehow the shaman turned him into a human, perhaps to protect him, perhaps to kill Wickson. He did eventually, later than planned. How many others died in the meantime? Theyíre still out there, the tigers. John might have stopped for a photograph. I guess he couldnít control the transformation, didnít understand maybe that it was him in his dreams. Or perhaps he did know. Perhaps he got me out there to protect him from the hunter that Wickson had hired. Either way heís gone back now. Back to the life he should have had. : : : 35 Crown Lofts Walsall WS2 9LB -46-
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