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Doing time, part I

June 01 2024

In his previous misadventure, time-travelling sleuth McHaggis was arrested. Now he finds himself imprisoned with some strange characters, plotting an escape. Screenplay by Chris Sampson

Previously: McHaggis was carted off by the rozzers due to new draconian laws which enable the constabulary to arrest anyone who “looks like they’ve slept rough” and/or “smells excessively”. As our man had just returned from medieval times, he fitted both descriptions. Now read on, in a sort of screenplay pastiche…

Int. Chateau D’fiif Prison. Day (get it? Chateau De thief?)

[McHaggis and several other cons are gathered around a lunch table in true Norman Stanley Fletcher style. There is The Count of Monte Cristo, from 1844, falsely imprisoned due to the machinations of a fiendish adversary who has nicked the fortune that is rightfully his. Also, the Discount of Monte Cristo, from 1910, jailed for offering bargains on a bank holiday and – gasp! – not wearing a hat, a monstrous incursion in the Edwardian era. Then there’s the Miscount of Monte Cristo, from a US election that was said by the losing candidate to be fixed (most years, basically). And finally, the C*nt of Monte Cristo, from 1974, whose crimes were unspecified, but so bad that part of his very name has to be obscured by an asterisk! McHaggis was uneasy in the company of such cut-throats, diddlers and brigands. As ever, the cons are arguing.]

Discount (affronted): What do you mean, I never give you anything, Miscount?

Miscount (matter-of-factly): I’m saying you’re tight with money, that’s all. And spuds. Can I have one of yours?

Discount (shouty): Get stuffed! When you first arrived, I gave you the shirt off my back! And the underpants off my anus!

Count (outraged): Dear Lord! Can we have one meal – just one – without your anus being thrust in our faces?

[He throws down his plate, unable to eat after this latest outrage. The C*nt interprets this as a signal for the traditional prison food fight, which usually descends into a riot. He catches Discount full in the face.]

C*nt: Have some soggy cauliflower, Discount!

Discount: Aargh! My beautiful face! Now who’ll be able to see my dreadful over-acting?

Count: Sod this for a game of soldiers! Let’s make a break for it while the screws are dealing with these ruffians! Are you with me, McHaggis?

McHaggis: Not so fast, amigo!

[He has adopted a tough, vaguely Mexican-sounding persona since being jailed, the better to fit in with other prison clichés.]

Not so fast! You are forgetting, Count, that this is a temporal prison, with prisoners from different eras doing time in the same place – to wit 19th century France – in order to save 21st century costs.

Count: Oh?  But why are costs so high in your century?

McHaggis: Because everything has been privatised and farmed out to the private sector, thus pushing up the costs. Plus, there’s little regulation of the private sector when things go wrong, and what little there is is often ignored by governments.

[This information might have been better coming at the start of the screenplay, to set the scene, but it is so badly written that it will likely never be filmed – yes, not even by Channel 5!]

Discount: Well, I for one approve of such cost-cutting! Why, if I suck up to our jailers, then it shall become obvious to them and their corporate masters that I can be an asset to them, and they shall surely release me.
Providing I snitch on you other prisoners, of course.

Miscount: Of course! Disgracefully weaselly, but quite in keeping with your character, Discount.

Count: What a pair of crawlers! I think I preferred it when you were spoiling our meals with a soupcon of anus!

C*nt: Even I am appalled by this corporate snidey-bastardliness, and, as all here know, I’m such a wrong ‘un that my very name contains an asterisk! So, we have been imprisoned in the past to protect the corrupt system in the future!

McHaggis: No offence, amigos, but I think you lot have driven me a little stir crazy. And there’s very little help for mental health issues in the Victorian era.

[Prison guard Crufts Robinson, the requisite evil screw, arrives with some other goons to quell the riot.]

Crufts: That’s right, McHaggis, you snivelling fruitcake! It’ll be basket-weaving for you if I have my way.

McHaggis: Why, if it isn’t Crufts Robinson, the evil screw who makes our lives a misery!

Goon #1: Ahem!

McHaggis: Soz. I mean, why, if it isn’t Crufts Robinson… and other assorted goons.

Goon #1: Thank you! Nice to be acknowledged!

Crufts: The old methods of policing don’t work, McHaggis. Arresting people after they’ve committed a crime? Ridiculous! But the Powers That Be (PTB for short) have come up with a new policy.

Count: Oh? And what’s that, screw?

Crufts: I’m glad you asked, Monte Cristo. Otherwise without interrupting me, this would have been too long a tirade for the average viewer to stomach, and they’d have turned over to Channel 5+1 – or internet filth – long since.

C*nt: Get on with it, screw! We’ve broken up enough of your diatribe. Now, tell us what the PTB have come up with. And it better be pretty draconian, or by crikey, there’ll likely be some flipping’ pushback! Right, fellas?

Count, Discount, Miscount: Too bleeding right!

To be continued in the next issue…