QUIET AS THE GRAVE:
GRENDEL AND BA-PEF, UNDERWORLD GOD OF WOE
By Michael DeCarolis
PAGE ONE: (3 panels, with the first taking up most of the page.)
PANEL 1: EXT. NIGHT, WIDE/ESTABLISHING SHOT. A misshapen, hulking mass of muscle is seen from behind, silhouetted against a great pyramid rising from the featureless desert. It is GRENDEL, a tortured monster whose left arm is conspicuously missing, with an ancient Norse helmet pressed into the flesh where his arm should be.
CAPTION: Egypt, 1923.
NARRATOR: A thousand years have passed since the hero of the Danes tore off his arm and slew his mother. Beowulf thought him slain as well, but Grendel was cursed to live.
PANEL 2: Close up of GRENDEL’s face. His features are unsettlingly human, but exaggerated and grotesque. Somehow he looks just as animal as he does man. GRENDEL listens for something.
NARRATOR: Long ages ago, Grendel learned to avoid the race of man. He is weary, and has spent centuries roving the earth in search of one thing…
PANEL 3: Grendel is now at the entrance of the pyramid. It is evident that an exploration, possibly even the beginnings of an excavation, had been underway here. Grendel proceeds into the tunnel that descends below the sand.
NARRATOR: … Silence.
PAGE TWO: (6 panels)
PANEL 1: INT. PYRAMID CORRIDOR. (note to artist: maybe “panel 1” could extend diagonally down the page, from top left to bottom right, like a passageway descending underground) Grendel doesn’t notice the ornate carvings lining the walls, but if he did, even he would have understood the warnings that this is the home of the undead. Instead, he lumbers deeper into the pyramid towards the first chamber. Lit torches line the corridor, which should be a clue that Grendel isn’t alone.
CAPTION: Translator’s Note: Herein serves the Cult of Ba-Pef, eternal disciples to the God of Anguish and Pain. Herein is Woe.
PANEL 2: As he continues, Grendel’s attention is drawn to a new smell (close up on his face/nose)…
PANEL 3: …a pile of fresh bodies.
PANEL 4-6: With his one arm, Grendel grabs a body and turns it. It is dressed in stereotypical 1920s explorer garb (pith helmet, vest, etc), but it is clear these explorers found more than what they were looking for. Purple marks on the neck make it clear that this explorer was strangled to death. To Grendel, this is no matter. A dead human is a good human. He moves onward…
PAGE 3:(6 panels)
PANEL 1: Grendel moves into an inner chamber. Shadows fill the spaces that the torches fail to reach. And from those shadows… eyes! Glowing, staring, watching.
NARRATOR: Even an outcast from society can learn words if they are repeated often enough. And there are words that Grendel has heard countless times, in countless languages…
PANEL 2-3: From the shadows, horrible creatures emerge. They were once the human servants of their god, but they have been transformed: in the place of a head each has an oversized scarab beetle! With drooling, snapping mandibles and compound eyes, they are the stuff nightmares. One or two appears at first, but soon dozens step into the light, arms extended. It is clear that they creep forward slowly, but their sheer numbers overwhelm Grendel.
GRENDEL repeats: Away!
PANEL 4: With a single swing of his mighty arm, Grendel knocks several down…
PANEL 5: …but they rise to their feet unfazed and continue to close in on him.
PANEL 6: Grendel has been backed into a wall, the creatures surrounding him and blocking his exit.
PAGE 4:(7 panels)
PANEL 1-3: Grendel reaches behind him, grabs the torch from the wall, and swings it in front of him.
PANEL 4 (large panelin the center of the page): Grendel swings the torch wildly as the creatures around him go up in flames. (Have fun with this panel… Grendel is!)
PANEL 5-7: If these horrors know pain, every single one of them is now writhing in it on the floor of the chamber as they quickly turn to ash. Grendel drops the torch and moves through the chamber to the next doorway.
PAGE 5:(8 panels)
PANEL 1(double-sized panel): Grendel enters a large chamber meant for someone greater even than a king: golden jars and vases, piles of ancient silks, and other unimaginable treasures line the walls, while a platform rises in the center of the room. Two massive statues stand on either side of the center platform. Each statue bears the shape of a man, but with the head of a jackal. They hold the tips of their massive stone staffs above the sarcophagus that rests at the top of the raised platform.
PANEL 2-3: As Grendel steps forward, the statues are “awoken.” They turn to face him and…
PANEL 4:Without warning, bring the staff down in a crushing blow towards Grendel…
PANEL 5: …who dives out of the way.
PANEL 6: Grendel lunges toward the nearest statue and climbs up its body like a one-armed chimpanzee. The statue almost dwarfs Grendel.
PANEL 7: With his legs wrapped around the statue’s neck, Grendel begins beating it mercilessly with his fist until it begins to crack.
GRENDEL: Die dogman!
PANEL 8: Once the first statue has crumbled, Grendel locks eyes with the second.
PAGE 6:(6 panels)
PANEL 1-3: Grendel picks up the head of the first statue. It is larger than his torso, but he holds and launches it like a shot put at the remaining statue. Upon impact, the second statue crumbles.
PANEL 4: Grendel stands taking stock of the rubble around him. He has a look half of contentment, half expecting the next terrible surprise. But nothing comes.
PANEL 5: Grendel ascends the few stairs that lead to the top of the platform…
PANEL 6:… and finally stands over a sarcophagus that hasn’t been opened in thousands of years. The sarcophagus lid is so ornate—and heavy—that it could be a monument in and of itself.
PAGE 7:(6 panels)
PANEL 1: Close up on Grendel’s face. He is relieved.
PANEL 2: Grendel slides the heavy lid off sarcophagus.
PANEL 3: As the sarcophagus opens, a dark energy erupts forth, followed by…
NARRATOR: Millennia have passed since the High Priest gave his body as an avatar for his god.
PANEL 4: … Ba-Pef himself, possessing the body of a high priest, rises in all his glory! As he floats there, it looks as though he is in the prime of his life. His skin is full and as radiant as his golden vestments, not like the monsters Grendel fought before.
NARRATOR: They called him Ba-Pef, the Dread of Souls… and he has returned!
PANEL 5: Close up on Grendel’s face again. He is no longer relieved. Instead, his eyes have the look of a madman and hitherto unseen veins pop out of his neck and forehead.
PANEL 6: From off-panel, Grendel’s arm reaches in and grabs the high priest by his Ankh necklace.
GRENDEL: No more!
PAGE 8:(6 panels)
PANEL 1-3: Still off-panel, Grendel slams the body repeatedly into the floor until he stops moving. Finally, a wispy shadow seeps from the body as though it has expired and been made inert.
PANEL 4-5: Grendel climbs inside the sarcophagus, the limp body of the high priest still lying beside it. Grendel’s arm reaches up from the sarcophagus to grab the lid, then…
NARRATOR: Grendel is weary, and has spent centuries roving the earth in search of one thing…
PANEL 6: (if possible, larger panel) He slides the sarcophagus shut.
GRENDEL: … Silence.