Ext. 11.30am. A large green field, 10 miles in to the Swindon Half Marathon.
Four sheep are watching the thousands of runners go by.
YOUNG SHEEP: What on Earth are the Masters doing?
OLDER SHEEP 1: Blimey, that time already?
YOUNG SHEEP: What time?
OLDER SHEEP 2: Is it really October?
OLDER SHEEP 3: Indeed it is.
YOUNG SHEEP: What’s going on?
OLDER SHEEP 1: Crikey.
OLDER SHEEP 2: Poor buggers.
YOUNG SHEEP: Would somebody PLEASE tell me what’s happening?!
OLDER SHEEP 3: Calm down, little one. It’s the annual herding of the Masters.
YOUNGER SHEEP: The what?
OLDER SHEEP 1: The herding of the Masters.
YOUNG SHEEP: My goodness, the Masters get herded too?
OLDER SHEEP 2: Yep. It’s quite sad, really.
YOUNG SHEEP: What kind of being could possibly be powerful enough to herd the Masters?
OLDER SHEEP 3: Oh, little one, you don’t want to know.
YOUNG SHEEP: I do, I do. Please tell me!
OLDER SHEEP 1: OK, so-
OLDER SHEEP 3: No! He’s too young.
YOUNG SHEEP: I’m not! I’m nearly one!
OLDER SHEEP 1: He needs to know, brother.
OLDER SHEEP 2: We can’t hide it forever.
OLDER SHEEP 3: [Sighs] Very well. I shall tell him.
YOUNG SHEEP: Thank you, thank you!
OLDER SHEEP 3: Yes, yes, little one. OK. Every year, around this time, the Masters are herded up by a strange, mysterious creature know as Charity.
YOUNG SHEEP: Charity…?
OLDER SHEEP 1: Yeah, Charity! I heard it’s a huge, ugly, hairy, wart-ridden beast with six gigantic arms and eight different coloured eyes!
OLDER SHEEP 2: Yeah? Well I heard it’s a flaming, God-like spirit that breathes acid and crushes souls in its vice-like grip just because it CAN.
YOUNG SHEEP: [Looking nervous] Really?
OLDER SHEEP 3: No one quite knows. But whatever it is, it’s an unsavoury being. Every year it preys on innocent figures, steals their money and forces them to watch their loved ones complete hideous challenges.
YOUNG SHEEP: Ch…challenges? What kind of challenges?
OLDER SHEEP 3: Like running 13 miles.
OLDER SHEEP 1: I heard Charity makes Masters climb mountains!
OLDER SHEEP 2: Yeah? Well I heard it chucks Masters out of planes!
YOUNG SHEEP: Really?!
OLDER SHEEP 3: I’m afraid so. I’ve even heard tales of Charity forcing Masters to live in a bath of baked beans.
YOUNG SHEEP: Dear God. But why? Why does it do it?!
OLDER SHEEP 3: Because it’s a vicious, selfish entity that laughs at the weak.
YOUNG SHEEP: Does…does Charity ever attack sheep?
YOUNG SHEEP: Does it…?
OLDER SHEEP 1: Tell him, brother.
OLDER SHEEP 3: I can’t.
YOUNG SHEEP: Tell me what?
OLDER SHEEP 2: You must.
OLDER SHEEP 3: [Sighs] Charity attacked Wise Old Sheep.
YOUNG SHEEP: No! Charity made him-
OLDER SHEEP 3: [Nods] I’m afraid so.
YOUNG SHEEP: [Crying] What happened?
OLDER SHEEP 3: The full story has never been told. However what we do know is it was a cold, rainy day, so Master herded us towards the barn. The weather was horrendous, so we all scrambled as fast as we could to get warm. There was pushing and shoving, and before we knew it, Wise Old Sheep was left behind. It turns out he fell into the fence and got his back legs caught in barbed wire. By the time Master arrived, Charity had ripped his legs off-
A gruff, but booming voice echoes from the shadows. It’s Wise Old Sheep.
WISE OLD SHEEP: Silence!
The four sheep freeze to attention.
OLDER SHEEP 3: We’re sor-
WISE OLD SHEEP: I said, silence!
Wise Old Sheep drags his body from out of the shadows, revealing two shiny wheels where his back legs should be. His fur is patchy, his rump is scarred.
WISE OLD SHEEP: Fill not this boy’s mind with rubbish.
Young sheep looks at his senior, who’s staring back at him.
WISE OLD SHEEP: Charity saved my life.
Wise Old Sheep looks out at the runners as two plodding men make their way towards them.
WISE OLD SHEEP: You must cheer for these warriors.
OLDER SHEEP 3: But-
WISE OLD SHEEP: Cheer! Show some respect.
OLDER SHEEP 1: Baaaaaa!
OLDER SHEEP 2: Baaaaaaaa!
OLDER SHEEP 3: Baaaaaaaaaa!
YOUNG SHEEP: Baaaaaaaaaaa!
Runners #13876 and #13999 slow down.
RUNNER #13876: J…John. Are those sheep…cheering us on?
RUNNER #13999: Shut your face, Kev, I’m knackered.
Kev looks into the eyes of Wise Old Sheep.
Wise Old Sheep nods at Kev’s RSPCA running vest.
Kev nods back and heads towards the finish line.
© Carl Burkitt 2014