[This instalment of 20 Minutes requires an explanation. On Friday over a pint of Guiness, a friend challenged me to write an 8-page comic script about “a secret society”. I accepted the challenge on the condition that he read the script and provide me with feedback. To prepare for this, I did some quick research on secret societies for women during which I hit on an idea that resulted in what you’re about to read. This was written in 1 hour and edited for an additional 15 minutes.]
PAGE 1 (4 panels)
Panel 1. A wide shot to set the scene. The ancient Roman countryside. It is an idyllic place– tall grasses, flowering bushes, some trees. It is a sunny day. AELIA and JUNIA are walking ahead of SECUNDUS and LUCIUS. Each is dressed in typical Roman attire. AELIA and JUNIA are smiling and excited. SECUNDUS looks annoyed. LUCIUS is game.
CAPTION: Outside Rome.
CAPTION: 196 BC.
SECUNDUS: I grow tired of this game.
AELIA: It is no game, Secundus. You need only be patient. You and Lucius shall be the first men to attend the festival.
Panel 2. LUCIUS is leaning toward SECUNDUS, speaking quietly. SECUNDUS is scowling. LUCIUS has lust in his eyes.
SECUNDUS: I do this for you, Lucius, because this Aelia has made you lose your wits.
LUCIUS: Don’t look so glum, friend–
Panel 3. We’re watching AELIA and JUNIA walking. Their backs are to the reader. Up ahead is a copse of trees.
LUCIUS (off panel): –if nothing else, we get to spend the day in the countryside with two beautiful women.
LUCIUS (off panel / linked): Junia wanted Adelia to invite you.
Panel 4. AELIA and JUNIA close together, hand in hand. AELIA is giggling. JUNIA is looking over her shoulder toward the reader. There is a dark look about her.
SECUNDUS (off panel): I do not trust that woman. And you would do well to get Aelia away from her.
PAGE 2 (2 panels)
Panel 1. AELIA and JUNIA are in the background where the trees are thinning. SECUNDUS and LUCIA are in the foreground, approaching the two women. JUNIA is motioning toward the clearing beyond the trees. AELIA looks expectantly gleeful.
JUNIA: Secundus. Lucius. Welcome to the–
Panel 2. Big panel. SECUNDUS and LUCIUS have stepped into a large clearing. AELIA and JUNIA are behind them. The clearing is surrounded by trees, but there is plenty of space. That space is filled with GREEK WOMEN of various ages (but no children and no elderly) in various states of dress and undress. Some are drinking from goblets. Some are kissing each other. Others playfully paw at each other. In the background there are blankets spread out on the ground and some cushions. FEMALE SLAVES wander through the crowd, filling goblets.
JUNIA: –the Bacchanalia!
PAGE 3 (4 panels)
Panel 1. LUCIUS’ eyes are wide. He gawks at the flesh on display around him. SECUNDUS too looks on in disbelief, but there is no lust on his face.
LUCIUS: Secundus, I cannot believe my eyes. What paradise is this?
Panel 2. A WOMAN in a state of undress and intoxification runs her hands along LUCIUS chest as she walks by. Wine sloshes from a goblet in her other hand as she does so. LUCIUS is lustful. SECUNDUS looks concerned.
LUCIUS: And us the only men in attendance!
SECUNDUS: Yes, the only men, and the first two bear witness to what until now occured in secret.
Panel 3. AELIA is leading a very happy LUCIUS away. She has a jug of wine in hand. SECUNDUS has the attention of TWO WOMEN but he is wary.
SECUNDUS: I hestitate to call this paradise.
Panel 4. AELIA is sitting on the ground, swigging from the jug, her clothes slipping off her shoulder. She beckons to LUCIUS.
LUCIUS: Ha! If you will not then please keep silent so that you do not spoil my enjoyment!
PAGE 4 (4 panels)
Panel 1. In the foreground, LUCIUS is having wine poured into his mouth by a half-naked, sauced AELIA . In the background, the MAENAD enter the clearing. At the head of the line of five women is JUNIA. The MAENAD are dressed in fawn skins. Each carries at thyrsus– a staff entwined with ivy at the top of which is a cluster of ivy. JUNIA wears a ivy wreath on her head.
Panel 2. SECUNDUS watches as SLAVE GIRLS take up percussion instruments and gather in a group.
Panel 3. In the background, the SLAVE GIRLS play the instruments. The SLAVE GIRLS are standing still, playing with little energy. The MAENAD and JUNIA have started to dance. No others can be seen. Everyone has made way for the MAENAD.
Panel 4. JUNIA dances. Her body is contorted as she does.
PAGE 5 (5 panels)
Panel 1. The SLAVE GIRLS play their instruments with more vigour.
Panel 2. The MAENAD (but not JUNIA) are given torches by WOMEN. The dancing is more energetic now.
Panel 3. JUNIA’S eyes are fixed on SECUNDUS as he makes his way quickly through the watching, cavorting, half-naked, drunk women.
Panel 4. SECUNDUS pulls LUCIUS off AELIA.
SECUNDUS: Lucius, we must go! This is no place for us. No place for man!
Panel 5. AELIA , sitting up, naked, drunk, fury in her eyes, hisses and thrashes wildly at LUCIUS and SECUNDUS. Both men look startled.
PAGE 6 (5 panels)
Panel 1. The dancing MAENAD surround LUCIUS and SECUNDUS.
Panel 2. ONE MAENAD douses her torch in a basin of water carried by a slave girl.
Panel 3. LUCIUS and SECUNDUS watch with wide eyes as the torch is taken out of the water. The torch is still lit!
Panel 4. JUNIA is thrashing about in dance. AELIA has joined her.
Panel 5. SECUNDUS and LUCIUS back away in surprise and horror as a large bull is lead into the clearing by WOMEN.
PAGE 7 (4 panels)
Panel 1. Big panel. The MAENAD dance. JUNIA rushes toward the bull. AELIA is on her back on the ground, trashing about. SECUNDUS and LUCIUS cannot believe what they see.
Panel 2. JUNIA attacks the bull with her bare bands.
Panel 3. JUNIA tears the flesh of the bull with her hands.
Panel 4. JUNIA approaches SECUNDUS and LUCIUS. Her clothes are falling off her. She is bloody. Her hands are full of bull meat. Behind her the MAENAD have fallen upon the bull and are tearing at it with hands and teeth.
PAGE 8 (5 panels)
Panel 1. JUNIA is inches away from LUCIUS and SECUNDUS. A bunch of WOMEN are behind the men. JUNIA is eating the bull flesh.
Panel 2. The WOMEN knock LUCIUS and SECUNDUS to the ground. Hands tear at the men’s clothes.
Panel 3. The two men sputter as wine is poured on their faces, down their throats. WOMEN crawl all over them.
Panel 4. There is a mass of WOMEN on top of the two men. Limbs, arses, boobs, legs. This is not violence. The men are not being killed. They are, however, being forcibly convinced to take part in the orgy. Not much can be seen of the men. Behind them, JUNIA contiues to eat the flesh of the bull.
Panel 5. Close on JUNIA. Her face is bloody. Her eyes are empty.
CAPTION: the end
[20 Minutes is a self-imposed ritual in which I write, uninterrupted, for 20 minutes a day. No self-editing is the goal. Just 20 minutes hammering on the keys. After the 20 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. 20 minutes a day. Every day. Today is day 11.]