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The Life And Death of Sam-I-Am (a 3-act tragedy)
Tuvia (tobee) Knott- the brother of Mr. Knott (abbr. ‘Bro’)
Hazel, the sister of Mr. Knott (abbr. ‘Sis’)
Charlie Bucket (CB)
Veruca Salt (V.)
Mr. Nadár Knott (KN)
Agamemnon, the son of Atreus. King of house Atreidis (A)
Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon (IP)
Oracle , the Oracle of Delphi(O)
The general manager (GM))
(enters GM, holding clipboard, counts people)
GM :Now! well...good day to you , my friends. i am a poor servant of connivance, who through great perils and misfortunes has become the general manger of this production. I shall endeavour to entertain you, and bring the actors forth in a timely manner, so that a plot will be easily apparent.... because that is what people want. plots. and why not, eh? why not a plot? would you accept the actors to come before you , each reciting unrelated shopping lists, and phone numbers? would you have them each read out loud passages of the bard, from separate plays, with ne’er a thread to hold them true?
Nay! We want...need..yeah..need things going somewhere. life goes somewhere, and so must this. I could complicate things, add a alternating effect to the unity of time and locality, but the happiness you hoped to gain, poor souls, will not be reached. so this ,I promise you, above all else-a plot.
so let us hence, go to the home of mister Knott, a rich villa, of sumptuous beauty and taste, of which our production budget can.not hope. To. meet. Here, friends and family gather after the funeral, to communally mourn the death of this great man, and to socialize if at all possible. what are the motives, of these grieving visitors? what schemes do they have? you may see. but only if you remain seated, and turn off your cellphones. for they are accursed to all thespians .
Act 1 Sc.1
Setting: the home of Mr. Knott’s . family and friends gather to sit Shiva for the great man, who has recently died.
Verruca salt:... and he was such a compassionate man. full of compassion. Compassionately caring for every one.
Sam: indeed. compassionate. to the tee. is that what people say? to the tee?
CB:(enters dramatically) lo, Mr. Knott has died!! not in a boat, not with a goat, not on a ridge, not by the fridge. he died! oh Christ, god save us!! that such a man as Mr. Knott dies.
VS: everyone dies Charlie. Which reminds me, how is Mr. Wonka?
CB: dead. also dead.
VS:I see. I morn him not. you had more of a relationship with Mr. W than I. but stop being some protracted symbol of innocence or something. that man was a monster!
Sis: how dare you talk about my own brother like that! (faces audience. monologues ) we have just planted him in the cool afternoon. the soft earth embracing his shrouds. oh..
VS: (interrupting) I am not talking of your dear compassionate brother, good lady Knott. I am talking of Mr. Wonka, whom i know to be the exact opposite of your brother in every way.
Bro: not every way. they had some things in common.
VS:(incredulous) a ball-face lie. is that something that people say? I think my privileged upbringing has confused me as to correct expressions in English.
CB: Yes, truly. the rich have are indulged with a more flexible use of the language. us vagabonds are more disciplined in the way we use it...emm .. but it should be ‘bold faced lie’.
Bro: I take it the chocolate bushiness is failing?
CB: not at all. people need sugar at least just as much as hole-punching mechanisms. I was just stating in agreement with Veru...I mean Miss Salt..
VS:well actually Miz Bëterman now..
CB: oh? got married? oh. congrats.I did not know.
VS: (disregards...)but besides my failings, emm, forgive me Charles.. in what way, please tell, oh, brother of our benefactor, Knott. in what way were he and the abominable Mr. Wonka similar?
Bro:well. you knew the compassionate side in him.
(all mumble ‘compassionate,compassionate compassionate’ in crescendo)
but do you know he was a ruthless industrialist?
CB: But of course! a visionary in the hole-punching mechanism business. but...you mean.. as ruthless as my previous mentor? with Oompa Loompas and ..
Bro: yes. sad to.say. he did not employ Loompas as such. he was more fond of the Loompalandians’ mortal enemies, the Zorpa Vorpa. in.fact they were also his biggest customers....of..
VS: of hole punching mechanisms?
Bro: correct. he made a lot of money both cheaply employing and trading with the Zorpas.
CB: but holes need to.be punched.
Bro: ’tis true, ’tis true. if they hadn’t gotten their hole punching mechanisms from my dear brother, they would have gotten them from other, less scrupulous suppliers.
CB: besides that, he was compassionate.
Bro:I guess...well..all things being equal..he was a compassionate man.
VS: Charles. you know, back in the day, after our encounter...you know.. the squirrels..I couldn’t help remember that you tried to help me..
CB: a long time ago..
CB: well if you’re bringing that up...there was a time i was very...intensely attracted to you.
VS:you were? oh, the irony!
CB: how so?
Sam: yes..Veruca...I mean MIZ Bëtterman..how so?
VS: well. i went to therapy for years after the squirrels. PTSD stuff.. and the last head-shrinker I found told me that much of the trauma was transformed into an erotic fixation on a hero-figure. someone charming and innocent and soooo heroic...
CB: ok. but what does that have to do with the price of tea in Minsk?
VS: well...the doctor..and me..we worked it out that of all the people that were standing there, when the squirrels came at me..
CB: came at you?
VS: came at me, came at me...well of all the people there, you were the one I got the fixation about.
CB: oh..I see..
CB: but then you got married..
VS. yes..I developed a healthy transference to the doctor...
Sis: so!? you are married to the THE Ralph Bëtterman?
VS: yes. Ralphy couldn’t come today to sit with us. he may come tomorrow.
VS: tell me, Charlie..were you really attracted to me in your youth?
CB: as I said..intensely...you were a spoiled brat, but knew how to charm. Mr. Wonka had days were he told me directly..
VS: what? he was attracted to me? I was only fourteen!
CB: you were twelve...no. he was not. And you don’t want to know what attractions appealed to Mr Wonka.. but he often..emm...regretted that he chose me and not you. he would let me know...you know, days when my innocence got in the way...he got so frustrated with me sometimes..
Bro: the monster.
CB: still, we are at a Shiva for Mr. Knott, and should not speak ill of anyone. I have fond memories...
Sis: oh. of my brother?
CB: of him.I never knew his first name. isn’t that strange?
Sam: Nêdar. Nêdar Knott.
CB: oh. thank you, Sam I am. by the way, what is your relation with the ...
Sam:(interrupts) oh.. we had some.. Culinary adventures..
Sis: Yes!. I should say! Sam is widely known in our family.
Sam: he didn’t like things I offered him, then liked them. it goes to show that you can’t judge a food by it’s cover. I mean a book by its color...I mean I poisoned him.
Sis and Bro : YOU POISONED HIM?
Sam: oh..did I have a slip of the Freud?
CB: Sam, I don’t know you, and so would very much care to remain neutral. but your obvious assassination of our dearly beloved Mr. Knott is alarming. And so is the manner in which you reveal such gross misdeeds.. I don’t know if I could retain much of my innocence after this.
Sam: oh, don’t worry, a Shiva ends before you know it, and you get back to the way you were before.
CB: I see...
Sam: yes. it’s one of the great mysteries of the human heart, to be able to experience mourning and then dust it off so easily.
VS: yes...so..you poisoned the compassionate Mr. Knott...
CB: I want o know.. em..what kind of poison did you use?
Sam: it’s called...emm...Ricin...(turns to audience, monologues) far away, ladies and gentlemen, a stream flows in a warmer climate. on the banks of such a stream, the majestic water Hyacinth grows, with deep green vegetation and piercing pink flowers. the plant is beautiful beyond compare but like much of the beauty in this vale of tears, it is superficial, the plant, its flowers and its seeds most of all, produce a deadly neurotoxin which would kill an elephant or any other foolish grazer who would try to assuage their appetite. (turns to VS) and I have distilled this poison and found a way to provide it in ample dosage to the late Mr. Knott
VS: ok, then, Sam, I understand.
CB: but how did you poison him?
Sam: how does one poison anyone? surly that is obvious.
CB: my question was..
Bro:I think our good , innocent friend means is what was the food..emm..or drink that you..eh...
Sam:I think you are worried if I put some in the tuna casserole which I brought...
Sis: well...you are a notorious poisoner...
Sam: oh, friends, friends! know that I harbour malice to many. Bu none of those I conspire against are among you , fine people. I would also like to add that I find the idea of poisoning people while they are grieving totally abhorrent. A thing hat I shall never do... and so the tuna casserole is meant to only enrich the buffet. If you like, I will gladly eat some in front of you, to demonstrate just how safe it is.
(walks over to the table, takes the casserole tray , obviously fumbles, drops the tray on the floor)
Sis: lo! Sam, our friend could not prove to us, the justice of his assertion that his casserole is un-poisoned.
Sam: oh, my efforts so bore, that casserole and trust are so clumsily thrown. fye, ’tis my shame. I shall to fetch a broom. (runs out)
GM: and so while Sam pursues his desire to exonerate his good reputation and standing, let us away to the island beach, where Agamemnon ponders
Setting: the house of king Agamemnon, A walks around , worried
Sam (carrying a broom): desolate, all I did was necessary. it was for the.common good.
A: what, was for the common good.
Sam: spilling the casserole.
A: oh? you have spilled much casserole. times are hard.
Sam: indeed, good sir. and now i am suspected to be an ambitious poisoner.
A: and are you a poisoner?
Sam: oh it’s been a while, been a while..and...in any case the said casserole was safe to eat, if it was not now covered with dangerous splinters, shards and flakes of broken glass.
A:which you have spiced the casserole with?
Sam: no, mighty king. I merely dropped the glass tray, and so no sustenance can be gained from it, upon the floor. sadly, my demonstration, is suspicious, and so I am held in blame. Forever I fear.
A: eyy.. it be a sad plight, and here I can offer you sympathy. for like you , my intention and duty are honorable, and yet what must be done saddens me greatly.
Sam: a sad king is the natural state, ..heavy is the head which wears a crown..and yet I sense, that a dilemma obscures your happiness to a far greater extent than a mere ...emm...a mere...what is it, that kings do?
A: we rule and conquer, vanquish and judge. I get ulcers to chase headaches and my hair has all but fallen, after losing its red hue to gray.
Sam:I see...and what conquest are you mulling over, which shall upset you more than your usual lot?
A: the conquest of a faraway city, called Troy.
Sam: why is that one so distressing to your person?
A: well...it is my fate to conquer the wretched accursed city. and yet I shall have to sacrifice my own daughter, for the gods to give my warships wind and calm waves to row upon.
Sam: and if you do not make the sacrifice?
A: I shall not know the bitter fruit of victory.
A: oh..Iphigenia, my loved one, must I sacrifice her in such extremes.
Sam: well...I am no scholar, but I know some lore. some of which has little to do with poisons.
A:is there advice that you could give?
Sam: Yea, I can offer you the soundest advice of all- if there is doubt- there is no doubt.
A: does that mean that I should sacrifice her because I have doubts...or...or should I avoid sacrificing her?
Sam: what do you think?
A:sacrifice her then..play it safe.
Sam: but no!. my friend, look. you were having doubts regarding the sacrifice or the avoiding of it?
A:the sacrifice...I think...
Sam: than clearly you must not sacrifice her. maybe there is a third alternative you are not seeing. (facing audience) assume, my friends, that the doubts that you have , are a spark..yea..a glimmer of hidden opportunities...
A: but i must set sail to troy...my allies are waiting..we must sacrifice something, else the winds will be against us.
Sam:than find a better time to sail...
A: you don’t understand. my allies are encamped by the shore. Thousands of them. and they will be furious that they were asked to come all this way, risk many travails just to reach this assembly point...only to find that i can’t do anything to get the winds going...
Sam: yeah...but the winds are not your fault.
A: well...yes and no..
Sam: what do you...
A: (interrupts) well...I killed..hunted.. a sacred deer..the sacred stag reserved for...
Sam: a sacrifice...
Sam: and the guy that is telling you to sacrifice your daughter is..
A: the guy that was supposed to do for the stag..
Sam: could it be that he has an ulterior motive? maybe he was pissed off...
A: oh... well...
(enter Iphigenia, facing audience)
IP: father, Agamemnon, the soldiers clamber upon the beach, they want my blood spilled.
A: well. i have a friend here. meet Sam-i-am.
Sam: would you like..
IP: no.no...no time for this...I shall nay waste time. it is upon us to make a great spectacle of symbolic importance...pardon me, friend, em..Sam.
A: but daughter...your arrival here brings me joy immeasurable, and I have decided to avoid bloodshed at all cost..(turns to Sam)
Sam, my friend...I have gathered from your wise words, that you are no stranger to poisoning people. would I be in the wrong in assuming that you carry upon your person some vital substance of those arts?
Sam: but of course. i never leave home without ample stock.
A: why, that is most fortunate. tell me. will the poison cause terrible hallucination or pain?
Sam: no. Never... I am not some kind of sadist , who would enjoy to see pain in others... it shall not. the death experienced by y poison, will be but a few joyful seconds long. A short moment of sheer euphoria. Before the end.
A:that is great! and what quantity do you have upon yourself?
Sam: well...let me think...enough to kill a hundred or so. maybe two.hundred...
A:splendid. (turns to daughter) tell the servants to prepare a cerebration feast. do not forget to invite the head priest , I shall prepare a lively cocktail for them to party. Make sure all A-listers are coming!
(all exist stage)
Act 1 Sc.3
(enter Bro, Sis, VS., CB,)
Bro: our friend Sam, has wandered long. the casserole is still spilled upon the floor, and woe, to us, it shall not come unclean.
CB: sadly, our friend’s disappearance draws me to conclude that he planned to poison us, as he did Mr. Knott.
Bro: no, why would he demonstrate so in the first scene. he intended to.eat of his creation and thus.show us that he harbored no malice.
CB:true, but he dropped his casserole, forever sealing in my mind the dangers of his acquaintance.
VS: oh, Charlie, what a cruel world! that people would spill Tuna casseroles to protect their innocence.
CB: I fear that his innocence was as poisoned as the food.
VS: you’ve changed much, Charlie bucket, from the first scene to now. what will be your state of mind in the end? how were you not affected by Mr. Wonka’s malice and yet this experience marked you so?
Sis: perhaps i can offer an explanation, (faces audience) you see, long before the general manager introduced us all, and we began mourning our dearly departed Mr. Knott, there was an underlying truth: desire.
we desire affection , we desire each other, we desire tuna casseroles. when that desire is used against us, like a fish and a hook, we feel a great betrayal.
Bro: indeed (facing audience). we desired trust and comfort in this time of grief and tuna casserole in this time of hunger, and both were betrayed.and abused by the missing Sam I am. I fear, Sam I am, I fear, that i don’t like this Sam I am. I am not the Same-I am.
RB: would you like green eggs and ham? (brings forth a platter)
VS: dearest Ralph! everyone , I would like you to meet my very opportune husband, the world famous analyst , Ralph Bëtterman ..
RB: stop, stop...Veruca, you do this every time. we need to still work on the way you declare things. we are trying to break the fourth wall, not build it up.
VS: oh...sorry dear. i want you to meet my friends...especially my Charlie bucket.
RB: your Charlie bucket. haven’t we discussed those slips?
CB: never mind, never mind. tell us, doctor Betterman, do you know the late Mr. Knott?
RB: sadly...only through his reputation as a merchant and manufacturer of hole punching mechanisms. you know.. professional stuff..
CB: I am sorry...I was under the impression you were a psychiatrist.
RB: indeed I am
CB: how does the field of hole punching mechanisms overlap with modern psychiatry?
RB: well...I deal mostly with post trauma. many of my patients have fallen victims or used hole punching mechanisms in their past.
Sis: really? is that a common occurrence? how bizarre!
RB: not so bizarre if you think about it... most hole punching mechanisms are used horizontally. I find that if you think of the geometric and erogometric possibilities, it is really very obvious.
Sis: well..I try to keep out of our dear brother’s affairs.
RB: well...that is often the best. I fear...
VS: what dear...
RB:oh, forget it. I need a drink. the subject is too dark to talk about on a Shiva.
Bro: now i am intrigued. please tell us, o learned, doctor.
RB: well. it strikes me as bad manners to talk ill of the dead. but the line of products manufactured and sold by your brother was often used to punch holes...
Sis: so? is that not something that is on demand. surly , the market for hole punching mechanisms is flourishing. does that not indicate a use for the thing?
RB: aye, it does. sadly, you are failing to perceive something..
Bro: well..if my dear sister is failing in that than so am I!
CB: please doctor, it is clear that you have some information that can’t wait any longer to be revealed.
RB: ok...I shall tell you. Though I do so ...no. I shall not. it is of no use, and you all shall not love me for the truth .
VS: dearest, I will love you for all time. do not be afraid to tell us the truth...
Sis: this isn’t Oedipus or something..there is nothing..
Bro: oh..here we go again with your classical education. (turns to RB) just tell us , doc. we can take it..
RB: very well. I will simply say that you seem to never question the substrate, onto which your brother’s hole punching mechanisms is applied.
Bro: pearls? Gemstones
Sis: wood? sheet metal?
CB: walls! it’s applied to walls. he said vertical...I mean horizontal...
RB: well...friends, of all of you...it is Charlie bucket that comes closest. and yet even he seems to be so isolated by wealth from life to see what i can hint no more about. ladies and gentlemen. will you be surprised to learn the the primary usage of hole punching mechanisms, is the malicious application of holes upon the human body!
RB: far from it...well..accidents do happen..quite often even. but i refer to the very serious and common usage of hole punching mechanisms as a method of applying new holes upon people.
Bro: shocking...but surly, that was not the intention for which my brother worked for.
RB: no. Here you are most certainty wrong. i am afraid the mechanisms hardly have a use , other then punching holes into people. clinically speaking, many die annually from these fast acting objects. ... well as I said..a big part of my practice is patient who are dealing with the aftereffects of these..emm incidents..
Sis: oh..I think i understand now.
RB: look...emm..I came ..emm...to pay my respects and all...I did not intend for this...
well...(realizes he is holding a tray)..hey, where can I put these? I heard it was a family favorite...
Sis: green eggs and ham...well.. we do eat that a lot ..ever since ...(turns to bro. ) when did Sam introduce that stuff to us?
Bro: I think it was a few years ago. my brother put up some fight...but it is now a common staple on our table...
CB : it reminds me of how potatoes were introduced to Europe..(faces audience) you know, many years ago, entire regions of Europe were always struggling to grow enough food. they were poor and hungry...until...
VS: Charlie. I think this is not the time,to talk of Mr. Wonka’s chocolate.
CB: ok..sorry, I get carried away sometimes, thinking of unrelated thoughts.
VS: yes...I believe it is part of your heritage. being born poor..
CB: tell me, doctor , is it true that people of wealth do not wander aimlessly in thought as I do?
RB: well..I can’t say that i am an authority of the subject, but I find that poor and wealthy alike have moments of focus, while others of distraction.
VS: are you sure, dear?! I do not think I have ever been distracted...
RB: speaking as a husband, I will not contradict.
VS: and speaking as a clinical psychiatrist?
RB: I will not talk about things that are conferred to me during session.
CB: I was always curious. what was the event that led you to become a psy...a head-shrinker...?.
RB: well...I finished med-school... then in residency ...well.. I got recommended to specialize...you know, oncology, radiology, dermatology..
Bro: I think Charles wants to know why you chose this rather than that?
RB:well...do you really want to know..
CB: please tell...
RB: well...many years ago, during the war, I was evacuated with a lot of other children....and my plane crashed...we were left on our own...mostly very young kids...
and we...some of us children began to develop somewhat of a culture...well...it was very violent... some of the kids were murdered...
RB: no. not that...well...we..they started imagining a monster...and well...there was a sort of cult around it...
CB: sounds a bit like the Oompa Loompas...
RB: well...anyway...after that...I had a long period of..well..nightmares, rage...after that I wanted to help people that went through something like that..
VS;which is how we met...tell me Charlie, do you still use squirrels ?
CB: yes. of course. you can’t hope to sort nuts without them.... But the Oompa Loompas are better at accidents , since you came..
VS: they didn’t seem to do much to prevent things..
CB: well..me and you...our group was the only tour allowed in. it threw a lot of things off. and there is this organizational culture thing...well I like to think that one of my contributions to the company is about safety. and it didn’t compromise quality or revenue..
GM: and this, ladies and gentleman is the moment we must close our first act. the table is set, the food laid out, let us feast now on the tragic consequences visited on others, those bitter grapes that make life so...well...so delectable.
Act 2 sc1
setting: Agamemnon’s camp, Iphigenia, Sam, are setting the bodies of the poisoned warriors on the chairs. making it look respectable. set up looks like ‘the last supper’ . a large chest is sitting in front of the table.
Sam: no, I think brave Achilles should be facing the center more. (Iphigenia tilts the dead man’s head.) there! what, do you think?
IP: no...no..too much suffering...is there an adjective in your land, for a person that seems to be suffering?
Sam: suffery or sufferous. both are acceptable.
IP: you know...I am not used to talking to....emm...(shyly, plays with her hair)
IP: no. we have a few. but daddy doesn’t hire poisoners that are known for their conversation and knowledge of grammar as you..
Sam: oh...well... I try to be an all-rounder...you should see me cook.
IP: but the casserole...you spilled it to save yourself..
Sam: no...the casserole was honestly made, prepared lovingly. i would eat it myself, were it not for the fact that i am such a shlimazal
IP: don’t you mean shlumiel?
Sam: no. these are two different words. a shlumiel is someone that accidentally spills his casserole, maybe because he tripped ob something. a shilimazal is someone whose casserole spills just at the worst possible moment
IP: is there an opposite word for shlumial?
Sam: sure...emm.. let me think..well...yiddish is more known to me about complaining...but emm I think the word is..mazaldic..
IP: then I think I am a mazaldic.
(Agamemnon notices the flirting. inches closer)
IP: well..ricin is a beautiful thing.
Sam: it is. you should see the flowers..
(enter the oracle of Delphi)
A: oh, look and give thanks!! , the great oracle is here to grace us with his wisdom. (takes a cup from the table, fills it with wine.
here. the roads are dusty and no winds..you must be thirsty.
O: I would drink to your..emm hospitality just as soon as you let your daughter drink..
A: oh..you are looking at all these elite men, struck down so heroically by the gods.
O: yes...struck down.. well...I am sure the many warriors, that are still waiting by the ships, will be pleased to know that the gods it were that have struck them down, and it is not anything less...acceptable...
A: it is a shame, what happened, and misunderstandings appall me. which is why I know you will set the record straight, wise oracle.
O: will I do such a thing?
A: you were told by the gods to come here and talk to me, is that not so?
O: it is just so.
A: and you are well known to be a person of great conviction and high morality.
O: well..I’d like to think of myself..
A:(interrupts) then I would put it to you that your convictions are the most justly served with telling the warriors the unmitigated truth, of the gods striking in anger at mighty Achilles, Meneleus my brother.. Odysseus, and..
IP:don’t forget Ajax.
A: certainly. never forget Ajax my dear friend and ally...who was just now struck down with the others.
O: and why should i tell the warriors such a...truth?
A: well...I assume you know the possibilities that I have. all those wonderful golden , rounded possibilities..
O: do you mean those golden possibilities that are in filling yonder ceder chest (points at prop) .
A: well..there are some possibilities within it. perhaps a nice leather bag holding a few.
O: a few possibilities? that narrows my enthusiasm to tell the truth. In cases like that I end to doubt myself..felling frustrated by the harsh reality and the diminishing prospects..
A: it is not so. the possibilities are numerous, and besides them you must consider other opportunities that maybe are hidden to you. my friend.
O: oh, possibilities AND opportunities?! what opportunities would fill a chest of ceder, where possibilities where insufficient?
A: oh. they can not fit inside the chest. They are about five-seven feet in length and have a long neck.
IP: father! do you propose to give him an offering of the graceful infant giraffe which we have imported for your interest from faraway lands?
O: a giraffe? that would be an opp..
A: (interrupts) no! sadly the giraffe is not part of the opportunities of which i speak. it will be required for the upcoming war with troy. i plan to make use of the dear creature during the great assault.
O:than besides golden possibilities, what other opportunities would you allude to so mysteriously?
A: a wise man knows when not to ask.
Sam:pardon me.. emm.. but is it not ‘a wise man is never shy to ask’?
A: no. You got it wrong, good friend Sam...emm..‘smart’ ...a smart man is never shy to ask. a WISE man knows when asking is not necessary or advisable...
Sam: I see
O:oh.. I see as well...so possibilities versus opportunities.. I suppose I’d better take the possibilities. will they come in a big bag, or a small?
A: a big enough bag...emm..fine..fine.. and I shall throw in a king’s remembrance.
O: in that case , i shall tell the forlorn warriors, of the truth, sad and tragic (moves to audience, gesturing) of how in the height of merriment, the mighty god Apollo, had chosen to take...emm...to bereft us of..emm.. hat’s not right..to relieve us from...to ...
Sam: (interrupts) to deprive. deprive is best..
IP: oh deprive.. I like that..Sam...
A: deprive us of the..
O: em..deprive us of the great courage of our leaders, in exchange for fair winds. their sacrifice will not be forgotten. (turns away to A.) or something like that.
A: yes. oratory at it’s best. do you think our valiant warriors will not be disheartened by this bad turn of events?
O: that depends on the quality of the kings’ remembrance, and the quantity of possibilities.
A: or the hard, sharp point of those opportunities...
O: yes...well I will out to meet the masses and tell them of what befell here.
Sam: a question, dear wise oracle, though i have few possibilities to offer.
O: speak, for we are friends and a wise man knows when to answer.
Sam: all I would desire to know, is whether i shall ever redeem myself in the eyes of my friends.
O: the gods need not be consulted. your friends of true shall hold you redeemable despite your misactions
Sam: and of those that are not truly friends, will they forever look at me with that frost of ambivalence?
O: ’fraid so.
Sam: I see..
O: but perhaps things can change. the gods whisper to me, of actions which you have yet to take...but I should speak no more.
A: then go, you, dear oracle and comfort and encourage my vassals.
O: aye. I shall. (walks out)
Sam: and I shall make my exit as well , to fetch the desired cleaning implements, and clean the slop which I have left. (leave. Agamemnon leaves as well, leaving Iphigenia alone , to.slowly walk to center stage, beside the chest.)
IP: oh, the sadness of being. that people come and go. I often feel that my young, innocent life was vastly more protected than others’..sheltered I was from the many dangers of this cruel world, and yet...and yet what is this sadness I feel, in the stage exit of Sam-i-am if not proof that I was shielded not at all. life is a train station, I conclude, that people enter or exit, some in a rush, some in a slow encroach. yet all leave , except the self, which stares gloomily at the traffic and weeps. Oh...Sam is exited as easily as he entered this island, with its capricious weather, and needful sacrifices. I shall shed a tear and cry bitterly, my heart is torn. look, ye, at the dead warriors gathered joyously by the feast. (takes one of the goblets) pardon me brave Ajax, you have not finished your poisoned wine. you seem so happy, smiling in your eternal drunk. a sacrifice my father set you to make so i shall live. it will be for this that I will not drink the bitter end.
no. I will not drink the happy grape, not for heartbreak, not for guilt. I am torn by the grief. and yet...and yet what...I want to say.. I still have something...I want to say at least I something something...oh...I am not good with words, and so i do not know what I am AT LEAST or what I still have. perhaps someone else knows. i shall leave and speak no more. else my lack of tongue tempt me to drink. (throws goblet upon the floor, leaves.)
Act 2 Sc 2
setting: back at the home of the late Mr. Knott. the casserole is still spilled upon the ground.
(enter the general manager)
GM: many years ago, there lived a young lion. the lion did not want bread or eggs, he did not want khabob or cheese. he only wanted strawberries. Isn’t it so, that all stories begin with a want for something? a lack of something? does no one ever stop and think what was it, that caused the lion to desire strawberries and not meat? or why Paris , son of Priam desired Helen so much that he set off terrible events that in the end killed them both, along with thousands of others? why would he not want other things? maybe settle for something different? a cynic would say , plainly that it was desire. Paris saw Helen and could not placate his appetite with other ladies. but what is that desire? how could it be so specific a demand? could it be, that both lion and, Trojan prince, were just exaggerated personas? would a real prince of troy, spend all his thoughts on strawberries...emm..I mean a single lady, who poses mortal danger to him, and whose ..em..acquisition..would come against basic rules of right and wrong? I say to you that this is not so! Paris was not a love- smitten fool. people don’t go into extreme, immediate graceful behavior, having just noticed something attractive.
what Paris did was either an endpoint of a longer process...or it was done out of other, less romantic motivations. or the story is a complete lie , start to finish, unlike the strawberry-loving lion. and yet this does not satisfy the question! it is fine to say that the Iliad was a mere story , cautioning us of the result of extreme uncontrolled passion. but why would we have such a story, if it was something that we weren’t dreading? .. or hoping for.. the friends and family will soon come back to this, poorly contrived living room of the departed Mr. Knott. they will talk and interact and their thoughts and passions would come anew. would we want them to be exaggerated? get some gore? get something sexy out of this? or would we want a ponderous, metronome- like ticking off of human faults and greatness. nay, I say! we want the former. let this then be a zombie flic, rather than a glacial Henrik Ibsen play. oh, woe to us, impetuous primate. that we couldn’t get our kicks with a metronome...(exit stage)
(enter bro., sis. ,RB. ,VS, each holding a dish or glass of wine. they occasionally point at the casserole mess upon the floor, but talk amicably of other things.)
(enter Sam-i-am with a mop, a bucket, a trawl, and a broom)
VS: lo, ‘tiss our ‘friend’ Sam-I-am. Bringing forth instruments if cleansing. oh joy!
Bro: try the bacon-wrapped asparagus, dear Sam (tosses the food upon the floor) i fear your task will not be an easy one.
Sis: dear Sam, the floor is truly a mess. many of the guests, have complained that besides the grief that they feel, over the untimely death of our beloved brother, they have their anguish increased immeasurably as they see their black mourning shoes besmirched with the poisonous casserole.
Sam: (speaking as he cleans) it is regrettable what happened, and I shall strive to cleanse the hardwood floor of my shame..
Bro: (interrupts)oh. would that my poor brother had linoleum matting.
Sam: as I said, I shall hastily remove this stain..
Sis: and of the poison?
Sam:I used no poison, oh, sister to Mr Knott..
Sis: except for Mr. Knott.
Sam: I used no poison in the casserole. and i was well prepared to demonstrate to you my truthfulness, when the casserole dish slipped from my hand.
Bro.: slipped most conveniently, my friend.
Sam: Inconveniently in the extreme my friend, for with this i both need to clean the floor and clear my reputation.
Sis: you could have eaten the casserole along with an antidote.
Sam: if that was the case, and my goal was other than nourishment, than I would have used a poison to which there is no protection. I would also just eschew poisoning my own creation but take to season the entire buffet with vial and venom. as I see you eat heartily, I am happy that you so enjoy the fodder.
VS: perhaps we misjudged our friend Sam-I-am. by the way , where do you come from?
Sam: Miami. (pronounces it My-Am-ii)
VS: is tuna casserole a common fare in those sunny islands?
RB: I have been to your fair city, Sam. a congress of like minded professionals. we did not see a single casserole of any kind.
Sam: I made no claim that the casserole was of any authentic kind. it is just something one brings to events such as these.
RB: I see. well..where did you acquire such a skill?
(Sam stands up, hands the mop to bro., faces audience)
Sam: in twilight , as the sun shines, upon the salty shore, where the grass grows lush, upon a battlefield, where peace reigns, in a misty harbour, where the sight is clear. I learned much there.
Sam: tell me doctor, do you think that love is a neurological condition?
Sam: how about hate
RB: all emotions, are neurological in origin
Sam: than you don’t believe in the existence of a soul?
RB: that is true. I am a man of science.
Sam: do you believe, given your scientific Conviction that I shall ever reestablish myself as a person worthy of trust?
RB: well...neurologically speaking, trust is a condition, some kind of assigned emotional reaction to a given subject.
Sam: I see. excuse me , I should get back to my duty.(resumes cleaning)
RB: why would you ask such a question, Sam-I-am?
Sam: well..(stops working) I have known many people who were worthy of trust , as I am sure you have.
RB: I have.
Sam: ...and people who are not worthy of trust..
RB: true. sadly i have known some of that sort.
Sam:and those that were..emm..assigned trust and yet did not deserve it.
RB: yes. I have seen people betray trust that was given them.
Sam: I see.. and do you ever treat those that are betrayed?
Sam: oh..tell me please, of those that are betrayed, do you find commonality?
RB: what do you mean?
Sam: besides the damage which you strive to treat, and the fact that they were betrayed, is there some thing that make your betrayed patients akin to each other?
RB: Innocence, they are all innocent to a certain degree.
Sam: and is this innocence of theirs, also a neurological condition?
RB: well...innocence is a bit more complicated to explain than an emotion. but, yes...I tend to think that it is something to do with the old noodle(looks at the casserole)..no offense.
Sam: (cleans for a while, than gets up obviously wanting to continue the conversation.
VS: look! it is our friend Charlie. (enter CB)
Charles, tell me..where have you.been...
CB: oh, I went out to.take some air.
Bro.: surly, you do not mean to say that the atmosphere here in my compassionate brothers’ house is not pleasant.
CB: nothing could be further from the truth.
I just felt a need to exit stage for a moment, while you were...em ..dialoguing...(notices Sam) and here I see the long lost Sammy the I-ammi. tell me Sam. how do you feel about I-am-bic pentameters?
Sam: em..let’s see....I AM so soRRY sir, you HAVE me FAZED (in iambic)
VS: very witty , Sam. I did not know you were a poet.
CB: not the best, I must say, I mean I don’t want to get technical, but stressing syllables as you did, is not exactly a Shakespearean sonnet.
VS: oh, Charles, don’t be like that, Sam was given a challenge , and no time to think even. i suppose you sit back in the office back at Wonka and compose poetry all day..
CB: you’ll be surprised. The Lumpas are very creative, they spend all ...well ...most of their free time doing some kind or another of art...very competitive though...I have to sit and judge...it gets ..well they are very passionate... so I need to be well versed not only in management strategies but also in many other things.
VS: you’ve.. .come a long way from your cabbage -soup- eating days, my dear.
CB: I have . I often think ...oh.. you know... life has so many twists, you know...
CB: which reminds me..em...I would love it if you and em..Ralph would come over, you know..to Wonka, see the..i mean....get the tour...
VS:I would love to come ...I was hoping that you would offer ...
RB: yes..me too..from a ptsd standpoint, it would do tremendous things for her recovery...plus I would love to see how...well, the things in the novel..I mean in the factory..
CB: then it is settled. once our mourning of Mr. Knott ends, i shall arrange a good tour for you.
VS: splendid Charles, splendid.
IP: pardon me for interrupting your conversation, but I am looking for Sam -I-am.
(Sam stops scrubbing, gets up)
Sam: Iphigenia? what are you doing here?
IP: (speaking to audience) I have sought long and hard for the word I was missing. I felt an irresistible urge to express something, after Sam’s departure. but as my heart was in turmoil, I could only say the word..... it was supposed to be ‘at least i had ’ well.. and there it ended. (turns to Sam) but now I know, Sam . now i know the missing word. the word is ‘love’ . ‘at least I had love’. it’s so nice when you finish a word puzzle like this.
Sam: I think you are mistaken. you are not in love. I think your missing word was ‘innocence’. it better completes the sentence much better. ‘at least I had innocence’ try it out, you’ll see. much better.
IP: no. I think not.
(bro, sis, VS, CB come closer, wanting to hear)
Bro: what an amazing man, our Sam is. gone for a minute to get a mop and half the women in the Adriatic are starting writing poetry .
Sis: tell us Iphigenia, what happened?
IP: I see Sam is not one to boast and brag, perhaps he prefers my story untold. but since his correction of my wording, from my love to innocence, I assume it will not be a wrong to regale you with his triumph.
Bro: a triumph? we do not hear this word said often in these days. please tell us.
(IP turns to Sam, seems.heart broken).
IP: if truly my words must be out of innocence and not love, Sam, then what was it all for?
Sam: what? I do not understand.
IP: you come in, save me from the Greek heroes , then leave..for nothing?
Sam: it was not nothing. i perceived the greater good. your life against the lives of cruel men.
IP: and you did it not out of love?
Sam: I did not know you, or of you. all I was doing, was looking for a mop, in the house of Atreides ,as that I could find not one in the house of Knott. ere I found you in your distressful predicament. I believe my actions also saved your father and a great many Trojans, must I be amorous to them all? Hector? Andromache? no. I stand by my words. innocent you are. not all good action derives itself from romantics!
IP: I am torn.(cries)
RB: tell us, oh, daughter of great Agamemnon, how was it, that Sam accomplished the rescue of yourself, while triumphing over so many others?
IP: we produced them at their revelry with a cask of wine tainted by the poison ricin. which comes from the beautiful flower..
Bro: and did you have time to carry out the complex distillation and purification of that precious fluid?
IP: not at all...em..Sam had a considerable quantity in his vial. well, considerable is not the word. the quantity was not great. Adequate! Adequate , sufficient..
Sam: oh, Iphigenaia! why must you talk of things so freely.
IP: because I’m innocent! (turns to audience)
I used to think there will come a day, when a hero , careworn by the waves and Hostilities, would find comfort , his weary head held in my bosom. my ideal would be to nurse this courageous prince. this gallant knight. and now...and now I feel a need to say a thing, but like all times past, I am just stuck with ’at least I’m still... but i shall not leave. exiting the stage is something a tragic figure would do. I am not tragic.. just ..emm...inellequent. (indecisive, then finally leaves stage. Sam follows her, but does not move.)
Sam: I merely help ...emm.. seek to help those...
Sis: Sam has left us wondering much. he caused princess Iphigenia to despair.
Bro: he had killed the brave Greek warriors .
VS: he had a vial of poison on his person, enough to kill many men. it is most likely that he had this phial when desperately demonstrating disagreement with our suspicions.
RB: and the casserole which has been spiked , I fear, has seeped its juices into the hardwood flooring of the stage..em ..I mean Mr. Knott’s home.
Sam: I made no claim to be unarmed with drugs and potions. but i did not poison you, nor intended to. as I said before!
RB: maybe I could be of some help. you say you have potions and drugs within your things. may I, as a doctor know what they are.
Sam: well (goes through pockets, throws out notes snd receipts)here...Mallox...
RB: ah. Useful.
Sam: zinc oxide
RB: for mosquitoes or sunburn?
Sam: and this...
RB: what is that?
Sam: oh...this is one of those potions...
VS: oh? a potion?
Sam: yeah...entrails of a worried horse...lips of a jew
RB: lips of a jew?
Sam: well..dried skin. i have Jewish contributors.
RB: and what does this potion do?
Sam: oh, it’s s truth serum.
RB: there is no such thing.
Sam: ’fraid you’re wrong, doc.
RB: and i presume that if you take it..
Sam: ’and nothing but the truth, so help me god.
RB : I see. well this potion must have serious side effects.
RB: do you have much use for this one?
Sam: hardly ever.
RB: and ricin?
Sam: hardly ever.
RB: then why carry it on you?
Sam: its a professional thing.
Sam: if the need arises.
RB: would you have poisoned us? (the others coming closer)
Sam: I would never poison friends.
RB: such as us?
Sam: such as you.
Bro.: than would you take the truth potion and answer the Same question?
Sam:I would prefer not to do that
Sis: why not?
Sam: because I do not know what the side effects might be.
Sis: surly a master of potions as you would know what effect the potions would take.
Sam:upon the body?
Sam: yes I know that. upon the mind, I could never predict.
Sis: I think you fear more, the effects the potion will have upon your truths.
Sam: that too. I do not know what you shall ask.
Sis: about the poisoning?
Sam: that I do not fear. I never intended to poison you, and so there is no fear in my heart, it’s just that like all man, I am not without faults and my secrets are numerous. I shall keep my secrets, as anyone of you would.
Sis: then i fear that there is no hope, for you to redeem yourself in our eyes, dear Sam.
Sam: I accept that. perhaps with time things will change. I shall resume to my purpose of cleansing this fine hardwood.
(turns to clean. the others, except for CB slowly exit stage.)
Act 2 Sc.3
(Sam scrubs the floor quietly. CB watches .)
CB: your bravery has no limits, good Sam.
Sam: and why would you compliment me thusly?
CB: your rescue of fair Iphigenia, truly stirs memories of knights and gallants.
Sam: oh. I see where this is going.
CB: if you can see , then I need not blow the foghorns. but tell me , friend Sam, what shall you do, now that you are without your poisons?
Sam: I am never without poison.
CB: did you not pour that precious vial of ricin, to save the princes?
Sam: I have but fear not, friend Charlie, I am as an asp. a bite generously given does not consign the serpent to poverty.
CB: so you have more? didn’t the doctor find all of your collection?
Sam: he has found much, and yet i am not disarmed.
CB: that is well
Sam : and to the purpose?
CB: I have not told you yet.
CB: I wonder, you have poisoned a hundred of the best warriors Greece has to offer, and for the rescue of a woman you have no interest in. would you find it easy to commit to my strategy?
Sam: I do not know of your strategy, nor your tactics which is how you insisted we shall proceed.
CB: just follow orders?
Sam: just follow orders.
CB: and of the Greek feast, many of those, would have just followed orders in slaying Iphigenia and her father.
Sam: ah, but whilst they would follow orders implicitly, I would have done so under conditions that must be satisfied.
CB: so you may refuse the service which you have forsworn to give.
Sam: that is always so. i am but a lord to a minuscule kingdom. but as the sole member of the populace,Ii am the king . no vassal am I.
CB: then why contract yourself to me, when certainty is so elusive?
Sam:I have often wondered why I do things. perhaps the politics of my kingdom is inscrutable.
CB: you speak much and say little , take care, my friend that you don’t find your tongue ensnaring you in a paradox. that was Wonka’s failure.
Sam: and are you free of contradictions?
CB:I avoid philosophy and logic at all costs. that is how I run a successful business and that is how I run my life.
Sam: wise then.
CB:I hope so.
Sam : to business then. who is it, that must receive my generosity?
CB: I shall tell you later, for now, see, our friends approach.
Sam: then I shall resume my duty.
CB: it is a shame about your casserole. it looked so appetizing.
Sam: speak no more as they come. I shall await your instructions.
(bends down and cleans some more)
Act 3 Sc.1
(enter the GM, holds a notepad, reads out)
before my third act, here to ring,
an interlude i wish to bring,
a slight detail we here omit,
and cruel it is i must admit,
no one here asks, the truth not sought,
of what befell poor mister Knott.
and so with haste we now shall fly,
to two weeks prior, ere he died
and how his murder did traverse,
and gracious no, it’s not in verse.
so here we are, our justice keen
turn eyes upon Knott’s murder scene.
hmm....sorry. I wanted to add a little flare here. proceed with the murder sketch!!
Scene: a park bench lit in early morning sun. Mr. Knott sits on the bench, checks
his watch. Folds one leg on top of the other. Takes his newspaper. Starts reading.
Straightens his leg, checks his watch. He seems uncomfortable. Nervous.
Sam rides his scooter past.
Kn:(aside): Sam I am! Sam I am! I do not like this Sam I am. Been disturbing
my calm. Offering me dubious breakfasts. Last time it was a plate of green
eggs and ham. Drove me mad until I caved in and tried. Had the runs for a
week. Hope he stays away.
Sam(approaches, slides his scooter in a neat turn.) Stands over Knott and beams.
Knott pretends he isn’t there.
After a while, Sam clears his throat.
Sam: would you like some herbal tea?
Knott: no thank you, Sam I am.
Sam: I see. You’re angry at me..
Knott: you think? You pushed that awful mess in my mouth the other day. You don’t
take no for an answer. I’ll give you that. Now, go away. I’m having my morning
(Sam sits down by him on the bench.)
Sam: would you like herbal tea? It really cleans you out. I can see you are a
person that values his health. Maybe I can even say .
Knott: don’t say, Sam. Don’t say. I will not,would not , may not and muuust not
drink your tea. Not in a boat or with a goat, or with a fox, not on the rocks. If you
came here to give me a bad time, just lay off.
Sam:give you a bad time ? I wouldn’t. No. I want to make it up to you, Mr. Knott, by
offering you some herbal tea. All natural. Good stuff. I drink it myself.
Knott: oh. I’m sure you do. But I’ve been burned once...you really can get a job for the CIA or something. Now, seriously Sam. This isn’t cool what you’re doing...
I’m actually waiting for someone. Business stuff..I think you better leave.
Sam: sure. Whatever you say, Mac.
(Sam gets up, body language shows a let down.)
Knott: eggh...fine. Don’t get all emotional on me. What kind of herbal tea is it
Sam sits down again. Pulls out a thermos, a box of cardboard. Appears to be food supplements.
Sam: oh. This? Just try. It’s Sage, Rosemary and thyme. I think there’s also some
ginger. Here, let me check....(checks) ..yup. Ginger and Nettle. Good stuff.
(He pours hot water to the cap, hands it to Knott. Then with his hands free, he
pours a packet of the herbal extract into the cup) there you go. Bottoms up.
Seriously, you should drink it slowly.
Knott sips. Face lights up.
Knott : hey, that’s not bad at all, nettles you say?
Sam: huhh. Yeah..nettles. Thyme too..
Knott drinking the tea for a while, Sam looking hopefully.
Knott: not bad not bad...(drinks more)
Sam: would you like to buy a box?
Knott: oh. Here it comes!! I knew it.
Sam: just joking...but if you wanted.. You know..
Sam: it’s this self promotional thing I got into. I sell tea to you..other health
Knott: Pyramid scheme? Aren’t you a bit young?
Sam: no. It’s all good. They sell things in bulk, so very cheap. I set my own
commission. And if you buy from me and sell, I’ll get a cut from your sales t
But you won’t feel that. The supplier.. company gives me that bonus...
Knott: kid, you’re in trouble. It’s a dead end. Google ’Pyramid scheme’ . Nothing
good will come of this. Trust me..
Sam looks disappointed.
Sam: but they have such good product.
Knott: so? Still not worth getting in bed with them.
Sam: but...don’t you like it?
Knott: the tea? It’s not bad actually, but I wouldn’t get in business with them..
Sam: no? Not in the train? Not in the...
Knott: don’t start that again.
Sam: fine. I was really hoping I could get you interested in this exciting business
venture. But i respect you, Mr. Knot. So I’ll leave you alone. It’s a shame
though. I was about to give you the antidote. You know, there’s more than just
nettles in this..But you want the mystery in your life, so best of luck. Be seeing
you. (And he rides away)
Act3 sc 2
assembling again, Sam cleaning, the others aside, talking
RB: the time has come, to ask hard questions. we have been skirting the issues here too long. i don’t see a way but to confront. speaking as a psychiatrist, man, and survivor.
Sis: it will have to be done humanely.
Bro: it will have to be done brutally,
Sis: but if possible, humanely.
CB: I think we are making a mistake. did you ever consider that he did not tell the truth? what if we make him drink another poison? do you want his blood upon your hands?
VS: oh Charles. you are such a bleeding heart. he was about to kill us all.
CB: you don’t know that. he used the poison on the bloody Greeks to save Iphigenia.
Bro: maybe SHE was lying. maybe she was part of the act. maybe this was just to throw us off the scent.
CB: so your solution is to use the potion which he claims is a truth serum.
Bro: well..either that or we make him eat the leftovers on the floor.
Sis: that will not be cool with me.
Bro: it is just as credible as the truth serum.
CB: no. less. it is a potion. a casserole at least on some level has a nourishing function, even if it is poisoned or on the floor. but a potion is never intended for the greater good. at least on some level.
Sis: this does not make sense, Charlie. he had motivation to lie about the casserole. not so much about the truth potion. its even overly specific. he could have lied about all kinds of things. say he had a potion for warts, a potion for premature ejaculation.
Bro: yeah.. a love potion..
RB: yes. why make such a statement when he could have so casually lied. it’s as if he was setting himself up. for this exact thing.
CB: then if this was.his set up , why fall for it?
Sis: because the situation is not improving! he is untruthful, and there is reasonable danger that he might try to poison us.
CB:on that i agree.
(Sam takes bucket.slams it on the floor)
Bro: we must move with resolute hands. And force the thing. he may resist, but we are many and he is one.
Sis: fine then. but do it humanely.
(the group converges on Sam)
RB: Sam I am. we fear that you want to harm us, and that you act with malice in your heart.
Sam: i protest.
Bro: protest all you want. you are a danger to us.
Sam: I am not a danger to my friends.
Bro: that may be, but all false men call an enemy ‘friend’ . your words are not to be trusted.
Sam: and so...?
Sis: and so we will ask you to drink the truth serum that you equipped yourself with.
Sam:I will not.
Sis: Sam, I do not want this to be unkind.
Sam: your double negatives are showing, Sister Knott.
Sis:I mean that this, truth serum can enter the body peacefully, or forcefully.
Sam: and should Ii understand that you you would force me?
Bro: I shall. we shall
Sam: and if I merely leave. abandon the grieving of the late Mr. Knott and exit the stage?
Bro: that is no longer good enough. we have no assurance that you haven’t already sown your toxins upon the buffet table.
RB: or the minibar.
VS: and we know not, whither you have besmirched any surfaces here with the stain of death. I have heard tell, that with some chemicals, one touch of even the most callous of skin, is all that will require us to stand no more , in this sad world.
Sam: my protest stands. i am quite familiar with all such substances, as you said, but the fact that you are standing here , talking so vehemently against me should indicate to you two things.
VS: which are?
Sam: if I had this ability and the desire to carry out such a hateful act as your murder, why would I wait ? why have I not already besmirched the surfaces,adulterated the drinks, and infected the provisions? I have not done so, shall not do so and will not do so.
CB: but this is but one of the insights you seem to’ve gained of late.
Sam: that is true. my insight , which is of far greater importance, is the absence of reason in this environs.
RB: I see no absence of reason.
Sam: I am deeply surprised to hear you say that. did you not boast and tell of your accomplishments in the field of psychiatry? are you not yourself a survivor of a terrible peril in your youth? can’t you all see the thing? you are willing to cause me great hurt just out of your Ignorance and fear! any one is a murderer in potential and yet you do not fear each other or go to the extremes that you have taken.. or propose to undertake. but perhaps my apologetic nature is the reason itself for your mistrust. i shall offer you, for this time last, a chance to come back to your senses. if you now force me , as you intend, then i will be truthful, as i swallow the bitterness, but you, with all your sweetness and civility and amity, you shall always know the deplorable depth of your falsehood.
Sis: it must be done. we will tell ourselves always, that the dangers were greater than the rewards of being innocent.
Bro: ’tis so. get on with it. and we shall see your machinations.
(grabs Sam, RB helps., while sis, VS force the potion down his mouth.
Bro: it is done. he has taken the truth potion!
Sam: indeed, done. you have sealed my fate. I am soon to be united.
Sam: aye,united. singing in unison.
Sis:I fear the potion has robbed him of sanity. are you speaking metaphorically, dear Sam?
Sam: not a metaphore as such , no. No. I shall sing in unison.
Sis: how so?
Sam: would you say that all men and women singing the Same song and the Same tone be singing in unison?
Sis: I believe that is correct. The very definition.
Sam: well..dear sister to my friend, Mr. Knott, I shall sing the Same song as he does, and as every other person who has ceased breathing does, it will be toneless, soundless, but in precise unison. Oo-ni-sonno., well..and sotto voce, for sure.
Bro: is that a joke of some kind?
Sam: in a way, all of this is a joke, but sadly, not one which we shall laugh off.
RB: Sam, you told us that the potion you held is a truth serum.
Sam: i did say that. true.
RB: were you lying, then of the effect and purpose of the potion?
Sam: my dear DOCTOR Bëtterman, you are a psychiatrist, and knowledgeable with much of the human body and the effects on it with many chemicals.
Sam: did you ever encounter a truth serum in your studies?
RB: no. I was never acquainted with such a treatment. though some serums are used to induce conditions of trustfulness...to a degree..
Sam: then why is it, my good friend that you so hastily forced me to drink a thing you do not know the potency or effect of?
RB:I was ...well I trusted you..
Sam: trusted me in my potions?
Sam: and yet distrusted me in my declaration of innocence!
Bro: none of us trusted you in that. but Sam, my friend, you are not yet dead. is that to say that this potion is truly a serum made to extract truths?
Sam: it is a serum designed to extract life.
RB: are you telling us that we have just given you poison?
Sam: ’tis true.
Sis: and yet, as you speak, you tell the truth?
Sam: it is. being truthful is a desired secondary effect of this potion.
CB: then we may ask you questions, Sam of great importance?
Sam: you may ask, Charlie, ask much of me, as you have asked before. I am still your humble servant.
CB : then friends, I suggest that we will work with haste and before Sam’s death, learn the truth. let me be the one asking him, bring chairs and let us to work, as I ask, you all listen, and bring forth more inquiries.
RB: that sounds most efficient (RB goes out with bro, sis , VS to bring chairs)
CB: quick, my friend, we have little time and soon we will have to play our part.
Sam: aye, we must move with haste, ’fore they know our plan.
CB: I must tell you now of my intended victim.
Sam: yes. now is the best time.
CB: I want to rid this world of the good doctor Bëtterman. for with all his niceties, he holds Verruca’s heart.
Sam: I see. well. that explains much. and I applaud your passion.
CB: are you really going to die?
Sam: we all are. but hark; I hear our party returning. (everyone returns, with a stool)
Sam: (intentionally loud, so others overhear) indeed , friend Charles, I sorely regret, that my casserole will stain or good friend’s Knott’s floor, with the rich sauce that i had made. but greater my regret, is that i was unable to satisfy my friends’ suspicions.
Act 3 , Sc3
Bro: Regrettable, regrettable. true.
Sis: Compassionately, I have to regret what we have done, and yet it was justified. he was a poisoner and failed to offer convincing proof that we were not under threat.
CB: let your heart rest, my lady, Sam will shortly tell the truth, and we shall know his schemes.
CB: friends, Sam, asked that I shall be his mediator. I have no dealings with him prior to this and so he feels that Of all our party i am the most... you know...well..
RB: yeah. I see... ok. (they set the chairs and Sam collapses on a lounge chair. CB next to him, the rest sit in a U, circling the casserole).
Sam: oh...that feels better doctor Bëtterman.
VS: are you now to be truthful in all things? dear Sam. we are anxious to know, before you breath.your last, will it be the sweet exhale of honest words, or the acrid breath of falsehood?
Sam: I shall talk true, in all things, though I must say that you have heard much truth in the past and disbelieved. I can ask you, my lady, would you take the truth and believe it or even now accuse me of falsehood?
RB: I think it best that we proceed as Charles suggest, and let him convey questions, to avoid unnecessary acrimony.
CB: yes. it shall be for the best.
Sis: fine, then.
Bro: fine, fine...
Sis:well , brother Charles, could you ask our friend Sam who was it...that he planned to kill?
CB: Sam, please be true, did you come here with a vile plan to kill someone?
Sam:I did not. i came here to mourn the death of a friend, whom I poisoned.
Sis: then ask him, dear Charles, why did he not test of his casserole?
Bro: and why did he carry on him the poison, sufficient to kill a great host of Greek warriors?
CB: this question I so ask, Sam. why did you fetch great quantities of poison hidden in your garments, and why did you not taste of your casserole.
Sam: all this time, I said the truth. the casserole, which i had laboured greatly in the making, was my neighborly gift, to feed you in your time of grief. I was asked to test of it and with your great pardon, I have spilled it. the word ’spill, implies an accident by the very definition- and so it was. I have accidentally strewn my sumptuous offering upon the floor, breaking my favorite Pyrex tray, and staining the floor. all were not intended. as for the poison , I have carried that vial of poison with me , as I traveled. on occasion , when I had professional cause for it’s use , I would drip the toxin when required. drip implies intention. I dripped poison, I drizzle it from the unstopped vial on many an occasion, and it was not on for application among you that I held it..
Bro: then why slay the brave Spartans? were you contracted to do so?
CB: tell us, go on, Sam, what brought you to poison the soldiers and lords of sunny Greece?
Sam: I was not contracted to poison anyone of those noble.lords. but my heart would not have forgiven me, if i had allowed them to sacrifice the innocent Iphigenia, just so their sails be filled with wind and their ships be cast towards war.
VS: and so, we learn that requirement for-which you shall take lives, might not be..em..transitional in nature. is that the case, my dear Sam?
CB: what say you, oh brave Sam?
Sam: it is true, that I have in the past poisoned certain personages that were offensive to me on some crucial moral ground. I believe that almost anyone would have acted to that effect in times of extreme. it would be damming if that was not so. wouldn’t it, sister Knott?
Sis: why, direct this question at me, in such a way, dear Sam?
Sam: well, sister Knott, of all of you, who accosted me, and forced the serum down my gullet, you were most concerned with the brutality of the thing.
Sis: it was most unseemly. I regret the roughness in-which we had to treat you.
Sam: unseemly is the word, most opportune. as that, I spy, is the duality in meaning that best describes things.
CB: what, oh cryptic Sam, do you mean?
Sam: well, the usage of the word ‘unseemly’... seems.. is such: something is in disarray, or is annoying to the beholder.
to have a description of what transpired here as ‘unseemly’ is Preposterous. outrageous would be another word.
Sis: we had to do this thing, and I regret..
Sam:as a bomber regrets shattered glass, as hunter regrets a spoiled pelt.
Sis: I stand corrected , Sam,I am, it was not unseemly as i expressed foolishly. thank you for the lesson in vocabulary.
Sam: you are most welcome.
Bro: but we still know not what was Sam’s intention. would he poison us for greed or for moral reasons?
Sam: I shall say that i will not poison you at all and not for any reason. as I said. the casserole was untainted. You were no mark of mine.
Bro: I mean... hypothetically...would you.slay us for greed?....or...for moral reasons? as you did the brave Grecian hoard?
Sam: well hypothetically, I would be just as likely to slay you for moral reasons as for greed.
Sis: ha! than by your admitting, you find fault in our morality!
Sam: naturally, my dear lady. you have all just forced me to take a deathly truth serum.
Sis: but you did not tell us of the lethality of the thing! we are innocent of premeditated murder. only of the ardent pursuit of truth. if along the way, you have fallen victim..emm accidentally, then it is truly regrettable, but not immoral.
Sam: I see. then hypothetically speaking, I retract my answer, if possible. I would not slay you for money, gold or jewels. only for morality. but this is hypothetical.
Bro: we are moral, and right, i shall defend my....actions. they were done to thwart a possible known poisoner from possible malice.
Sam: and succeeded?
Bro: I do not know.
Sam: don’t you? Don’t you trust me now? as I lay dying? speaking only in truths, when I say that you, one and all were not my intended victim?
VS: then did you have an intended victim?
Sam: no. no intentions did i have.
VS: very well...em...this makes me uneasy....
RB: yes, it is difficult to account for al things. T reminds me of my childhood on the island...I...I...I need a drink..I think.
CB: tha’s a great idea, friends, i shall fix us all a lively drink. cocktails?
Bro: yes please! my brother had a well- stocked bar. i shall have a jack on the rocks.
Sis: a strawberry daiquiri, my dear.
VS: a pineapple-rum
RB: a stoli. neat.
CB: and for you, good Sam?
Sam: i shall drink no more in this life.
CB: right away. (goes out)
Act 3, Sc4
GM: and thus, the drinks are set,.and where there’s drinks, so shall there be drinking. oh, the drinks and foodstuffs so eaten in the history of theater.... do they bring much relief? would thirst be slaked, would hunger be banished? is not man a craven for not simply forgoing nourishment? why continue on chewing and sipping when it goes on, this life. Perpetuating the need. Unstintingly coming out in the other side? Because this is not good business! a play about a self-denying guru, who lives on three uncooked grains of rice a week, and considers himself feasted- that character will not be something to draw the masses. no. we need sustenance of body, theatrically and otherwise, else the mind drifts in to sad despair. (leaves) which reminds me that the cafe outside has a wide selection of all refreshments, solid, liquid and gas. Be sure to tip.
(enter CB, carrying a tray of drinks)
(the seated group spread out now, with Sam in the center on his recliner, the casserole in center and others on his wings.
CB: here you go, doc, a Stolichnaya, neat. I brought some ice...
RB: no . that wont be necessary.
CB: and a pineapple-rum to Verruca,
(proceeds with handing out the drinks. left standing, a highball in his hand.)
Bro: making a toast?
CB: well.. emm..we all have a drink and it seems we need to drink to something.
Sam: to truthfulness?
Sis: to truthfulness! fantastic..
(they raise the glass, drink.)
CB: to truthfulness ! (they all drink. ) ooh..that’s good stuff.
VS: no booze in Wankaland?
CB: well, except for the liqueur in some of eh chocolates.., I’m afraid. very strict alcohol policy. Can’t operate the equipment under he influence. Very dangerous.
CB: but when you come , I’ll get you and Ralph as drunk as you like. (the laugh)
VS: Ralph has a flask, just in case.
RB: no. it’s true. i make no apology for drinking, well...not when everyone is holding a drink.
CB: do many psychiatrists drink?
VS: the good ones do.
CB : well..time is short, my friends, we have refreshments , but poor Sam is not long for this world, I’m afraid. how are you holding up,Sam?
Sam: peachy. best time of my life.
VS: I thought a truth serum would make sarcasm impossible.
Sam: no. it would make lying impossible, the level of deception in a sarcastic remark is nill. so I can be as sarcastic as I want.
Sis:I’m curious, Sam..how would it feel like to tell a lie, under your condition
Sam: well...it would be a terrifying experience. anxiety from being found out would be exaggerated to such an extent that ,I would feel mortal terror.
Sis: and aren’t you feeling mortal terror anyway? being slowly on your way out of the stage ?
Sam: I don’t feel fear of death, dear lady. That, by the way is a tertiary side effect of the drug. I feel no anxiety at all-regarding that. except if i lie. its almost euphoric..
RB: maybe not such a bad way to go.
Sis: what do you mean by that?
RB:I’ve seen people...well most people don’t go happily, that’s for sure.
Sam: yes...consider the use of your dear brother Knott’s hole punching mechanism. as the hole is soon to be punched, many people would run and hide, or hand over their possessions, only to avert the hole. oh, but holes are our fate, holes in the body, holes in our hearts, holes in the ground, holes in the plot, holes are a great source of anxiety. but not for me.
Bro: did you ever use a hole punching mechanism, friend Sam?
Sam: never! poisoning is much more elegant, easier.... well...I was also interested in chemistry as a youth, much more than ballistics.
Sis: yes...interesting. but we still ...I feel we still need to ask more questions of our friend.
CB : do we? I feel reasonably convinced that he did not come here to poison us. bow about you, verruca?
VS: well.. it seems like that carrying poison around, would be justified if he was in that line of work.. and not proof of him wanting to kill us. i wish this casserole would have been proven healthy. but i guess...i guess...fine. i think Sam was not at fault after all.
RB: I still have my doubts...he did poison Mr. Knott... and the Greeks. but he would have had so much time to do us harm and did nothing but attempt to clean...
Bro: perhaps we were being too forceful.
Sam: nice to finally win the trust of friends. all it took me was my life...
Sis: I apologize.
Sam: it is what it is. the euphoria is doing me nicely, so I feel no grudge against any of you. I guess, we’ve proven something today, huh, doc?
RB: what is that, Sam?
Sam: pardon me, friends, we were talking before privately. remember what we said? that we take trust a state of mind , and how it requires innocence. and how that is a changeable thing, neurologically speaking?
RB: why, yes, Sam. I think i get it.
Sam: you can be innocent and trusting, but once you are not innocent anymore, you can never trust again. and here I have proven it wrong. you can be trusting and yet lacking in innocence. you all are not innocent and yet you trust me again.
RB: now, let’s not get carried away. Sam. I do not know if that is true. if for example, you presented us with another casserole, i do not know if i would have eaten it.
Sam:even after everything? could you? would you? in a boat? could you , would you with a goat?
CB: what is this?
RB: I’m afraid the serum is having it’s last laugh. Sam is intoxicated. I think we have but just a few more minutes with him.
Sam: it is no matter. I feel fine, I will ...I might die in a moment, but what Cones next, seems wonderful.
Sis: I still feel like we should ask him more things, don’t you think?
Bro: ok. ask then, while there is time.
Sis: dear Sam, would you mind telling me...what? I can’t think of a reasonable interrogatory.
CB: maybe I can try: good Sam, I really need to know...hey, you are right, I feel that all questions I have are gone.
VS: that’s ok. maybe I should try... emm.. I feel confused.
Sam: I feel clear, all of a sudden, clear and alarmed. you all seem to be suffering from some kind of problem. it’s as if ...
RB: as if we were poisoned.
Sam: yes. poisoned. oh. wow..I don’t know what to tell you, guys. this was not me who did this. I was lying here dying all this time.
CB: Sam. I think something went wrong.
Sam: did you try to poison the drinks? I told you I’ll get to doing my thing in good time...
Bro: why...I don’t understand. Charles is poisoning us (starts laughing)
Sis:it is ridiculous...(starts laughing)
Sam:Charlie, quick! in my raincoat by the stairwell, there is a vial of antidote. I think you all got poisoned by ricin. run now, while you still can, and mix the antidote with some water in a pitcher and give everyone a good drink.
CB: okey. ( starts running, then stumbles and falls)
Sis: (laughing) look at poor Charlie bucket, couldn’t even get.a pitcher!!
CB :( lying on the stage laughing) oh, if Willie would see me now...
Bro: I really want to say something but I can’t...oh well...
VS: oh well...
(all drowse off, dying silently)
Act 3 Sc 5
(enter Iphigenia walks from behind quietly, inspects the scene of the bodies)
IP: all dead.
Sam: (gets up slowly) yes. you killed them all . good job Iphigenia
IP: (startled) Sam?
IP: I snuck in through the back..
Sam: yes...I know..don’t need to say the obvious.
IP: the drinks...?
IP: the ricin?
IP: and you, you are not dead?
Sam: I’m lucky. but wait...(takes a small.vial from his boot. drinks)
IP: is that the antivenom?
Sam: antidote. antivenom is for snakes.
IP: is it?
Sam: obvious, isn’t it?
IP: I saw them poisoning you.
Sam: no...it was just a truth serum.
IP: but you said you were going to die.
Sam : I lied.
IP: well, what now?
Sam: what do you mean?
IP: us? ...this...?...us..?
Sam: oh...Iphigenia, my dear princess. Are you still going on with that? Look...I am not a person you should be with. you need to find someone stable, and well adjusted.
IP: what do you mean?
Sam: everyone here is a mess. can you believe that with all this talk, they never even bothered to ask about why I killed Mr. Knott?
IP: why did you kill Mr. Knott?
Sam: it doesn’t matter. not really. that is my point. my victims are all creeps, my motives are all creepy..
Sam: and I am not the person to get latched on to. not an educated young lady as yourself. better someone with a solid profession. maybe a loss-adjuster, or a warden, or a moel. not a poisoner!
IP: but I came here to save your life.
Sam: well you just perpetuated it. not saved... we need to work on your choice of words..saving? what is this ‘saving’ stuff? i saved you? you saved me? in what way are we saved? life ends, at some point, ravenous Spartans- a drink of wine, air-traffic controllers- chronic ulcers, aspiring thespians-falling spotlights...(points at audience) not here not there are people that will be truly saved. by the way, what would you have done if I took a drink with everyone else?
IP: I gambled that you don’t drink on the job.
Sam: how could you know that I was on the job?
IP: well, I think it’s obvious. you had so many chances to leave, from act one to act three. if this was just an honest attempt to clear your name, you would have done things differently, or given up...but no..you stayed around.
Sam: ok. so if I stayed..
IP: then you had something...to do..professionally.
Sam: that is all true. but why kill everyone?
IP: they would have killed you.
Sam: ok. but my ..emm patron was there too...Charlie. you killed him too.
IP: better him then you.
Sam: are you really in love with me?
IP: (faces audience) love is an interesting thing, don’ you think? you don’t know if it exist. but you get glimpses of what it does. (points at VS, RB, sis, bro) here is proof that I love you. I may have problems expressing my emotions verbally, but this is a show of love.. a pretty big one...
Sam: or that you are a homicidal psychopath.
IP: tomato, tomaato
Sam:( takes her hand, they walk slowly out) you know something? I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
GM: (enters) oh for shame! what twists so overturned, what cliches so cinched! never was there such wanton disregard for the basic needs of aesthetics in a play. and yet, I sense, this is what you would have wanted CONSIDERING EVERYTHING.. (pause)..wanted... I mean, being a general manager, I know of the greater show of things. of what people want and need and how those two states rarely coincide. you want death and zombies, je accuse! you NEED a tragedy. I put it to you that while you got neither, you feel catharsis, at least to the extent that you feel relief. ‘oh’ you think ‘with things being what they are-what if we actually had to pay to see this?!’ now, with wallet as fat or wanting as before, you know that it could have been worse. we could have made an honest zombie show, with blood and shotguns, but you would have had to spend so much on actually bothering to buy the ticket. Conversely, we could have put on a real play, maybe up something out of Euripides, or Marlowe, and you would have felt actual catharsis, and also very artsy-fartsy. but you would .. again..have needed to be equally billed for an actual ticket.
and so I make no apologies. this is the least of all bads, economically speaking, and from a rational decision point of view an absolute catharsis.
so now you think of hurrying out, before the others beat you to the door. I say go forth.
those that stay, will get no encore. the players do not want to stay either.
you shall go forth, and to home, wonder why? wonder what for? why did I take such effort in production , in composition to create such a feeble, loose mishmash?
well, you mistaken me, my friends. This was shoddy work, done with foreknowledge of failure. Some with even a dash of self hate and loathing. but a drive I have, to write. and so I produced this crud.
and should you think you could do better, then have at it, my friends. but remember those expenses. always...always remember the expenses...
What a fucking brilliant scam
That robbed this girl of all that I am
The world took a boy and called him a man
Placed him in the palm of my hand
Poor thing, he couldn't quite understand
Is a loyal thing that he ought to share
You see his father never taught him to care
A working man who's hardly there
So why should he dare
Break the cycle that's been spinning the Earth
Ever since before the day of his birth
After all, the cycle worked for them, so why not us?
He said, "It worked for them, so why not us?"
Is not the only reason to live
It's not the only thing we can give
I'm not my mother
You're not your father
Why should we bother
My first love
Here I see him in class
Sitting next seems nothing wrong
Days started where exchange likes
Every day blossoms a zenith inside me
Which turned into ash
When Learned about his beloved
We stand in a triangle
All tangled up
Wish to ease the pain in our heart
But everything goes wrong
Confession confiscated my love
Renewing with the dark silent
Still he's my, first love
The only one
Chapter Two ~ Seeing Is Believing.
“Zombies? Wait. You mean actual zombies?” Dale Caruthers stared quizzically at Darryl Addams, the latter scarfing down his rations ravenously.
“Mhmph” Darryl confirmed, mouth too full to articulate his response. Crumbs of solidified protien extract floated away from his unkempt beard and he grabbed at them with erratic fingers, depositing them back into his mouth with the same kind of desperate enthusiasm one might observe in a startled squirrel.
“You mean honest to goodness real dead people up and walkin’ and snack’n on the living?” Brad Marconi inquired, mirroring Dale’s incredulity.
“That is correct.” Elana said, taking over the conversation and glancing with slight contempt at her gluttonously non-talkative comrade before scanning the Star Ride’s crew skeptically. “Were you not informed by your mission commander four years ago?”
Captain Raymond broke his silent rumination and addressed the two ISS survivors with his customary air of calm authority. “We were informed. Though part of me thought, and hoped, that Phil was joking... What was the last known condition on Earth, before you lost contact?”
“As Addams told you before, we have not heard from NASA or anyone else in more than a year. The last transmission we recieve was from Roscosmos, sixteen month ago. They informed us that approximately ninety percent of humans on Earth were decimated at that time, and they themselves were running out of ammunition to fend off swathes of living dead. So it is no surprise that we did not hear from them anymore.”
Clint Raymond nodded his reciept of this information, concern written over his suddenly-gaunt features. Her tone was jarringly nonchallant, especially given the dire nature of the discussion.
Jules Verone gestured timidly towards the holster hugging the Russian woman’s severely slim hip. “You have a TP-82 cosmonaut survival pistol? Didn’t they stop issuing those in 2007?”
Elana Mycrovitch raised her sharp eyebrow, surprised at the shrewd man’s obscure knowledge. “Yes, my grandfather is collector of ancient relics and he passed it down to me. He is, or was, how you call, supersituous? It is trinket, for good luck.”
“Is it functional?”
“But of course.” Elana smiled, patting her ‘trinket’ affectionately.
“Well, it’s no use floating around up here twiddling our thumbs and gushing over antiques,” Margo Jessup piped up indignantly, “We’re going to have to go back to Earth and check out the surface for ourselves. Sooner the better. Some of us might have loved-ones down there. Not me. But still.”
“Margo’s right.” Clint agreed decisively, “There’s no question we’ll have to go back eventually, for food and water if nothing else, and there’s no point beating around the bush. Might as well head down as soon as Star Ride’s done refueling. I’m determined to find out exactly what happened to our families while we were gone.”
Darryl gave Elana a nervous glance which no-one else saw.
Clint paused briefly, distracted by worrying about his wife and kids, but then forced his mind to focus on practicality and relay a rational course of action; “Brad, lay in a course for Earth. I don’t have to tell you to take the extreme weather into account. According to the satellite images from this vantage point, most of North America’s surface is covered in snow. We’ll touch down near Houston at the old 2100 landing base, which seems to be a little less icey.”
“Aye aye cap’n.” Brad saluted, heading off through the docking tube to pour over weather schematics in the cockpit of their trusty ship.
“Jules,” Clint continued, “I understand that this isn’t your specialty precisely, but you still know more about biology than any of us here. Any speculative light you can shed on the... science... of the undead situation would be much appreciated.”
“Ah, actually,” Darryl raised his hand as though he were in kindergarten, finally having licked his ration-wrapper into speckless condition and seeming to notice for the first time that he was among other humans. He looked at each of them with wide-eyed apologetic gratitude and shyly professed; “I have a doctorate in chemistry, zoology and microbiology. I was sent here initially to analyze the samples you guys brought back from Mars, to see if they contained any life forms. I’m also a certified field medic, if it is in any way helpful.”
“Good to hear. We’re very glad to have your expertise available, Doctor Addams. No doubt we’ll all be picking your brains on the way down. Welcome aboard.” Clint patted Darryl lightly on his bony shoulder and shook his hand firmly before turning back to the others. “Dale, give Star Ride a once over. A twice-over. Heck, make it a thrice-over. Make damn sure all of Anita’s nuts and bolts are in tip top working order. We can’t afford anything going wrong upon re-entry. Margo, the seven of us might very well be the last surviving vestige of humanity. Someone has to write all this horseshit down for posterity, and I can think of no-one in the whole wide universe whose interstellar recording abilities I trust more. Alright boys and girls, let’s all pretend that we have a smidgen of military training here shall we? Move out!”
April fools... too bad there’s no-one left who’ll appreciate the humor in that ancient tradition. Ironically it feels a little as though some cosmic god has pulled a prank on us. We had a rocky touch down, Star Ride’s docking clamps slipping off the landing pad due to frozen blood lining the area, but Dale said that the damage to Anita’s navigation system was minimal and that we should still be able to use her to lift off again if we need to relocate. We’ve been in our space-suits constantly ever since we landed. It was Jules’ recommendation: modifying the oxygen recyc system to filter out the airborn virus. I can’t say it’s been comfortable sleeping in these clunky bastards, and I needn’t give any details as to the unpleasant waste-management system. Egh. I guess toilet humor doesn’t translate well through a voice-recording meant to chronicle the final hapless days of humanity. But who gives a flying dungpile at this point? No-one’s going to get a chance to hear this anyway. I think I might be going a little crazy... Mycrovitch definitely knows something she’s not telling us, and I think Dr. Addams might be in on it too. I don’t trust them. Heck, they don’t even trust each other. I can’t imagine them surviving those years together on the International Space Station. Must’ve been hell...
Ha. Hell... Heaven compared to this. I kind of wish I hadn’t suggested rushing down from that clostrophobic space-bucket back to Earth.
...It’s so much worse here than I thought. Worse than any of us thought. The planet we used to call home is utterly unrecognizeable. We landed in the middle of the night and the bodies were frozen at first, but as soon as they thawed out around midday they reanimated, attacking anything and everything in their path. This cycle has been repeating daily. During the most dangerous intervals, from around 12 to 7pm, we've been seeking shelter in derelict buildings and taking out the soulless wretches who wander brainlessly into the path of our survival instincts.
Dr Addams speculated that the virus must be altering tissue at the molecular level, reforming each cell into it's own entity which instinctually groups with others in the host organism's original form but is then capable of surviving on it's own when severed from the collective, all the way down to a single-celled lifeform. Jules seems dubious of this explanation though, so we still don't know anything for a fact. It remains to be seen if the virus can alter a living host or whether it preys exclusively on the dead.
In the past two weeks I’ve seen everything. Every disturbing snippet of grotesque horror ever divised by human imagination, amplified threefold and shoved down our throats in sickening doses of reality. To own the truth, I’m glad to wear the suit, if only to guard my nostrils against the smell of rotting flesh which I know must be pervading the air. In the past few days alone I’ve seen a severed hand clawing at the entrails of it’s own headless torso, I’ve seen a dead infant chewing it’s way out of it’s mother’s gaping belly, and the broken-jawed mother biting ineffectually at it’s own offspring’s slippery writhing form. I’ve seen countless pounds of flesh which used to comprise human beings consuming countless others, incomprehensibly continuing to senselessly eat, even when their own digestive tracts are nothing but time-fettered mush. I’ve seen hoards upon hoards of mindless devourers, not seeming to care if they are eating living beings or just gorging on each other. And as soon as I look up from this record entry I’ll see more.
Burning them seems to be the best way we’ve found to dispatch them so far; we’ve armed ourselves with flame-lazers from our archeological equipment accordingly. Dale even put together a makeshift weapon which sprays ethanol at the animated remains, igniting the target with a flame-lazer at the same time. It’s been our most effective attempt at cleansing the area so far, especially against the more mobile corpses whose leg muscles haven’t been completely eaten away or rotted out yet. Those mostly-intact carcasses are different from the rest; terrifyingly fast and agile.
We haven’t found any humans alive yet. And so far it doesn’t look like we will.
The team is on the move again so I’ll have to end the entry here. This is Margo Jessup. Signing off.
*Image for this post is a 1976 postcard painting by talented artist and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (the first man to ever walk in space.)
The prologue and first chapter of this intrepid adventure can be hunted down from here: https://old.theprose.com/post/449214/think-tank-ii
In the Garden Where You Left Me
Get me away from here, I'm dying
I slowly grasp the last florals of spring
And I long for you to be my shelter from the storm.
It's too cold to be June
Or perhaps I've lost feeling
You fade from view
I'm looking through you, now
A ghost that flickers in the garden
You said you'd come for me
Sweep me away
Where it's only you me and the moon
But the crescent waned
and waxed and waned
I stare at the whole of the moon
But not you
I was so happy
The day that you vowed
I remember it all too well
But heaven knows, I'm miserable now
If I could hold TIME IN A BOTTLE
and we had A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON
would bring you
back to my arms.
But we are ISLANDS IN THE STREAM
and I wear a PINK CARNATION
as my BLUE SUEDE SHOES
are wearing a HOLE IN MY SOUL
Even though it's SUMMERTIME
I'll never get away from
BROKEN HEARTED ME
without YOUR LOVE
PS: My husband wrote me a love letter when we were courting long ago, on a roll of cash register tape using over 50 song titles strung together. It is still one of my favorite memories and the letter is curled inside and old film cannister in my jewelry box. Over the years he would sing to me, and knew everyone of those songs well enough not to need sheet music to help him remember the lyrics.
Humbly, I present myself
like Bulls on Parade.
Face down in the dirt,
Is how I learnt to pray.
to the nameless,
your gaze makes me forget myself
im lost in the eyes i don't yet know
but need to own
Push me to the edge and watch me fall
your betrayal will not strain me more than suicide
and dying is more exciting then being alive
drowning in the voive that lures me
you catch me on a hook that baits me in
then slice my skin till theres nothing but bone
i have nothing left to live for
nothing to protect
so i hold my arms out wide
and never do protest
Good News, Everyone!
Excuse me, Professor Farnsworth, but this is my show, so I am going to have to ask you politely to step out of my spotlight. Thanks.
That's right. Bet that you haven't heard the news. The amazing, spectacular, user-exciting news that cannot be described by these words. So I created one. Spectacufabmazing. I know, I know. Best word that has not been adopted by the dictionary... YET. But not even this can describe the news that I am drooling over, and working my way slowly to tell you.
Those of you who have been keeping up with these sorts of posts probably know what I am getting at. Maybe they feel they should know what I am getting at, but just can't place their finger on it. That's right, I'm talking about you.
My fellow Monty Python are probably screaming at me to get on with it, and, alas, I guess I shall.
What? You really thought that I would cave that easy? Man, you're gullible.
Okay, I think you have suffered enough.
I couldn't help myself, sorry.
The news you have been so impatiently waiting for is...
My private pilot's written exam!!!
So, what does this mean? Well, what it means is that I will be flying and working on getting my hours in starting early next year, which means that I will be a licensed pilot soon. It means that, through the Civil Air Patrol, I can apply for some scholarships. And last, but certainly not least (and possibly more exciting for some of you. Well, a man can dream that some of you would feel this way...), it means that this post marks my official return to Prose! What does that mean? I am not one hundred percent sure. Maybe I'll try to post weekly again, maybe every other week... who knows? I am excited to be back on Prose, and excited to have enough time to write again! And, with the first semester drawing to a close, I will have more time considering the fact that I will have two less classes.
I can't wait to start writing again! In fact, I will probably work on something now...