PRYK

 

by K Brian Neel

© March 2003, all rights reserved

 

 

 

         CHARACTERS

 

THE HOUSE WERNDOALD

 

Writer

Agent

Bertol Maddox Zolfirce the Deev

Erbert Middleton Nis

Claire Neith Raitha the Sheedim

Alan Neith Aland 

Sari Gressa (a Mormo)

Vito Lowden Dwerger

Rolfe Lowden

Kye The Smye

 

 

 

THE STAGE IS SET WITH COUCH, SMALL TABLE AND CHAIR. DISCARDED WADDED-UP AND TORN PAPERS ARE STREWN ABOUT. AS THE AUDIENCE ENTERS, THE WRITER IS ON STAGE IN A FRUSTRATING BOUT OF WRITER’S BLOCK. ORCHESTRAL SYMPHONIES DRAMATICALLY BOOM, AS IF PLAYING IN OUR LONE HERO’S HEAD. 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE: Figment

 

(The writer seems to gain mental momentum. He grabs the pen and stares at it, then puts it to paper, as if to begin writing. But, no, he doesn’t move it. Frustration mounts. He slaps the pen down, picks up the paper and tears it in half, throwing to the floor.)

WRITER

He had nothing. The writer could not write. He had written. Three books. The fantasies of Werndoald. In his work the writer had asked a lot of his emotions. The price was high, because there was one little drop of something, not blood, not a tear, not his seed, but something more intimate than these. In every book, it was the extra he had. And now... blank! Once upon a time, the writer didn’t even like fantasy. But then he realized that fantasy is true; not factual, but true. It challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary and trivial in the lives we have forced ourselves into living. Children know this. Writing fantasy began for the writer almost out of boredom. An imaginary world created to abate loneliness, keep his imagination active. His work was appreciated. The Werndoald novels were critically acclaimed, best sellers. He had crafted them well, even leaving the third book open for another: 

‘The King stepped into a crenel atop the highest watch tower of Castle Vysök and peered over the defeated valley. The sun set golden through the eastern hollow, bright rays glimmering off the blood, freshly spilled upon the hillside. This was the King’s civilization. Collapsed. Crumbled at his feet. The ever-shifting stars were beginning their chaotic dance in the heavens. A scattering of curious townsfolk began to gather in the courtyard. The King spoke for the first time in many days. It took him a moment to realize the words which had escaped his tongue: “A dark age has begun.”’ 

(The writer’s prideful elation dissipates to self loathing.)

WRITER

The writer was afraid. Not of failure, but of success. Not to mention, he was broke. He had spent the advance from the fourth Werndoald novel on his dream house. He had no money. His agent was breathing down his neck. Calling daily... 

(Writer picks up the phone and becomes the agent.)

AGENT

Yea. Yea. I know. I understand, you know I do. Well, you have to just do it. Pen to paper, right? Listen, if you want that computer... No, I’m not trying to push it off on you. Again. Again. It’s not again. I don’t care. I care. Of course I care. I’ve been supportive, right? Yea. No, I’m sorry. Look, I feel for you. I do. My hands are... Yea. Well, yes. Listen, we’ve gone through this before. If you want the reasons, I’ve told you. We’re already pushing the timeline. I don’t mean the advance date, you know we’ve pushed that. Listen, the bottom line is we have to get your new book to print soon. Advance marketing has just been released. Why? Why? You know why. You lied to me, that’s why. And, and, and we need to be on top of the last book. We’re already pushing it. If we wait too long, we’ll have lost steam and sales will... Well, that’s Harry Potter. You’re not Rowling, I’m sorry to say. Well, she’s just more accessible, that’s all. I mean, kids don’t read your books, right? Look, I have to... What? No. I can’t do that. From my own pocket? I’m not going to... and, well, I’m a little... Look, I need to see pages, so just do what you need to do to prick that imagination of yours. Steal from Tolkien, He’s big these day, steal from yourself if you have to, but if I don’t see something by the end of this week, I’m going to have to pull your contract. Understand? What? OK, fine. I won’t call. Fine. No. Good. You call me.

(Agent hangs up the phone. Writer picks up his pen to write.)

WRITER

This was only temporary. The writer would be back on his feet soon. He needed to write something.

(He writes:)

WRITER

“Rooms to rent. Large house. Affordable. Shared bathroom. Call...” 

(He tears off the sheet and starts picking up the torn papers on the floor. He has a revelation:)

WRITER

Yes! The writer will offer his house not to normal people, but to strange people. The writer/landlord will screen applicants and intentionally seek colorful malcontents, disturbed non-violent freaks, possibly even the mentally disturbed; and these unknowing puppets will serve as inspiration to populate his fourth novel. After all, truth is stranger than... 

(The writer screams, sending papers flying.)

ERBERT

Excuse me. Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. The door was open. So I just walked in. Hope that was... oh, let me help you with that. I’m a bit on edge. It’s busy out there. People around. Their faces’ colors vibrate. I saw your ad. I’m here about a room? A small room. Don’t need a big room. Something light. Bright is good, but not natural light. I prefer the dark, actually. I can talk better in the dark, more smoothly, and of course sleep, but insects like the dark and they are invading my orifices. My name is Erbert Middleton, by the way. Did I mention that? No. Do you have any Raid? Bug spray, bug bombs, rat poison, cyaninde? It’s not to spray up my nose. That would hurt like hell. It’s just in case you have roaches, to help you out. I’m very helpful. Do odd jobs and stuff. I’m very quiet. I keep to myself. I black out sometimes. You’ll never notice I’m here. I don’t sleep. At all. So I can keep an eye on things around the house. Do odd jobs and stuff. Did I already say that? I know basic plumbing. I know basic electricity. I know basic cleaning techniques. I know...

BERTOL

I know it says to call, but you can’t get a proper screening over the phone, don’t you think. Besides, I don’t own a phone and despise public ones. My name is Bertol Maddox. I’m interested in one room. Well, shall we begin with the interview? I’ve lead a most interesting life. Can’t seem to stay put in one field of expertise. Until recently, I was in the medical profession. A surgeon, actually. That is, after I dabbled academically with law and architecture, and in-between jaunts into the fields of photography, accounting, forensics for a brief time, and carpentry, in a Jesus sort of way. Oh, and oceanic research, mollusks in particular. It was that moment of wonder, starring down at the magic of life in it’s most bizarre incarnation. Flew small aircraft. A baker briefly, don’t miss that. And until this morning... in prison, actually. Twelve months, time off for good behavior. Nothing insidious, I promise. Simple destruction of private property. How was I to know cadavers are private property? 

(Bertol is suddenly rolled up, as if in bindings, and violently shoved at the table. We are in Werndoald. Bertol is now Zolfirce, attempting to fight back. The aggressors knock him down and shove him under the table — a cramped prison cell, barely big enough for him. He laughs and settles back.

 

Back to the House. Writer peeks over the table, frantically writing:)

WRITER

‘...Zolfirce laughed, not because he had won the struggle against the dungeon guard, but because he had fought. He shown them, after all this time rotting away and tortured, they had yet to break his will. It would take much more to crush the spirit of a Deev. Zolfirce settled back into the corner of his dank cell, closed his eyes and searched for sleep.’ It had begun! The writer had written. Everything  vanished around him and work was born, as if out of the void. Pictures had moved in the writer’s mind. Ripe, graphic fruits had fallen on the page. He wasn’t exactly sure what he had written, or where it was going. But now it was like driving a car at night. He couldn’t see further than his headlights, but could make the whole trip that way. 

(He leaps onto the couch — in Werndoald, Nis is on the run, crawling through a shaft, pulling himself through a tight opening of the castle dungeon. He finds himself in a larger room. Looking around, he discovers Zolfirce in his cell.)

NIS

Guards leave recently? Cannot help you. I lost. Sisk dungeon confusing. Once great city, Nis roam free. Now realm refuse me. King’s guard cruel. Torture. Wrists, head in pillory. Chained to gibbet! Hung over town gate! Ears nailed to board, severed.

(Nis leans closer to show the scars where his ears once were. He squints into the darkness, realizing who’s hidden in shadow.)

NIS

You’re a Deev! 

(Back to House, Erbert scopes out the bathroom.)

ERBERT

Oh. Mmmm. Yes. I like this room. It’s light. Very light. That other room was too large and not as light. I know this is the bathroom. Oh, three lights. Very bright. Everyone needs this room. I’m not gonna stay in this room. Florescent. I like fluorescents. Good light. Light makes me think I’m awake. I’m not really awake. Awake, but not fully awake. Asleep. Sleep. Sleepwalking. Sleepwaking. Oh, I could put a light under the sink. Yea. Yes.

(Back to Werndoald, Zolfirce in his cell.)

ZOLFIRCE

Yes. I am Deev. The King wasn’t the only survivor of the great war. I was there. I saw the killing, saw it with my own natural eyes, hiding in an empty cistern, peeking through the cracks. It was magnificent. Thousands of Deev battling Deev. Can you imagine? A Deev would become powerful by touching another. An arm for strength, a leg for speed, a head for cunning. Stronger and stronger he would become, until he was touched and his force garnered. On and on, the battle progressed as far as I could see onto the horizon. Fewer and fewer Deev left standing. Days later, only a handful remained. A handful of mighty Deevs, full of the essences of the lifeless strewn at their feet. Fiercely sucking abilities back and forth. Then, at last, there was a victor. A Deev containing witjÂn him our entire race. He and I are the end of our kind. I was young. Hiding. I’ve been hiding all my life, while he became King. Now I have been discovered and imprisoned, and you are Nis. Well, mostly Nis. Away from your mountain marsh. Thieving, are you? Come closer, my new friend. Do not be afraid. I will not hurt you. You wish to escape? I’ll need your arm. (laughs) A valid sacrifice, little one. Better than loosing it all.

(Nis recoils, then slowly offers his arm. Zolfirce examines it)

ZOLFIRCE

So thin and pale. Think it will be enough to bend bars? 

(Zolfirce seizes it violently. The arm tenses, then falls limp, lifeless. Zolfirce pushes his way out of the cell.)

ZOLFIRCE

Come, Nis, we will drop ourselves through the dung shaft. 

(Bertol walks to the toilet and pees. He doesn’t seem to notice Erbert under the sink.)

BERTOL

Good morning, Erbert. No, I have no issue with you staying in here if it makes you comfortable. Tell you what, I’ll speak to the writer. See what I can do. Sure, no problem. You sleep well under there? Oh, you are asleep. Right now? Okay. Ah, to be like you, Erbert. You know that right now you are sleepwalking, between dream and reality. You can’t disturb the dream, because you’re not sure if in doing so, you will cease to exist. You’re a figment of reality, Erbert. You lucky dog. Me, I’m irreversibly fixed in the waking world. Let’s get breakfast. 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO: A Spark

 

CLAIRE

Hi. I’m Claire Neith and this is my son Alan. We’re so excited to meet you. When I spoke with you on the phone, and you said your name, I wasn’t sure. But now that we’ve met, I realized it’s you. I’ve read all your books. 

ALAN

Books are full of ideas. 

CLAIRE

Yes, they are Alan. I’m a huge fan of Werndoald. The first book is my favorite. It was so expressionistic and yet concept driven. Absolutely wrenching at times. The suicidal creatures, that was difficult to get through. Even so, your book stayed with me for quite some...

ALAN

Time is space, like a photograph, I can see the picture of time all at once.  

CLAIRE

Alan is advanced. I even have the prelude to book one — the creation myth — memorized:

(Through the following performance, she transforms into Raitha the Sheedim.)

Future, who was called Naglin,
Ascended from the darkness of nothing.
She gathered the dust of Past,
Wet it, formed it in her hands
Into a sphere of perfect round.

Naglin kissed her lips to the orb,
Breathing mighty wind into the form.
Through the backward side
Flew inner spec and rock aside,
To make a hollow shell and the stars above.

Two holes in opposite face
For Naglin’s bright eye in which to gaze.
First East, then West, the bright sun rise,
then disappear again to make two nights,
Thus she conducts life: fly and walk and crawl.

In joy Naglin begat a single tear
Which fell and spread to ocean and river.
The world she named Present,
A gift cast free to spin in heaven:
Werndoald, the enclosed green valley. 

(Snapping back into Claire...)

CLAIRE

Alan, get away from there. That’s the writer’s personal space. Oh, is this where you... Oh my goodness! Have you written the fourth book? Is it here? Oh, that’s none of my business. Alan! Alan, I think I have something... 

(She searches her pockets.)

CLAIRE

Look — a penny. Why don’t you play with it over there? There you go. The other two books were such different styles. The second book I didn’t like very much. Too free flowing and abstract. Of course, I understood the connections between the mass murder and the entrapped creatures in the vast green city. I’m sure it was a matter of my high expectations. But the third book, oh my goodness! A brilliant political allegory about the futility of policing world democracy. You really left that one open for a fourth, didn’t you? “A dark age has begun.” If you’re looking for suggestions... I think a cultural reformation is in order for Werndoald. Alan, stop pulling on me! Well, what did you do with it? Why did you let it roll under there?  

(Claire moves the couch to uncover the penny.)

CLAIRE

I’m so happy we’re moving in. We’ve been staying with my sister for the past year, but she has her own family, and obviously that takes presidence over her sister’s struggle to raise a fatherless child. There you are, Alan. Maybe you could be a positive male influence. A father figure for Alan. Once we move into our room... 

ALAN

Each room is a memory. Chambers in the writer’s head. You can fill them, but they will be lies. Writers lie. 

CLAIRE

Alan! Writers don’t lie. They use their imaginations to make worlds. Lying is bad. Writing is for us to enjoy. 

(Into Werndoald. Raitha carries baby Aland, traversing a winding path through the marsh.)

RAITHA

After the war, during the dark age, your father, traveled the land to instill peace. One day his ship pulled into the docks of Ahrdur where your mother, a beautiful dark princess, welcomed him. The King remained in our viridian Toat tree palace for many weeks. They grew very close, and, even though he was a Deev, one night they lay together on the moss-bedded branches aloft the misty forest canopy. This love took from her and gave to him. Your mother began to die. She asked him to leave and never return. You will never know your mother, but part of her lives on in your father. We will see him soon. Your father is the King of Werndoald so nothing can happen to us. 

 

Here we are. The marsh of Ainin. Look at the trees, almost like home. Almost. Do not be afraid, Aland. Shhh, Aland. You must be silent. There, now, into your pouch. 

(They trudge on. Zolfirce and Nis are escaping. They find a boat and shove it into the river.)

ZOLFIRCE

Hurry, Nis. This one.

NIS

Arm. Arm get in way. Must cut off arm.

ZOLFIRCE

In the boat, Nis.

(Zolfirce fluidly slides in after. Nis scrambles to the front and frantically paddles with his remaining hand.) 

NIS

They follow us?

(Zolfirce steers and sculls with a long staff he’s picked up.) 

ZOLFIRCE

Yes. They follow. Once we get to the shore of Ainin and into the marsh, we will be difficult to track. Your people live in Ainin. You can guide us through, little Nis. 

NIS

Half Nis. Mother human. Nis swam this water to escape home. Bad water, very alive. Diviners once dipped their fingers here and knew everything in Werndoald. Water Diviners all murdered by the Dwerger beast. I swam near Dwerger. I saw his jagged razor sharp teeth, enormous webbed talons with poisonous barbed hooks, black feathery scales – swam very fast — made sound like scraping through water. I know way through marsh. I take you, if you protect me. 

ZOLFIRCE

I will keep this beast and your people from eating you, little Half-Nis. I must reach Vysök. 

(To Bertol’s room in the house.)

BERTOL

It’s a stainless steel surgical gurney, kid. I picked it up at hospital sirplus. Want a ride? Get on. 

(He pulls the couch around like a ride.)

BERTOL

You never know when something like this might come in handy. The rest of the furniture in my room I discarded out the window. I enjoy a clean room. It’s next to Godliness. And I love cleanser. Grit between my fingers, the burning sensation up my nostrils from the smell of bleach. It’s better than that hippie stench from your mother’s patchouli incense. She hasn’t caught the house on fire again, has she? What’s that? What you got there, kid? A penny. Wanna see a trick? It’s okay, give it here. 

(Alan hands him the penny. Bertol does a slight of hand magic trick.)

BERTOL

Now you see it... now you don’t. Where did it go? Is it in your ear? 

(Pulls it out of his ear. Alan lunges to get it back, but Bertol raises it out of his reach.)

BERTOL

Don’t you want to see it again? Come on. Now you see it... now you don’t. Where is it? Is it in your... 

(Bertol puts his hand up to his ear, but finds no penny.)

BERTOL

Where is it, kid? What’d you do with it?  

ALAN

I gave it to Erbert. It’s in his mouth. The penny will find its way into all of us, but you can’t have it. 

BERTOL

Best be cautious wandering into strange rooms, kid. Some of these people might not take your curiosity kindly. 

(The stare at each other in showdown. Bertol is clearly shaken.)

BERTOL

Get out of here, your mother’s calling you. 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE: Swallowing a Penny

 

(Claire searches the hallway, stumbling upon the Writer at work.)

CLAIRE

Alan. Alan. Alan! Oh, sorry to disturb your writing, but I need to talk to you about one of your renters, Sari. Your personal reasons for harboring an under-aged drug addict in your own house is your business, but you might like to know it’s effecting your tenants, like me, and, well, Alan... and others I’m sure. I don’t want to make trouble, but I don’t feel comfortable having her staying in the room next to ours. Last night, we were woken by her screaming. Alan has trouble sleeping as it is, with his mind racing. And that girl... Sari. She must be fifteen. She should be in school and living with family at home. 

SARI

...is where you hang your hat, but I was living on the street. You know, spare change. It was like camping in the city. The urban jungle. Everyone thinks it’s so...

BERTOL

...dangerous. Prison is similar. Our perception of prison has been created by the media — OZ. Prison is fairly comfortable. In your two hours of free time every day, there’s quite a range of activities at your disposal. Music rooms and studios, libraries... I hated it and at the same time found comfort. 

SARI

I know what you mean. But this place is a trip. Do you like it here? I like it here. It’s so interesting. Everyone is so weird. Like that kid. 

ALAN

Your drugs are a violent cruelty against yourself. 

SARI

What is up with that? Oh, and those new guys, the brothers. Check this out: today, this afternoon, I was coming back from seeing a friend, and I was walking to the front door, up the steps, and I took off my sunglasses, and right there one of those guys is sitting on the porch and he’s got his cock out, and he’s jaking off; jerking away and spitting on it. I can’t move. He’s starring right at me, and I’m looking at him so I say “Hi. My name is Sari.” And he just keeps doing it! With his mouth all, aaah. But then the other guy, are they twins? He appears out of nowhere and grabs him by the collar and...

(Vito drags Rolfe along the floor. He shoves him into a closet, closing the door behind him.) 

VITO

I’m sick of fucking covering for your ass everywhere we go, Rolfe! You freak. 

ROLFE

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Sexy, white belly. Mmmmmm. 

VITO

Jesus Christ! What the fuck are you doing? I’m sick of this shit. Do you know where you’d be without me? Do you? Somewhere for the permanently fucked up, that’s where. Fuck! I’m a fucking professional fucking Rolfe protector. Rolfe. I take care of you, don’t I? I find places for us to crash, right? Try and help me out for once, will ya? If that chick mentions what you did to the writer, we’re fucked. Fuck. I’m going to have to talk to her. Look, just don’t leave the house. No. Don’t leave this closet. Do not go to the bus station. Why the fuck do you go to the bus station? The bus station. There fucking ugly at the bus station. Why don’t you go to the air port? Or the mall? Do not go to the mall! 

(Vito’s anger transforms into the wild beast of the Dwerger, on the ready to attack something. Gressa reigns him in, climbing on the couch to scan the area.)

GRESSA

Dwerger. We’ll not enter the marsh. You smell something? Yes, four wayfarers. They will exit Ainin near Shimerah. Come Dwerger, we wade through shadows which fall mid-air to meet them at the Dark House.

(Alan jumps up and down on the couch.) 

ALAN

Sari means priestess. 

GRESSA

Whatever.

(Sari walks to the bathroom, pulls down her pants and sits on the toilet.) 

SARI

Hi, Erbert. He’s so... oh, I just... Bertol starres at me and... I bask in his eyes. Makes me all floppy doll. So strong. Does he talk about me, Erbert? Oh. I know he likes me. Too. 

(She wipes herself, pulls up her pants, In Werndoald, Raitha and Aland run through the marsh in haste.) 

RAITHA

Quiet, Aland! Shhh. You must keep quiet.

(She runs to a tree, adeptly climbs, and settles into the brances inconspicuously.) 

RAITHA

Here, the Nis will not see us up here. There, now. Shhh. When you were born, you were silent. So precious and strong. Your mother was so happy. She is joined with her tree now. She commanded me to bring you to your father. He will give his power only to you, Aland. You will save us all. 

(They are attacked! A Nis yanks her leg down. She clutches Aland as they are forced out of the tree. Zolfirce appears, charging. He raises his staff and lunges, then parries, back-flipping over the ‘couch,’ and impaling the last of the attackers. He yanks it from the dead Nis at his feet and scans the radius for danger. All clear, Zolfirce turns and confronts...) 

ZOLFIRCE

Sheedim! You travel through Ainin alone with child?

RAITHA

You are Deev! You were sent by the King. To escort us to Vysök. I bring him Aland, the King’s son. 

(Raitha raises Aland, Zolfirce recoils from the child.) 

ZOLFIRCE

He is beautiful. 

(Zolfirce turns, pondering the situation, making his decision...)

ZOLFIRCE

Half-Nis, assist the Sheedim. They travel with us. 

(Alan bounces into the bathroom. He plops to the floor.) 

ALAN

Erbert Middleton. Erbert is ever alert. Middleton is between two important cities. You are alert between cities. You cannot know the cities because you have bugs and a penny inside you. That is why you are here. You will understand when the penny passes through you. The penny in your stomach. A penny was in your mouth. 

ERBERT

I was sucking on the penny you gave me and starring at this spider web — a clumpy web, not a round, pretty one. There were a bunch of spiders. A bunch of them. I thought about killing them, and then about catching them in a glass and setting them free. I blew on the web to see them jump and I swallowed the penny. How did you know I ate a...

ALAN

...penny inside you is wisdom and perception. It is confused by your madness, but in your madness, you will decipher the riddle: we are the spiders. 

ERBERT

Our web is this house. You say it is a web we cannot perceive. You tell me he has selected us. You say he is both good and terrible, our ecstasy and our pain. You say we are a part of him and that you will always be with me. You tell me I will sleep tonight. 

(Erbert curls in pain, transforming into Nis, winding through the marsh.)

NIS

Mother lost in Ainin. Fell asleep. Found by Nis. He kept her. Did not eat her, until I was born. Father waited for me of age so he could eat me. Human in me made me bigger sooner. I ate him, left Ainin. Now have one arm. End of marsh through here. Dwerger! Dwerger! 

(Nis screams as the Dwerger beast goes wild.)

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Logics and the Double Curve

 

(Dwerger transforms into Vito, standing outside the bathroom door.) 

VITO

Erbert? It’s Vito. Get out of there, I need to take a piss. Jesus. Get a bedroom. Or hole up in the broken bathroom under the fucking stairs. Or pay your rent so the writer can hire someone to fix it, you circus freak.

(Bertol passes him in the hall.) 

BERTOL

Pee shy, Vito? There’s a great bush out in the back yard. Lots of privacy. 

(Alan runs up to him.) 

BERTOL

Alan! You little shit. It’s late. Where’s your mother. 

(Alan tries to run off, but Bertol corners him.) 

ALAN

Xenophanes, a pre-socratic greek philosopher said: “The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself.” 

BERTOL

Gilbert and Sullivan said “Things are seldom as they seem; skim milk masquerades as cream.” 

ALAN

You are a projection of deceit and ego. They will discover the truth. 

BERTOL

Keep your mouth shut, kid. They’re happy where they are. 

(Bertol makes a sudden threatening move, scarring him away. Alan runs down the hall and overhears Vito speaking with Sari. Sari tries to be understanding, but Vito reads attack in everything she says.) 

VITO

Hi, Sari? I’m Vito. I saw you earlier... right, my brother, Rolfe. Yea, we’re twins. I’m older. By ten minutes. Listen, I want to apologize for what he did. It’s not cute! He’s a freak. He was born all fucked — head squished in the birth canal. At least that’s what mom says. But mom’s nuts. Everything’s fucked up for us. You don’t know what it’s like. Nobody knows. He can’t help it if he’s retarted. He’s an innocent. People should be more understanding. What would you do if your head were all smashed? I mean, what am I fucking apologizing for? Fuck you all. 

(Vito starts to walk away, but stops himself. He’s trying real hard to be nice.)

VITO

Shit. I’m sorry. 

(Alan jumps around the house some more, he walks into the writer’s area and reads from the papers. Looking up, he addresses the audience:) 

ALAN

The writer is escaping into his writing; franticly constucting Werndoald while the world around him dissolves beneath his feet. His survival depends on completing construction at least one second before the habituation collapses. 

(He tears off a section of paper, eats it, and walks away. Bertol walks to the couch and sits. At first it seems he is alone, then, as if to an imaginary person, he speaks very intimately to Sari.) 

BERTOL

What’s your favorite part of the body? What’s your least favorite? Why? Is it sensitive? Oh, It isn’t the same? Well how about with your body? Do you know? Was it good? How many times have you? Do you think that’s a lot? Do you want me to pass judgement? It’s a choice. There are many logics. The world has established one logic and we have been forced to connect with it by association. But because it is accepted, does that make it the right one? We each have our own logic. The trick is connecting them with each other. 

(Into Werndoald. Gressa opens the door to the Dark House.)

GRESSA

Welcome to the Dark House. Please come in. Half-Nis, the basement is prepared for you — warm and humid. Raitha the Sheedim, the upstairs room has fresh water and blankets for the King’s child. Zolfirce, warm yourself by the herth. You must be puzzled. 

I am Gressa High Priestess of the Mormo. Once a Water Diviner, I was killed by this Dwerger, raised from the dead by the Flaur Clerics for sacrifice to the King. Cartsmen will haul my lifeless remains back to the abbey to be re-animated for another sacrifice. The Carrion Path. This Dark House is a stop, mid-journey to and fro. 

ZOLFIRCE

I also travel to Vysök to make a sacrifice.

GRESSA

The King will be excited to know another of his kind lives. 

ZOLFIRCE

Let’s hope he’s gracious. The King embraces seclusion. 

GRESSA

He rests, gathers his strength. 

ZOLFIRCE

King Deev is already strong. Perhaps he has become so powerful that there is nothing of interest to him. Like a child weary of his toys. It is difficult to have to kill to create. Though isn’t all of life that way? 

GRESSA

It is reformation for all under the King’s reign. He watches over the land. 

ZOLFIRCE

He is withdrawn within the stronghold at Vysök, the inpenetrable castle — keep as solid as a mountain. Outer curtain wall thirty fields deep, rising into the clouds, surface smooth as glass with no visible entrance. Of course, a Mormo must have the key to enter... 

GRESSA

The entrance is a riddle: 

Via the mirrors which reflect the mind,
Into the pools we swim except in darkness,
Through the single-colored glass which shows all colors,
Look here and enter Vysök.

ZOLFIRCE

You remember this from your previous life? Over and over you die and live. How?

GRESSA

My skin is from the palyrous leaf. My bones are from the toat tree. My eyes are erabie jewels.

ZOLFIRCE

Merely covers, blanketing your consciousness.

GRESSA

My mind is sand from the Great Lustors Sea and water from the Paisat Desert. 

ZOLFIRCE

And what to ignite your soul? 

GRESSA

A spark from deep within the Caves of Feor... 

ZOLFIRCE

...Placed here...

SARI

...the clavicle... 

BERTOL

...in order to release the... 

SARI

...collar bone, clavicle... 

BERTOL

...is habit, repression, and self image of... 

SARI

...a long bone which has a double curve. The shaft of the bone is roughened for the attachment of muscles.

BERTOL

The clavicle provides the only bony link between the upper extremity and the axial skeleton. 

(Sari and Bertol make love on the couch, transforming from one position to another. They climax and wane, embracing each other. 

 

Raitha rises from sleep. She stretches, turns to check on Aland, but he is gone.) 

RAITHA

Aland? Aland! Aland!

(She rises to look elsewhere, becoming Claire.)

CLAIRE

Alan? Alan?  

(She turns into one of the rooms and sees him lying down. She goes to him, becoming Raitha again. Raitha picks up Aland and cradles him.)

RAITHA

Aland.

(Something is wrong. She has a good look, then hurriedly clutches at him. He is dead.)

RAITHA

Aland! Aland!!!

(Blackout)

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE: A Trial

 

ZOLFIRCE

I hereby call this trial to order...

(Lights up. Actor stands on chair behind desk.)

ZOLFIRCE

...the honorable Zolfirce the Deev presiding.

NIS

Who put you in charge?

ZOLFIRCE

You did.

NIS

Fair enough. Kill him! 

ZOLFIRCE

Kill who?

NIS

The Smye.

ZOLFIRCE

Who’s the Smye?

NIS

A mysterious smoky creature who mysteriously appeared the morning following the night after baby Aland was mysteriously brutally murdered in his sleep. 

ZOLFIRCE

How mysterious. Will he leave a stenchy residue in my cape?

NIS

Most likely. In this case, he is our scapegoat.

ZOLFIRCE

Make up your mind, is he a Smye or a goat? Never mind. This case sounds cut a dry to me, so have my cape dried and fix the cuts.

NIS

Yes, your honor. 

ZOLFIRCE

Defendant found guilty as charged.

GRESSA

You can’t pass judgement. 

NIS

Who are you?

GRESSA

I am Gressa...

ZOLFIRCE

...high priestess of the Mormo, archetypal female nurturer juxtiposed against my male dominance, symbolizing innocent faith and faithful innocence, rectitude, connective tissue in this deconstructive alice-flavored cacophony, and for our purposes here, temporary strait-man/straight-woman/straight-Mormo. 

NIS

Whatever.

GRESSA

The Smye is a serene solitary swamp being who was simply seeking shelter away from the murky mountain marsh.

NIS

Must be contagious.

GRESSA

On what grounds do you accuse him of murder? 

ZOLFIRCE

The Smye is made of smoke, therefore he is above grounds. 

NIS

Kill him, he is the murderer! 

ZOLFIRCE

The motion to kill the Smye has been moved and...

(Dwerger burst out in beast anger.)

ZOLFIRCE

...seconded.

GRESSA

I object.

ZOLFIRCE

Objection overruled. All objections overruled, they slow down the process. 

NIS

And besides, the convention is quite hackneyed. 

GRESSA

You haven’t proven he’s guilty. Let us hear the evidence. 

ZOLFIRCE

Fine. Evidence, speak for yourself. (pause) I don’t hear evidence. Do you hear evidence? I don’t hear evidence.

NIS

Kill the evidence!

ZOLFIRCE

Evidence is not on trial here, the Smye is. Order, order in the court.

GRESSA

No one said anything.

ZOLFIRCE

Disorder. Disorder in the court.

NIS

Kill him! Kill the Smye! 

ZOLFIRCE

That’s better.

GRESSA

This is a gross miscarriage of justice. 

ZOLFIRCE

Then we’ll have to catch the next carriage. But I won’t ride until it’s cleaned to a sparkle. Smye, you have been found guilty of the murder of Aland, the King’s son. Dwerger, rip him apart!

(Zolfirce falls into sitting on the chair, becoming writer, dazed and shocked.)

WRITER

The writer didn’t mean to write that. Aland was murdered!? That was written without his permission. His hand had become the instrument of a romote will. It derailed the events the writer had been working toward in Werndoald. Now he was lost. He should get rid of that scene. (pause) Creativity is forged from fear. Fear that there is something worth achieving. Perhaps the writer was channeling some archetypal scenario. This was the only explanation, because his experiment had been thwarted. Events in the house had not inspired events in Werndoald, but had gone in their own direction. The child in Werndoald was murdered, the child in the house...

(Blackout. Intermission.) 

 

 

CHAPTER SIX: Another Trial

 

(In the House. Bertol moves the couch to make room for everyone.)

BERTOL

Calm down, everyone, please. Sari, everything’s going to be alright. Stop screaming, Vito. Everyone calm down!! Now, sit down and let’s talk about this. So. We could call the police, however, I propose that we take a moment to see if we can shed light on the situation. The police would only inspissate the situation. I for one would not fare well under their scrutiny, and from what I know of some you, well, we’re all in the same boat. Let’s handle this on our own, shall we? Good. Let’s go around the room and state any information any of us may have on events that transpired last night. In order to curb chaos, I suggest we pass around this bottle. Whoever holds the bottle, holds the floor. Therefore, only one person may speak at any given time. Any objections? Good. Claire. Why don’t you tell us what happened? Take your time.

CLAIRE

After dinner, we did the dishes together, and then we went to the library to read. I always offer to read him a bedtime story, but he has his own books. I must have fallen off to sleep. When I woke up, he was gone. It must have been, I don’t know, one o’clock. I went upstairs and he was in bed. I usually rub his back, but he was sleeping so deeply. He has trouble sleeping, his mind races. I got into bed next to him and went to sleep. When I woke up this morning I noticed... Goodness. He must have been... 

(She weakly lets drop the bottle in to Rolfe’s lap.)

ROLFE

Mmmmm. Sexy nipples.

(Vito seizes the bottle.)

VITO

Rolfe! That is not appropriate! Claire’s kid was iced last night, you insensitive prick. Try to be a little sensitive. Wish you weren’t my brother. I know who you’re all pointing your fingers at. I was in my room all night, sleeping. Some of us do sleep around here. Who wants this thing?

(Vito throws the bottle at Erbert.)

ERBERT

I left the bathroom and walked around the house most of the night. Didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. I remember seeing the moon outside the window at the end of the hall upstairs. It was so bright, and pink. I was trying to switch it off, but I couldn’t find the switch. Then I knew the switch would be outside, and I lay down in the hall and fell asleep. Alan said I would sleep...

(Vito grabs the bottle back.)

VITO

You’re a fucking wacko. If we’re gonna point our fingers at someone, look at this crazy fucker. Anyone who hasn’t slept for fucking months is dangerous if you ask me. Or maybe it was Sari, the druggie bitch. Did you get high last night and pull a hazed-out Johnny Cash on the little kid? 

(Sari yanks the bottle from him.)

SARI

I’ve been clean and sober for three weeks, Vito. I was in Bertol’s room all night. Bertol and I talked mostly. If you don’t believe us, you can split us up and quiz us separately about things we talked about and stuff. It will only prove we were together. All night. Right Bertol?

(Vito knocks the bottle away.)

VITO

So fucking great. I’m not a dweeby idiot and I’m not screwing anyone so I guess that makes me the murderer. I don’t need this shit. I don’t know you people from fuck. Rolfe, you’re on your own. I’m fuckin outta here!

BERTOL

Vito, calm down. We’re all in this together. Why don’t you guard the front door. Take a minute to simmer down. 

(Vito hesitantly does so. He is interrupted by a stranger:)

KYE

Hi. My name is Kye, I’m here about a room. 

(Kye stares confused and a little fearful of the group. Suddenly, Vito pounces on him and violently beats him, melding into Dwerger killing the Smye.)

ZOLFIRCE

Dwerger. Enough. The Smye is dead. 

(There is a sustained, tense pause.)

GRESSA

I don’t understand. What just happened? Dwerger. Dwerger!?

(Dwerger no longer answers to Gressa. She moves to Raitha, who is in shock.)

GRESSA

Raitha, if you wish, I shall escort you back to your home. 

(Raitha shakes her head, no. She wants to continue.)

GRESSA

Very well then. The journey to Vysök continues. Together we will climb the Crags to Jauksit Umbra. Half-Nis, help me gather provisions from the cellar.

ZOLFIRCE

We will wait for you here. 

(Zolfirce watches them leave the room.)

ZOLFIRCE

Dwerger, No! Do not kill the Sheedim. Lock her in the cellar with the others. We go without them. 

(Dwerger lifts Raitha, and becomes Vito, post frenzy of the Kye-killing. He recovers composure to a certain extent, looking at the witnesses in the room. Bertol sighs and takes control.)

BERTOL

Right. Sari. Take Claire to the kitchen. Make sure she eats something. Vito, why don’t you clean up your mess. Erbert, get some buckets of warm soapy water from your room. Sari, when you’re done, come back here and help clean up, alright? Make sure you get the blood under the couch. I’ll go upstairs and take care of Alan’s body... 

ZOLFIRCE

...and bring it to the king. Show him his prized son. 

 

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: Nourishment

 

(Sari helps Erbert move the couch.)

SARI

Erbert, I’m afraid. They scare me.

ERBERT

Alan knew this was going to happen. He knew he was going to die. 

SARI

Erbert, I lied. Bertol wasn’t with me all night.

ERBERT

Alan said we were trapped, that someone was controlling us. Our ecstasy and our pain.

SARI

I woke in the night and he wasn’t in bed. Erbert, I’m in love with him, still. But he scares me.

ERBERT

We do not know what he is. He himself does not know what he is.

(Bertol carries Alan’s body into his room and sets it on his bed. He pulls out a knife and cuts into the body, like an autopsy incision. Bertol sets the knife down and pushes his fingers into the cadaver, pulling out a penny. He raises it to his mouth and eats it. He smiles, looks down at the body, and slowly lowers his head, as if to gorge.

 

The couch spills over, onto it’s back, cushions flying everywhere. Nis soars over the top, falling down a cliff face.)

NIS

Aaaaah! Help! Gressa. Pull me up.

(An arm grabs him and pulls him onto a small shelf in the cliff. It is Gressa) 

GRESSA

From the summit, the journey is not much further. The ridge will take us along the Southern shore of the Lustor’s Sea, then into the Jauksit Umbra. Zolfirce and the Dwerger are quicker. We must reach Vysök before they. Raitha, you must keep the climb. I cannot carry you.

(Raitha lays on a crevice on the cliff face. She transitions back and forth into Claire, who is lying on the couch. The audience sees her from bird’s eye view, as the couch is on it’s back.)

RAITHA

Why do the stars in the skys never stop moving? 

CLAIRE

I wasn’t a good mother. It was so hard raising Alan. 

RAITHA

They shift and pass each other in everlasting chaos, outside the hollows, like bubbles floating in dark water. 

CLAIRE

He grew so fast, mentally. Physically he was just a baby, but... he was talking within weeks of the birth. I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t normal. 

RAITHA

I wonder what would happen if the stars were stilled. 

CLAIRE

I tried to be patient with him. But he didn’t need me. It just came from inside him. The books don’t mention that kind of thing. I tried to love him. I thought that was enough. I focused everything on him. All I wanted was for him to be happy. But it was so hard. So hard to love him. He was so distant, so above me. I hated that. I didn’t care that he was born without a father. I wanted him to just be my son. I created him! Me! I did! Not God! I killed him. I did it. I killed my son.

RAITHA

I would trace patterns from dot to dot, and use them to pull myself across the world. 

(She jumps. Gressa reaches for her, but misses.) 

GRESSA

Raitha!

(She watches her fall and disappear.)

 

 

 

CHAPTER EIGHT: Reality

 

(Erbert sits on the couch “normally.” The audience sees him upside down. He is having a revelation, discovering the truth.) 

ERBERT

God is not anything. literally, God is not, because he transcends being. He doesn’t control us. We control him. And we’re out of control. Therefore, he is not God, but... someone who sees us. Our world is a fractured image. Sari, I know what you’re thinking! 

(Erbert’s throat is slit, he rolls over, becoming Gressa, running into the audience.) 

GRESSA

Here it is, Half-Nis, the eternal twilight of the Jauksit Umbra, the land where light never falls. Come, we must move swiftly. Hurry, Nis! Time is short. 

(She goes back to the edge of the stage to get Nis. He stands on the edge, transfixed, starring into the audience.) 

NIS

So dark and strange! There are entities in the Umbra. Some say they are dead. Or sleeping. I cannot see them, but they see me. I am afraid! 

GRESSA

Most of them are friendly, Nis. This is their dark land, we must respect that. They usually won’t attack unless provoked. Most of them are trapped in their own perceptions. Some desire to break the trance and confront us. If they do, run. Here, Zolfirce and the Dwerger’s tracks lead toward the ruins of Myschony. Follow me. Around this sacrificial pyre lies a well. We can refresh ourselves. Here, Nis, drink. But do not drink too much. It has mesmeric powers. 

We are close to the edge of the Western Hollow. If you step near, it will draw you outside, into space. Fight it, Nis! Look, Vysök Castle is just ahead. There is the glass wall. Half-Nis, concentrate on my voice: 

Eesh nagahl englot mervosht rasalowd afratenglet ro tu lashoolay. foreesh ata ruse me frokest. Deelas wast navahko onas resla zeeve.

(Gressa chants as they continue around the audience, making their way to the foot of the stage. Gress stops speaking. She faces away from the audience, looking at Zolfirce, who stands useless at the castle wall. Gressa walks on stage cautiously.)

GRESSA

Greetings, brother of King.

ZOLFIRCE

Where is it, Gressa? Where is the entrance to this castle? 

(She does not respond. He ponders:)

GRESSA

Via the Mirrors which reflect the mind,
Into the pools we swim except in darkness,

ZOLFIRCE

Through the single-colored glass which shows all colors,

GRESSA

Look here and enter. 

(The realization comes to him...)

ZOLFIRCE

Eyes! The answer is eyes. 

(Suddenly, from the right, Nis attacks. They fall to the ground in struggle, but it doesn’t take long for Zolfirce to pull the life from him. Zolfirce rises, dead Nis in hand. 

ZOLFIRCE

Thus ends the life of little Nis. 

(Zolfirce grabs Gressa by the shoulders and pulls her closer.)

ZOLFIRCE

Look into my eyes! 

(Zolfirce shakes her, spins her around. Gressa keeps her eyes overted, then closes them defiantly.) 

GRESSA

No. 

(He spins her around again.)

ZOLFIRCE

Look at me, Mormo, or I’ll suck the life from your bones and burn the remains for no Cleric to raise! 

(They spin around again. Gressa’s eyes are still closed.)

GRESSA

If you steal me, you will not enter. My eyes must be alive for the gate to open. 

(He spins her around again.)

ZOLFIRCE

Show me! Now! or...

(Spin again. She smiles and laughs. Spin.)

ZOLFIRCE

Open your eyes, or I’ll gouge your lids off!

(Spin. She opens them defiantly.)

 GRESSA

What you see, I see, Zolfirce. You are my entrance too. But do you know your way in the castle?

(Suddenly, Gressa is in the castle,  running down the corridors. She reaches the King first.)

GRESSA

My King. I deliver myself unto you. You must take my strength to help defeat him. King, I have always been a part of you. From you. For you. end me now. 

(She kneels to him, raising her head high. She becomes Sari. Boom, we’re in the house.)

SARI

Oh my God!? Bertol! You killed Erbert. You killed them all! 

BERTOL

They had it coming, Sari. We all have it coming. And for the record, I didn’t actually kill Alan. 

SARI

I’m getting the writer! 

BERTOL

Is that the best you can do? Go ahead, get the writer. Have you seen him recently? Vito, kill her. 

(Vito dives for Sari, but she runs. He barrels after her, knocking over the chair and table. She evades his grasp. Papers fly. Sari hides behind the couch. Vito raises it on end like a piller and lunges behind it. Vito emerges out the other side.) 

VITO

What the fuck? Where’d she go? Where the fuck is she!?

(He walks behind the couch-pillar again, but doesn’t re-emerge. There is a pause. Zolfirce strolls from behind the piller, deviously smiling.)

ZOLFIRCE

King. I am Bertol Maddox. I am here to kill you. 

WRITER

The writer asked him how he was going to do that. 

BERTOL

I have knowledge. In that knowledge is the power to destroy you, our creator.

VITO

What the fuck? Are you saying I’m a character. What the fuck is that? I’m not real. Well, write your way out of this! 

(Vito attacks the writer, who scrambles for the right page.)

VITO

Come here, you fucking asshole. I’m going to rip your fucking entrails out, you piece of shit. No one writes me, goddamnit! 

(Writer finds it and reads:

WRITER

‘Vito lunged for the writer’s throat.’ 

(He rips it in half. Vito vanishes. The writer breathes a sigh of relief. Then, Bertol rises from within him.)

BERTOL

Whoever undertakes to create, soon finds himself engaged in creating himself. 

(Writer searches for Bertol’s page while bertol speaks.)

BERTOL

The writer is all alone. There is no Bertol. Bertol is a creation of the Writer. He is a demon within, a prick of his imagination. 

 

WRITER

The writer is the truth. Bertol is a lie. 

(Writer finds the page, he tears it. Nothing happens. Bertol grabs some paper and a pen, he sets up the chair and table.)

BERTOL

There can be no truth without lies. You don’t exist without me. A creator cannot exist without his creations. Yes, I am trapped. You are my creator. But I am the means you have to create. If you kill your demons, you have no creativity. You are empty without us. You create through us. You cannot end me. You cannot annialate what you aspire to.

(Bertol sits at the desk and writes.)

BERTOL

“He had nothing. The writer could not write...”

(Fade to black.)

 




Copyright © K. Brian Neel. All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.Professional and amateurs are hereby warned that this material, being fully protected under the Copyright Laws of the United States of America and of all other countries of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions, is subject to a royalty. All rights including, but not limited to, professional, amateur, recording, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights of translation into foreign languages are expressly reserved. Particular emphasis is placed on the question of readings and all uses of this play by educational institutions, permission for which must be secured from the authorá║s representatives. For all rights, including amateur and stock performances, contact K. Brian Neel.