What a Tweest! (A Short Play)

31 Plays in 31 Days #4

(Row 38 of an airplane. The rest of the plane is mimed.)

(In seat B, the middle seat on one side of the aisle, sits the PASSENGER, asleep.)

(The plane rumbles and jolts a little. The PASSENGER doesn’t wake immediately, but after the jolting is over the PASSENGER stretches and yawns and opens her/his eyes.)

(The PASSENGER looks around. There is no one else around. The PASSENGER is confused, then alarmed.)

PASSENGER
Uh.
Hello?
What-
What the…

(The PASSENGER stands up, sees no one else on the plane.)

PASSENGER
Hey.
HEY!
You forgot to let me off-
Where-
What time is-

(The PASSENGER looks out the window.)

PASSENGER
Definitely Long Island.
Ahead of us.
Oh gosh.

(The PASSENGER runs up and down the aisle. No sign of anybody. The PASSENGER hits the call-a-flight-attendant button. Nothing. The PASSENGER goes to the front of the plane and bangs on the “cockpit door.”)

PASSENGER
HEY.
HEY.
HEY.
HEY.
HEY.
HEYYYYYY.
WAKE UP.
YOU LEFT THE PLANE ON AUTOPILOT AFTER LANDING AT LAGUARDIA AND LETTING EVERYONE OFF EXCEPT ME AND THEN TOOK OFF AGAIN AND FLEW BACK OVER THE ATLANTIC FOR LIKE A TRAINING EXERCISE OR SOMETHING AND TURNED AROUND TO HEAD BACK TO LONG ISLAND AND THEN FELL ASLEEP. THAT’S VERY RUDE.
WAKE UP.

(No response.)

PASSENGER
HEY.
HEY.
HEY.
I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE BECAUSE THE DOOR IS LOCKED!
THIS ISN’T FU-
Oh.
Oh.
It’s a hidden-camera thing.
It’s always a hidden-camera thing.
Did somebody drug me?

(The PASSENGER looks at his/her arm and is shocked to find multiple little red dots and tiny bruises indicating multiple needle entries.)

PASSENGER
Bastards.
This is highly illegal.
THIS IS HIGHLY ILLEGAL!
YOU HELD ME DOWN ON A PLANE AND DRU-
Oh wait right these are from the heroin.
Wait maybe…

(The PASSENGER points to each needle entry in turn.)

PASSENGER
Monday morning. Tuesday evening with Gregor. Tuesday evening again. Thursday afternoon with the Ukranian ladies. Friday evening before the pub. Saturday on the train. WAIT what is this one? A-ha! Ha!
…Oh that was the doctor’s office the week before.
…Fucking immunizations.

Maybe…
Maybe they reentered one of them…?

Doesn’t look like…

That would have been some powerful shit, man. To get all those people and all…
WAIT.

(The PASSENGER opens the overhead compartments. They’re all full. The compartment above row 38 is stuffed with bags. The PASSENGER pulls down her/his own bag.)

PASSENGER
So, what, everyone on the plane was in on it?
Like…
That’s like…
A lot of money…
…Would I watch this reality show?
“The Drive People Crazy Show!”
“With Adam Corolla!”
…Yeah, probably.
But it’s so totally ILLEGAL.

(Banging on the cockpit again.)

PASSENGER
I give up!
I give up!
I surrender the winnings!
Just tell me what’s going on!

(Nothing.)

PASSENGER
…Could it be…

(The PASSENGER tries the side door, the one that passengers use to enter the plane.)

PASSENGER
Pull here…
Push there…
Could it…
Did everyone…
Jump?

Oh god.
Oh god.
I missed the memo.
The world’s ending.
There are MONSTERS waiting for us in New York!
It’s better to die than land!

I’m going to go in the bathroom and vomit now.

(The PASSENGER head back down the aisle, but changes her/his mind.)

PASSENGER
Nope. Nope nope nope.

(The PASSENGER climbs back into his/her seat and closes his/her eyes.)

PASSENGER
If I just fall back asleep, whatever this is, it’ll resolve itself by the time I wake up.
Surely.
Surely.
Good night.

(The PASSENGER looks out the window.)

PASSENGER
I mean good morning.

(Pause.)

(The PASSENGER shifts, trying to get comfortable.)

(The PASSENGER scratches an itchy arm.)

(The PASSENGER makes an exaggerated show of being sleepy and curling up, but sleep doesn’t come.)

(The PASSENGER reaches under her/his seat and pulls out a carry-on bag. She/he pulls out a laptop and opens it, then presses the CD tray button. The CD tray pops out. There is a small plastic bag inside the tray with some powder in it. The PASSENGER takes the bag, puts the laptop away, and opens the bag.)

(The PASSENGER stands up and looks around to make sure no one is looking.)

(The PASSENGER sits down and raises the big to her/his nose.)

CREW MEMBER
Did somebody knock?

(The PASSENGER jumps and quickly hides the bag.)

(The CREW MEMBER has popped out of the cockpit all of a sudden.)

PASSENGER
Hi!

CREW MEMBER
Hi!

PASSENGER
Nothing!

CREW MEMBER
Nothing?

PASSENGER
Nothing!

CREW MEMBER
Excellent! I’ll just go back into the cockpit then!

PASSENGER
Wait!

CREW MEMBER
What?

PASSENGER
Does something seem wrong to you?

CREW MEMBER
Hmm. Hmm. That’s a grand question. I’d have to put it in my top three existential questions. I’ll contemplate it and return to you with my well-considered answer.

PASSENGER
The other people are all missing!

CREW MEMBER
Missing, you say?
Very interesting.

PASSENGER
How many people on the passenger manifest?

CREW MEMBER
Oh, how nice, that’s a very big word.

PASSENGER
Stop messing with me!

CREW MEMBER
Messing with you?
I assumed you were playing a game. I figured you wanted someone to play along.

PASSENGER
No! You’re the ones playing a game.

CREW MEMBER
Ones? I thought you said everyone was missing.

PASSENGER
Except all of you in the cockpit of course operating the hidden cameras.

CREW MEMBER
No one is playing a trick on you.

PASSENGER
Then where did everyone go?

CREW MEMBER
Um.
Heh.

PASSENGER
Hey!

CREW MEMBER
Sorry.
It’s a funny question.

PASSENGER
You DO know!

CREW MEMBER
No no no.
I think it’s one of those… quantum effects… have you heard of that?

PASSENGER
What?

CREW MEMBER
Technically speaking at any given point any molecule in the universe could just disappear, or explode, or turn into an orange. Or one molecule of orange, I guess.

PASSENGER
Are you saying everyone just quantum-vanished? Aren’t you concerned?

CREW MEMBER
Maybe…
It’s very unlikely…
But maybe the memories of all of them vanished too.
After all, memories are just, you know, arrangements of molecules in the brain.

PASSENGER
And what, I’m the only one who remembers them?
What about their families?
What about their baggage- See, look their baggage is all here-

CREW MEMBER
We’ll find out in New York, I guess. Won’t that be fascinating. Oh, put on your seat belt by the way, we’re making our approach.

PASSENGER
The sign isn’t on.

(The fasten seat belts sign comes on.)

(The PASSENGER dutifully sits and straps in.)

CREW MEMBER
Thanks.
Are we good then?

PASSENGER
Why do you keep giggling?

CREW MEMBER
No reason.
Maybe the part of my brain that had the molecules of synapses moved around to make me forget all the passengers who disappeared also triggered a ticklish sensation.

PASSENGER
Lucky you.

CREW MEMBER
Yeah, lucky me!
So you’re all strapped in?

PASSENGER
Yeah.

CREW MEMBER
Good. Bye! See you in America!

PASSENGER
K, bye-
HEY
Hey wait a second!

CREW MEMBER
Oh hell. What?

PASSENGER
So you all up there thought you were flying an empty plane?

CREW MEMBER
No, of course not, we remembered you.

PASSENGER
Then why were you ignoring me earlier?

CREW MEMBER
We figured the flight attendants… would take of… the disruption. Obviously we remember them. We are so sad they have disappeared. I miss Tina and Luis already. Such nice people.

PASSENGER
But you weren’t alarmed about this situation? Flying a plane with one passenger but a full crew of attendants that you didn’t know were gone? It didn’t strike you as…

ODD?!

CREW MEMBER
Sure.
I have to sit down now for the landing, too.

PASSENGER
Oh no you don’t.
Whatever is going on is in that cockpit.

CREW MEMBER
Then why would I have come out here and drawn attention to ourselves?

PASSENGER
Because otherwise I would have been standing for the landing.

CREW MEMBER
We could have just put on the seat belt sign and made you even crazier.

PASSENGER
Because otherwise I would have taken this cocaine and broken the spell of the drug you used to sedate me!

(The CREW MEMBER raises an eyebrow.)

PASSENGER
All right.
All right you win this round.
But I am not going to sit for this.

(The PASSENGER stands up in the seat. The CREW MEMBER looks nervous.)

PASSENGER
If you’re going to put me through this, I’m going to make it hard on all of you! You want some crazy? You want a good show? Here you go!

(The PASSENGER flings the powder from the bag everywhere and dances around on the seats of Row 38, singing “Singing in the Rain,” except with the words “Slinging the Cocaine.”)

CREW MEMBER
Ah-
Oh-
Ee-
Sorry, I-
No-
Don’t-
STOP-
PLEASE-
OH! I’m so sorry-
Just move-
OH!
GOD DAMMIT!
THERE ARE STILL PASSENGERS ON THE PLANE, YOU CRAZY NUT!

(The PASSENGER stops mid-dance and powder-fling.)

PASSENGER
Pardon.

CREW MEMBER
Use some brain, would you? You think a plane full of people colluded in some reality show to drug you and-
Or that quantum bullshit story?
Come on! What’s the more real explanation?
How about
DRUG-INDUCED PSYCHOSIS!
Waaahahahooh
You friggin’ stupid hippie burnout.

PASSENGER
I’m not a hippie.

CREW MEMBER
You’re standing on poor Mrs. Calloway in Seat 38D.

(The PASSENGER gets down into the aisle.)

PASSENGER
So what are you saying.

CREW MEMBER
I’m saying-

PASSENGER
EVERYONE IS INVISIBLE!

CREW MEMBER
Nope, I’m saying you woke up and for some reason thought everyone was gone and started freaking the fuck out but you totally ignored the flight crew and it became pretty clear to everyone that you genuinely thought you were alone on the plane.

PASSENGER
So you decided to fuck with me?

CREW MEMBER
We decided that maybe the only way to break into your hallucination and get through to you was to play along. Maybe just make you sit down, stop talking about and/or doing drugs in front of the six-year old in 39A, and then after we’d landed, call the white coats.

PASSENGER
Really.

CREW MEMBER
Uh, sure. Yes, really.

PASSENGER
Then howcome…

CREW MEMBER
Oh what now.

PASSENGER
I DIDN’T GET BUMPED AROUND?

(The PASSENGER jumps on the seats again and dances around. The CREW MEMBER puts her/his face in her/his hands.)

PASSENGER
I should be feeling Mrs. Calloway’s legs under my feet and tripping! I should be finding myself mysteriously unable to move through this space that I believe is empty but actually is occupied by a six-year old!

CREW MEMBER
The human mind works in mysterious ways?

PASSENGER
Oh no. No you don’t.
I would have been forcibly subdued by what seemed to me to be invisible forces and, like, strapped into a chair in the back of the plane with an air marshal guarding me or something. Not given free reign.

CREW MEMBER
Uh… We tried.

PASSENGER
I may be crazy and stoned and hallucinating but-
I mean wild and crazy and-
I mean-
I mean…
But…
But I don’t believe I could’ve gotten away with…
Oh…
Oh god…

CREW MEMBER
Let it out, [Mr/Ms] Rodney.

PASSENGER
Hallu-
Halluci-

CREW MEMBER
It’s okay.

PASSENGER
I- I’m- It’s- But- No-

CREW MEMBER
Yes, yes. There there.

PASSENGER
Oh noooooo.

CREW MEMBER
This is an important step.

(The CREW MEMBER pulls out a WHITE COAT and puts it on.)

PASSENGER
How long have I been having this hallucination?

WHITE COAT
This iteration, or all of them?

PASSENGER
I’m in a loop?

WHITE COAT
Let’s just say this iteration, it’s been, oh, the length of a flight from Europe.

PASSENGER
The plane… The cocaine…

WHITE COAT
The rain… In Spain…

(The PASSENGER glares.)

WHITE COAT
Sorry.
Yes, none of it is here.
It’s all IN YOUR HEAD.

(The words “IN YOUR HEAD” echo.)

PASSENGER
Oh God.

Do I…
Do I usually realize what’s going on?

WHITE COAT
Oh yes, [Mr/Ms] Rodney. Every time.

PASSENGER
Then why is it still happening?

WHITE COAT
You seem to be in a permanent pseudo-fugue state.
You refuse to wake up out of it no matter how much we try.
We get through to you eventually by tweaking the situation such that your natural sense of logic sees the faultlines. You realize that I’m a white coat, or that you can walk through the “walls of the plane,” or that somehow you never get to LaGuardia, and you wake up to the truth.

PASSENGER
But I never wake out of the hallucination.

WHITE COAT
Nope. As if your brain is unable to handle the truth, you always end up sitting back down and falling back asleep, and starting over.

(The PASSENGER had been yawning, but stops short.)

PASSENGER
Oh God.

WHITE COAT
Sorry. We’d love to have you come back to us, but that’s up to you. You have to face the fear.

PASSENGER
The fear? What fear?

WHITE COAT
That EVERYONE YOU KNOW IS DEAD.

(The words “EVERYONE YOU KNOW IS DEAD” echo.)

PASSENGER
No…
Not everyone…
It can’t be…

WHITE COAT
It is.

PASSENGER
NoooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Na-
Na-
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

(Pause.)

WHITE COAT
…Yes.

PASSENGER
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

(The PASSENGER collapses in a pile of grief.)

WHITE COAT
…And we have a winner!

PASSENGER
…Wh-
What?

WHITE COAT
(signing the circus theme/Entrance of the Gladiators)
Da da da da da da da da da da…

PASSENGER
What-? What are you-?

WHITE COAT
Thaaaank you for plaaayiiing
TOTAL EMOTIONAL MELTDOWN!
The TV show that takes ordinary people and brings them to
TOTAL EMOTIONAL MELTDOWN!
[Mr/Ms] Rodney, congratulations, for experiencing your very own
TOTAL EMOTIONAL MELTDOWN!
You win the GRAAND PRIZE!

PASSENGER
What-
Wh… What is it?

WHITE COAT
What is it you want most in the whole world?

PASSENGER
My family and everyone I know to be alive!

WHITE COAT
(making a buzzer noise)
EEHHH wrong. The correct answer is “a planeload of heroin!”

PASSENGER
But everyone I know is alive, right?

WHITE COAT
Oh no we had them killed for realism.
But who cares, right, you’ve now got a planeload of heroin!

PASSENGER
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

WHITE COAT
Ha ha ha ha!

(A laugh track comes in.)

PASSENGER
NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

WHITE COAT
Ha ha!

(More laugh track.)

PASSENGER
NOOOOOOOOOOOoooo

WHITE COAT
Ha…

(The laugh track fades. The lights change and the airline seats fall over and the WHITE COAT’s demeanor changes to very relaxed and nerdy.)

PASSENGER
oooohhh huh.

WHITE COAT
…aaand we’re back. Great job, everybody.

PASSENGER
What… what was…

WHITE COAT
Have some chocolate, [Mr/Ms] Rodney, have some chocolate. Welcome back. Wow, what an exhilarating experience. How was that? How do you feel? Emotionally released?

PASSENGER
Am I…
I am…
Where’s the plane?

WHITE COAT
Come back to us, [Mr/Ms] Rodney, come back. Remember. Remember?

PASSENGER
Oh… Oh?

WHITE COAT
Shake it off.

PASSENGER
Oh… Oh..!
Right!
Woaaaah wow.

WHITE COAT
That was a deep one. We’re definitely adding that one to the menu.

PASSENGER
I really got my money’s worth there.

WHITE COAT
I gotta say, after five years in this job, I’ve seen a lot of people’s worst fears acted out using the power of Emoduce® Technology, and it’s pretty hard to surprise me. But, wow, I must say.

PASSENGER
As far as convoluted nightmares go…

WHITE COAT
Oh yeah, totally fucked up, man. Wowza. Thanks for shaking me out of my jaded complacency.

PASSENGER
Oh, no problem, Sam.

WHITE COAT
Sa-?
Hey wait, I never told you my first name.

PASSENGER
I know, Sam.

WHITE COAT
What… what’s going… what’s going on?

PASSENGER
You’ve done so well, Sam. We’re all so proud of you.

WHITE COAT
What? Wait a- Wait a second-

(SAM looks around and sees the audience and is freaked out.)

PASSENGER
It’s okay. It’s okay. You did great!
You’ve just successfully performed in your first play, and not an ounce of stage fright!
You made your entrances and remembered all your lines and everything. You were great.

SAM
I-
No no no no there are people out there…

PASSENGER
Forgot they were there, didn’t you? That’s the power of Exphobiator® Technology. A Better Way To Get Over The Shit That Holds You Back©.

SAM
I… invented a whole scenario whereby I was…

PASSENGER
Layered in. Layered in deep to someone else’s scenario. Your stage fright was leeeegendary on the [city] stages, people wondered why you even bothered. But now that we’ve incepted, you might say, this confidence into you, I think you’ll do fine.

SAM
You’re… you’re…
You’re right!

PASSENGER
Everyone give Sam a round of applause!

(The PASSENGER induces the audience to applaud.)

SAM
Wow! I’m an actor!

PASSENGER
And you’re being charged $20 a minute!

SAM
Let’s end it then!

PASSENGER
Take ‘em out with a song with me, how about it?

SAM
Sure thing!

(They do a rousing rendition of “Slinging the Cocaine” as the lights fade.)

(The end.)

(OR IS IT)

CHILD
MOMMY?

(A CHILD sits up in the front row of the audience in the dark.)

CHILD
I just had the strangest dream…

(The CHILD sniffs some cocaine.)

(End of play.)

writing time: 1:30

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One comment

  1. […] Came from wanting to write a fairy-tale type play, and a multi-scene kaleidoscopic play 4) What a Tweest! – someone on an airplane in flight discovers themself suddenly alone Came from having NO IDEA […]

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