Terminal Dream (A Play)

31 Plays in 31 Days #12

SCENE ONE – THE MEETING

(A bare space. The back wall is a projector screen. It currently shows a scene of a secluded, grassy park.)

(REGGIE is waiting – young, eager, dressed to the nines in a weird mishmash of preppy, anime, plastic and traditional Balkan clothing styles. Enter LAKE, dressed similarly, but with more preppy and Balkan.)

REGGIE
Lake! Lake! Oh man I am so glad you came. I was worried we’d lose you.

LAKE
I believe in the cause. You know that.

REGGIE
Yeah, sure, but you seemed scared. Worried about your little sister and all.

LAKE
That’s more reason for me to come.

REGGIE
What?
Lake – if you’re… if you’re just along to watch over her, that’s not cool. You have to be committed.

LAKE
I know.
I’m not.
Think of it as-
Think of it as, if my sister believes, then that makes me think twice about my hesitations. “Little sis believes, it must be right.”

REGGIE
She is a bright light of morality in this dark-ass world.

LAKE
Thaaanks.

(REGGIE gives LAKE a big hug.)

REGGIE
When she getting here?

LAKE
You told us not to keep track of each other for safety sake.

REGGIE
Right, right. Oh, here comes.

(Enter Lake’s younger sister BECK, dressed more in anime and plastic than even Reggie is; she’s accompanied by MAUKUS, a big, laid-back guy, dressed almost totally in preppy with just a touch of something more colorful; he wears a backpack.)

REGGIE
My friends, my friends!

BECK
Hail the future!

REGGIE
Hail the future!

BECK
Our future!

REGGIE
Our future!

MAUKUS
Ew, gross. Rebel kids.

REGGIE
What? Not funny, man.

BECK
(to LAKE, warmly)
Heya.

(LAKE ruffles BECK’s hair.)

MAUKUS
In character.

REGGIE
You don’t have to be in character yet, Maukus the Magnificent. Don’t insult us, we’ll get plenty of that once we’re in.

MAUKUS
I’m a committed actor. Got to blend in from the start. Rev up. Be safe! Think like a TrueBlue!

REGGIE
Ugh, don’t even say that word.

MAUKUS
TrueBlue, TrueBlue, TrueBlue… All bless the government…

REGGIE
Stop it, I mean it. I want to hear you say the Motto.

BECK
Aw, leave Maukus alone.

REGGIE
“Be safe,” he said it himself. Comitt, Maukus, commit.

BECK
You think Maukus is an antirebel? Without him I wouldn’t even know about the Yellow and Burgundy, and neither would you.

LAKE
That’s true… Me either, even…

(MAUKUS and LAKE exchange a look.)

MAUKUS
That’s true. Don’t I get a pass, buddy, for introducing you to the whole idea? Like, can’t I just lay back and relax now? Maybe take a nap and go along for the ride?

REGGIE
This isn’t funny.
Come on, I’ll feel better. I feel responsible for all you guys!

MAUKUS
Hail the future, our future.

REGGIE
Thank you.

(MAUKUS makes a fart noise.)

BECK
Asshole!

(BECK punches MAUKUS in the arm a bunch, but it does nothing to him. MAUKUS ruffles her hair instead; LAKE looks unhappily on this action. MAUKUS notices, and stops rubbing her hair.)

MAUKUS
Come here, kid.

(MAUKUS pulls her close and kisses her on top of the head instead. She smiles uncontrollably.)

LAKE
…Cute.

BECK
So what’s the plan, man, stan, dan, can, fan, banana nanna fo feggie me mi mo meggie Reggie?

REGGIE
I have called you all here today…

LAKE
Please, if we’re meeting like a bunch of teenagers out in the open, we should make it fast and get a move on.

REGGIE
But-
All right, right, right. The quick version is… I learned the Secret.

LAKE
Which one?

REGGIE
Well, the main one.

BECK
Go Reggie!

MAUKUS
Clever fellow, give me some skin.

REGGIE
Yeah! I’m not supposed to tell you how I learned, that’s part of the deal.
So this is the Secret that leads all the way into initiation.

(Pause.)

LAKE
So you weren’t kidding when you said to be packed and prepared.

MAUKUS
There’s not, like, intermediate steps?

REGGIE
Once you hit the first one, it’s, like, a series of tests. You can’t really jump out halfway – or, I don’t know, maybe you can, but they don’t want you to think you can, which is sort of a test in itself, see? It’s so freaking smart, you can’t believe how excited I am.

MAUKUS
All I brought is my homework.

REGGIE
Homework?

MAUKUS
To blend in.

BECK
I am ready to go anytime. I’ve always been ready ever since I knew there was another choice.

LAKE
Beck, do you have anything with you? Anything at all?

BECK
I’ve got me, and I’ve got my friends. What else do I need?

LAKE
Some pocket ‘puters, some pills? A clothesfile?

BECK
I am fancy free and unencumbered.

MAUKUS
Wow, kid.

BECK
I know, right?

MAUKUS
I’m a little scared.

BECK
Scared of little old me?

MAUKUS
Well, I did say a ‘little’ scared.

(BECK gives him some playful punches again.)

REGGIE
So anyways. I’ll be quick. It’s pretty simple, actually.

LAKE
How simple can it be if it separates the entire Yellow and Burgundy movement from detection, capture and death? Are you sure about your source?

REGGIE
Rock solid. My… source… showed me… proof. You’ll have to trust me.

MAUKUS
We trust you implicitly, my friend.

LAKE
Yes, but-

REGGIE
Of course there’s danger involved.

BECK
But it’s worth it, right?

LAKE
I-
Maybe we should…
Look- What about Devon? What if tell Devon your secret and send that old fool ahead, to test-

BECK
Are you kidding?

LAKE
Just want to be safe-

MAUKUS
Poor Devon! Phew!

REGGIE
Well we aren’t safe. We’re never safe so long as we live in this society.

LAKE
I know, but, there’s a difference between-

REGGIE
We have to take action- We have to stand up for ourselves-

BECK
Yeah, come on, Lake-

LAKE
There’s a difference between waiting around in the lobster tank to be plucked out and cooked-

MAUKUS
And what?

LAKE
Diving into the boiling pot ourselves-

REGGIE
This is freedom. This is the Lobster Revolution! We have to pass through the fire to come out clean and burn away the forces of darkness.

BECK
Yeah! Wow!

MAUKUS
You, like, leveled up in Commitment to the Cause there, Reggie. I’m impressed.

REGGIE
You guys, I-

(REGGIE gets teary-eyed.)

LAKE
Oh geez.

REGGIE
Lake, I need you to go all in on this. I can’t do this without you guys; you introduced me to the possibility of a better world- The idea of not sitting down and taking it- And after my mother and- Everything that happened- I- I-
I love you all. I need you with me one hundred percent. Please, Lake.

LAKE
Reggie…

BECK
Come on. Your kid sis is in. When Team Bake-a-Leck gets together…

LAKE
…no one can stand the weather…

MAUKUS
Wow, you two are the cutest.

LAKE
All right, I-
I just wanted to be sure we were as…
As shielded as possible from possible failure.

REGGIE
We won’t fail.
All we have to do is ride the monsters in the pipes.

(Pause.)

BECK
Ride them?

MAUKUS
You can ride them?

LAKE
How will that not get us eaten?

REGGIE
That’s the trick! The Secret! No one gets eaten by the monsters. It’s a double-blind ploy. Everyone thinks the government is lying about the monsters being released by the rebels, right, because everyone secretly knows the rebels are the good guys, right?

MAUKUS
I’ve definitely met folks who believe the government for real.

REGGIE
Well they’re dumb. So everyone thinks it’s one more abuse, the government releasing random monsters into the piping system to drum up opposition and all… But… Here’s the thing. No one is getting eaten. The people you see on the news getting eaten- Or the ones you see in the system getting eaten-

BECK
Yeah, oh my gosh, I saw one the other day, it was terrible- Are you saying?

REGGIE
Holograms! Fakes! Mimics! Toys! I don’t know precisely, but the point is they aren’t really people. It’s a stage show. Designed to make everyone hate the government a little more through reverse psychology, for one, without endangering anyone…

LAKE
…and to make everyone carry garlic and lucky charms and stuff?

REGGIE
YES! Yes, actually. Everyone knows you need that stuff nowadays, right, if you’re going to travel by pipes…

BECK
Soooo all the people you see get eaten because they didn’t travel with it…

REGGIE
Are fake, and therefore…

MAUKUS
Travelling without protections is the signal.

REGGIE
Is the Secret.

LAKE
My God…

REGGIE
Brilliant, right?
They carry you, or something. They take you to where you need to be.

MAUKUS
Like, directly into the secret headquarters?

REGGIE
Don’t know. Maybe they just whisper the directions in your ear; no idea. That’s the thrill, I guess.

LAKE
So… we’re going to go get eaten.

BECK
Not actually eaten! Pretend-eaten! This is great, I always thought the monsters were cute and it was too bad they were actually killing people, but now I can think they’re cute again.

LAKE
Beck!

MAUKUS
You think funny things sometimes.

(BECK leans into MAUKUS.)

BECK
Yeah, sorry.

(MAUKUS kisses her on the head.)

(LAKE walks over to REGGIE and gives him a hug, then hugs MAUKUS, and then BECK.)

BECK
What was that?

LAKE
If we’re doing this, let’s do this. Which piping station?

REGGIE
I figured our home one. No reason to set off alerts by travelling abroad. It’s bad enough we might be seen in the park here.

LAKE
Brilliant. Then let’s go.

(LAKE exits.)

BECK
Lake!
Hey-
Oh.

REGGIE
Lake’s right. Let’s move it out, team.

BECK
This is…
I can’t believe this is really happening…

MAUKUS
You’ve got it in you.

BECK
Are you not secretly scared?

MAUKUS
If I was, telling you would make me not-secretly-scared, wouldn’t it?

BECK
Jerk.
Well screw it. I feel so bad-ass.

REGGIE
Yeah!
Hail the future!

BECK
Hail the future!

REGGIE
Our future!

BECK
Our future!

MAUKUS
And assume character. We’re TrueBlue.

REGGIE
All right.

(They all slump and look glum, beaten down and shifty-eyed suspicious.)

MAUKUS
Gross.

BECK
Whatever.

REGGIE
Who are you?

MAUKUS
Who am I?

BECK
Nobody.

REGGIE
Leave me alone.

MAUKUS
TrueBlue, no worries.

BECK
TrueBlue, no worries.

REGGIE
TrueBlue, no worries.

(BECK and REGGIE giggle a little.)

REGGIE
Peace out.

(They all exit in different directions.)

SCENE TWO – THE THRESHOLD

(The entrance to a piping station. The projected background changes to a bunch of pipes. Like from a Mario game. Basically a warp zone. The kinds of sounds you might hear at a racetrack or on a street filled with flying cars fill the air – people travelling at super speeds.)

(LAKE is on the platform, casually and glumly reading a giant newspaper.)

(Enter BECK.)

BECK
(glumly)
Oh hey look. It is my full-blood sibling. Very random to encounter you here.

LAKE
They’re broken spirits, not automatons.

BECK
Well, close enough?

LAKE
No. Playing it up too much makes it look like you’re teasing and having fun.

BECK
Oh. So just be depressive and disgusted?

LAKE
Yeah. Oh, look at this sad news in the paper.

BECK
Typical. What a day.

LAKE
(Good.)

BECK
(Thanks.)

(BECK beams momentarily, but then shuts herself down.)

(Enter MAUKUS.)

MAUKUS
Oh, hey. TrueBlue.

BECK
TrueBlue.

LAKE
What? Oh, you. TrueBlue.

MAUKUS
Well done.

LAKE
(Quieter.)

MAUKUS
(You seen patrols?)

LAKE
(I think so.)

BECK
(Blah blah blah woe woe woe.)

MAUKUS
(Reggie ought to hurry up.)

BECK
(This is the best day of my life.)

LAKE
(Sis…)

(Enter REGGIE.)

REGGIE
Oh, uh, hey, TrueBlue.

LAKE, BECK, MAUKUS
TrueBlue.

REGGIE
I’m headed into the system to go get some fast food.

MAUKUS
Me too. Travel buddies?

REGGIE
Can never be too safe from those damn dirty rebels.

LAKE
And those monsters, too.

REGGIE
Stupid gross rebels.

BECK
Oh, good, someone else must have their protection on them? I forgot to bring mine because I wasn’t planning on riding the system but I saw Lake here and thought Family Sticks Together and you’re going to get food too, right?

LAKE
Uh yes, we’ll join you two.

MAUKUS
(Look at Beck go.)

BECK
(Shhh!)
So someone got something on them?

MAUKUS
Oh yeah, I always have at least a clove or a cross in my pocket.

REGGIE
Put on my silver shorts this morning.
I think?
Oh yes I did. TrueBlue.

BECK
Thank you. I am glad we will all be safe.

LAKE
We’ll follow you, Reggie, since you seem to have an idea about where to get some fast food this time.

REGGIE
I was thinking Australia got good Approvals today, or possibly Costa Rica or Cote d’Ivoire.

MAUKUS
It’s true, the coastal ones always seem to be safer.

LAKE
And have higher marked hamburgers.

REGGIE
Exactly.

BECK
Long trips, though.

REGGIE
Just follow me and stick close for safety, TrueBlue.

(REGGIE sighs deplorably.)

REGGIE
Ready, fellows?

LAKE, BECK, MAUKUS
Sure.

REGGIE
One, two, three…

REGGIE, MAUKUS, BECK, LAKE
Entering system.

(They all take a bound forward off the platform.)

(The sounds of whizzing and travelling pick up considerably, like being in a car’s engine on the racetrack. Lights flash randomly.)

(The quartet indicate they are travelling by bouncing around on both feet haphazardly, as if they were all on a series of trampolines. They all look grim and determined while they do it, and they all keep their arms tucked in.)

(A VOICE reads directions and station stops in a non-stop, rapid-fire, nearly incomprehsible patter. All degrees are numbers less than 23. The indications are all for places in Baltimore.)

VOICE
Twenty degrees southwest to south-by-southwest for Eutaw, three degrees south to south-by-southwest for Charles, eighteen degrees south to south-by-southeast for Fells Point-

(And so on.)

REGGIE
Headed for the out-of-town.

(They bounce along.)

LAKE
TrueBlue, Mrs. Jones.

(LAKE nods in the direction of someone passing by who apparently goes so fast the audience can’t even see her.)

BECK
TrueBlue, Mrs. Jones. Oh. Missed her. Figures.

REGGIE
TrueBlue, Mr. Pawnhey.
Coming up on the left.

(“Twenty-three degrees west for out-of-town” appears in the nonstop announcement patter.)

MAUKUS
TrueBlue, Officer.

REGGIE, LAKE, BECK
TrueBlue, Officer.

MAUKUS
Thank you for your service.

BECK
Thank you.

LAKE
Here we go.

(There is a bright light as they exit town. The speed of the lights and sounds and bouncing all pick up as they kick up to a faster mode of travel – now they are at the regional level.)

VOICE
Nineteen degrees east to east-by-northeast for Susquehanna Local, four degrees west to west-by-northwest for Westminster Local, sixteen degrees southeast to south-by-southeast for Annapolis Local, due southeast for Capitol Regional by way of Columbia Local…

(And so on.)

REGGIE
Let’s head out BWI by way of Annapolis.

MAUKUS, LAKE, BECK
Alright, yeah, sure.

BECK
What was that!

MAUKUS
What did you see?

BECK
Someone got eaten by one of those monsters!

LAKE
Disgusting!

MAUKUS
Stupid bastard rebels!

REGGIE
(Oh wow!)

BECK
(I’m excited!)

LAKE
You’re what?

BECK
I’m scared!

LAKE
It’s okay, we’ve got shields on us unlike those poor fools.

REGGIE
Oh- Uh, guys, I realized I don’t have what I thought I had on me…

BECK
Oh, uh, that’s okay, Maukus has got us all covered.

MAUKUS
Let me check my pockets on that, knowing my luck…

LAKE
There goes another one!

BECK
That looks so painful…

REGGIE
(Fake!)

LAKE
(Shutup.)

REGGIE
(Just reminding myself.)

LAKE
(Too late for doubts.)

MAUKUS
Oh, yep, I was right. I’ve got a cross right here.

REGGIE
What?

BECK
Maukus?

REGGIE
I mean uh- That’s GOOD-

(MAUKUS winks at them.)

(A brightly-colored MONSTER flies across the stage, ignoring them.)

LAKE
Uh- Oh thank safety, here’s our exit.

REGGIE
Follow along… We’ll head across the Rio Connection to Cote d’Ivoire…

LAKE, MAUKUS, BECK
Sure.

(There is a bright light as they exit the region. The speed of the lights and sounds and bouncing all pick up as they kick up to a fever pitch – now they are at the global level. The vectors are all now generalized to whole directions. The regions announced move from the Eastern Seaboard down towards the Caribbean and South America, with occasional more far-flung Connections thrown in.)

VOICE
Southeast for Chesapeake Regional, southwest for Capitol Regional, north for Philadelphia Regional, west for California Connection, southwest for Shenendoah Regional, west for Piedmont Regional, southeast for Hampton Roads regional, east for Trans-Atlantic Connection…

(And so on.)

MAUKUS
Oh NO!

(MAUKUS pretends that the increase in speed has made him fumble and drop the cross, which flies offstage.)

REGGIE
Our protection!

BECK
The monsters! I hope the monsters don’t get us!

LAKE
Just keep going on to our destination, it’s our only hope!

MAUKUS
Unless an Officer comes along?

REGGIE
That would be just our luck!

(A brightly colored MONSTER appears behind them and begins gaining on them.)

BECK
I don’t want to be eaten!

LAKE
This is your fault, Maukus, you butterfingers loser!

MAUKUS
(Tone it down, just act out of your wits.)

REGGIE, LAKE, MAUKUS
Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhh…. aaaagghgghghhh…. Aahahahaahhahhh…!

BECK
Oh please, oh please, oh please.

(The MONSTER comes up between them. They all stop bouncing and fall back against the monster, leaning against it as if attached to it or riding on its back.)

(The MONSTER bounds onwards gracefully. The VOICE’s patter continues, but drops in volume to being barely audible.)

REGGIE
Wha-

BECK
Are we-

REGGIE
HA HA!

LAKE
Oh praise the Yellow and Burgundy.

(They all hug and ad lib “We did it!” “Thank you Reggie!” “I was so scared!” etc.)

MAUKUS
So uh, hey there, big fella.

MONSTER
Hi.

BECK
Hi! I’m going to hug you!

MONSTER
Okay.

REGGIE
You look spirited, Lake.

LAKE
I must admit it’s thrilling…

MONSTER
TrueBlue.

MAUKUS, BECK
True-

(REGGIE stops them with a gesture and shakes his head.)

REGGIE
Get it?

BECK
Oh! Of course.

(Silence for a while. The MONSTER tries again.)

MONSTER
TrueBlue.

(The other four don’t respond. BECK grips LAKE’s hand.)

(Silence for a while. At last, the MONSTER tries again.)

MONSTER
Hail the future.

MAUKUS, REGGIE, LAKE
Hail the future!

BECK
HAIL THE FUTUUUURE! YEEEAHH!

MONSTER
Your future.

MAUKUS, REGGIE, LAKE, BECK
Our future!

BECK
Wait- Not your future?

MONSTER
I’m not real. It was decided it would be inappropriate for me to claim the future. In the future we are building, I will no longer be needed.

REGGIE
No need for monsters in the brighter better tomorrow.

MONSTER
Precisely.

MAUKUS
So where are we going?

MONSTER
Australia.

REGGIE
Oh wow, we picked right by accident.

MONSTER
I picked Australia because you picked Australia. We could go anywhere and find what you need.

LAKE
Distributed network?

MONSTER
Precisely.

BECK
This is so cool.

MAUKUS
What is it we need? I mean, besides the obvious?

MONSTER
Your clue will come. The rest will be up to you.

BECK
Wow.

(Silence for a while.)

MAUKUS
So… not to sound worried… but can others see us here?

MONSTER
Yes. It would be better if you looked scared, but for the most part we travel so fast it doesn’t matter too much. No worries.

LAKE
If we’re still in the system, doesn’t that mean-

MAUKUS
Yeah, doesn’t that mean they can potentially hear us?

MONSTER
Your clue will come at the right time and in the right place.

REGGIE
We trust you.

BECK
This is amazing…

REGGIE
Isn’t it?

(BECK leans her head on MAUKUS.)

BECK
It’s like a vacation… a little escape… whatever comes, we had this moment, outside the real world, riding on a monster’s back… They always told us that friendship and love and trust and most of all comitting too strong to anything was dangerous…

MAUKUS
The messages certainly seeped in over the years…

LAKE
You okay, sis?

REGGIE
Everyone hold hands. I insist.

BECK
I’m okay… it’s just… you know, on some level, you can’t completely fight the messages, you know? They say trust and love are Exploitables… if they can get trust and love into your heart, they can override your morals… all that… bullshit… And sure, we all knew, we knew and we felt and we knew that it was wrong, that we could have a better future… But on some level… There was always that doubt, you know? That maybe we were just being stupid kids, going to get ourselves killed or worse for nothing, what did we know, who the hell were we to think…

LAKE
Of course, sis…

BECK
That doubt… that maybe they are right, because, you know, who the fuck am I to think I know better how to run the whole system, the whole world?

REGGIE
We do know better than those psychopathic machineheads.

BECK
Do we? Do we really?
I remember-
I remember the first moment I knew-
I was just sitting there in class, chained to the desk… That one little moment…

LAKE
Oh, you told me about this…

BECK
We all have a moment at some point… The moment where we realize we’re just a stupid kid, and we better get ourselves in line or we’ll find ourselves… Unacceptle… we’ll go right down the gutter…
There I was, in class, working on… history. Me and Jordan White were partners. Jordan asked to go the bathroom, teacher said ‘fine,’ Jordan was released to the bathroom… I doodled on the portraits of the Executives instead of writing their names, because I didn’t want to get them wrong and Jordan was always better at it than me…
Not thirty seconds later I suddenly had to pee.
Now, I knew, I understood the rule was “only one partner at a time in the bathroom,” but I didn’t… I didn’t feel the rightness of the rule, deep down, I didn’t holistically comprehend it and find that my soul sailed along with it… The rule wasn’t part of me, natural to me, it was just something they said. Like “season your eggs with iodized salt and black pepper,” no one thinks that’s something you HAVE to do, it’s just the best way, and if you really want unsalted unpeppered eggs, who will really be upset? I thought it was weird, in other words, but not Weird. I thought, I’ll just raise my hand and ask, “Can I go too?”
Oh the looks they gave me.
The looks.
I must have been slow, a late learner… the whole rest of the class… every eye was freaked out. They’d all noticed Jordan leave even though they were buried in the work.
The teacher stared at me worst of all.
“Jordan’s already gone.”
“Yes, but can I go too?”
“Your partner Jordan is already in the bathroom.”
“Yes, but can I go too? I really have to pee.”
And-
Everyone looked down and ignored me.
I felt my neck get hot. I felt my skin prickle. I wanted to cry, instantly, but I had no idea why.
And then I was stupid.
“I’ll pay for it.”
Everyone shot up to look at me.
“I’ll pay to go, too. We can pay for things, right? I have… a dollar here… A dollar to go to the bathroom with my desk partner…”
They looked at me and I felt myself change… The heat in my neck cooked my skin into scales, the prickling turned into wires, the breath in my mouth and tears in my eyes, they were all globs of black ooze…
“Disgusting.”
“Disgusting.”
“Disgusting like a rebel.”
“No, you may not pay for the bathroom, Beck Branford.”
And they all looked back down again and refused to look at me for the rest of the school year.
That. That is when I knew that I was wrong, and that I would always be… wrong.
That’s when I knew that I was just a stupid kid.

MAUKUS
Maybe you were then, maybe, but you didn’t stop fighting, and learning.
And you’re sure grown now.

(BECK blushes.)

BECK
Yeah. Yeah I am.
I thought it was a weakness that I could never get rid of that disgusting part that always wanted to say, “Why can’t it be some other way?”
But no. Hell no. It’s a strength. It’s a strength, now.
I’ve reached the farthest end of my wildest dream… My dream that maybe I was right, that there was a happier, saner world possible in the future, and I could leave all my fear and doubt and disgust behind one day, when I got there….
Because I was right. We were right. Look at us! We’re riding on a monster. Not being eaten by it – riding it, into the future. It isn’t just some theory anymore. We can’t even doubt any more that maybe the rebels are all made up, like in that book from ninth grade… It’s all true. We were right. We were right. We were right…

(She cries and buries her head in MAUKUS. MAUKUS looks a little uncomfortable. LAKE scoots around the monster’s back and comforts BECK.)

LAKE
I love you. So, so much sis.

BECK
I love you too.

LAKE, BECK
Team Bake-a-Leck.

REGGIE
Is that Australia coming up?

MAUKUS
You’re awesome, Beck.

BECK
You don’t have to like me, Maukus.

MAUKUS
What? I-
I do. It’s just…
Ahem.
How you doing, Lake?

LAKE
Fine?

MAUKUS
I have a feeling we should hold on tight.

MONSTER
You are correct.
Five, four…

REGGIE, BECK
Woah!

MONSTER
Three, two…

LAKE
What-

MONSTER
One.

(The MONSTER bounds way upwards. The crew hold on tight. The sounds, lights and VOICE of the piping system stop. There is a cool, breezy sound in the air. The background projection changes to an image of Pangaea [the prehistoric supercontinent].)

REGGIE
Wow, where are we.

MAUKUS
Is that Pangaea?

BECK
Oh right, I remember that from school-

LAKE
Monster?

MONSTER
We can talk here in total safety. What I say to you has zero percent chance of being overheard or recorded.

LAKE
What was the chance back in the system?

MONSTER
Less than one-tenth of one percent. Small enough to let you talk; even if they caught just a few words or biometrics, which is the most they could do at those relative speeds, you could pass it off as just being glad the monster failed to eat you, and they might wash you a bit, but you’d be fine in the end. And that’s unlikely, anyways.
But if they caught even one word – the wrong word – of what you are about to hear, the entire rebel movement could be endangered. So we must be perfect. You are being entrusted with powerful knowledge, thanks to whomever your connection was.

REGGIE
My lips are sealed on that.

MONSTER
Good. Hail the future.

REGGIE, MAUKUS, LAKE, BECK
Hail the future.
Our future.

MONSTER
Well done.
We are technically outside of nation, motion, sight and time.

REGGIE
The technology is amazing-

MONSTER
It is an exploit inherent in the piping system.

BECK
“Connect the Continents!”

MONSTER
Precisely.

LAKE
One World…

MONSTER
Precisely.

REGGIE
Forces beyond our knowledge?

MAUKUS
Oh, no-

MONSTER
You can learn about them at college if you get an advanced degree.

MAUKUS
Yeah, I know a guy. I don’t understand the stuff, but it’s, you know, understood.

REGGIE
Well, how long are we here?

MONSTER
Until you hear the clue.

REGGIE
Well let’s have it.

BECK
Should we write it down?

LAKE
I think the monster will repeat it for us.

MONSTER
Yes, it will be challenge enough without trying to make you remember. Once you understand the words, we will go back, and you will find yourself in Canberra.

MAUKUS
Why Canberra?

MONSTER
Why not? I have to pick some place in Australia.

MAUKUS
Okay.

REGGIE
Well… we’re ready. Right?

BECK
Readier than ever.

MAUKUS
I want you all to know I resisted the urge to say True-you-know-what-color as a joke just now.

LAKE
Appreciated.

REGGIE
Hit us with it.

MONSTER
The glue holds us together.
And it doesn’t let go.

(Pause.)

REGGIE
That it?

LAKE
How is a riddle a good way to keep out infiltrators? It’s not like the government doesn’t have clever people in it…

MONSTER
It’s not a riddle.
It will be obvious to you when you see it. No puzzling required. We just give it to you abstractly so that you don’t behave in a stupid and blatant manner when you’re on the ground. A little psychology for you; we’ve tested it and this way prevents detection.
Don’t worry, you’ll understand, and then you will make your choice.

BECK
Glue…

MONSTER
The glue holds us together.

MAUKUS
Like the rebel movement?

MONSTER
Yes.

BECK
But once we’re in, we’re in?

MONSTER
Yes.

REGGIE
Of course once we’re in we’re in. We’ve been in, we’re just getting vetted here.

LAKE
It is a bit too late to back out.

MONSTER
It’s not too late.
Not until you are glued.
Then you’re in for life.

MAUKUS
Well, I’m sure.

MONSTER
You will understand. Assuming you read the news like a “good citizen.”

LAKE
Of course.

BECK
I think I know what it is…

MONSTER
You’re a clever one.
Keep a lid on it.
We go back now.

MAUKUS
Tell us.

BECK
No no no, I’ll feel dumb if I’m wrong.

REGGIE
Come on, before we’re back, we might need this chance to discuss it openly-

BECK
I-

LAKE
Leave my sis alone?

REGGIE
I-
Sorry, alright. We’ll be fine.

MONSTER
Precisely.
One last important thing, to cover for your clever trick-

(The MONSTER produces a cross which it hands to MAUKUS.)

MAUKUS
Oh hey. Excellent.

REGGIE
Ha-ha! You guys think of everything!

MONSTER
We try. To fail to think is death.
The glue holds us together.
And it doesn’t let go.
And the last thing to remember: we know you are coming. The word has been passed ahead. Trust, trust, trust is everything.
Here we go. It was a pleasure being your monster.
Hail the future!

(EVERYONE screams as the MONSTER dives back through time to Earth. The lights, sounds and VOICE of the piping system pick up suddenly and blur. The projection turns pure white. They rush away offstage and exit.)

SCENE THREE – THE INITIATION

(A McDonald’s. A table is wheeled onstage. A hint of the Golden Arches, red and gold, on the projection screen, along with a view of an unremarkable city street.)

(REGGIE, BECK, and LAKE stand around.)

BECK
I knew it…

REGGIE
What did you know?

LAKE
GOSH, I’m hungry.

(MAUKUS comes back from the bathroom.)

MAUKUS
Haven’t ordered yet?

REGGIE
Is this right?

LAKE
Why yes, Reggie, we wanted to get some fast food in Australia, and if you remembered your geography like a good TrueBlue-

BECK, REGGIE
TrueBlue.

MAUKUS
(Don’t overdo it!)
TrueBlue, yeah.

LAKE
You’d remember Canberra is indeed in Australia-
The line is short. Let’s order.

BECK
I’ll get a table. With Maukus. Order what I prefer to eat, Lake.

LAKE
Sure thing, Beck. Come on, Reggie. I hear they have a new topping.

REGGIE
Sure, sounds fine.

(BECK and MAUKUS sit down.)

BECK
So… hi.

MAUKUS
Hi.

BECK
Um… may I… flirt with you?

(This is a standard TrueBlue routine.)

MAUKUS
Sure, that’s acceptable.

(BECK leans her head against MAUKUS.)

MAUKUS
Would you like head scritches? They say they produce momentary relief from the terror.

BECK
Was that a new study?

MAUKUS
You should keep up with the news more, bad girl.

(BECK gives MAUKUS a look.)

BECK
Sure, go ahead.

(BECK buries her head almost fully into MAUKUS’ side, so she can talk in a semi-whisper and be heard by him through his clothing. MAUKUS scritches her head.)

BECK
(So. Do you think it’s true?)

(MAUKUS responds, since his face is visible, with little affirmative and negative and inquisitive moans, not moving his lips.)

MAUKUS
Mm?

BECK
(About… you know… everything…)

MAUKUS
Mmm?

BECK
(They say the rebels practice the dirty old ways…)

(MAUKUS doesn’t respond.)

BECK
(I mean, like, the way they make food, the way they talk in private, like we do at the park… the way they laugh, even.)

MAUKUS
Mm.

BECK
(Worship…)

MAUKUS
Mm.

(BECK blushes considerably.)

BECK
(Make love…)

(MAUKUS doesn’t respond.)

BECK
(They say they pair up… Love and defiance and all that… Deeper trust… Real feelings… More than just pleasure-buttons…)

MAUKUS
Mm.

BECK
(I’m happy to be a rebel…)

MAUKUS
Me too.
I uh.
Also like double cheeseburgers with mayonnaise. I think that’s Acceptable Weird.

BECK
(Silly.)

MAUKUS
Mm.

BECK
(Lake likes you, you know.)

MAUKUS
…Mmm…

BECK
(I don’t mean in a rebel way… I just mean…)

(MAUKUS’ face hardens.)

BECK
(Uh…)

(BECK blushes some more.)

BECK
(I’m probably getting enough head scritches, if they see any more it might be Too Weird…)

MAUKUS
Mm-hm.

BECK
(Just one more moment!)

MAUKUS
K.

BECK
This spot, over here. Your help is appreciated.

MAUKUS
Sure thing.

BECK
(Oh… If we die… if we get killed… I hope it’s after we’ve gotten the rebel experience… After we’ve done something… That would make it all worth it… To know what it’s like… To be dirty…)

(She leans away from him, covering her mouth to control her smile.)

MAUKUS
Sweet, it looks like table service at this one.

BECK
Oh!
Uh, oh, good, I am hungry…

(LAKE and REGGIE return.)

REGGIE
I guess that cashier insists on hand-delivery. Must be in training?

(LAKE is suspicious.)

LAKE
Yeah…

MAUKUS
Burgers? Fries?

LAKE
Of course fries. Sure thing, fries. Austrlia’s special is onion fries.

BECK
Neat.

LAKE
Yep.

(LAKE adjusts the hair on BECK’s head that is mussed.)

MAUKUS
Thank you, Lake.

(LAKE and MAUKUS look at each other, then look away.)

REGGIE
Oh, boy.

(Enter THE CASHIER, carrying a tray with burgers and fries and sodas, etc. THE CASHIER is in a red and gold uniform. THE CASHIER looks unspeakably glum and tired – so much so that the quartet instinctively slump and droop a little to match the Cashier’s example – but speaks with a conspiratorial, defiant tone of voice.)

(THE CASHIER unloads the food very, very slowly.)

THE CASHIER
If that’s not everything, let me know and I will surely serve you any other items from our menu.

REGGIE
Sure thing.

THE CASHIER
This is a great place to work. Don’t you like the uniform? It’s so classic. The colors tell your brain that you are about to have quality food.

BECK
The colors…

(BECK smiles briefly, then hides the smile.)

BECK
Good old red and gold.

THE CASHIER
Yup.

(LAKE gets it and MAUKUS gets it.)

MAUKUS
If you don’t mind, guys, I’m going to do some homework.

LAKE
Sounds good. I wish I’d brought mine to get some done.

REGGIE
Huh?

(LAKE gives REGGIE a significant look.)

THE CASHIER
TrueBlue.

(The quartet look at each other, unsure whether they’re supposed to play along or not.)

BECK
True-

(She pretends to sneeze.)

BECK
-ue.

LAKE
Oh, I didn’t hear you.

MAUKUS
(mumbling)
TrBluh.

REGGIE
TrueBleu.

(Everyone gives REGGIE a funny look for his only-slightly-different French pronunciation.)

REGGIE
I said it.

THE CASHIER
(speaking with a similar cadence to “Hail the future.”)
Here’s the burger.

BECK
Our burger?

THE CASHIER
Here’s the burger.

MAUKUS
Thanks, sure.

LAKE
Do you… have anything else new on the menu here in Australia?

BECK
You need to read the news more. They’ve been rolling out and testing some new beverages.

THE CASHIER
That’s correct.
Some have gone better than others.

BECK
There’s that uh purple drink.

THE CASHIER
No one remembers what it’s called. It’s basically grape, anyways. Some people like it.

LAKE
Of course, some people like it.

(MAUKUS yawns demonstratively, head deep in his homework.)

REGGIE
Go on…

(REGGIE smiles briefly, but hides it.)

THE CASHIER
Ahem. There’s the Shimmering Tangelo.

LAKE
I’ve heard of the new shimmering technology. They say it literally sends a wave of tangelo throughout your body.

REGGIE
Throughout?

LAKE
Somehow, you feel tangelo in your fingers, your toes…

THE CASHIER
It tells your brain to experience the taste of tangelo as if taste buds were all over your body.

REGGIE
That’s weird.
Acceptable Weird.

THE CASHIER
Pretty popular. And then-

BECK
And then-!

(BECK grabs MAUKUS’ arm in excitement; he puts it off.)

BECK
Sorry, I am an appreciator of your food here. It’s sure enough interesting.

LAKE
Of course, Beck.

REGGIE
Well.

THE CASHIER
The continually-rolling-out last one on our new drink menu is Chalky Milk.

MAUKUS
Sounds Bad Weird.

THE CASHIER
That’s why it’s continually-rolling-out, always being retested. We Cashiers have to remix it in the back for every individual customer… always thinking of what that particular… customer… needs…
Here’s the burger.

REGGIE
Our uh fries, too.

THE CASHIER
Uh-huh.

LAKE
Our burger is good, try it.

BECK
They say in the news that no one really likes it too much…
…because it tastes like glue.

(Silence.)

THE CASHIER
They say it really gets in your system and sticks. That’s not an experience for most people.
All your food is delivered.
Is there anything else I can get you?

(They all look at each other.)

REGGIE
Four orders of glue.

THE CASHIER
Chalky Milk.

REGGIE
It was a bad joke.

THE CASHIER
Yes, it was.
You can’t order it for anyone else.

BECK
A Chalky Milk for me.

(MAUKUS and LAKE look at each other.)

THE CASHIER
I can’t stand here waiting. Make up your mind.

LAKE
Uh…

MAUKUS
Why don’t we see what it looks like when it comes out for them, and then we can order for us, too. That seems normal.

THE CASHIER
Sure thing.

LAKE
Uh-
Sure-

(THE CASHIER exits.)

REGGIE
Oh… I uh… this is going to be enjoyable, trying a new drink. Perhaps we’ll be the kind that enjoy it and we can try it everywhere.

LAKE
“Gets in your system and sticks.”

REGGIE
Yeah?

BECK
Lake?

LAKE
Beck.
You’re smart.

MAUKUS
Hmm?

BECK
What?

LAKE
That Shimmering Tangelo works in an interesting fashion.

REGGIE
For sure…

BECK
Yeah…

LAKE
Controls part of your brain… I hear that’s approved only for taste sensation experiences by the government.

REGGIE
Amusement park rides, stuff like that.

BECK
Well sure, the government tells us only the dirty rebels would use it for actual mind contro-

(She pauses.)

BECK
UHHH thinking of the rebels upsets me. Maukus, give me head scritches.

(BECK leans into MAUKUS again, who scritches her as she talks. REGGIE tries to communicate with facial expressions. LAKE manages to be a ventriloquist a bit, and mumbles softly without any lip movement.)

REGGIE
Our burger is very tasty here… What is going in your head with your burger over there? Guys?

LAKE
(It makes sense.)

BECK
(It’s brilliant…)

LAKE
(I don’t know…!)

MAUKUS
Mmm?

REGGIE
Enjoyable fries, these Australian kind…

LAKE
(The rebel movement protects itself.)

BECK
(The rebels are the good guys…)

(MAUKUS makes a grumbly, “not-so-loud!” warning sound.)

BECK
(They wouldn’t use it in a bad way, right?)

REGGIE
Why, I do wonder what is GOING ON inside this burger…

LAKE
(Glue. It doesn’t let go.)

REGGIE
Um.

BECK
(Mind control!)

MAUKUS
Mm?!

LAKE
(That’s how they protect themselves from traitors or moles. How else could a rebel movement have survived so long today?)

REGGIE
Mmmmm, French fries.

BECK
(The Cashier is mixing the drinks now… Hiding in plain sight, they’re so devious…)

LAKE
(Beck…)

MAUKUS
Mmmm?!

LAKE
(Mind control! Become a rebel by taking the milk and you’re glued in. If you try and stray, try and betray them… they control you. Make you walk off a cliff or something, have a seizure. Who knows if the technology is so advanced, but they don’t have to control you all that much- just make you do one wrong thing and you’re gotten rid of…)

REGGIE
Good! Oh, good, what a good burger our burger is. I can’t think of a better way to have made a burger.

LAKE
(There’s no turning back, you see?)

REGGIE
I wouldn’t want this delicious burger to come back up after I’ve eaten it. It would be a pity to have it thrown up all over the table. Luckily, I feel very good about it.

LAKE
(I’m sure you do-)

REGGIE
How do you feel about your burger, Beck?

BECK
(This is the test. We have to take it and join, right here in public, in front of everyone. Total trust…)

REGGIE
I don’t doubt they make everyone’s burger cooked thoroughly and safely.

MAUKUS
Shutup, Reggie. We get that you like the burger.

REGGIE
Well, all I’m saying is when you’ve come to the restaurant, you eat what you’re there for; and once you’ve eaten something, it’s a part of you. Holds you together, in a way. Part of your body system.

MAUKUS
What tough homework this is.

LAKE
(The Cashier is coming back- Beck, you don’t have to do this…)

BECK
(Are you not doing this?)

REGGIE
I’m sure you won’t leave us hanging on a limb, Maukus, Lake, trying this delectable drink on our own.

MAUKUS
Just because you’re scared of slightly weird flavors doesn’t mean you have to act all weird, Reggie. Be TrueBlue, for heaven’s sake.

REGGIE, LAKE, BCK
TrueBlue.

BECK
(I want this. I want to know… I want to be a part of it… Don’t you, Maukus.)

MAUKUS
Mm.

LAKE
(Sis, please. Consider the implications.)

(BECK sits up.)

(She looks thoughtful.)

BECK
I have.
I want it.
I do.

REGGIE
Good girl, Beck.

(REGGIE gives BECK a little friendly gesture, that she returns.)

BECK
Lake.

(LAKE looks horrified and conflicted.)

(Enter THE CASHIER, with two tall milk-colored drinks.)

REGGIE
Sure looks good.

THE CASHIER
Will only the two of you be trying today?

BECK
They just want to see how we feel-

THE CASHIER
Mm-hm. Do realize, guests, that if you decide not to partake, you may find your companions here leave you behind, touring the world in search of the best Chalky Milk makers… They say it inspires an Acceptably Weird following amongst the rare individuals who like it.

(REGGIE has already picked his up and is downing it.)

(REGGIE retches a little because it’s kind of gross; THE CASHIER, without looking at Reggie, gently pushes the bottom of the glass back upward so that REGGIE continues drinking it and finishes.)

THE CASHIER
Miss, if you drink it, I’ll take your glass away.

LAKE
Give her a moment. To savor it.

THE CASHIER
I’ll take these burger wrappers away and be back.

(THE CASHIER suddenly moves quickly after being so languid, gathers up some trash, and hustles away.)

MAUKUS
How does it… taste?

REGGIE
About what you’d expect.

MAUKUS
Do you feel… like you’ve become a fan?

REGGIE
I don’t feel any different.
But, uh, I’d be willing to taste it again if I had to… in order to, uh, find out if I actually like it.

LAKE
(It’s not going to feel any different.)

(REGGIE puts his hand over his heart and smiles.)

REGGIE
Beck…?

(BECK reaches for the glass. LAKE reaches out and stays her.)

BECK
Lake.

LAKE
(You have no idea how much I worry about you. That’s why I believe in the rebels. They’ll make a safer world for a free-thinker like yourself. But what happens when you have to stop being a free-thinker to join that world?)

(BECK stares at LAKE, conflicted.)

BECK
Maukus…?

MAUKUS
So anyone can order this stuff, right…

REGGIE
Sure, but if you want it to be prepared in the tastiest fashion, it helps if your Cashier knows you’ll be on the way, hm? Otherwise, you might get drek.

MAUKUS
Right…

REGGIE
(attempting ventriloquism)
Safety first.

LAKE
Ahem.

(REGGIE casually finishes the rest of his fries.)

MAUKUS
Hello, Officer.

(They all look up offstage.)

MAUKUS
TrueBlue, Officer.

REGGIE, LAKE, BECK
TrueBlue, Officer.

MAUKUS
Thank you for your service.

(The offstage officer walks away.)

BECK
Did you see the way he looked at me.

LAKE
That’s how they always-

BECK
Always look at you. At everyone.
Morning, day, and night… They patrol my dreams…

MAUKUS
I’m sure your dreams are well-protected for having a TrueBlue Officer patrol them…

BECK
I love you, Lake.
And you, Maukus.

(BECK drinks it down.)

(LAKE is stony-faced.)

BECK
Oh, sorry, you too, Reggie.

REGGIE
“Love is Weird.”

BECK
I actually enjoyed the flavor.

REGGIE
Actually actually?

BECK
For sure.

(MAUKUS and LAKE stare at each other.)

(THE CASHIER returns.)

THE CASHIER
What will it be, you two?
My shift’s about to end, so this your last chance to join your companions.

(Silence.)

SCENE FOUR – THE SANCTUM

(The park again.)

(LAKE stands waiting, now wearing entirely preppy and Balkan fashions.)

(Enter MAUKUS, almost entirely in anime and plastic.)

LAKE
Maukus?!
What are YOU doing here?

MAUKUS
I just happened to be wandering past.

LAKE
Do you even leave your house anymore, for the shame?

MAUKUS
I still believe.

LAKE
I’m sure.

MAUKUS
You all meeting?

LAKE
I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sunshine and grass in limited quanities and not too far in isolation from the world are proven to be good for stress and concentration.

MAUKUS
I thought I had lost you all.

LAKE
What does ‘lost’ even mean? Who ‘has’ someone else? That sounds like gross rebel talk.

MAUKUS
TrueBlue.

LAKE
TrueBlue for sure!

MAUKUS
Hail the future!

LAKE
Huh? It’s going to hail in the future? Well, probably, they haven’t figured out how to control the weather yet.

MAUKUS
Our future!

LAKE
Gross. ‘Now’ is all that matters.

MAUKUS
I’m glad to see you.

(MAUKUS hugs LAKE. LAKE tries to resist.)

MAUKUS
Is your sister well?

LAKE
What do you care.

MAUKUS
Did she find love? Real, dirty love like she wanted?

LAKE
That’s my kid sister you’re talking about!

MAUKUS
Well, did you find it, at least?

LAKE
I-
What do you care.

MAUKUS
I do.
Perhaps I just found a way to care… to help… without having to… you know…

(MAUKUS does a glug-glug-glug motion.)

LAKE
You should leave.

MAUKUS
I really thought I might never see you again.

LAKE
You can hang around, but it will just be me you’re hanging around with, for what little that’s worth to you.

MAUKUS
But of course, if someone uninitiated is nearby… No one will show… I’m surprised they haven’t shut you off or anything for being in a meeting place with an outsider.

LAKE
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

MAUKUS
Well, fine.
If you’re just going to be stuck here with me…
Like in the first days…

LAKE
You-

MAUKUS
Lake…

(MAUKUS strokes LAKE’s head. LAKE pulls away.)

LAKE
You-
You can’t do that-

MAUKUS
I owe you… something. I brought you in.

LAKE
Yep… And my sister too…

MAUKUS
Your sister brought herself in through me.

LAKE
You sure made yourself easy on her eyes, though…

MAUKUS
What can I say.
I never meant for it to get so… awkward.

LAKE
It only got awkward when you didn’t-

(LAKE mimes the glug-glug-glug.)

(MAUKUS smiles.)

LAKE
I could’ve been very happy with you making my sister happy. Plenty of fish in the sea.

MAUKUS
The rebel sea can’t be that big.

LAKE
You’d be surp-
Weird for talking about “rebel sea.” Is that some Weird nickname for like the Baltic Sea or something.

MAUKUS
I never realized how much I would miss you.

LAKE
Sure.

MAUKUS
Really.
I think-
I think that’s why I couldn’t do it.

LAKE
Oh, what a lot of sense you are making.

MAUKUS
I couldn’t turn your sister away.
Turn her way and then come to you. I don’t care how free-spirited the rebel lifestyle is, she’d still… never forgive you, or me… It would be horrible.

LAKE
So what, you avoided the situation altogether?

MAUKUS
Well.
Yes.

LAKE
I see.

(MAUKUS strokes LAKE’s head again. LAKE doesn’t pull away.)

MAUKUS
You disappeared, of course.
But maybe now’s our chance.

LAKE
You don’t even know who I am anymore.

MAUKUS
Do you still dream of dying?

LAKE

MAUKUS
Dying to save your sister, and your mother, and your father, and the whole world?

LAKE
Of course not. That would be Too Weird. Way Too Weird.

MAUKUS
You’re still the Lake I knew.

LAKE
Well, you’re not the Maukus I knew.

MAUKUS
I sure am.

LAKE
It doesn’t matter either way.

MAUKUS
You can’t be with an outsider. A potential antirebel. Only milk-drinkers in your bed from now on?

LAKE
Only people I TRUST in my bed for now until forever.

(MAUKUS kisses LAKE.)

(LAKE pushes MAUKUS away.)

MAUKUS
What if I joined?

LAKE
What?

MAUKUS
You want me there. My calm. My safety. My… my size. The only one who ever saved you in your dreams.

LAKE
You got under your skin, but now you’re out.

MAUKUS
Let me back in.

LAKE
You know the way in.

MAUKUS
I don’t want to ride a monster alone. Who knows, I might not make it. You might not still be alive by the time I get inside – Australia’s such a long way away… or wherever else it may be… I want you now.

LAKE
Sorry.

MAUKUS
They won’t take you over, will they, for such a little thing?

LAKE
Sorry, sorry, sorry.

MAUKUS
There’s got to be something you can do.

LAKE
No, actually. Even if I did want to.

MAUKUS
Mm-hm.
Just have your meeting here.

LAKE
Sorry.

MAUKUS
I know you’re compromised. You probably have to go have your meeting somewhere else now that some outsider is here.
Or is it a meeting at all?
Of course, that doesn’t make sense. You have you meetings in Pangaea. You only meet in meatspace when you have an action to perform.
I want in.

LAKE
(crying)
Sorry, sorry, sorry. You need to go away.

MAUKUS
Just tell them the meeting isn’t compromised. They don’t know that I know.

LAKE
They do.
I mean-

MAUKUS
Can they see me from wherever they are?
Just say I was a random person. As long as your sister doesn’t see me… if she’s here…

(No response from LAKE.)

MAUKUS
Come on. This is my one and only chance to make up for my cowardice and everything. I got lucky being here, seeing you at the old park. I miss this, and I may never see you again. Or you, me. Please.
I’ll follow from a distance. I’ll block the street with my car without even knowing what you’re doing. Come find me here afterwards and I’ll hold you tighter than ever before.
Just don’t send them away, and I’ll find you.
Please, Lake.
Please.

(MAUKUS touches LAKE gently, then wanders off.)

(A silence.)

(Enter YURIN, a stern-looking individual in all preppy and Balkan wear. YURIN is not the same person as the Cashier, but may be played by whoever played the Monster.)

YURIN
Was that a stranger?

LAKE
I- It-

(Enter BECK and REGGIE, dressed the same as Yurin and Lake. REGGIE puts his arm around YURIN lovingly, but drops the arm when he sees there’s some contention.)

BECK
Who was that?
Are we compromised?

LAKE
You didn’t-

BECK
Didn’t want?

REGGIE
Don’t tell me something’s wrong, old friend-

YURIN
If we’re compromised, we’ll go back into the piping system… Don’t take chances.

REGGIE
This is a big deal, though- Back in our old neighborhood- Big chance coming in the first place. Can we really leave and come back?

BECK
What is it, Lake?

(BECK looks in LAKE’s eyes.)

BECK
Wait…
Don’t tell me-
Was that…
(Maukus?)

REGGIE, YURIN
What?

(LAKE looks in BECK’s eyes, which are filled with hope and apprehension.)

LAKE
…No.

BECK
Oh?

LAKE
Sorry, Reggie, friends, I- This random passerby was bothering me, wanting to take a nap alone in the park… I… I was reminded, Yurin, of someone we once knew who liked to sleep around a uh in all kinds of places.

BECK
We did meet him sleeping here…

YURIN
Are you sure? The person didn’t get suspicious?

LAKE
I was clever. I just annoyed them until they went away.

REGGIE
From a distance, I thought he was touching you.

LAKE
Tried to bully me a little. One of those type.

REGGIE
Oh, even Truer than TrueBlue, huh? Damn self-appointed Weird Police, I will be so happy when we put them away-

YURIN
Peace, Reggie. Relax.

(REGGIE and YURIN embrace.)

BECK
Are you sure, Lake?

LAKE
We’re good to go.
Call the rest of the team in.

(YURIN performs some innocuous signal motion, like walking around the other three in a circle while stretching and yawning in a rhythmic way.)

(Silence for a short time. BECK stares at LAKE. LAKE beckons her over and hugs her.)

BECK
This is a good life, Lake.

LAKE
I know you’re happy.

BECK
Better than happy.

YURIN
Here they come. Good job on all points, looks very random. No strangers; we’re all here… And we’re right on time- looks like the political concert just let out and everyone’s wandering home… We’ll have five minutes.

REGGIE
Can I lead this one?

YURIN
Sure, dear.

REGGIE
(calling gently to offstage)
All right, people, gather in quickly-

(Suddenly, the stage flashes with blue lights. Everyone FREAKS OUT and ducks to the ground instinctively.)

VOICE
TRUEBLUE! TRUEBLUE! TRUEBLUE! FREEZE, REBELS! MOVE IN TAKE THEM QUICKLY!

(Everyone ad libs responses: “No!” “Please!” “Run!”)

LAKE
Maukus?!?

(MAUKUS enters.)

MAUKUS
Like I said… I thought I had lost you all.
I mean, I couldn’t very well have taken the glue, could I?

BECK
You- You traitor! You violated- You stole inside of our-

LAKE
We let you into our inner… Our…

BECK
We TRUSTED you.

MAUKUS
And thank you for that. It was only fair, since I trusted you.

(Pause.)

(BECK gasps. BECK, REGGIE and YURIN all suddenly pull out short, sharp wooden knives and hold them to their sternums, forced to resist the impulse to pull the knives in to their hearts. General ad-libbed screaming, confusion and clatter.)

REGGIE
No Yurin don’t-

YURIN
No no no no no-
Let it happen!
(calling out to the other rebels offstage)
LET IT HAPPEN, FRIENDS! Our future is now!

(YURIN lets go; the knife stabs in. YURIN crumples.)

REGGIE
NO!

(LAKE and MAUKUS have rushed over to BECK to try and prevent her from stabbing herself.)

VOICE
TAKE THEM QUICKLY! THOSE ONES IN THE CENTER, TOO!

(REGGIE screams and manages to willpower the knife to face away from him, then rushes offstage aggressively.)

LAKE
NO! BECK, NO! FIGHT IT!

MAUKUS
Beck, please! Let us take you alive!

BECK
How could you-

LAKE
Beck, please please please- Hold on-

BECK
Lake?
How-
Why aren’t you pulling your Endgame?

(MAUKUS backs off, staring in confusion at Lake, leaving LAKE to fight against BECK’s knife-hand alone.)

LAKE
Help-

MAUKUS
Is your control glitching? What-

LAKE
I pretended! I pretended to drink!

MAUKUS
That shouldn’t be possible- They have ways of sensing a lack of total commitment, and they test your control-

LAKE
I was totally committed. And I was totally in their control.
Totally, as long as my sister was there.

BECK
When Team Bake-a-Leck gets together, no one can stand the weather…

LAKE
Resist, sis, resist.

MAUKUS
GET OVER HERE AND HELP! BRING CUFFS AND BARS! JUST BEAT THEM DOWN!
Oh hell- Do. Not. Die. Beck!

(MAUKUS runs off to get help or handcuffs.)

LAKE
Please please please, resist the control, you are your own person, not a rebel, you’re my little Beck, fight it, please, fight everything-

BECK
This is the end of the dream. I could not die happier than if I died now.

LAKE
Sure, if you live to see the future where we win.

BECK
But, really, Lake.
Really – us winning?
What are the chances of that happening?
Let me be happy.

(LAKE shakily releases BECK’s hand.)

BECK
And sorry I stole Maukus from you.

LAKE
Wait-

(BECK lets her hand stab herself, and collapses.)

(LAKE slumps over, surrendering.)

(MAUKUS returns with handcuffs and sees it is too late.)

MAUKUS
I didn’t want this.
I tried, sometimes, to convince you all to give it up. Not to fall in with the damn disgusting Burgundy and Yellow assholes… I could have found a new target to reach inside through… But once the idea was out there, Reggie, he-

LAKE
Shut it.

(Silence.)

MAUKUS
I GOT THIS. FINISH CLEANING UP THE REST.
I really liked-

LAKE
Shut. It.

MAUKUS
You didn’t drink the stuff. You might be able to get off.

(MAUKUS looks around nervously, then leans in conspiratorially as he puts handcuffs on LAKE, kindly doing so with LAKE’s hands in front.)

MAUKUS
Here. How’s that?
(You might be able to get out with your life… and then you can go join for real… fight for the future Beck wanted.)

LAKE
You don’t believe in that future.

MAUKUS
(No.)

LAKE
So why?

MAUKUS
(Your dream, remember?)
(You can’t die like this, Lake.)
(You have to die saving someone.)
(Someone.)

(LAKE’s expression is inscrutable.)

MAUKUS
Don’t go nowhere.

(MAUKUS exits to meet the other Officers.)

(LAKE smiles a cruel smile.)

LAKE
Or maybe… I’ll save you.

(LAKE rolls over so to hide what happens next. LAKE produces a tiny vial of Chalky Milk the same way the others produced the wooden knives. LAKE sips it and hides the vial.)

(MAUKUS returns.)

MAUKUS
All right.
Let’s go.

LAKE
(talking as a ventriloquist again to keep the milk in the mouth)
(Wait.)
(This is our last chance.)

(LAKE leans forward and kisses MAUKUS. MAUKUS kisses back, and then his eyes widen when LAKE forces the milk into his mouth. MAUKUS coughs, but swallows instinctively.)

(LAKE smiles, then marches off with head held high and hands in hand cuffs.)

(MAUKUS stands looking scared out of his wits, stock still, breathing heavily, looking left and right in fear of being found out.)

(The lights and the background and the sounds fade, all except the blue light.)

(Everything fades down to just a blue spotlight on MAUKUS.)

(Blackout.)

(End of play.)

writing time: 5:25

inspired by the last crazy dream I had the morning of August 11 before I woke up

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2 comments

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