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A Play: “Ah Sweet Twilight! Thou Canst Not Come Quick Enough”

Ah, Sweet Twilight!  Thou Canst Not Coome Quick Enough! by Frostwolf T’Firerose

CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

SEVILLE         A mad scientist who believes he’s doing good in the world.

 

MIN YAN       A decent bloke who goes along to get along, but he’s close to the breaking point.

 

ZHEE   The Mother of us all.

 

DATA  The data stream of SEVILLE’s fabulous machinery.  Played by a person.

 

AD       A man, feral.

 

UMEVE           A woman, feral.

 

The action takes place in SEVILLE’s laboratories.

 

            SCENE ONE

 

SETTING:       SEVILLE’s Lab.

 

AT RISE:         SEVILLE consults charts on a clipboard and paces around excitedly.  DATA, a machine played by a person, churns in a steady stream.  MIN YAN stands nearby expectantly.

 

DATA

[Burble sprawk bitzel klanch, etc., throughout the scene!]

 

SEVILLE

I am so proud of myself.  The moment I’ve been waiting for—it’s all coming together! 

 

MIN-YAN

Oh, I’m so pleased, Mr. Azae-Shonn. 

 

SEVILLE

All my work at last comes to its apogee, its fruition.  It has been so long to get all the various pieces to work in a seamless whole.  It’s taken humanity centuries to get it right.  But these past few years have seen all of the new and old ideas come together.  Synergy it is!  Look at all this wondrousness.

 

MIN-YAN

It makes as much sense to me as Japanese sir.

 

SEVILLE

The matrix of my best vision coalesces around me.  Oh, Min Yan this is truly momentous.

 

MIN-YAN

I can not wait to see it unfold, Boss.  But may I ask you, what exactly am I looking at?  I don’t see—

 

SEVILLE

The beginning of a whole new chapter, you imbecile.  Where each unit of humanity knows where their sprockets go, what other units to hook up with and therefore they know their grand place in the design.  How they are expected to perform, the specifications being explicit and the expectations implicit.  Understood by the least as well as by myself, and all of my immediate subordinates.  Yes.

 

MIN-YAN

Like me?

 

SEVILLE

(laughs)

Of course, you think you are immediate.  Every one of your class does.

 

MIN-YAN

I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.  I’m not clear what level I’m at.

 

SEVILLE

Why at the same level with all your other equals, you should check with them.

 

MIN-YAN

But you keep me isolated Boss.  I know it’s on a need-to-know basis, but it would help me very much if I could understand—

 

SEVILLE

(sharply)

You will understand, Min-Yan.  That is to be implicit.  It’s in the shadows that this sort of understanding is best gleaned.

 

MIN-YAN

(disappointed)

Ah.  As you wish.

 

SEVILLE

Send in members of the Guard-Derriere-Dernier!  They will be most excited to hear of this development!

 

MIN-YAN

I will do my best, sir.

 

SEVILLE

You will do better than that.

 

MIN-YAN

Hm.  You know much better than I sir.  I will call them back from the Urban Districts immediately.

 

SEVILLE

Oh!  The Urban Districts.  I sent them there, did I?  Well, I do know what I’m doing.  They must stay where they are, right enough.  Got a bit ahead of myself.  Once their campaign is completed, we shall toast all our victories.

 

MIN-YAN

Victories, indeed.

 

SEVILLE

Do I detect a note of disapproval, Min-Yan?

 

MIN-YAN

Well, I’m sure that Rival and Boese will be happy to hear the news.

 

SEVILLE

Yes, and Terwilliger.

 

MIN-YAN

Terwilliger copped it in Shaker Heights.

 

SEVILLE

Really.  Well, Rechtner then.

 

MIN-YAN

I’m afraid Rechtner is six feet under on the shore of the Thames, sir.  Rival and Boese are all that remain of the Guard-Derriere-Dernier.  Shall I retrieve your biscuits sir?

 

(DATA pipes up with some excited and gleeful burbling.)

 

SEVILLE

Um, yes.  By all means.  Oh, my precious data stream.  You are the élan vital, the joy of my being.  My lovechild to all of humanity.  Build the web of connections and turn it to cement.  There’s a good child.

 

            SCENE THREE

 

AT RISE:         MIN-YAN alone.

 

MIN-YAN

All of a sudden.

It really was like that.

I realized the shackles.

They are implicit.

But they are consensual.

So long as I’m dumb.

So long as I’m deaf to the heart.

So long as I keep a narrow focus.

Focus can sometimes be the enemy.

There’s a wide open field out there.

She called to me.  Zhee.

The mother of us all.

She calls to you.

She asks you to wake up.

She asks you to let the breeze carry you an aroma.

That is the bouquet of change dancing about your face.

It is a delight.

I was afraid.  Seville.  He tries to scare me.

He can be scary, let’s face it.

He relies on so much, and he’s got a lot of tempting wares.

I see it.  But the thrill’s gone out.

It’s like I can’t get the same fix anymore.

Hurting people, watching them cower.

That did it for me for years.

What changed?  Maybe I’ll never know.

All I know is it’s time to walk away.

It’s time to look at you and say, “What do I have to offer you?”

Oh, blessed day!

 

            SCENE THREE

 

AT RISE:         SEVILLE paces about, now he’s extremely agitated and irritable.

 

SEVILLE

This can’t be!  My results, my precious results. 

 

(He tries to manipulate DATA to do his bidding.)

 

It worked before.  This must work now.  There is no other – there is no room for failure!

 

(ZHEE, a fulsome woman, enters.  She seems bemused by the situation.  She watches him for a bit, taking her sweet time.)

 

ZHEE

So.

 

SEVILLE

Who the–?  Who in blazes are you, how did you get in here? And leave me alone.

 

ZHEE

Wouldn’t dream of it.

 

SEVILLE

That should do it.  It wasn’t enough the last time, I guess.

 

ZHEE

How do you know?

 

SEVILLE

I know all right.  You didn’t answer my questions.  How did you get in here, anyway?  Security!

 

ZHEE

I just walked right in.  There’s no one out there.  It’s just us.

 

SEVILLE

No, people don’t disobey my orders.  That’s how I like it.

 

ZHEE

So you think Security let me waltz in here?  Without clearance?

 

SEVILLE

That wouldn’t—

 

(He looks off at DATA who’s in distress.)

 

Oh, damn, this is not right!  These are not acceptable results. 

 

ZHEE

What exactly are you measuring there?

 

SEVILLE

That is only released on a need-to-know basis.  Who are you then?

 

ZHEE

I am a mother.  That’s about all there is to me.  I’m Zhee.

 

SEVILLE

Zhee?  As in Zhee Whizz?

 

ZHEE

I suppose that counts for humor with you.  I forgot to laugh. Shuckies.

 

SEVILLE

I’m kind of busy right now.

 

ZHEE

Oh, don’t mind me.

 

SEVILLE

I can’t work when someone is watching.  Especially a non-someone who has no clearance.  Min Yan!

 

ZHEE

Well, I hate to break it to you, but I have been watching you for a very long time.  Ever since you were a baby.

 

SEVILLE

I was never a baby.  I sprang out of a man’s skull like Athena.

 

ZHEE

Actually, it’s more like you never really grew up.  You’ve always been at the terrible two’s, at least where your hear is.  A two year-old in a body that’s—well, how old are you?

 

SEVILLE

Again, that is on a need-to-know basis, ma’am.

 

ZHEE

I see.  The tot you were had a lot of ideas, way back when.  What 10 millennia ago?  Or the tot you say you never were, that is.

 

SEVILLE

I don’t know who you are, lady, but you are most decidedly not welcome here.

 

ZHEE

Well, I need to remind you just who’s boss then.

 

SEVILLE

No one is the boss of me!  I am the Alpha Male and the Omega Man!

 

ZHEE

In more ways than one.  Don’t let rest of the chicks forget it.

 

SEVILLE

That’s right.

 

(DATA gurgles and flitzes a bit. Change.)

 

Oh man!  This can’t be happening.  These results are—well, maybe this will do the trick.

 

ZHEE

Excuse me, but didn’t you try that already?

 

SEVILLE

I didn’t put enough into it.  Maybe more will work.

 

ZHEE

That doesn’t make any sense, you know.

 

SEVILLE

I will not be questioned.  I made this work happen, I make all work happen!  How the hell did you get by security?

 

ZHEE

Like I said, I just walked in here.  Take a look for yourself, there’s no one out there.

 

SEVILLE

A likely story.  Min Yan?  Sarge?  Corporal?

 

(HE goes offstage.  ZHEE comforts DATA.)

 

Lieutenant?  Major?  Colonel, where are you!?  General Pandemonium, I demand you show yourself!  Hey, where are you guys?

 

(SEVILLE re-enters)

What gives?  Something weird is happening.  You shouldn’t be here.  The data is screwy, it’s telling me lies.

 

ZHEE

(smiling)

And yet, here we are.

 

SEVILLE

I’ll figure this out.  Come on brain, get to work.

 

ZHEE

I’m sure something will cross those synapses.  But you’ve already turned that knob on your machine the full tilt.  You got something else to try, guy?

 

SEVILLE

We’ve been doing research into new containment devices.  Oh, you find that amusing?

 

ZHEE

Oh, you’re so predictable.  That’s what I’ve enjoyed about you all these centuries, that beautiful, delightful mind of yours.

 

SEVILLE

My mind, eh?  There’s no one else like me.

 

ZHEE

That’s what they all say.  Until they run into their limits.  Then they just fall into the same pattern.  “That didn’t work, well let’s try more of it.”  Same, same.

 

SEVILLE

What pattern, you say?  It’s a good system.

 

ZHEE

Of course.  They need more of what we can give ‘em, more conflict, more control, more starvation, more psychological bullshit, more punitive measures, more abuse, more, more, more of what just can never work on anyone who just wants to be free to live and play and just be.  Which thankfully has spread to a number of people to have manifested the tipping point.

 

SEVILLE

No one gets off so easy.  Not if I have any say about it.

 

ZHEE

True, while you’re around people do tend to scurry in fear.  Though that’s changing.  Your machine is telling you all sorts of stories.  Why look at the poor dear, getting weaker and weaker with each passing second.  It’s all falling apart.  You’re just not half the creature you were before.

 

SEVILLE

Never you mind about me.  I’m perfectly fine.  I am.  Don’t you smirk at me.  I am.  They just need more.  More of my expertise and my velvet gloved fist.

 

ZHEE

Who?  Who needs more?

 

SEVILLE

Never you mind.  Wait. 

 

(DATA spiffles and sporps.)

 

That makes no sense.  My data can’t be spiffled and sporped like that.  Hey, you did something to this machine didn’t you?

 

ZHEE

Oh, dear Seville.  Seville A.  I’m afraid I didn’t do anything except be my charming usual bounteous self.

 

SEVILLE

You give these millions handouts?  Is that what you’re saying?  You would dare do an end-run around my magnificent parsimony?

 

ZHEE

You know, I really have to hand it to you.  When you create a program, you really have stick-to-it-iveness.  You really follow through, and bravo, Mr. Azae-Shonn.  Even if you only know the one program, and it gets to be kind of one-note.

 

SEVILLE

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

ZHEE

Audacious!  What a thing to say.  You’re really out there, aren’t you?

 

SEVILLE

They’re nothing without me.  They need me.  Just a bunch of savages at heart.

 

ZHEE

Need you like another hole in the head.

 

SEVILLE

I don’t have to talk to you.  I will find them, I will find them all.  I will find their leaders, and they will pay with all their lives.

 

ZHEE

Well, good then.  There are 6 and a half billion of these leaders.  Go git ‘em, tiger.  Let them know the black sperm of your vengeance!

 

SEVILLE

My sperm is red.  How dare you!  You never told me who you are.

 

ZHEE

I said I’m just a mother.  The mother of you all.

 

SEVILLE

I’ve got no use for mothers, except as brood mares.

 

ZHEE

Bet you get lots of second dates that way.

 

SEVILLE

Out!  Out with you.

 

ZHEE

Sure.

 

SEVILLE

So get going.

 

ZHEE

(broadly smiling –important

due to next line!)

I suppose.

 

SEVILLE

The door is behind you, Smiley.

 

ZHEE

Uh huh.

 

(DATA spits out a blizzlefitz of gobbleydigook.  Pauses.)

 

SEVILLE

(feeling weaker)

All right.  What’s happened now?

 

ZHEE

They just gave up.  Surrendered.

 

SEVILLE

We’ve been invaded?  Now we’re cooking with gas.  Who’s taken over?  Aliens from Arcturus?  Andromeda?  Niburu?  Planet X—now I could use some reinforcements.

 

ZHEE

Nothing so huge, you old drama queen!  They just stopped.  It was a shrug of the shoulders and a what’s-it-all-good-for? 

 

SEVILLE

No!  They stopped?  Stopped what?

 

ZHEE

Stopped working.  Stopped fighting.  Stopped hating.  Gave up their booze and cigarettes and pastries.  Turned off the TV.  Stopped digging the holes they were in.  Stopped being asleep if you will.  They just woke up and admitted that they were licked after all.  That there has to be a better way.

 

SEVILLE

But I’m the better way!  I’M THE BETTER WAY!

 

ZHEE

Oh yeah.

You.

Really.

Have so much.

to offer…

 

SEVILLE

I get to kill you now.

 

ZHEE

Like to see you try.

 

(SEVILLE stumbles toward ZHEE, weakens.)

 

SEVILLE

What’s happening to me?

 

ZHEE

All the people who thought you benefited them, Seville.  Seville A.  Seville Azae-Shonn.  They’ve now either abandoned you or they’ve died holding the bag of your calamities.  To the remnants.  Oh sure you dominated while it lasted.  But dominance gives out too.  Look at the faces you’ve tried on.  I knew it was always you.  The Egyptian face.  Then the Greek face.  The Aryan face, and the Han Dynasty face.  The Aztec face, and all the other empire-faces before you have fallen down.  Because what you do best, that whole business of establishing a chain of being, a hierarchy of command, has once again fallen apart.  You are the man behind the curtain, and the unveiling has occurred.  That’s always the danger with your fun.  You think that more of what didn’t work yesterday will suddenly work today.  You’re constitutionally incapable, aren’t you?  Of learning from your own mistakes.  Because you don’t think you make mistakes.  Ah, sweetums.  You see no need to believe any negative feedback, because you’re oh so amazing.  Well, dear one.  Dear Mr. Azae-Shonn.  You get to pay the price for your glaring defect.

 

SEVILLE

You screwed my plans.  My beautiful, glorious plans.

 

ZHEE

Your plans have imploded on themselves.  All I can do is watch, wait, and steer some people to higher ground.  See if I can help them to see your kind as they are born and return them back to me for finessing.  Soon, you’ll be back in the ecosystem again.  And that which is useful of what you’ve wrought will be salvaged.

 

SEVILLE

So cold.  It’s so cold.

 

ZHEE

Death has come, dear heart.  Ease yourself into that ready embrace.  Go towards the dark.

 

SEVILLE

Shouldn’t that be “go towards the light?”

 

ZHEE

Sure, sure thing.  If you’d rather.

 

(SEVILLE dies.)

 

Well, that wasn’t hard was it?

 

(AD and UMEVE enter.  They are feral.)

 

AD

What a glorious ruin.  Lookie there, Umeve!

 

UMEVE

You see a ruin, Ad?  I see dinner.  Come on! Let’s drag this carcass to the abattoir and get ourselves set up with good ol’ grub.

 

(They drag S’s body off.)

 

ZHEE

Is it over?  I don’t know.  These cancers just seem to recur.  26,000 years ago I had the same sort of sickness.  Oh, the humanity!  Gotta love it.  I wonder if I’ll see him return again.  Such a bother.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll recover from the next one.  Oh well.

(Sings as she exits.)

“Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future.

Fly like an eagle, to Onnpree! Fly like an Eagle

Let my spirit carry me, I want to fly like an eagle

To the sea Fly fly, like revolution…”

 

END OF PLAY

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