Daylight and Darkness
Rating: K+, for one use of "damn"
Summary: An author with writer's block is visited by two muses, who have very different plans for him in mind.
Author's Notes: Another short one-act play from me, this one featuring characters seen (or alluded to) in my story in Supernatural category, "A Dark and Grinning Face". This is standalone—it should be understandable without having read ADaGF…though if you'd like to pop over and take a look, I certainly won't object!
We open on a small cluttered room. It's daylight, and all the junk is cleanly revealed. Most of it is concentrated stage left, boxes and sacks and piles of things, haphazardly stacked and stuffed on top of each other. Center stage, against the back wall, is a single bookshelf, absolutely crammed with books of all shapes and sizes. Two windows frame it, with the tops of trees visible through them. To stage right there sits a desk with a lamp, with a man sitting in a computer chair in front of it. This is Mike, and he's a writer. He's scruffy, with dark hair, a short beard, and a big nose, and he looks exasperated.
Mike: How am I ever going to get this novel written?
He sits back in his chair and looks up at the ceiling imploringly. On the wall behind him, placed just right so that it looks like it's leaning over him when he sits like this, is a poster. It's a blown-up book cover, with the words "The Starship Incendia" emblazoned across a stock image of a spaceship.
Mike: I'll never be able to top the success of The Starship Incendia!I don't even know what to write about!
As he says this, the light on the rest of the stage fades, until he alone is illuminated in a single spotlight. He also slumps forwards until his head his hanging.
Mike: No ideas for a sequel to Incendia; no ideas for anything else. No ideas at all!
The stage is illuminated entirely again, and there's someone there who wasn't before. A tall slim girl stands stage left, hands clasped in front of her, quietly watching Mike. She has pale skin and shoulder length white hair, and a tiny, upturned nose. Her left eye is so light a blue it's nearly white, her right is so dark as to be black. She wears a modern-looking green and white gown, and fine gold bangles on each wrist. She carries a flute. This is Inspiration.
Inspiration (whispering) Write what you know, author, for it is what resonates with the most truth.
Mike sits up abruptly, that look of desperation gone from his face.
Mike: Maybe I shouldn't pursue sci-fi. Maybe I should write something closer to home, something more real. Something I know personally!
Inspiration smiles mysteriously and slips away stage left as the lights go down on this scene.
Same room as before, only this time it's dark out. Though the windows, stars can be seen, and perhaps a sliver of the moon. Stage right is illuminated by the lamp on Mike's desk. Stage left is lit by moonlight. Mike is still at his desk, as before, only this time he's actually working. He's hunched forward, writing with wild abandon, obviously caught in a frenzy of creativity. It's later the same day, so he's in the same clothes as before, but now they're rumpled, and his hair is mussed, and he looks like he's been going for hours (which he has).
Mike: Done! (He sits up with a flourish.) First part done...I haven't finished ten chapters in a day since the fist draft of Incendia!
It's obvious he's excited, but it's just as obvious he's exhausted. He smiles down at his notepad, and his eyes droop. He leans on one arm, bracing it against his desk.
Mike (sighing) I'm bushed. I think it's time to...
He trails off, resting his forehead against his arm.
The light fades on him and strengthens on stage left, illuminating a figure, appeared in much the same manner as Inspiration. Another slim girl, this one looks much the same as Inspiration, with white hair and a pert little nose, though her hair is swept up vertically above her head and her nose if offset by a swirling tattoo on her right cheek. Her right eye is light, her left dark, and she's dressed in a lot of black and red clothing. She's wearing heavy boots and manacles (minus chains) around her wrists, and there is a black bass strapped across her back. This is Insanity.
Mike picks his head up, and blinks blearily.
Mike (mumbling) Write.
She grins and strides across the room, putting her hands on his shoulders and leaning around him to whisper in his ear.
Inspiration: Write it: write your masterpiece, your manifesto. Use your words to stir the world!
Her voice is low and sultry, seductive in his ear. As she whispers to him, he straightens up, a sinister grin coming across his face. When he next speaks, it's in a slurred, sinister voice.
Mike: I will stir the blood of men so the world may be set afire!
He falls back to writing, furiously, relentlessly. Insanity watches over his shoulder and grins, and the lights go down.
It's dawn. Mike is passed out on his desk, completely lost to the world. A sprightly melody, played by a single flute, wends its way into the room, and in walks Inspiration. She pauses as she sees Mike, and smiles gently, walking over to read what he's written. Her brow furrows.
Inspiration: What...what is this...? This isn't what I--
Insanity (off-stage) No. It's what I told him to write.
Inspiration whirls to face her sister, walking in from stage left. Insanity's bass is no longer across her back--she holds it loosely, looking ready to play.
Inspiration: What are you doing here...sister?
Insanity (glibly)You know me; jus' stirrin' up trouble!
Inspiration: This one's mine, Insanity. He's destined for great things. Leave him
Insanity: You're right! He's gonna start my cultural revolution for me!
The sisters draw together in center stage, and the lights focus on them. Unnoticed, Mike begins to stir, disturbed by the noise.
Inspiration: He is an author! His destiny lies with me! He will write classics!
Insanity: He's mine, and you know it. His only classics will be subversive. He'll be a cult icon.
Inspiration: No way, my sister. I touched him first.
Insanity thrums a few threatening chords on her bass, and Inspiration's fingers tighten threateningly around her flute in response. Mike has awoken fully now and is staring at the pair with wide eyes.
Insanity: That doesn't give you claim, and you know it.
Inspiration: It gives me precedence!
Insanity: It does n--
Mike (interrupting rapturously) Angels!
The twins look at him, clearly confused. He has his arms out the them, leaning so far out of his chair that he's almost fallen.
Mike: Angels from heaven! Come to guide my hand!
Insanity smacks Inspiration in the shoulder.
Insanity: Look what you've done! You lost him!
Inspiration: Me? You're the one who barged in here and tried to take him from me!
Insanity (aggrieved) Aw, it doesn't matter. Damn bloke's Piety's now anyway.
Inspiration: Pity. (She looks at Mike.) You would have been grand.
Insanity walks out of the stage, heavy boots clunking exaggeratedly on the floor as she does. Inspiration watches her go, and is joined by a third tall, thin girl. The newcomer's face is hidden in the cowl o f her white robe--she descends to the stage from above. This is Piety, younger sister of Insanity and Inspiration.
Piety: Inspiration? What's going on?
Inspiration (bitterly) Nothing. Enjoy your writer.
Inspiration stalks away, much as Insanity had, leaving Piety to stare at Mike, and Mike to stare back at Piety. He is not at all fazed by the sudden change, and is still smiling beatifically.
The curtain closes.
Author's Notes: Fun fact. When I originally wrote this, I was playing with an idea for a whole pantheon of neo-muses, including such august personages as Piety and Bohemia. Then I realized that all of them were really just facets of 'Spir or 'San, and scrapped it. Piety remains in this, though, mostly because I can't think of a good way to write her out.
All feedback is welcomed; let me know what you thought! Thank you for reading!