Scene. A medium sized room. K. sitting, reading a book. It is dusk, and getting darker, but he does not turn on the light. A man sits in the armchair opposite from K., his face unseen.

Finally, K. sighs in irritation and closes the book.

Stranger. Do you know why I'm here?

K. Whether I know or not is irrelevant. I suppose I'll just have to deal with you.

Stranger. I have all the time in the world.

K. Excellent. What shall we start with, then?

Stranger. Perhaps it would interest you to hear about my job?

K. [laughs] I already know everything about you. Even as a child, I knew, I always felt that fear.

Stranger. Ah, of course. But you do not know the particulars. There are many of us, and I am only a novice, starting three years ago. For that reason, I have been sent out on this errand, one that many of my peers would find unpleasant. However, on the contrary, I derive a sort of joy from this sort of task.

K. And what is that?

Stranger. You must come with me willingly, of course. It will only be far worse if you struggle. And yet, nine out of ten people make a fine point of resisting.

K. Long ago I would have insisted. That I had a right. For at least for eighty years.

Stranger. And now?

[K. shrugs]

Stranger. Perhaps you could think of this as a kind of release then, in a sense. After all, what has the world done for you?

K. Ha! Those exact words… that I wrote in my suicide note? But I did not go through with it. [Thoughtfully] In fact, I burned it without showing it to a soul.

Stranger. Does it surprise you? That I know everything about you?

K. Perhaps. I don't understand. [Smiling] If you're so powerful, why don't you just drag me down, without any further ado?

Stranger. That's the trouble. The inconvenience of it all, don't you see? It doesn't matter how much power I have. You and I, we exist on different planes, and as long as this continues, I cannot touch you at all.

K. And so shall you come to me, or will I come to you?

Stranger. You know that only one of those possibilities is probable. And so, you must accept things as they stand, and stop wasting my time.

K. And what, exactly, should I accept?

Stranger. Why, you must discover that yourself.

K. How clever. And are you to lead me to it?

Stranger. I am only a witness.

K. And when I make this discovery, then you will have me! But they should have sent someone more clever than you. For I too have all the time in the world.

Stranger. Time does not matter.

K. That is true.

Stranger. Where are your parents, mother and father?

K. Dead, long ago.

Stranger. And who is your brother?

K. A successful businessman who wants nothing to do with me.

Stranger. And where are your friends?

K. I have none.

Stranger. And here we get to the fact of the matter. You are completely, utterly alone.

K. So what? I ceased to care about others long ago. To be left alone is what I truly desire.

Stranger. Then you have no right to remain here. You wish to exist in an abstract netherworld, neither here nor there. You cannot have both. You must choose.

K. What! Who are you to demand anything of me? You are a daydream, a hallucination. At a word, you will disappear.

Stranger. Then how come I'm still here?


K. Because I am bored. Your conversation amuses me, and so I allow you to remain,

Stranger. You are afraid of getting rid of me.

K. Careful! Think of the consequences of that dare.

Stranger. In fact, you are the one who should be careful. You see, I was once like you.

K. Ah! How mundane! Perhaps if you told me something I did not know, then you could convince me of your reality, your independence.

Stranger. I tried to argue as you did. But in the end I could not escape the incontrovertible facts.

K. Here it comes!

Stranger. Some person you saw on the street yesterday, whose face you barely glanced at, and then went home and forgot about, does he exist?

K. Ha! You will have to try harder.

Stranger. Do they exist to you?

K. No, of course not. Others hold no importance for me.

Stranger. And who looks at your face for even a second, who could possibly bestow more than a passing thought on you?


Stranger. Would anyone even notice if you were to… disappear?

K. I'll turn the tables on you then. As long as we are talking, we exist to each other of course. But I, however slightly, have influence outside this room as well. But, you have nothing at all. So, sir, what claim do you have to existence?

Stranger. [laughs] That is for you to decide. But be careful.

K. Of what?

Stranger. As long as I am here, you undoubtedly exist. Talking to you, I convince you of your reality. But, what were to happen if I were to leave?

K. Why, nothing. Nothing at all.

Stranger. Do you really believe that?


K. Tell me. Are we friends – acquaintances even?

Stranger. You know.

K. Are we - ?

[Stranger smiles]

K. No, it can't be.

The clock strikes, but neither reacts. They sit, facing each other, without moving, until the clock strikes twelve times, fades.

Stranger. [takes out a pocket-watch] I thought so. It's time.

[He gets up]

K. Wait! Don't go.

Stranger. Well. You are contradictory.

[He walks to the door and opens it]

K. Please. Don't leave me.

Stranger. Good night.

[He walks out, leaving the door open]

[K. covers his face with his hands. After a minute he gets up and goes over to the window]

K. [looking out] The sky. The stars. The stars have turned to numbers.

[He turns around and looks at the open door. He turns back to the window, considering. The clock strikes again, and K. jumps. Decisively, he walks over to door, and stands for a minute in the frame. Without looking back, he walks out and closes the door behind him.]