This play takes place in a clearing, out of doors. The sky varies throughout the play, from a setting sun to an evening to a night to a sunrise. There may be a few trees; I leave the presence of greenery up to the director. There should be little wildlife and many flowers around the edges of the stage.
SCHULZ- a formal, intelligent young man who is a spy for a private agency. He was caught in a country that does not tolerate espionage and gives all covert operatives the death penalty. Stammers.
SINGH- a less formal, more "street-smart" than book-educated spy. He, along with Schulz, was caught in a country that does not tolerate espionage and gives all covert operatives the death penalty.
BAILIFF- a somber, sad old man who hates to see prisoners die but has to work the job of bailiff for money to support his ailing wife and his young niece. Play it subtextually.
(The clearing. SINGH and SCHULZ meet at the right edge and gradually meander towards center stage.)
SINGH: Did you bring it?
SINGH: You had six hours. Six hours. The reason I let you prowl the city at all hours of the morning instead of being carefully within my sight was so that you could surprise me, which you did, but I didn't want that kind of surprise! I wanted, you know, an interesting type of sandwich or something! Don't you ever listen to me?
SCHULZ: Of… of course… of course I do. I- I er, forgot, actually. W-why do w-we need it, anyway?
SINGH: It's important to me, okay?
(Sun sets slowly, meaning red and orange lights flash. Night falls, meaning lights darken. The lights continue to darken until otherwise directed. Spotlights on SINGH and SCHULZ.)
SINGH: And, just an aside, we just missed the last sunset of our lives because you forgot the picnic basket.
SCHULZ: It is important to you, y-yes, but you still have y-yet to explain w-why you need to… to picnic on the very night before w-we are executed!
SINGH: We can't do anything about it, Schulz; the least we can do is make it pleasant!
SCHULZ: I s- suppose, now that- now that I… think of it that way.
SINGH: That's the spirit!
SCHULZ: I have no spir…it. The body will be similarly d-dispatched tomorrow.
SINGH: Cheer up, we've got maybe ten hours.
SCHULZ: We…have merely nine. It is …currently eight thirty.
SINGH: Wow. The sun sets late here.
SCHULZ: It is… summer. The days… lengthen.
SINGH: That's true, I guess. (pause.) Enjoy, Schulz, it's the last night of your life.
SCHULZ: It is… as enjoyable as- as it can be.
SCHULZ: I am… with you. That… helps to make the night… m-more bearable.
SINGH (nodding): Didn't know you were so poetic.
SCHULZ: That was not a… poem.
SINGH: I didn't mean it literally. I meant you would make a good poet.
SCHULZ: Th-thank you.
SINGH: It's nine o'clock.
SCHULZ: Time… time moves faster w-when you wish it to …move more slowly.
SCHULZ: We die at sun…rise, am I correct?
SINGH: Yeah. Speaking of which, how do they know where we are?
SCHULZ: W-we told the bailiff -where w-we were going. More r-relevantly, we wish it- sunrise- to be… as far from now as possible. However, since we wish it to be …so, time seems to move faster.
SINGH: Very philosophical. I thought we were close before, but I'm learning a lot about you tonight, Schulz.
SCHULZ: Is…is this good?
SINGH: I guess it's neither good nor bad.
SCHULZ: Should I take offense?
SINGH: No, of course not. I just mean that it's, it's not the best time to learn historical facts about you since we both are going to die.
SCHULZ: Ev… everyone on earth is going to die at some point, K-kieran. D-do you postulate that it is useless to learn a-about anyone since we are all des…tined for a grave and headstone?
SINGH: No, stupid, I meant that since we're going to die in maybe nine hours it's a bit silly.
SCHULZ: Eight and… three-quarters. It is now nine-fif…teen.
SINGH: Time moves ever on and on and, um, I forget the rest.
SCHULZ: Time is cruel.
SINGH: Not always.
SCHULZ: She speeds up when we wish her to- to slow, and she slows just when we wish her to ac…celerate.
SINGH: Very true.
SCHULZ: And… and in her due all things… come to an end.
SINGH: You are a poet.
SCHULZ: No, no, that is… simply my manner of …speaking.
SINGH: Oh, you are definitely a poet at heart.
SCHULZ: At heart I am… a gatherer of… information, and it is this which landed us in this p-predicament in the first place.
SINGH: Very true, ah- very true. Although, uh, it wasn't really all your fault, I had a lot to do with-
SCHULZ: Of… of course not. The fault- the fault was mine. I re…fuse to accept anything other th-than my full share of the blame, which is- which is all of it.
SINGH: It was not your fault, Schulz.
SCHULZ: If I had- had not been c-caught questioning-
SINGH: Shut up! It's not your fault! Just deal with it already! You, you are not that all-encompassing! The existence of the world is not- it's not your problem! Don't worry about the universe's problems, just live in it for the freaking last eight hours of your life! You're still a generally decent guy if you take it for granted that the world will be okay without your constant surveillance!
SCHULZ: I am… sorry.
SINGH: Again with stuff being your fault! It's not your fault you think it's your fault either! It's a normal psychological reaction!
SCHULZ: Please… allow me to w-wallow in self-pity until I feel comfortable thinking of… of myself as a human b-being rather, rather than a slug.
SINGH: (aggravated): You are not a slug! How can I get that through your thick skull and into your mind without performing a neurosurgery?
SCHULZ: You cannot. I will… identify as a slug until I f-feel that it has passed.
SINGH: It was as much my fault as yours, so, so I'm a slug too.
SCHULZ: You… are not a slug, I am a slug. Y -you did no-nothing to help to c-cause the d-death of y-your- someone you w-were looking to p-protect. I did. Th- therefore y-you do not need to be a s-slug.
SINGH: So what, there's only one slug in the universe?
SCHULZ: I … I did not say that. There are many slugs.
SINGH: So why can't I be one?
SCHULZ: You… cannot be a slug because y-you are a human being.
SINGH: You have the same problem, Schulz!
SCHULZ: I am an an anomaly.
SINGH: Why can't I be an anomaly?
SCHULZ: Anomalies are… are unique.
SINGH: So am I. I'm, I'm a different anomaly.
SCHULZ: W-were you in fact a slug you w-would not be y-yourself, K-kieran; you would be a slug. You would not be here; you would be performing whatever tasks slugs perform at this time.
SINGH: Everything you say applies to you too.
SCHULZ: I w-would like to r-reiterate that I am an anomaly.
SINGH: You're like a little kid. 'Why not?' 'Because I'm special'.
SCHULZ: Anomalies are, as … as you say, s-special, by… by definition.
SINGH: Well, anyway, you're not a slug. I'd know if you were.
SCHULZ: I m- might be. You might be imagining my… existence.
SINGH: I'm not psychotic.
SCHULZ: That is exactly what a psychotic invalid might say.
SINGH: You actually sounded like a normal person right there, you know?
SCHULZ: I… am sorry?
SINGH: You… you talk like someone who learned English from some physics textbook, except you stammer.
SCHULZ: II don't… I don't know what you… don't know what you mean. As a m-matter of c-course, however, I… I did learn English from… from a textbook.
SINGH: What! Really?
SCHULZ: N-no, no, of- of course not, not a physics t-textbook at least! It w-would be impossible to do so. As f-far as I am aware most who l-learn English as a s-second language have d-difficulty with s-spelling and phonetics, and physics textbooks t-tend to contain more f-field-specific j-jargon than c-conversational English. Imagine tr-trying to learn German f-from one of the same. I joke t-too, y-you know.
SINGH: I know, I know- but- but- but German has all those squiggly things!
SCHULZ: I…am sorry?
SINGH: You know, the little squiggly thing that sort of goes up and then squiggles!
SCHULZ: D-do you mean an eszett?
SINGH: Yeah, an eszett.
SCHULZ: An eszett is …different from a squiggly thing.
SINGH: It looks like a squiggly thing to me. I mean it's squiggly, and it's a thing, and that makes it a squiggly thing.
SCHULZ: It is called an eszett; and "squiggly thing" c-could refer to a n-number of diacritics, such as the t-tilde, the cedilla, and the S-spanish and French accent.
SINGH: True, but none of those things appear in German.
SCHULZ: I w-would not know; I only know that Ger…man is difficult to- to learn.
SINGH: But… but I thought you spoke German.
SCHULZ: N-no. I speak English, French, and F-flemish.
SINGH: I knew about the French, but where did you learn Flemish?
SCHULZ: My family mi…grated from the region of Flanders in Belgium to S-swansea in South W-wales when I was young, and I quickly learned… t-to speak th-the language. English is n-not my f-first.
SINGH: You hypocrite, saying all that about ESL people! How old were you?
SCHULZ: W-when we m-moved, I was four y-years old.
SINGH: I see.
SINGH: It's twelve o'clock.
SCHULZ: I find it d-difficult to believe that it is already midnight.
SINGH: Well, it is, and we can hardly help it, can we?
SCHULZ: L-let me s-see your… your watch.
(Singh hands over watch. Schulz examines it carefully.)
SCHULZ: Your time is moving much faster than is normal. It practi…practically synchronizes with the a-average human resting heartbeat-
SINGH: -I'm, I'm not even going to ask how you know that-
SCHULZ: -and that should– should not be possible. W-watches do not w-work that way.
SINGH:What, the universe hates us enough to make time go faster so we die?
SCHULZ: I do not… I do not know. Possibly the w-watch is not w-working p-properly.
SINGH: You don't know? But- but- but you usually know stuff.
SCHULZ: I- I am sorry. W-would you like to t-try to take the w-watch apart?
SINGH: Well, no, obviously, we need to keep track of the time, and obviously there's nothing you can do. Don't be stupid. Don't be sorry. This is time. You're a spy. There's a difference between, I don't know, temporal physics and espionage! Why is it that you always have to be able to fix everything? There's stuff that happens that you can't control and that's completely fine and I still love you okay?
SCHULZ: B- but the watch- should not- it should-
SINGH: -and you're still a wonderful amazing person-
SCHULZ: -d- d- did you… did you just say… did you just say you…
SINGH: Umm, no?
SCHULZ: Y- I th- th- thought you- are- are- are you- sure?
SINGH: Just- just stop it, okay? Yes, I did say it, but I didn't mean to.
SCHULZ: By- by you… you did n-n-not… mean to wh-what do y-y-you mean?
SINGH: It wasn't something I was really okay with telling you, okay? It's a little bit awkward.
SCHULZ: I- I always th-th-thought y-you-
SINGH: Do you-
SCHULZ: Y-yes, o-of course, b-b-but I thought y-y-you were-
SCHULZ: I- I- I mean w-w-we a-a-are-
SINGH: Yes, it's fine. Stop spluttering-
SCHULZ: W-what time is it?
SINGH (checking watch): (under his breath) That was random. Ruined the moment. (Normally) Twelve forty-five. Ish. Why?
SCHULZ: Time- time is m-moving fas- faster! It- it has only been f-fifteen minutes since m- mid…night. G-give me your w-watch.
SINGH: So time is moving three times faster than normal.
SCHULZ: N-no. S-shut up. I am t-taking apart that w-watch and if y-you stand in m-my w-way y-you-
SINGH: Sheesh, here. God.
(Schulz takes apart the watch and examines its inner workings.)
SCHULZ:I am n-not very w-well educated on the s-subject off h-horology, b-but I believe th-this w-watch to be w-working p-perfectly.
(He puts it back together.)
SINGH (hugs him): It's okay, man. We're going to be fine. Carolyn's going to come rescue us or something, 'kay? I promise. We'll have the watch checked out at a clockmaker or something.
SCHULZ: N-n-not r-r-real-l-ly. W-we face our d-deaths, K-kieran, I f-feel it.
SINGH: What makes you think so? And why would this sentient-being-universe-thing want us to die anyway?
SCHULZ: W-why w-would it… why wwould it n- not?
SINGH: We haven't exactly done anything to piss off the universe, have we?
SCHULZ: Y-you c-cannot kn-know exactly, can you?
SINGH: How should I know? It's not my problem, really. I'm going to die, so what, at least you love me.
SCHULZ (half-jokingly, half-sadly):I never s-said th-that.
SCHULZ: F-for some…someone who uses s…sarcasm s-so m -much, y-you are ver-very s-slow at re…recog…nizing it y-yourself.
SINGH: You scared me right there, you know that? Don't- don't do that to me. Just- don't.
SCHULZ: I- I am s -sorry.
SINGH: It's two A.M.
SCHULZ: T-t-time is- is sp-speeding- speeding up.
SINGH: I know, Schulz, we established that.
SCHULZ: I – I mean that t- time is ac- accel-accelerat-ating. T-the ra-rate at which it- it is s-speeding up is- is s-speeding- speeding up t-t-t-too.
SINGH: Oh. I, um, sorry.
SCHULZ: Y-you h-have no-no-nothing t-t-to be s-sorry for. I s-should have b-b-been c-clearer.
SINGH: Okay, maybe you're right. Anyway, it's two in the morning and here we are… here… entering a romantic relationship and then discussing the universe and how it wants us to be dead on the last night of our lives. (Affecting British accent) Weather's lovely, isn't it, dear?
SCHULZ (laughing): Y-yes, it is n-n-nice out f-for th-th-this time of n-n-night.
SINGH (incredulously, looking at his watch): How is it already two-ten?
SCHULZ: It- it h-h-has b-been p-p-perh-haps f-f-five m-m-m-minutes?
SINGH: Not even. Maybe three at most.
SCHULZ: I- I am- am v-v-ver-ry s-sc-scared.
SINGH: I'm a little bit freaked out too, it's okay. (checks watch) Two twenty-five.
SCHULZ: T-terrified in fact. W-we d-die at sun… sunrise, am- am I c-correct?
SCHULZ: W-what is t-to s-say t-the chang- changing t- time ac-accounts f- for t-the s-sun?
SINGH: You mean to say that if the sun rises at maybe noon tomorrow we'll die then rather than at six thirty?
SCHULZ: Ex- exactly.
SINGH: I suppose it's too much to hope that that will take longer?
SCHULZ: N-no, should the s-sun rise at its pr-predicted h-hour, it w-will t-take j-just as l-long as it w-would have b-before t-time started th-this m-mess.
SINGH: Oh, well. It was worth a try, I guess.
SINGH: Quit laughing at me!
SCHULZ: I a-am l-laughing m- more at the… the… the ab… the absurdity of our… our sit…uation. I m-mean, w -we a-are g-going to d- die in w-who knows h-how m- -many hours and h-here w- we are m- making jokes.
SINGH: Typical of me, not so much of you. You I would think of as angsting and being all mellow.
SCHULZ: I am j-just as scared as y- you are.
SINGH (sympathetically): I know. (Checking watch) Two forty-five.
SCHULZ: Al- already?
(Singh nods. Schulz leans against him.)
SINGH: What says sunrise comes within an hour?
SCHULZ (laughing):I d-do n -not w- want to m-make t-that p- particular bet.
SINGH: (laughs) Aww, poor Schulz. (Starts to check watch; stops himself.) I need to stop that. Obsessing about the time will only make it seem to pass more quickly.
SCHULZ: A-actually, it's ex- exactly the o-opposite. Ch- checking the t-time w-will m-make it l-last l-longer.
SINGH: Considering you're here, that would be a good thing. (Checks watch; looks shocked.) How is it four-thirty! Just a minute ago it was an hour and forty-five minutes ago!
SCHULZ: It- it is th- four-thirty?
SINGH: Look! (Brandishes watch.)
SCHULZ: D-distressing. Th- four-thirty-one-
SINGH: Shut up! Counting it out like that won't help!
(Sun begins to rise.)
SINGH: I guess my theory was wrong, then.
(Schulz nods and leans further into Singh.)
SINGH (awkwardly, petting him):There, there.
SCHULZ: We only have a few seconds!
(Sun rises. Enter BAILIFF.)
BAILIFF: Prisoners fourteen and fifteen, the time has come for you to return home.
SCHULZ: Y-you see? I- I d-don't-
SINGH: Schulz, please, it's okay. You'll be fine.
SCHULZ: I-I w-will not b-b-be f-fine; I am g-going t-t-to d-d-die!
SINGH: Stop it; I'm pretending it's going to be okay.
SCHULZ: W-w-what's the p-p-point in p-pretending? W-w-we're g-going t-t-t-to d-die!
SINGH: Quit it!
SINGH: If I have to kiss you to make you shut up, I will.
BAILIFF: Prisoners fourteen and fifteen, my duty is to escort you back to the police station.
(Singh, fed up, does kiss him. * The bailiff stares.)
SINGH (breaking away): Do you understand?
(Schulz is speechless.)
SINGH: Thank you. Now can we follow the nice bailiff to our imminent deaths so we can stop worrying about it?
SCHULZ:N-no, g-good L-lord, S-singh, h… how can… how can y-you b-be-
(Singh, grabs him by the arm and tows him offstage, Schulz still spluttering incoherently.)
(Act 1, Scene 2. A white room with a small uncomfortable chair.)
BAILIFF: Prisoner fourteen-
SINGH: And which one of us is that, hm?
BAILIFF: Prisoner fourteen is the one called… (Consults list) Hollis Schulz.
SINGH: Wait, crap, no, he can't go first- wait, your first name is Hollis?
SCHULZ: (shaking too hard to respond.)
SINGH: Sorry, sorry, time and place- wait, he can't go first, that's horrible, no, that won't work at all.
BAILIFF: I am sorry; there is no other option. Prisoner fourteen must die first. If he does not, our ledgers will become unbalanced.
SINGH: How does the order in which we die clog the books?
BAILIFF: I am sorry, but it has to be this way. I realize that he is- ah- important to you, but he must die.
SINGH: Oh, come on, can you at least kill us at the same time?
BAILIFF: This is law. There is no exception.
SINGH: Can you maybe switch our numbers?
BAILIFF: That is impossible. (Takes Schulz by the arm, leads him towards the chair.)
SINGH: (lunges forward)) NO!
(Bailiff restrains him, still keeping a hold on Schulz, who sits down in the chair, still shaking too hard to say anything coherent.)
SCHULZ: I- but- pl- Sin-
BAILIFF: You, Hollis Schulz, have been charged with espionage. The penalty for this crime is death. Do you have any last words?
SCHULZ: S-Singh, what if t-t-time w-was n-not sp-sp-speeding up-
(Bailiff sticks him with prop syringe; Schulz dies.)
SINGH: (freaks out. Let the actor play the room here. Ad-libbing is permissible.)
BAILIFF: (taking no notice- the jerk- takes Singh by the arm. Blackout.)