The Scene: Two young men in an (almost) square grey room. The door is on the far wall, is closed and has a slit in it at eye level. They are dressed in jeans and full sleeved button downed shirts. That is to say that they are decently, but not formally, dressed.
a: perhaps we should go check on them?
b: to what end?
a: (pause) finding out where they are?
b: (walks upstage, sits on the edge) yes..but what’s the point?
The lights dim, a spotlight appears on b…he shakes his head, disconsolately
b: no no…it’s all wrong.
The lights return to their previous state.
a: well I’m going to check on them.
b: i hope you drown.
a: (hurt) come now – (consolingly) they said they would call for us.
b: yes, they said that.
a: they will.
b: will they?
a: (simply) ofcourse.
b: (pauses, then in fear more than anger, but with both) what if they don’t?
a: they will.
b: you’re sure?
b: (exasperated) that’s no answer! look at the facts –
a: what facts?
b: the facts of our confinement. we have two young men, a small room painted in a dull and tasteless grey, an unlocked door leading to an unlit corridor which shows every likelihood of leading to another one exactly like it, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Further, they have little recollection of how they came to be in the aforementioned room in the first place. there was….a party. do you remember the party?
a: not very much of it. I remember…no.
b: must have been a good one. where was i?
a: isn’t that the problem?
b: “came to be in the aforementioned room in the first place.” As a means of linking their indeterminate present and their uncertain future they find a note on the ground, near the door. read me the note again, a.
a: (taking a white piece of paper out of his pocket, neatly unfolding it) “You will be sent for.”
b: is that all?
a: that’s all.
b: no signature?
b: no ‘Dear Sirs’?
b: (hopefully) a return address?
b: (unashamedly hopeless. He is deflated) philistines. uncivilized ruffians.
a: I’m going to go out there. will you come?
b: what if we’re sent for?
a: I hadn’t thought of that. why don’t you stay? in the meantime I will hunt for whoever it is that is sending for us, and remind them of our existence.
b: you’ll get lost.
a: how can you be sure?
b: because you spent four hours in the supermarket yesterday, hopelessly circling around aisles eight through seventeen inclusive, and then somehow ended up at aisle twenty five, with no recollection of eighteen through twenty-four. I am sure of very little in my life, particularly with regards to strange notes in strange rooms, but I am certain you will get lost.
a: it’s a possibility.
a: very well. we’ll just sit here & rot, then?
b: it seems to boil down to that, doesn’t it?
a: (brightly) why don’t you go?
a: whyy? [there are two y’s there for a reason]
b: (giving a bitter smile) because.
Still the room. a is walking it’s perimeter, carefully placing one foot after another, as if walking a tight rope. he takes a few more steps till he reaches the corner. b is sitting with his back against one of the walls (the far one, probably). he has rolled up his sleeves, as has a.
a: (triumphantly) twelve feet by thirteen.
b: it is extraordinary.
a: that it is not a square?
b: that this is the fourth time you’ve measured it out and given me your results, and each time you show no signs of having any memory of having done it before.
b: never mind. perhaps I only think I’ve seen you walk around this room and meticulously measure it’s dimensions with your size ten shoes three times in the past…how long have we been here?
a: since we woke up.
b: no…time…(confused, he is looking for his watch but it is not on his wrist, or in his pockets.) where is my watch?
a: (absently…he has started measuring the room again) not on your wrist?
b: yes. my watch is on my wrist, precisely where it is meant to be. that’s why I’m asking you where it is, because it is where it should be.
a: (he has reached the second wall) ah, good.
b: (getting up) stop it!
a: (startled…stops) stop what?
b: tiptoeing around the room as if you’re on a high wire!
a: (matter-of-factly) I’m measuring it.
b: yes..but didn’t you just do that?
a: me? this room?
a: no…ofcourse not. why would I do it again? (resumes measuring)
b: (sighs, sits down again, stares at a wall) there must be a reason.
b: there are reasons for everything. even if they’re not very good, even if they make no sense, there must be some justification. it’s the pointlessness I can’t stand. give me something to rebel against, and its all suddenly beautiful. but you can’t fight against nothing. there’s too much of it –
a: twelve feet by
b: thirteen. (a is shocked, b continues). I mean we’re not even confined, technically. the door’s open, we’re free to leave.
a: how did you….?
b: (waving him aside) let’s go.
a: what if we’re sent for?
b: hang it.
a: where will we go?
b: outside. somewhere…we’ll find something.
a: (seriously) what’s the difference?
b: we’ll find a way out.
a: we might be sent for.
(a pause, and they busy themselves – a starts counting bricks, b stares into space.)
a: I’ve got it!
a: each horizontal row of bricks is merely shifted right (or left) by half a brick from the row above and below it. therefore each row has the exact same number of bricks (disappointment is creeping into his face and tone as he realizes what this means)….therefore counting them one by one is incredibly…stupid.
b: oh. yes, that.
a: it’s ok..(he puts an arm around b’s shoulder)
b: oh I know. we’ll figure something out, eventually.
a: I’m sure we’ll find something else to count.
b: (giving a a stern look) I need to get away from you, for your own good.
b exits, through the door. he looks left, then right, then goes left.
a: oh well, air’ll do him good. (sitting down, staring at opposite wall with look of intensity, suddenly revelation and a smile)
The door is still open, as b left it. a is in the exact same position.
Enter c, who peeks in the door stealthily before coming in, obviously not considering a much of a threat.
a: 537…538…539…oh, hello…540…
c: could you stop?
c: were you counting the bricks?
a: yes, actually.
c: Save yourself the trouble…if your cell is like mine, then there are-
a: 577 bricks.
c: (looking at a suspiciously) how many times have you counted these bricks?
a: why would I count them more than once? that would be silly.
c: but you were just…I mean, I heard you…
a: (sighing) if b were here he’d say it was extraordinary.
c: that there are 577 bricks?
a: that I’d counted them eighteen times. you called it a cell, right now.
c: well yes. that’s what it is.
a: you don’t think the unlocked door defeats the purpose a little bit? it couldn’t, for example, just be a room?
c: A square-
a: -almost square-
c: -almost square grey, plain brick room with no amenities save for a door with a slit in it such that a jailor, to pick a profession at random, could easily peek through to keep an eye on those inside it is called a cell. that the door is unlocked is obviously an oversight on the part of whichever fascist runs this place.
a: and the note?
c: adds insult to injury.
a: I quite like it, actually. gives one hope for the future.
a: hope, you know…something to look forward to (taking the piece of paper out of his pocket with a grand gesture and in a grander voice saying:) “You will be sent for.” it’s practically an invitation!
c: is that what yours says? show me that (she snatches it from his hands). so it does.
a: (puzzled) why? what does yours say?
c: (taking an identical piece of paper out of her own pocket) here…read for yourself.
a: (reading, his eyebrows and astonishment rising with each line) oh dear. that’s a little…crude.
c: I especially love the bit about my mother.
a: yes….um….they certainly seem to have done their research. she must be very…err…flexible.
c: it isn’t true!!
a: oh…ah…of course not. that is to say, I would never even consider it for a moment.
c: it suddenly occurs to me that we haven’t actually met. my name is c.
(she sticks out her hand. they shake (hands, not…nevermind))
a: a, pleased to meet you.
c: how long have you been here?
a: (brightly) since I woke up.
c: you’re not terribly bright, are you?
a: no, I chose to be happy instead.
c: good choice.
a: (positively beaming) thank you. so what’s your plan?
c: my plan?
a: oh…I’m sorry, I assumed you had one. you seem like the sort of person who’d have a plan.
c: I did. unfortunately it began and ended with getting the sound of that infernal counting to stop.
a: ah…sorry. I didn’t know anyone else was here. except Them, ofcourse. and b. you’re not one of Them, are you?
a: (coaxingly) perhaps you’re here to send for us?
c: (flatly) no.
c: yes. sorry.
a: it’s ok. b will be back soon. I’m sure he’ll have news.
c: who’s b?
a: a friend of mine…he went out a little while ago to get some air.
c: oh. (pauses) does he have a plan?
a: no, I don’t think so.
The conversation has effectively drifted to a halt. c sits down where b was sitting, in the exact position, staring at the same piece of wall. a does the same vis a vis his old position, and starts counting bricks again.
a is sitting in the staring-into-space spot, c is measuring the room.
b: I don’t want to talk about it.
a: I haven’t even asked you anything yet….don’t be so grumpy. how was your trip?
b: I don’t want to talk about it. who’s the girl?
a: oh, that’s just c…she doesn’t like numbers and doesn’t have a plan.
b: sounds like someone I once knew. hello, I’, b.
c: thirteen feet by-
b: twelve. (sighs). yes. square one. pleased to meet you.
a: did you find anything?
b: more grey corridors than you can shake a stick at. and I did.
a: shake a stick? where’d you find one?
b: it was a metaphorical stick.
a: cool…can I have it?
b: (sighing) yes, a. here. (hands a an imaginary stick, turns to c) we’re not completely crazy, I promise. well I’m not , at any rate…though miles of grey have a habit of making one question one’s sanity after a while.
c: it’s ok…atleast now there are three of us. well, two and a half.
c: we can stage a rebellion!
b: ah. be my guest. and just what/who are we rebelling against?
c: whoever it is that is imprisoning us!
b: ah, right. them.
a: (aside to b) she’s been very excited about this rebellion thing.
b: well I’ll tell you what I’m going to do for you, c. I’m going to do you a huge favour and let you go on without me.
c: what?! why?
b: you see, its very simple. if I walk down one more grey corridor, turn one more grey corner and see one more endless grey corridor disappearing into the distance, I will, most likely, wring the neck of whosoever should be within arms reach.
c: oh…that’s easy. we’ll put a in between you and me.
a: what? no..
c: (coaxingly, as if to a child) c’mon, it’ll be fun…we’ll play with sticks and find loads of fun things to hurt Them with. It’ll be an adventure.
b: (sternly) he’s not stupid.
c: oh come on…
b: maybe you’d better go lead your rebellion, c. good luck, god speed and all that jazz. let us know how it turns out, won’t you?
c: fine. atleast I’m not just sitting here, waiting for a miracle.
a: (shouting behind her) hey! you’ll need the stick you’re going to fight Them! (waves imaginary stick at her, and then looks disappointedly at b) I don’t think she wants it.
b settles down to his old spot, against the wall, staring at the opposite wall.
b: (looking up from his stare) yes?
a: thank you. you defended me!
b: don’t read too much into it. I’ll still wring your neck if you start measuring this room again.
a: I wouldn’t dream of it. err…b?
a: why did she say we’re waiting for a miracle? we’ve got a note. we’re going to be sent for.
b: (sighs) yes, a. we will be sent for.
b stares into space, a begins measuring the room.