The Quest for Beauty
The Balancing Act – in which the banalities and flaws of Vengeance, Beauty and Death emerge.
A spot comes on centre stage revealing the WRONGER on the floor, being towered over by the WRONGED. FATE, a cloaked player holding a large book standing centre upstage lifts his hooded head to address the audience. FATE reads the scene titles as dialogue.
FATE: One who has been wronged looms over he who has wronged him. The confrontation of these two souls has emerged due to the wronger’s sins. Sin has always been present in this world; Sin will remain ever present as part of this world. My book contains pages of those who wrong, and those who are wronged. Felony, fault, thefts, affairs: all enacted on Earth. Though with the crimes follows balance.
[FATE lowers his head and returns to reading from his book.]
WRONGED: How could you do this to me? You were my best friend.
WRONGER: I don’t know… I didn’t mean to…
WRONGED: Didn’t mean to? Didn’t mean to sleep with my wife? What? Did you stop by to see me when I wasn’t in? Suddenly a freak tornado blows your clothes off; in a valiant attempt to protect my wife from the flying debris you leap on top of her. But oh the horror! The mistake! In your coincidental nakedness you slip inside her, you try to pull out, but the tornado thrusts you in, and in and in AND IN!
WRONGER: Now you’re just being asinine.
WRONGED: I’ll kick your asinine.
[WRONGED lunges at WRONGER only to be interrupted by the call of a mysterious presence who slowly enters onto the stage. This is VENGEANCE, bored with his work and here to create balance between the two men.]
VENGEANCE: Silence mortals!
WRONGED: Who are you?
VENGEANCE: I? I am the shadow in the night, the eyes that pierce into your guilt, and the shiver that runs through your very core. Brought before you to make you see the error of your ways, to balance the wrongs committed, to cleanse, to balance, to purge. I am the anthropomorphic personification of vengeance itself, and I am here because revenge is required.
WRONGED: Ah ha vengeance will be mine.
VENGEANCE: Mine actually.
WRONGER: What are you going to do to me?
VENGEANCE: This you see is an art, the punishment must fit the crime.
WRONGED: An eye for an eye.
VENGEANCE: Exactly, I guess. Now you, oh purveyor of adultery, have defiled your friend’s wife, broken his heart, destroyed his marriage and have therefore taken away his chance to have children. Thus to fully represent this pain to you, to take away your means of sexual intimacy and procreation, I have to take away your cock.
WRONGER: You’re kidding.
VENGEANCE: I brought my sledgehammer.
[VENEGANCE slowly and intimidatingly moves closer to WRONGER.]
WRONGER: No, you can’t do this to me.
WRONGED: Even he doesn’t deserve this.
WRONGER: No, Stop.
[Face to face with WRONGER, VENGEANCE grunts in his face.]
WRONGER: That’s it?
VENGEANCE: You have mumps, in a couple of weeks your testicles will swell and you will be left useless and impotent; now get out of my sight.
[WRONGED and WRONGER exeunt.]
FATE: With his work complete, Vengeance slumps back to whence he came, the world between worlds, where the gods used to play.
[VENGEANCE sits downstage.]
VENGEANCE: It’s always the same, I go from world to world, laws of physics, relativity and life change but I’m always called for the same reason. To deal with the same kind of soiled lives, the rotten apples, to deal out his punishments. Oh it’s fun at first, but it’s all I’ve known, all I’ve ever been, all I’ll ever be. Vengeance itself in a moving form, and now the boredom starts to sting, as I’ve grown so tired of the same old thing.
[BEAUTY appears upstage and slowly moves towards VENGEANCE as he mopes.]
BEAUTY: You’re starting to sound like a bad musical.
VENGEANCE: Bad musical? Isn’t that a little redundant.
BEAUTY: A well written and performed musical can cut to the very core of people and tug at their hearts; they can be things of true beauty.
VENGEANCE: Well you would know.
BEAUTY: Why so glum chum?
VENGEANCE: Nothing, and everything.
BEAUTY: You’re just a big barrel of sunshine and mysterious lollipops sometimes. You shouldn’t put the weight of the worlds on your shoulders honey, you’ll get a hernia.
VENGEANCE: How do you always know what to say?
BEAUTY: Because I’ve had a lot of experience with your depression.
VENGEANCE: Why do you always know when I’ll need you?
BEAUTY: Because I know you
VENGEANCE: Why are you so beautiful?
BEAUTY: Because in case you hadn’t noticed…I’m beauty incarnate.
VENGEANCE: I saw him again today.
BEAUTY: Who? The costumed freak who runs around at night chasing criminals? Hasn’t he given you enough work to do?
VENGEANCE: It’s not his fault really; his story is one of great pathos. His parents were murdered in front of his eyes, something like that is bound to turn you into a wacko. Thus I was called before him then and he swore vengeance not just on their murderer but crime itself. So even to this day we join forces, his will and my right hand of revenge, to stop evil. We work well together but the guy has more than one screw loose
BEAUTY: He must do to dress like that.
VENGEANCE: My point is it’s tiresome. Everyday it’s the same trials.
BEAUTY: It didn’t always used to be like this.
VENGEANCE: Of course not; back when the worlds were young and experiences were still new to us, we had no idea of what the future would bring.
BEAUTY: Don’t remind me, I was a scared little thing back then.
VENGEANCE: You were cute.
BEAUTY: I think that was the point. But I couldn’t face the responsibility of what I was, what I had to do. How could I make things intrinsically beautiful, almost perfect?
VENGEANCE: Just an extension of you being you.
BEAUTY: And you were this little bundle of energy; eager and ready to carry out his purpose.
VENGEANCE: If I met the younger version of me I’d hate him.
BEAUTY: I was so scared of failing, but you were confident and proud of what you were. And then you picked a rose from my hair, handed it to me and said…
VENGEANCE: This is you; its beauty shines as a bud, and blooms to be even more breathtaking. This is beauty; this is you, ever blooming.
BEAUTY: That moment made me realise what true beauty was, what it lies in.
VENGEANCE: I still can’t look at a rose without smiling.
BEAUTY: Then look at me, and stop whining.
[VENEGANCE and BEAUTY stare at each other for a moment gradually moving closer to one another, an uncomfortable feeling arises and BEAUTY quickly pulls away.]
BEAUTY: I have to go; we don’t rest you know.
VENGEANCE: And the little bit of light leaves my life.
[DEATH enters, cloaked and face hidden, looking like the stereotypical version of Death. He slowly moves towards VENGEANCE in an ominous way, before pulling down his hood and removing his cloak.]
DEATH: Lord Vengeance what ails you on this fine, morning, day, night …timeless void of almost non existence. Could it be the contemplation of the humdrum situation your life has taken on, the infatuation that consumes your very being about a certain young lady, or just the fact that you’re a moany little bitch.
VENGEANCE: I don’t need to see you right now.
DEATH: Funny, that’s how everyone reacts to me. I’m the thing people least want to see, no one wants to get to know me, these negative instinctual emotions geared towards me make it almost impossible to make friends. I mean I meet new people every day, but they never seem to stick around long enough to make a connection, know what I mean? Except you Lord Vengeance. I’ve known you for a long time now mate, and why not? Vengeance causing Death, Death causing Vengeance; Revenge of the Sith, now there was a doosey. You were running on full power when you caused that, order 66 had me knackered, I had to grow four extra arms for all those kills. What I’m trying to say, mate, is unload on me.
VENGEANCE: That last part sounded disgusting.
DEATH: So I harbour some deep rooted homosexual feelings towards you, do you care?
VENGEANCE: I just saw her.
DEATH: Of course you did, you’re always “just seeing her” and she’s always just turning up to pick you up when you’re down, when you’re back from doing what you do, which I must say was excellent today mate. The mumps guy, inspired!
VENGEANCE: You saw him?
DEATH: Saw him? I had to dismantle his sperm one by one.
VENGEANCE: And you didn’t find that the least bit tedious?
DEATH: Oh no! It was a challenge, I made a game out of it, sang a destroying semen song.
VENGEANCE: How do you do it?
DEATH: Well I start with the melody and the words seem to come naturally…
VENGEANCE: How do you put up with the same stuff all of the time, and not get bored of it all, just want to pack it all in, say enough is enough. How can you not look at what we have and think that somehow, somewhere, there must be something more?
DEATH: Because mate, unlike a lot of you quasi-omnipotent beings, I am blessed with near ultimate knowledge. I see the big picture; I understand how everything began and have experience with how it ends. All these fleeting moments just take up time before we’re dragged into the nothingness, all but me that is. You see existence itself relies on me, I am the undo-er and without my presence the balance between creation and destruction is tipped, thus causing the unwavering and unyielding….un-creation. It’s hard to ignore that pressure. I am Death itself and therefore I behave as such, no remorse or regret, it’s what I am, just as you are Vengeance. Though the problem isn’t with what you have, it’s what you don’t, right?
VENGEANCE: You talk a hell of a lot.
DEATH: They’re all pre-prepared speeches; I have no one to talk to most days.
VENGEANCE: Beauty is just so…
VENGEANCE: She’s the one bit of hope left in my existence, no matter how low I get, for whatever reasons, and believe me there’s a lot of reasons; she’ll always be there to pick me up without any judgement. She’s all those old clichés, smart, funny…attractive of course. But much more than any of that, I’d rather talk to her, spend time with her, than anyone else in the world. She’s just this creation of sheer splendour and perfection, and I’m…
DEATH: You’re made of fury and hate as the creators need to punish those who chose to cross him.
VENGEANCE: Exactly. Not really the perfect couple are we?
DEATH: You know mate, half the stuff you spout about love and existence sounds like it’s coming from some angst-filled forlorn teenager.
VENGEANCE: This is you helping?
DEATH: Now don’t start moping. You can’t help it; Vengeance is intrinsically childish. “Oh things haven’t gone exactly as I’d planned them and the blame and responsibility can in no way rest on upon my shoulders but instead the head of some higher power. So fie, fie on those I condemn and dislike until I finally get things my way.” It’s not exactly mature or helpful to anyone else.
VENGEANCE: So by extension neither am I.
DEATH: Oh come on, you know what I’m like when I get going.
VENGEANCE: Like Death is any more responsible.
DEATH: See, now the concept of Death is ancient and eclectic. I’m interpreted differently by many and yet all agree on the importance of the conclusion I bring.
VENGEANCE: Your skewed view of existence doesn’t exactly reflect well on my predicament.
DEATH: I’m sorry. I’m not able to pat you on the back, or the head, or butt in some sympathetic way; touch of Death has negative side-effects you know. However I will say this, “it’s not the end of the world,” and I’d know.
[VENGEANCE glares at a smiling DEATH and walks away.]
DEATH: See it’s funny because I’m the ender of worlds.
[A bell rings from backstage.]
DEATH: That damn sound, it can really annoy me sometimes.
VENGEANCE: But teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.
DEATH: But they never said who has to cattle those souls off to the abyss. Ah well, do you want to come to work with me, take your mind off of things?
VENGEANCE: Where are we going?
[DEATH takes a second to think, as though he is retrieving information.]
DEATH: A comic shop, in Staines.
VENGEANCE: I hate those things.
DEATH: Why do you hate comics?
VENGEANCE: Have you seen how they depict the “spirit of vengeance”; some BDSM biker based on looks not substance. And what’s worse is they made it into a movie with Nicolas Cage. They cast Nicolas fucking Cage as ME. Things just don’t get more depressing.
DEATH: I was played by Sir Ian Mckellen once.
VENGEANCE: It doesn’t count.
DEATH: Why not?
VENGEANCE: It was a Schwarzenegger movie.
This isn’t what I ordered – Which involves many beings attempting their day jobs.
[As DEATH and VENGEANCE leave, the players positions change to form the inners of a comic store. FATE reads from his book and introduces the scene. Two clerks, LIAM and KRIS stand waiting behind a desk seemingly bored.]
LIAM: Is it okay…
LIAM: You didn’t let me finish
KRIS: Didn’t have to, kid, nothing you ever want is ok.
LIAM: Is it okay to be attracted to a comic character?
KRIS: No, just no. You’ve crossed the line from being an annoyance to a weird pervert of Japanese proportions. I mean what kind of degenerate disrespects the comic medium, by leering over make believe, obviously unrealistic looking women. You’ve gone wrong in the head.
LIAM: Don’t you want to know who?
KRIS: Like it really matters.
LIAM: Ultimate Shadowcat. Just Ultimate mind you, I feel she’s just so much more bubbly and cuter; her personality is far more attractive than 616 Shadowcat.
KRIS: Plus she doesn’t have a Giant Russian who can turn into metal for a boyfriend.
LIAM: That could cause problems. But Ultimate Shadowcat is just so charming I could listen to her dialogue forever.
KRIS: You sick twisted little man.
[VENGEANCE and DEATH enter, continuing their previous conversation as KRIS and LIAM watch on in awe.]
DEATH: So who would you want to play you in a movie?
VENGEANCE: I don’t know; anyone except Nicolas Cage. What about you?
DEATH: Johnny Depp, he’s the only guy who could show my quirky character whilst maintaining my complicated and serious centre.
[DEATH flicks through the comics]
KRIS: Careful with those.
VENGEANCE: Of course, we wouldn’t want to ruin your precious graphic novels.
LIAM: Are you here for me?
DEATH: No kid, we’re just…browsing.
KRIS: Well browse with your eyes not your hands.
LIAM: Now Ultimate Spider-man.
KRIS: You’re attracted to Ultimate Spider-man?
LIAM: No, that’d just be weird. I consider myself to be a lot like Spider-man…Aren’t you going to interrupt and question me about that?
KRIS: No, because I’m sure you have a prepared list of examples of how you’re just like Spider-man that would only waste my time and infuriate me further.
LIAM: Well I am, and he and Ultimate Shadowcat hook up. So I just have to believe that I guy like Spidey, like ME, could get a girl as amazing as ultimate Shadowcat.
KRIS: Hold on a second; isn’t Ultimate Shadowcat like 15. Not only is this creepy and unusual, but just plain paedophilic. You, kid, sicken me.
[CUSTOMER enters, carrying food with her. All eyes fall on this woman.]
DEATH: Ah, here’s our mark.
CUSTOMER: I heard there was a new Blade series. You got it?
KRIS: [waves hand slightly in a vague direction] Over there.
LIAM: New comics on that shelf, and old issues over there. All ordered alphabetically.
[KRIS and LIAM keep their eyes on CUSTOMER. DEATH follows her around the store trying to come up with ways of killing her. VENGEANCE seems dazed and focusing on something else.]
CUSTOMER: I can’t wait to read these, I mean everyone must be picking this up.
LIAM: It has been pretty popular.
CUSTOMER: Of course they have. I mean have you seen the Blade movies?
CUSTOMER: They’re awesome, so gory, so much action. And Wesley Snipes looks so cool in all that leather. They’re quite possibly the best movies ever made, especially the third one…awesome to the max.
LIAM: Big Blade fan huh?
CUSTOMER: Oh yeah, I even downloaded that amazing new TV show. It literally blew my mind, I can’t believe it bombed. Some people just don’t have any taste.
KRIS: You must have read all the Tomb of Dracula comics then?
CUSTOMER: No…I’m talking about Blade.
KRIS: You look after the store, kid; I’m going to smash my head into the wall for a while.
CUSTOMER: Can I read in here?
LIAM: Go ahead.
[CUSTOMER begins to open her food.]
KRIS: Hey hey hey there pilgrim, you can’t eat that here. For some reason I have a slight problem with you wiping your greasy fingers all around my store.
KRIS: Your grubby little walrus paws are going to absorb all that healthy grease and then elegantly smear themselves against whatever they bump into. And unsurprisingly some people have problems buying things with a covering of grease.
CUSTOMER: Like I care, you squares were bringing me down anyway.
[CUSTOMER walks off and in defiance takes a huge bite of her food. DEATH standing behind her mimes his hand around CUSTOMERS neck (think Darth Vader) and CUSTOMER begins to choke. DEATH mockingly over exaggerates choking along with him.]
KRIS: Now you’re coughing? Mucus is being spewed all over the comics and you don’t think I’m going to kill you.
LIAM: I think something may actually be wrong with her.
[LIAM leaps towards the CUSTOMER but is tripped by DEATH. CUSTOMER lies lifeless on the floor and LIAM crawls towards her.]
LIAM: I think she choked to death.
VENGEANCE: Choking? That’s your big finish?
[DEATH gives a knowing nod.]
KRIS: What was she eating?
LIAM: Garlic bread.
VENGEANCE: Ah irony; I see what you did there.
KRIS: This might take some explaining.
LIAM: It’s worse than the Skrull/ Kree war.
DEATH: Don’t worry we’ll be carting her off.
[DEATH and VENGEANCE each take one of CUSTOMERS legs and exit]
LIAM: Do you need anything else before you go?
VENGEANCE: From this hell?
DEATH: We’re fine thanks kid, and you [to KRIS] stop smoking or I’ll be back.
KRIS: Yeah. 15 – what’s wrong with you, kid? Get out of my sight before I make you pick up every crumb she spilt without using your hands. [Stage darkens, exeunt]
Moving on – The point at which the world as we now comprehend it begins to change.
VENGEANCE and DEATH enter, visibly exhausted.
DEATH: I hate it when they ask so many questions. Makes the trip take a whole lot longer.
VENGEANCE: You have to admit it’s a tough experience to comprehend.
DEATH: Not really. It happens to everything, they all know it’s coming; their whole lives are geared towards meeting me.
VENGEANCE: So you can forgive them for being flustered during the realisation of said goal.
DEATH: True. I just prefer those who accept it, not woefully cry, “why?” Though Sir it must be said it was indeed nice to share the journey with you.
VENGEANCE: I guess.
DEATH: But not as much fun as being with her. Well thank you Master Vengeance for making things ever so clear to me.
VENGEANCE: That’s not what I meant, we’re friends but she’s…
VENGEANCE: She has…
DEATH: I understand mate, she’s a girl, you’re a guy; and I’m…untouchable.
VENGEANCE: It’s not like that. She really is my best friend, there are some things I can’t even tell to you, but saying them to her just feels so right, so easy. I don’t have to watch my words, or hold anything back. I’m just myself with her and it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. I even told her I hate Christmas. There’s the feeling of complete security and trust in someone; someone who I know will be there for me; someone who I can depend on.
DEATH: I know this is a crazy suggestion Lord Vengeance, but wouldn’t it be more productive if you were telling her this, instead of me?
VENGEANCE: Because then I run the risk of tearing apart the friendship which I hold so dear to my heart. There are some things which, once said, can never be taken back. And I don’t know what I’d do if I lost her as a friend.
DEATH: Que sera sera.
VENGEANCE: Come again?
DEATH: Whatever will be, will be.
VENGEANCE: How can you possibly say that?
DEATH: Because the future’s not ours to see. It’s this. [DEATH points to FATE.]
DEATH: Fate, exactly. Everything happens for a reason, if you are meant to be with BEAUTY you will be, if your friendship is supposed to meet a swift and tragic end it will do, and thus you finally plucking up the courage to woo the object of your affection will have no effect on what destiny has pre-determined for you.
DEATH: No buts. [Moves over to FATE] Though FATE is unmoving, merely peering into his book, which by the by details all that has happened and all that ever will, in an attempt to fade into the background. [DEATH is now in FATE’s face, addressing him, attempting to cause FATE to react to him.] Though he refuses to interfere with all that goes on around him, to even communicate with we who walk past him – he is there. You can see him, touch him, slap him. There is no denying FATE and all that he carries.
VENGEANCE: I think I got your point.
DEATH: Good, so go talk to her.
VENGEANCE: Don’t think I can.
DEATH: What happened to being able to talk to her more freely than anyone else?
VENGEANCE: That’s different, that’s just conversation. This is important.
DEATH: Just be yourself.
VENGEANCE: Normally excellent advice, except now we’re talking about me.
DEATH: Right, unnerving vengeance and retribution. Well all you need is an ice breaker then.
VENGEANCE: Like a joke.
VENGEANCE: I only know Holocaust jokes…
DEATH: Then we’ll get you some new joke, a new boost in your sense of humour.
VENGEANCE: And how do you suppose we do that?
DEATH: We get some help.
VENGEANCE: Oh no, not him. He creeps me out, something went wrong there, and you can see it in his eyes.
DEATH: But you have to admit, there’s no one who enjoys life more, no one else who acts with such jubilation and passion. On the edge of rapture.
VENGEANCE: He’s dangerous, the humans even named a drug after him.
DEATH: Just shows how much he’ll pick you up.
VENGEANCE: I don’t know about this.
DEATH: Trust me, I’ll be there to protect you and soon enough you’ll know exactly what to say to BEAUTY.
VENGEANCE: Fine [He walks off.]
[Death follows close behind but as he passes FATE he tries to startle FATE, but to no avail.]
A Comedy of Errors – In which many jokes are attempted but few laughs are heard.
A lone figure, ECSTASY, stands downstage; he speaks as though he were a Stand-up comedian, seemingly addressing the audience directly. ECSTASY, when not in his “act” resembles a disturbed drug addict. Always twitching, giggling, he finds everything funny. Death and Vengeance enter onstage during his monologue.
ECSTASY: So how are you enjoying the show? Don’t all answer at once…Wow, depressed much? You all look like you’ve been slapped in the face with a trout. And not just a normal trout, a mutant killer trout that eats your brain and rapes babies. Especially this guy [points to member of audience] He looks like he’s seen better days; like the “olden days”. Quasimodo here looks like he’s taken a hiding from my mate Mental Steve. And we call him that, because it’s what’s on his birth certificate. And because he’s a violent schizophrenic; kinda lucky how that turned out, imagine going to an accountant called Mental Steve; or a doctor…I suppose brain surgeon would fit. Don’t laugh though, Mental Steve has a big drug problem…The pills are massive; he doesn’t know how to take them.
DEATH: Tough Crowd?
ECSTASY: Yeah, funerals always are. The problem with them is half the audience are dead.
VENGEANCE: I knew this was a mistake. He’s clearly going to be no help to us. It’s insane.
ECSTASY: Not insane. Pure joy, bliss, delirium, delight, elation…ecstasy. And it’s a lot better than being dull.
VENGEANCE: I’m not dull.
ECSTASY: Of course not I’m sure you have a thrilling collection of antique kitten statues.
VENGEANCE: We’re leaving.
DEATH: But you do have a collection of cat statues.
ECSTASY: I mean no insult or jibe, tis merely my programmed nature.
DEATH: Master ECSTASY we require your assistance in a matter of humour.
ECSTASY: But you’re the punch line to the ultimate joke; life itself.
DEATH: Not me [He looks at VENGEANCE]
ECSTASY: Him? Now I know you’re joking.
VENGEANCE: Now wait one second…
ECSTASY: You have brought before me possibly the most boring being in existence; I’ve seen more life in the desert.
DEATH: Think of it as a challenge.
ECSTASY: I do love a challenge.
DEATH: And what a challenge, this tale shall be regaled by all for generations. How you, Lord Ecstasy turned this creature of grey personality from a dreary shell into an eloquent bundle of charisma and wit.
VENGEANCE: I’m standing right here you know.
ECSTASY: I’ll do it, soon enough you shall see the world through my eyes. Where every sentence is a set-up, every situation prime for picking at. Rainbows pour from unicorn eyes, as they leap through fields of lollipops and into marshmallow clouds.
DEATH: I don’t think we need to go that far.
VENGEANCE: Thank you. I hope to, um, follow you well, and um, you know, pick things up quickly. So that, um, soon I’ll be as confident and as funny as you. Well, not you of course, but you get what I mean.
ECSTASY: Right, firstly an easy joke that always kills. What did the five fingers say to the face?
ECSTASY slaps VENGEANCE, causing VENGEACE to lung forward in anger and grab hold of ECSTASY.
VENGEANCE: What do you think you’re doing little man? You want to keep testing me, don’t you think that I will…
ECSTASY: Strike down upon me with great Vengeance and furious anger?
DEATH: You think this is funny? He will kill you!
ECSTASY: No, that’s your job.
VENGEANCE: Oh we’re ending this now.
ECSTASY: No. Please. I can’t help it; I understand the gravity of my current situation. Honestly I just can’t stop laughing.
DEATH: Let him go.
ECSTASY: So I see you want more sophisticated jokes, not just cheap laughs.
DEATH: Social commentary, ice breakers, a quick quip here or there.
ECSTASY: Oh I see; this is about a girl.
ECSTASY: Well whoever you’re trying to impress, humour is definitely the key to the lady’s heart. Laughter will make her swoon, not mumbling and turning crimson.
VENGEANCE: It’s just a bit hot in here.
ECSTASY: Oh, I forgot you were best served cold.
DEATH: Lord Ecstasy this isn’t exactly the time for you to push your luck.
ECSTASY: Right, First an easy joke to remember. It follows the rule of three, the most important rule of comedy. Memorise this and you cannot fail.
A seaman [he laughs] meets a pirate at a bar, and their talk turns to their adventures on the sea. The seaman notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook, and an eye patch. The seaman asks, “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?” The pirate replies, “We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Needless to say old lefty was taken from me.”
“Wow!” says the seaman. “What about your hook?” “Well,” replies the pirate, “we were boarding an enemy ship and in the mess of battle the enemy cut off my hand.” “Incredible!” remarks the seaman, “How did you get the eye patch?” “I had an eyelash in there,” replied the pirate. “I didn’t know they were that dangerous,” the sailor asks incredulously. “Well,” says the pirate, “it was my first day with my hook.”
Come on time to learn the other stuff, off the cuff remarks etcetera etcetera.
A Brave Face – In which things do not go according to plan
BEAUTY is sitting alone downstage working, VENGEANCE and DEATH enter upstage.
VENGEANCE: I’m not sure about this.
DEATH: You’ll be fine just do whatever Ecstasy said, but without losing your sanity.
VENGEANCE: But what if I…
DEATGH: You’ll be fine. Now go.
[DEATH Pushes VENGEANCE towards BEAUTY and then watches on as they converse.]
BEAUTY: Hi Stranger, are you alright, you’re looking slightly off.
VENGEANCE: No, I’m…I’m cool. What are you up to?
BEAUTY: Nothing much, just designing some sunsets. You know just trying to capture subtle glow which is somehow powerful enough to warm a heart and bring people together. The simple stuff.
VENGEANCE: Ah the sun, it’s a nice place to visit; but you wouldn’t want to live there.
VENGEANCE: Think about it, it’s hot; really hot. Even giraffes can’t take that kind of heat. And I’ve seen a giraffe on fire. Just standing there; waiting for the bus.
BEAUTY: You’re acting very strange V.
VENGEANCE: Not as strange as a human I saw earlier. I saw him run in front of a bus.
BEAUTY: What happened?
VENGEANCE: He got tired…
BEAUTY: So you’re feeling better about earlier.
VENGEANCE: Yeah, sulking doesn’t exactly help; sometimes you just have to laugh things off.
BEAUTY: Laugh it off, you?
VENGEANCE: Yeah, what’s wrong with that?
BEAUTY: You’re not exactly one for a laugh or a joke. You’re more…
VENGEANCE: Depressing? Able to make people uncomfortable by merely being near them?
BEAUTY: That’s not what I was saying don’t be so dense.
VENGEANCE: So what, now I’m boring AND dense.
BEAUTY: Oh forget it; I’ll talk to you when you start acting like yourself.
VENGEANCE: I am myself, and I am funny, I have jokes and everything.
BEAUTY: More things about Giraffes?
VENGEANCE: Actual jokes.
BEAUTY: Well this will be interesting. Go ahead.
VENGEANCE: Fine, there’s this pirate and he’s all mean and has a, he’s in a bar, and this other guy sits next to him in the bar and says, “How did you get your hook,” because this pirate has a hook and an eye patch, you know all the pirate type things. And the pirate says, “we were at sea and there was this shark and he ate my hand off.” The other man is like, “oh right, well how about the eye patch?” and the pirate says, “Well there was this thing in my eye, and I had to ummm well it was …a shark ate it.” And the other man says, “Oh wow, sharks don’t like you, sharks are mean…speaking of you only having one hand, what did the five fingers say to the face?”
BEAUTY: Well…what did the five fingers say to the face?
[VENGEANCE slaps BEAUTY and is immediately shocked after realising what he’s done.]
VENGEANCE: I’m so…
BEAUTY: Yeah. Just leave me alone for a bit. I have things to do, and you’re becoming a real pain.
BEAUTY: I don’t know what’s come over you.
[DEATH slowly approaches VENGEANCE.]
DEATH: Well, that could have gone better.
VENGEANCE: I slapped her.
DEATH: Yes, you did.
VENGEANCE: I’m horrible; I’m like a wife beater.
DEATH: No; for that to be the case you’d have to be married. This was confusion, embarrassment; think of it more as happy slapping.
[VENGEANCE glares at DEATH.]
DEATH: Okay, “sad slapping”, “woeful slapping”.
VENGEANCE: This is hardly the time for word play.
DEATH: You’re right; this is the time for action. Pick yourself up and try again.
VENGEANCE: Again, I just hit her, what do you want me to do next, tie her up and throw darts at her?
DEATH: She’ll get over it, and so should you. Perk up mate or you’ll never win her heart.
VENGEANCE: Sorry mate, but listening to you just made that happen, so forgive if I give your next scheme a miss.
DEATH: They’re not schemes; and in case you forgot all I said was you need to talk to her, just be yourself. You were the one crying out for a personality overhaul. Just bring your head out from under the ground and act like the guy she likes. All you need is a little confidence boost.
VENGEANCE: I don’t like the sound of the end of that.
DEATH: Prepare to be inspired my friend.
Inspiration – Patience is tested, and paths are crossed as advice is sought.
INSPIRATION, a melodramatic, divine looking woman is toying with theatrical masks. DEATH and VENGEANCE enter with hesitation.
VENGEANCE: But she’s a friend of Beauty’s.
DEATH: Then she’ll be of even more help. She can offer more insight into that Beautiful mind.
VENGEANCE: What if she says something to Beauty?
DEATH: She won’t.
VENGEANCE: How do you know?
DEATH: Because that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.
VENGEANCE: Oh, right.
DEATH: Lady Inspiration, it is a grand and wonderful experience to be seeing you again.
INSPIRATION: Death, it’s always a pleasure to have such an energetic and theatrical presence in my domain. Though you have brought Vengeance with you, I do hope I have done nothing to wrong you.
DEATH: We both know that you have my dear, but that is not why we are here.
VENGEANCE: Yes you see actually…
INSPIRATION: So it is merely a personal visit, we are to sit on our thrones, drinking mead before regaling each other with tales, jokes and performances. Or perhaps The Lord of retribution and his shadowy counterpart have come here seeking my help.
VENGEANCE: Now see here, you pretentious little witch.
INSPIRATION: Oh please, you’ve become more pathetic than those statues you collect. Now doubt you are here to ask for a hand with creating some vile punishments, to destroy all that BEAUTY and I work towards.
VENGEANCE: You think you’re so insightful, but you can barely see the cracks appearing in your own facial façade.
DEATH: You may not be afraid of him; but what of me?
INSPIRATION: I’m not helping you.
VENGEANCE: Let’s go.
DEATH: And why not?
INSPIRATION: Why? John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, James Dean, River Phoenix, Diana Spencer. All wrought with talent to create, to enthuse, to change the world. And you, YOU take them away.
DEATH: What about Eva Cassidy, Vincent van Gogh; those who posthumously became recognised for their talents. Or people like Adam Walsh, the Beaumont children, and Emmett Till; people whose deaths have caused great changes in the world. The many deaths which have had to occur before those foolish mortals were actually inspired to get up and make long overdue changes to their worlds. I think you might owe me a favour.
INSPIRATION: What do you want?
DEATH: It’s what he wants actually.
INSPIRATION: And what is your wish, Lord Vengeance?
VENGEANCE I seek the means to impress someone. And in case you hadn’t noticed I don’t exactly have a creative streak for wooing. I can think of at least seventy-two ways to torture a giant using only a net and an egg separator. But ask me to talk to members of the opposite sex and I freeze up faster than hot water.
DEATH: You mean cold water.
VENGEANCE: No, hot water freezes faster than cold, it’s called the Mpemba effect.
INSPIRATION: It’s always about a girl isn’t it; most of the time that girl. I can inspire you to write her a beautiful poem or a wondrous love song.
DEATH: No, no. We’re done trying the fancy stuff. Just give him the confidence to talk to her, be himself.
VENGEANCE: Without me breaking down into tears.
DEATH: Tears of fear.
INSPIRATION: So a metaphorical kick up the arse then?
VENGEANCE: That sounds about right.
[She Kicks VENGEANCE]
DEATH: I thought you said metaphorical.
INSPIRATION: Metaphorical, metaphysical; it’s all the same thing up here.
VENGEANCE: And that was the only way you could motivate me.
INSPIRATION: No, but it was the most fun. And boys, don’t cross me again. [She places a scary mask over her face.]
The Calm before – In which things continue to not go to plan and friends part ways.
BEAUTY is sitting, fiddling with hats, scarves and other beautiful garments; VENGEANCE enters and slowly moves over to her.
VENGEANCE: Can I sit here?
BEAUTY: I don’t think I could take another beating.
VENGEANCE: I deserve that. I guess I’ll be seeing you around then.
BEAUTY: Sit down.
VENGEANCE: I’m sorry.
BEAUTY: Don’t do it again.
VENGEANCE: Believe me it’s not top of my to-do list.
BEAUTY: I don’t think it should even be on the list. [BEAUTY places a hat on his head.]
VENGEANCE: Been creating I see.
BEAUTY: It’s better than destroying.
VENGEANCE: I’ll have you know, my work is a lot more than just destroying.
BEAUTY: When you bother to do it.
VENGEANCE: I right wrongs.
BEAUTY: That’s so cute; you think you’re a superhero.
VENGEANCE: I balance things. Every action I take must be fine tuned to perfectly oppose that which I am avenging. I have to maintain equilibrium throughout existence, if I’m just a little off things could get…
BEAUTY: Could get what?
VENGEANCE: Complicated, horrible disasters.
BEAUTY: Things could get a little hot.
VENGEANCE: I need to focus.
BEAUTY: Put it on.
VENGEANCE: Excuse me?
BEAUTY: That hat. Put it back on.
VENGEANCE: What, so I can look as silly as you?
VENGEANCE: No, not silly exactly. It’s just, you know I prefer you with your hair down because you look, well you know, and with the, um, hat you look kinda weird.
BEAUTY: Well which is it silly or weird.
VENGEANCE: Just different, not how I’m used to seeing you. Most of the time I think you look…
BEAUTY: I was just expecting another insult.
VENGEANCE: Most of the time you look really…
BEAUTY: Nice? Your big make-up for everything word is nice.
VENGEANCE: What do you want me to say? That you’re beautiful? Because surely that goes without saying.
BEAUTY: Don’t be pedantic V.
VENGEANCE: Or how about, that the light of stars themselves pale in comparison to the glow that surrounds you. That you are so stunning, entire galaxies stop moving just to bask in your splendour, and though all this is true I still wish you would notice my stammering form frozen in awe of you as all this goes on.
BEAUTY: That might be over doing it a little though.
VENGEANCE: Yeah, think I overdid the bombast. Anyway I better get, um, going, there’s this thing I need to do in the place.
BEAUTY: See you around V.
[VENGEANCE and BEAUTY part ways and head towards DEATH and INSPIRATION respectively.]
DEATH: Let me guess, it went…badly.
VENGEANCE: I was open, honest, myself and she just laughed at me. She must think I’m completely…
INSPIRATION: Stupid people, how hard is it to grasp the concept of Epic Theatre! Plays can teach and pose argument; they are not merely a form of a fool’s escapism. If you stopped making the actors so pretty maybe they’d be focussing on issues instead of faces.
BEAUTY: Yeah, yeah. You know there’s nothing wrong with something sweet and simplistic. Sometimes things just come across like all they’re doing is trying to be complex.
INSPIRATION: Are you okay, you look like you’re off in another…
VENGEANCE: World. Populated entirely of idiots. If such a place exists we can go there, and I shall spend the rest of existence with my peers.
DEATH: Come on mate, it can’t have gone that badly.
VENGEANCE: I’ve seen vampire beach volleyball games turn out better.
DEATH: So you actually opened up and told her how you…
BEAUTY: Feel that something is wrong with V.
INSPIRATION: Oh there’s nothing wrong with him.
BEAUTY: But he’s been acting ever so strange recently.
INSPIRATION: That’s because he’s trying to get inside you.
DEATH: Did she actually realise you weren’t joking?
DEATH: You don’t know?
VENGEANCE: I guess I may not have come across as entirely serious.
BEAUTY: Clearly you’re mistaken, V, Vengeance is, we’re friends. Why would he even think something like…
DEATH: That is why she laughed, and that is why you should go back and finally be completely honest. Or believe me things are going to get very…
INSPIRATION: Bad news? It must be so horrible to have everything with a Y chromosome falling at your feet.
BEAUTY: I just thought we had something more than that; like he saw past what everyone else focuses on.
INSPIRATION: He’s just like everyone else, infatuated with your appearance; and who could blame him. But what do I get, just once I’d like them all to fight over me.
BEAUTY: I need to get out of here.
INSPIRATION: Dear no. There’s no need to rush off.
BEAUTY: I can’t face seeing him right now. I just, don’t know what to say to him. [Exit]
[After arguing with VENGEANCE, DEATH moves towards Inspiration.]
DEATH: Where’s she off to then?
INSPIRATION: Don’t know, just said she couldn’t be anywhere near VENGEANCE and left in a rush.
DEATH: Why? What did you do?
INSPIRATION: I just told her that your little pal wanted a piece of her. Like every other man, apparently.
DEATH: WHY? Why would you do that?
INSPIRATION: What, it’s the truth. I thought she knew, I mean every other thing in the universes does, he’s so transparent.
DEATH: Consider the consequences. She’s run off. Lord knows what effect that will have. And then there’s him.
INSPIRATION: Like I care about him.
DEATH: He is the Lord of Vengeance. When he learns he’s caused someone he loves to flee at the very thought of him. How do you think he will react, he is going to go berserk, pure unrelenting unforgiving wrath.
VENGEANCE: What’s going on?
DEATH: We’re singing sea shanties. Yo ho yo ho…
VENGEANCE: What’s going on?
INSPIRATION: I told…
DEATH: Now mate, don’t over react but…
VENGEANCE: Where did Beauty go?
DEATH: She left.
DEATH: The fair Lady Inspiration let the cat out of the bag and Beauty darted out of this world without a word of where she’s gone.
VENGEANCE: I can’t believe this.
DEATH: I know.
VENGEANCE: Get away from me, this is all your fault. If you hadn’t stuck your nose into my business everything would be the same, she would still be here.
VENGEANCE: Exactly. Lord Vengeance, who you have crossed and seriously pissed off. Stay away from me or my vengeance will fall upon you swiftly and violently. [Exits]
INSPIRATION: So juvenile.
[Lighting dims and turns red through Fate’s speech].
FATE: Beauty has left the worlds and so too has her influence. Creation deteriorates, becoming more revolting by the second. The Lord Vengeance feels the effects most and goes on a merciless warpath of increasing horror and violence. The waters run red with blood and the skies turn to ash. Thus the darkest hour of the eternals and existence itself has begun.
DEATH: You hear that. That is what you have brought upon us, I have half a mind to drop you right here.
INSPIRATION: Do you actually think you frighten me? We both know you’re bound to those stupid rules; you can’t kill me unless you are ordered to. You are nothing but a slave with no free will, soul shepherd. And it looks like you’re going to be plenty busy anyway.
[The bell starts to sound continuously.]
DEATH: And so it begins.
Musings of the Immortals – In which an unexpected conversation occurs.
DEATH enters to the sound of a constantly ringing bell, he is exhausted as more and more people are dying.
DEATH: Alright, alright, I get it. Just give me a moment to rest.
[The bell continues to ring.]
I said shut up!
[DEATH points his hand shaped into a gun at the bell ringer, causing the bell ringer to die offstage.]
I don’t know how much more of this I can take. It’s all downhill from here, or is that uphill. Which is the bad one? I’m overworked; lives are dropping left, right, up, down, all around, in every world. I don’t know how much longer I can appear as the charismatic joker, the rogue who wades through the mess because his greater knowledge of life, existence and the eventual end allows him to see beyond the petty troubles. But I look at the darkness spreading, the vengeance violently violating vast voids and I worry. I fret, I agonise because this is causing a lot of trouble for a lot of people [mimes hanging] apart from me. Because in the end, and I mean that oh so literally. When every mortal, immortal, thought, feeling and anthropomorphistic being has had their light extinguished; when worlds have fallen and everything has collapsed into nothing, I will be left. For without DEATH, there can never be life. So I’ll wait, alone in my contemplation, until perhaps eventually a seed will sprout. Kinda makes me want to cling to life, as ridiculous as that sounds. The knowledge of an eternity in the vast solitude of existence intrinsically creates a crippling loneliness complex, which plays in ones mind to an extent where I reach out and bare my soul in the hope that there is actually some intelligent life out there listening to me.
FATE: Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no intelligent life out there.
DEATH: You should mind what you’re doing mate, you frightened the death out of me.
FATE: My apologies, I’m not used to being startled – I see everything coming.
DEATH: Of course you do Lord Fate, which is why something must be terribly wrong if you’re talking to me.
FATE: And why pray tell is that?
DEATH: Well, you’re not exactly the outgoing talkative type, more like an ominous sentry with your head in that book.
FATE: This book contains written within all that ever was, all…
DEATH: That is to be. I get how it works, mate. So why have you left your post, especially at a time like this.
FATE: I am talking to you because the book says that I talk to you. And the book says that I talk to you because indeed now I am taking to you.
DEATH: So we’ve established that we’re both slaves to inanimate objects, continue.
FATE: I am to set you on the path of a new destiny, to tell you of your new mission.
DEATH: Mission? You have the wrong man, mate.
DEATH: Look how bloody busy I am, everyone, everything is dying and I have to cart them off. I don’t have time to go parading off into an adventure because some uptight, tight-lipped being tells me it’s my fate.
FATE: And how do you expect that all to end? You think Vengeance is going to become forgiving, that he’ll grow tired of this little tirade, that BEAUTY will come back and make everything alright by her own accord before it’s too late. You, Soul Shepherd, have been appointed the task of finding your friend and making him see sense. Then it is written that the two of you are to find Beauty in an attempt to finally bring them together and return normality to existence.
DEATH: And all that in about twenty minutes?
FATE: You ARE going to do this.
DEATH: Where am I even supposed to find him?
FATE: Just follow the bell. At the rate he’s going your paths are bound to cross.
DEATH: Okay then, looks like I’m off to save the day.
FATE: Good luck friend.
DEATH: You consider me a friend?
FATE: I will do. When the eventual ending comes and you are left waiting, I shall be there beside you. For Fate too is eternal; with the words of what to come waiting to be read. You will not be alone.
DEATH: Well now I can’t wait for the destruction of reality. Before I head off on my journey into the unknown can you tell me what happens with VENGEANCE and BEAUTY in the end? Do they make it?
FATE: Whether they get together or not, you above all others should realise that it isn’t really the end.
DEATH: Ah the element of surprise, thank you Lord Fate.
FATE: And so his part in the story complete, Fate returns to his silent musings and observations as the tale of DEATH, VENGEANCE and their quest for BEAUTY unfolds.
A Chance Meeting – which sets them on a path they cannot return from.
VENGEANCE is towering above a helpless MORTAL who is in tears begging to Vengeance.
MORTAL: Please, no, there must be some other way.
VENGEANCE: You little man are a sinner. Evil seeps out of your very core, and unless I put an end to it you will continue to plague life itself.
MORTAL: What did I do that was so bad?
MORTAL: Gossiping? Surely that’s not a sin.
VENGEANCE: (Leviticus 19:16) Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour. And you my cheery little bug were involved in a little game of she-said-he-said. Didn’t you know these kinds of things come back and bite you in the arse.
MORTAL: Right so, what’s my punishment then?
VENGEANCE: New rules and believe me this is going to be an ever so painful death.
[MORTAL begins to have a heart attack as VENGEANCE looks on confused. The bell begins to ring.]
VENGEANCE: What? Not now! He wasn’t supposed to get here this quickly.
[As VENGEANCE goes to exit, DEATH’s voice calls from off-stage.]
DEATH: Stop right there.
DEATH: Let me deal with this and then we have a few things to discuss.
VENGEANCE: Oh, I’m looking forward to that.
DEATH: Now listen here mate, you’re dead.
DEATH: Deceased, departed, lifeless, no more, you have ceased to be, expired, off to meet the maker, bereft of life, your metabolic processes are history, you’ve kicked the bucket. You are an ex-man…not the superhero kind…no one gets me.
MORTAL: Right, so you’re the grim reaper.
DEATH: Not my favourite of names; why do I have to be grim?
MORTAL: So don’t you need to take me off into the afterlife?
DEATH: Right you see mate, there’s a slight problem there. In that I need to talk to this fellow, could you possibly get there by yourself.
MORTAL: And how do you suggest I manage that?
DEATH: Oh it’s easy. First you go down that way towards the light, take a left, then a right and if you keep going along you’ll see a wormhole in the fabric of space and time. Now do a roly-poly through this and you’ll end up on the rollercoaster of judgement. You go up the roller coaster, and along the rollercoaster, loop-the-loop and then jump off the rollercoaster into a big pool of jelly. You must eat the jelly and at the bottom you will find a door, to unlock the door you must remove the key from the belly of the mighty sphinx. Then and only then can you pass into the afterlife.
MORTAL: Right. What was that?
DEATH: It’s backstage.
DEATH: I thought so.
VENGEANCE: You’re not as funny as you think you are.
DEATH: Well I think we proved I’m funnier than you.
VENGEANCE: I don’t need this; I’m getting out of here.
DEATH: Funny. I think that’s what Beauty said.
VENGEANCE: I swear I will…
DEATH: You’ll what? Hit me? Go on try it…didn’t think so. Because of course that would require touching me which has rather a major downside. You moan at me about her not knowing how you feel, and being incomplete because you’re not with her. Well boo fucking hoo. How do you think I feel? No one wants to feel my prick. That I will probably never, ever be able to get close to another soul because most of them end in the ground, or in the air or wherever it is they go. You, you like to make out that your existence is so tough, that you’re alone, that your work is strenuous. I will tell you what hard is mate. Why don’t you try explaining to a new born baby that it has to leave the world it has only just entered? That it will never get to experience all that it should, never see the sky, never laugh, never love. To drag that bewildered being into the unknown as its mother’s screams echo around you. Because believe me that is something you never forget; you can cover it up with jokes and flailing arm movements, but you never forget it. That is what I deal with, but do I seek you out and whine and cry and bitch. No. I get on with it, I understand that it is my job and it has to be done, no matter how cuttingly painful it is, our jobs have to be done. I am Death. I am the destroyer of worlds, he who would wipe you from existence. I am the omega, the end of all things. I am Ragnarock, the bringer of the apocalypse, the shadow looming over all creation, he who should be feared above all else and I am your friend, and I’m going to help you.
VENGEANCE: Help me? Don’t you think you’ve done enough of that? If it wasn’t for your help we wouldn’t be in this dire situation.
DEATH: Hey, if you’d actually listened to me and been completely straightforward with her from the start we wouldn’t be in the middle of this tangled web of confusion. So for once stop whinging, get off your arse and tell her how you feel.
VENGEANCE: We don’t even know where she is.
DEATH: Well that’s why we’re going to find her.
DEATH: Yes mate even with my ever expanding work load I still find time to help you out. That’s why I’m an excellent friend.
VENGEANCE: So where do we start then?
DEATH: I guess we look for clues in this world. Where are we?
[They search around the stage, using the outskirts as props or scenery.]
VENGEANCE: Yeah I think it’s to do with the creator’s lack of imagination.
DEATH: I always thought it was due to a lack of funding.
VENGEANCE: It’s really gone downhill though, what will happen to the worlds if we don’t find beauty?
DEATH: Nothing good.
VENGEANCE: This is hopeless, everything here is almost dead.
DEATH: Good thing I’m already here then. No? Too early for jokes, okay. [He finds a rose.]
DEATH: What’s this?
VENGEANCE: Well show me it.
DEATH: You want me to pick up the only thing on all of Earth that’s not grown disgusting and near death? Well, it’s near me in proximity, but…
VENGEANCE: It’s a rose. This was her favourite flower.
DEATH: Right. Which means what?
VENGEANCE: We’re on the right path.
Two players stand towards the back of the stage, dressed as trees. FATE steps forward. A lone FAIRY stands on the outskirts, tending to a tree.
FATE: So Vengeance and his companion followed the trail of roses through many worlds growing closer to their final destination. Though their task was filled with many complications, including one “of Fairies”.
ENTER DEATH and VENGEANCE
DEATH: Are we there yet?
VENGEANCE: Quiet you. Just get looking for clues.
DEATH: You mean the illustrious roses she’s been leaving behind? Not exactly the most original calling card, and also if she’s trying to keep secret, keep hidden why is she leaving a follow-able path?
VENGEANCE: Maybe because she…just get looking, the faster we get this out of the way the sooner you can get back to whatever it is you do.
DEATH: I kill people.
VENGEANCE: Well don’t you want to get back to that?
DEATH: I kill people.
VENGEANCE: Just search the trees.
DEATH: This is useless.
VENGEANCE: This is not useless.
DEATH: I know. There’s no sign of roses, of any beauty whatsoever. The trail’s gone cold. I know you’ve got it into your head that you’re going to find her, and bring her back in your arms, but please mate, tell me how you expect to do that when we’ve reached a dead end.
VENGEANCE: We could ask her.
VENGEANCE points towards FAIRY
DEATH: Oh no, we’re on a fairy world! Just leave her be, we’ll figure something else out.
VENGEANCE: Look, we don’t have time for your inane ramblings. We have to find her.
DEATH: You haven’t had much contact with fairies have you?
VENGEANCE: What makes you say that?
DEATH: You’ll see.
VENGEANCE approaches FAIRY
VENGEANCE: Excuse me, could you help…
FAIRY: Be still my racing heart,
You are the enemy,
I’ve come face to face
With a P-P-Pixie.
VENGEANCE: Right, okay, we’re looking for…
FAIRY: Oh dear, there’s two of you,
But I will not be afraid.
I will stand up strong,
As the pixies invade.
VENGEANCE turns to DEATH
VENGEANCE: What’s she doing?
DEATH: She thinks we’re pixies.
VENGEANCE: And why is she reciting poetry.
DEATH: Fairies talk in rhyme, annoying isn’t it. But you felt the need to ignore my warning.
VENGEANCE: It’s just a bit of verse, what’s the worst that could happen.
VENGEANCE: Look, calm down we are not pixies, we are just…
FAIRY: Do you think I’d let my guard down
That I’d just let you flee
I will halt you rivals
By calling the spirit of the tree!
Players as trees wrap their arms around VENGEANCE and DEATH, trapping them.
DEATH: Oh right, Fairies also have magic, tied in to nature.
VENGEANCE: It’s almost like you’re enjoying this.
FAIRY: Now look here Pixie fiends,
You have made the world grow bleak.
But I’ll stop your devilish plans.
You will not steal what you seek.
VENGEANCE: We’re not Pixies! Do we look like Pixies?
FAIRY: But Pixies are devious,
mischievous, cunning and mean,
You can use your wicked trickery
And change how you are seen.
DEATH: She’s got a good point there.
VENGEANCE: Will you just shut up while I talk some sense into her. We implore you, oh protector of the forest, heed our words. We have come seeking help, not to hinder.
FAIRY: But, Pixies…
VENGEANCE: We are not Pixies.
FAIRY: Well if Pixies you might not be
then say, what are thee…?
VENGEANCE: I am Veng…
DEATH: We cannot say.
VENGEANCE: What? Why?
DEATH: You think SHE can comprehend what we are. We tell her the truth, she doesn’t understand and so labels us…
FAIRY: Pixies. Pixies. Trouble making Pixies.
Come to hurt Fairies and steal our holy thing
I will not let you do it, I stop your dark dead
I will save the realm and warn the Fairy King.
DEATH: Good luck talking sense into that.
VENGEANCE: Can’t you just kill her?
DEATH: Can’t you just avenge her?
DEATH: My hands are tied by the system and literally. I can’t go from world to world killing fairies, however annoying they may be.
VENGEANCE: So we’re stuck here.
DEATH: Looks that way doesn’t it.
VENGEANCE: I can’t believe this.
DEATH: I know.
VENGEANCE: We have to…
DEATH: Save the girl, bring peace to the Empire; stop the total degradation of all life. I get it.
VENGEANCE: Of all the things to stop us, a retarded tree-dwelling poet. And a bad poet at that.
DEATH: No, she’s not very smart.
VENGEANCE: She’s never even seen smart.
DEATH: I think I can get us out of here, just follow my lead.
VENGEANCE: Always a good start to one of our plans.
DEATH: Fairy it is time for you to learn the truth.
FAIRY: Pitter patter, Pixie your pungent prose passes pointlessly.
DEATH: Silence! I am no Pixie. We are Tree Gods.
VENGEANCE: Exactly. What?
DEATH withers the trees allowing him and VENGEANCE to walk towards the FAIR.
FAIRY: Oh dear, oh me oh my.
DEATH: Calm down tree spirit, we have come to help you, but first you must help us.
VENGEANCE: What’s that?
DEATH: What’s what?
VENEGANCE points to a rose pinned to FAIRY.
FAIRY: Twas my reward for catching Pixies
Though now it’s plain to see
This honour so grand illustrious
Should not have been given to me.
She hands the rose to VENGEANCE.
DEATH: Is that a rose?
VENGEANCE: Where does it grow?
FAIRY: The Flower is one of utmost beauty
They Bloom all day and night
Tis our last remaining shred of hope
Growing in the circle of light.
VENGEANCE: You mean there are more of these.
DEATH: And no need to rhyme…this time.
FAIRY: Many grow outside the castle walls
They shine against the dark
The ground is considered holy there
Where Beauty left her mark.
DEATH: I said no need.
VENGEANCE: Can you take us there.
FAIRY: But, you may mean to steal them from us.
DEATH: Do not worry little one. If you take us to the circle of light we will make the forest bloom again. We promise you this, and the fairies will always be remembered for protecting the beauty of the forests.
FAIRY: You better run fast, to keep with my pace,
Grab a hold of my arm and grip tightly
Here we go, watch out
Just follow me.
FAIRY RUNS OFF
DEATH: I kinda like her. So what’s the plan…man?
VENGEANCE: We go to where the roses are, look for a temporal rift and head off to whatever world she went to next.
DEATH: Are we there yet?
The Seven – In which tension is built as sin surrounds all.
The Seven are representative of the seven deadly sins. They stand just offstage ready to enter and surround DEATH and VENGEANCE.
VENGEANCE: Where are we?
DEATH: It appears to be the underbelly of the castle of the seven.
VENGEANCE: The seven?
DEATH: Yeah, do you want to go back, try somewhere else? I think we should go back and try somewhere else.
VENGEANCE: No, we don’t have time. We push forward and face the seven head on.
DEATH: Okay, but we’re in their domain so stay alert. In here they’re stronger than we are and won’t hesitate to make us their puppets.
VENGEANCE: Let’s just get this over with.
[Seven step forward, forming a semi-circle around the two]
SEVEN: Halt wanderers, you have stepped beyond the point of no return. Be gone or face your fate.
VENGEANCE: We’re looking for…
DEATH: The Lords of this Castle.
SEVEN: Looking? Found them you have. We are they. We are the cold running through your veins, we are the whispers echoing in your ears. We are your guilt, your pain, your fear. Those who make you wrong, and wish to do it again. The Sins and Evil they call Seven. Who dares walk among us?
DEATH: I do.
PRIDE: Azrael, you are most welcome here.
ENVY: Your work is well respected by us.
WRATH: But your companion on the other hand.
GREED: You, VENGEANCE seek to undo our troubles.
GLUTTONY: Bring a balance to the soul.
LUST: Prevent us from penetrating their very core, and making them fester in the filth they create.
SLOTH: Why come to face us?
WRATH: When it is clearly a dangerous idea.
VENGEANCE: I come in search of one who has travelled through here. We merely followed their trail and mean you no disrespect.
LUST: And who have you come in search of?
PRIDE stands behind VENGEANCE like a puppet master.
VENGEANCE: I need not answer you, minion. I am Lord Vengeance, an Eternal and master of all balance.
DEATH knocks PRIDE away.
DEATH: Get off him, you scavenger.
VENGEANCE: Please, respect my privacy.
GREED: Hold on to whatever you wish.
DEATH: Have you seen anyone pass through?
GREED: That is the information we hold on to.
ENVY: What’s so special about this person?
LUST: Surely I could make a suitable substitute.
VENGEANCE: That’s not what I’m looking for.
LUST: But I can be very flexible.
VENGEANCE: Sorry, no. I really need to find my friend.
LUST: Such a shame, you could have had fun for a change.
DEATH: You know, I always wondered if you were a guy or a girl.
DEATH: It’s like being back in Thailand.
WRATH puppeteers VENGEANCE, and SLOTH puppeteers DEATH.
VENGEANCE: Enough of your silly little tricks and games to try and trap us. You know something and you will tell me.
PRIDE: Oh, and what will you do, oh mighty one.
VENGEANCE: I will rain fire upon this stronghold of yours until the flesh melts away from your bones. I will make you pay for everything you have done to us, Vengeance will be mine.
LUST: Such powerful thrusting words.
GREED: Aren’t you going to save your friend, Azrael? Don’t you feel the call to jump in to action?
DEATH: No…I’m really very tired.
VENGEANCE: Can’t even be bothered to help me? I always knew you were a lousy friend.
DEATH: You seem to have things under control, maybe I’ll just go to sleep.
VENGEANCE: Don’t be so dim, you’re being controlled by Sloth, who it appears will be the first to fall before me.
DEATH: Well, mate, don’t look now but there’s something behind you too.
VENGEANCE: Something that is going to DIE
VENGEANCE notices a rose on PRIDE.
VENGEANCE: A rose!
VENGEANCE and DEATH shake off their puppeteers.
DEATH: I’m awake!
PRIDE: This thing? It’s just a little trophy, nothing for you to worry about.
VENGEANCE: Just tell me where you found it.
ENVY: And why would that be so important to you?
DEATH: It has something to do with who we’re looking for.
WRATH: A flower girl?
PRIDE: Look how the mighty one begs before me, I bet you’d really like me to give you the flower wouldn’t you.
GREED puppeteers VENGEANCE whilst GLUTTONY controls DEATH.
VENGEANCE: Yes I would, I…want it.
PRIDE: Then get down on your knees and beg for it.
VENGEANCE: I WANT IT. It’s mine, give it to me.
LUST: I can give it to you.
VENEGANCE: No, not you. I want only the rose. It is precious to me.
PRIDE: Well then, if you do as I say, I’ll let you touch the rose.
VENGEANCE: But we’re on a mission. Right, Death?
DEATH: Who cares? I want more. If we stay here we’ll get all that we want. And as much as we want.
PRIDE: That’s right all you have to do is call me Master.
VENGEANCE: Anything for the rose Ma…
DEATH: No, [shakes off GLUTTONY] we answer to no other. I am Azrael, Bringer of death, and I listen to no other…except the bell.
VENGEANCE: What are you doing? They will give me the rose, I’m so close.
DEATH: Wake up, you are being taken over by greed. Listen to me, you can fight this.
SEVEN: No you can’t.
DEATH: Listen to me, not them.
ENVY takes over and starts to puppet VENGEANCE.
VENGEANCE: And why should I listen to you? You’re always telling me what to do. Just because you can strut through worlds with a skip in your step, just because you can laugh and sing and tell a joke doesn’t mean I have to listen to you. I…I’m sick of lying cold and alone in your shadow. They are finally giving me an answer, a place why do you have to take this away from me.
DEATH: This is about me and you, this is about everything.
VENGEANCE: What? Save the world, so that you can take the credit and I have to fade into the background before punishing some petty criminal. Does that really sound worth it to you.
DEATH: So you’re just willing to leave her, give up? Not even see if you had a shot with her. You may think this is everything you want, but is it worth living in a world without BEAUTY.
Suddenly all of the SEVEN freeze.
SLOTH: Mistress Beauty is missing?
DEATH: She is who we are following.
VENGEANCE: She left the plain of existence.
DEATH: He scared her off.
VENGEANCE: We’re going to bring her back.
DEATH: He needs to do some serious grovelling.
VENGEANCE: You’re not helping.
DEATH: I’m appealing to their humanity.
VENGEANCE: They’re the personification of sin!
WRATH: Oh shut up!
ENVY: We will help you.
PRIDE: A world without Beauty has a great effect. Without Beauty the mortals would have nothing to be proud of.
GREED: They would have nothing to covet, no way to make them greedy.
SLOTH: No Beauty to captivate them, make them lie idly by and dull their senses.
ENVY: Who would be envious of something disgusting?
LUST: Or indeed Lust after something revolting.
GLUTTONY: The food and drink would decay and sour.
WRATH: If all Beauty escapes the worlds there would be no passion, no need to fight just dullness ever lasting.
PRIDE: We need her as much as you.
VENGEANCE: Where did you get the flower from?
WRATH: It was left just beyond the dungeons. Though be wary, there have been dark things looming from there.
DEATH: Right then, I guess now that’s all sorted we can go onward towards possible doom. Excellent.
VENGEANCE: The rose.
VENGEANCE: Give it to me.
LUST takes the rose and places it down her top.
LUST: Come and get it
VENGEANCE: I won’t play your silly games.
DEATH: I’ll play the games, let me get the rose.
LUST: Do you like playing games then?
VENGEANCE walks towards her and snatches the rose.
VENGEANCE: We’re leaving.
DEATH: But I think she has another rose, let me go check.
VENGEANCE: I’ll leave without you.
My Shadow and Me – In which the full gravitas of the situation is revealed.
The lights slowly pulsate with a red wash as the players on the outskirts of the stage begin to grow limp and grotesque and form a world of shadows. A world that is completely dark and near death. VENGEANCE and DEATH enter.
VENGEANCE: Is it just me or is each place we visit more and more grotesque than the last?
DEATH: I think you’ll find that’s because we’re getting close.
VENGEANCE: What makes you say that?
DEATH: Because this is pretty much as bad as it gets. A world completely bereft of life, on the brink of destruction, taken over by shadows.
VENGEANCE: You know I’ve never seen a dying world. One that’s been used up and wasted about to crumble into nothingness.
DEATH: Sucks, doesn’t it?
DEATH: Kinda makes you realise why we’re going through all this turmoil doesn’t it mate?
VENGEANCE: So where do we go from here?
DEATH: Don’t know.
VENGEANCE: You don’t know?
DEATH: Did I stutter?
VENGEANCE: We can’t just stop now. You said yourself, we’re so close. I can’t just give up on finding her.
DEATH: Look around; there are no fairies to help you, no trail of flowers. We’re alone on a dead world.
CHORUS: We are the shadows.
DEATH: I stand corrected.
CHROUS: We are the dark that creeps and spreads through the decay.
VENGEANCE: You inhabit this world?
CHORUS: We are this world.
DEATH: A world entirely of shadow, sounds…bleak.
VENGEANCE: Can you help us?
CHORUS: The question you must be asking, Lord Vengeance, is can you help yourself?
VENGEANCE: What’s that supposed to mean?
A shadow comes forward in the form of BEAUTY and approaches VENGEANCE.
CHORUS: When you finally catch up to her, when you’re staring her in the face, what are you actually going to say to her to make everything all right? Have you even thought about this, or are you so scared of her turning you down again that you’ve just blocked it out.
VENGEANCE: I…don’t know. I was just going to…
DEATH: He’ll speak from his heart. And everything will be alright. You’ll see.
The SHADOW KING (SK) steps forward.
SK: You know you almost sound convincing Azrael.
DEATH: Why do beings suddenly think I’ll tolerated being called by my first name?
SK: Because the rules have changed, Azrael. You and your little friend are responsible for the tables being turned, for existence as every creature knows it to be turned on its head. A brand new tomorrow is ready to be built and everyone is fighting to be the architect. The rules won’t exist anymore, and you won’t frighten us.
VENGEANCE: And what exactly is this walking monologue supposed to be?
DEATH: The Shadow King, Lord of the Shadows, Shadow-Master, Mr Darko. When it’s time for the blackness to feed on everything it’s the one pulling the strings.
SK: Mr Darko? Dear, dear boy, even your cutting dialogue has reached a low point. This little adventure you’re on really has taken a toll on you.
VENGEANCE: So what are you? The final test? Our reflecting point before we ultimately save the day?
SK: No. I am the end.
DEATH: I think you have yourself confused with me.
SK: Very good. Sharp. But I can’t let you go on. Beauty is never going to make her triumphant return. I will personally see to that.
VENGEANCE: You can’t be serious. Look at what’s happened; the worlds are decaying.
SK: And who prospers? Us. Without Beauty we’re free to spread from world to world. I’m taking over existence itself, slowly infecting all life with shadow. Finally it will be the shadows’ turn to shine.
DEATH: You do know how contradictory that statement is right?
SK: About as much as Death trying to save all life.
VENGEANCE: And how do you intend to stop us?
SK: I don’t need to do anything. You’ve reached the end of the line. There’s no more path to follow, she’s gone through the dying worlds and onto the other side. The only way for you to find her is through us. And that clearly isn’t going to happen. So just run along little man and get back to your pathetic existence.
VENGEANCE: Why don’t you make me?
SK: I could. I really could. But I don’t need to; you see Vengeance you are the cause of your own downfall. Look at the mess your fear has already caused, you couldn’t pluck up the tiniest nerve to do something about your hidden feelings. And now you’ve plunged every soul ever to exist into pure darkness. I honestly don’t think I could top the destruction you cause yourself.
VENGEANCE: This is all my fault.
DEATH: No it’s not.
SK: And don’t even think of redeeming yourself. It’s just going to go even more pear shaped. She could never like you, not because of the conflict and turmoil you dish and invariably represent but the fact that you can’t even tell her how you feel. It’s taken centuries for you to give her signs, and when you do, you mess it up. How do you suppose an actual relationship would pan out? Just turn around. Just give up.
DEATH: Stop this right now. I will not let you torment him. We are getting to her, even if it means going through you.
SK: Oh really? Because it seems like this would be the last thing you want. What do you think will happen if you do find her, if he does get the girl? They will finally be together, he will finally be happy, and they will head off into the metaphorical sunset leaving you. Once he has her, he won’t need you, you will be glossed over, a third wheel, everything will change and you will be all alone. So just do yourself a favour, turn back, keep things how they are.
VENGEANCE: Don’t listen to him. That’s not going to happen, he’s just trying…
[Death motions for Vengeance to stop talking.]
SK: Good. You’ve seen sense. Now run along.
DEATH: I don’t think you understand mate. I’m not going anywhere. Say what you want to me, try to shake my resolve but you’re not going to make me leave insignificant vermin like you the chance to prosper.
SK: You would do that to yourself? Sentence yourself to an eternity of loneliness just to put a thorn in my side?
DEATH: Not just for that, it’s an added bonus of course, but I kinda had my hopes set on seeing him smile again.
SK: Then you are a fool, Soul Shepherd, and when the shadows spread, we will not go easy on you; we will enjoy devouring you.
DEATH pulls his hand in to the shape of a gun.
DEATH: Just shut up. I am fed up of all this nonsense. Riddles, rhymes and general hopeless morons crossing our path and trying to stop us. I have put up with far too much and I can’t take anymore so either you tell us where she is or I start getting trigger happy.
SK: Please, like you even have the free will. You are nothing but a slave, incapable of doing anything himself and soon you’ll…
A FLASH of light occurs as DEATH mimes shooting one of the CHORUS shadows. He continues to coldly and slowly shoot each one of them and they drop to the floor. A flash occurs on each shot.
SK: You know if you kill everyone you’ll just end up alone.
DEATH mimes the shot but there is no flash and SK doesn’t die.
SK: She went that way, towards the birth of a new world. I think you want this.
He hands VENGEANCE a rose.
DEATH: You know, you’re much more agreeable in the face of certain Death.
SK: This isn’t over Azrael.
DEATH: I couldn’t care less.
He clicks his fingers and the chorus get back up on their feet.
SK: I knew you couldn’t stick to your convictions. You’re nothing more than a pawn, who will one day be the last piece left on the…
DEATH shoots him. VENGEANCE is shocked.
DEATH: He talked too much. Got boring. Don’t worry, he’ll reform in the shape of another shadow, it’s what they do.
VENGEANCE: What he said back there…
DEATH: Forget it.
DEATH: Forget it.
A Beginning and an End – In which something ends and another thing begins.
We are on a fresh world, about to spring to life. BEAUTY stands before us watching the event unfold. INSPIRATION stands away from her, near to the side of the stage that VENGEANCE and DEATH enter on.
VENGEANCE: What in the name of Hades are you doing here?
DEATH: You said you didn’t know where she went?
INSPIRATION: I didn’t! I followed her here just like you. I would have tried to contact you but you were jumping from world to world.
DEATH: You know, anthropomorphic deities should really have mobile phones or something.
VENGEANCE: Have you spoken to her.
INSPIRATION: Tried and catechismically failed. She’s not listening to anyone.
VENGEANCE; I guess it’s now or never.
DEATH: Just remember, be you; talk from the heart, honesty will prevail.
INSPIRATION: What are you, a fortune cookie? The only way to save us now is to woo her, a song, a poem, a dance, anything.
ECSTASY: Tell her a joke, I’ve got a great one.
Various characters enter the stage and all talk over one another giving VENGEANCE advice.
VENGEANCE: Okay, that’s enough. I’m fed up of listening to you all. I am doing this by myself.
VENGEANCE approaches BEAUTY.
ECSTASY: If you think he’ll finally muster up the courage and intelligence to say the right thing under all this pressure then you’re kidding yourself.
DEATH: But what could I possibly have to gain from throwing him to her otherwise?
ECSTASY: A cunningly executed end of existence brought about by preying on the emotions of those who consider themselves closest to you.
DEATH: Yes, there is that. I guess you have to hope I believe in him as much as I say I do.
VENGEANCE: I think we need to talk.
BEAUTY: I don’t know if I can right now.
VENGEANCE: We don’t exactly have a lot of time right now. Things are tearing apart out there without you.
BEAUTY: So you’re just here to fix everything.
VENGEANCE: I’m tearing apart without you.
BEAUTY: Oh please, that kind of dialogue is definitely below you.
VENGEANCE: I’m sorry, just hear me out.
BEAUTY: Is it true?
BEAUTY: That you…lust over me?
VENGEANCE: I wouldn’t put it that way.
BEAUTY: Answer me.
VENGEANCE: Yes, fine it’s true.
BEAUTY: I thought we were more than that. That you saw past me being Beauty. I never thought you one of those…things that stared at me and took me at face value.
VENGEANCE: We are more than that. I am more than that.
BEAUTY: But Inspiration said…
VENGEANCE: It doesn’t matter what anyone said, or anything I did, what matters is what I’m telling you now. I love you. Not because of how you look or even because you’re the only one who really truly gets me. But because everything you do, everything you say is magical and I can’t help loving you because of it. And I’ve been so afraid in the past to tell you how I feel, that I could push you away and not have you in my life. But now it’s above me. It doesn’t matter if I have you with me anymore because existence itself needs you a lot more than I do. And I’ll give you up if it means saving everything.
He hands her the roses he has been collecting.
VENGEANCE: I picked them from each world.
BEAUTY: I couldn’t bear to let them wither. They mean too much.
VENGEANCE: I hoped they’d remind you of why we need you.
BEAUTY: Its beauty shines from the inside.
VENGEANCE: And blooms into wonder.
BEAUTY: I can’t believe you…
Life begins to enter the young world as the lights lift and shine onstage.
DEATH: Well would you look at that.
INSPIRATION: Truly inspirational.
ECSTASY: So Beauty realised that Vengeance does indeed love her for her and everything ends up super awesome!
VENGEANCE: Super awesome? You’re a real pain.
DEATH: But he speaks the truth. Lord Vengeance, Lady Beauty, I wish you great happiness in your lives together, but alas I must depart.
VENGEANCE: You don’t have to go you know.
BEAUTY: Of course you don’t. Stay, Death.
DEATH: I would love to, but the bell tolls and my work is never done.
VENGEANCE: You’re going to see Lust again aren’t you?
DEATH: Am I that transparent?
VENGEANCE: Be careful.
[EXIT ALL but FATE, VENGEANCE and BEAUTY]
FATE: And so as a new world was created so too was a new relationship and Beauty shined through both, everlasting and unwavering. And this chapter in my book ended with the three most honest words ever written in it.
BEAUTY: I love you.