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The Devil as the Monk

THE DEVIL

AS THE

MONK

THE DEVIL AS THE MONK

By PORPHYRO

Published by PORPHYRO at Shakespir

Copyright 2016 PORPHYRO

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

THE CAST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT I

 

SCENE 1 – THE MONASTERY

 

 

 

Cloistered up above and beyond the world—protected from its ‘sins’ or ‘heresies’ or simply its ‘bad livings’—-five monks peacefully practice their teachings. For years, no one has come. And for years, no one has left. All is in a delicate balance.

 

 

 

The feeling is like late in the evening when that last minute of beauty and radiance gives way to the dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But let’s not talk about the evening. For the evening is, above all else, the feeling of rapturous, half-required love. And that does not apply here.

 

 

 

 

 

Or—well, that is until Epiphany huffs and puffs her way up the mountains. She unsettles everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The five monks all see her coming.

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. <> I made it! Oh! Oh! I finally made it! Oh!

 

 

 

3. You—

 

4. Who—?!

 

EPIPHANY. <> Oh! I didn’t think I’d make it! But I did!

 

5. You’re mistak—

 

EPIPHANY. When they say you’re sheltered from the world, they really mean it. They really do. You’re up way, way up from where I started! I’ve the clouds in my lungs now and the atmosphere up my nose. If I tried, I could reach up and scoop a star out like a pebble. I don’t think I—

 

2. Silence!

 

 

 

 

But to everyone’s amazement, she continues.

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. I don’t think I would have tried had I known just how high up all of you really are! But I made it! <> So where do I sign up? And when do I start? Do I need to buy any schoolbooks or anything? Tee-hee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Bah-bah-bah-bah!

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. What? Bah-bah-bah? But you’re just a sheep. <> Surely you know better! Where do I put my name down?

 

4. <> Your name…!

 

 

 

2. We don’t have names here, girl! Get ou—

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. —you seem to carry a lot of authority around here. I’m not sure if it’s delusional, though.

 

2. It’s not.

 

EPIPHANY. It could be.

 

2. But it’s not.

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. But who are you to decide? <> It’s all these guys who grant you power. Is he in charge around here?

Everyone’s too shocked to say anything.

 

 

EPIPHANY. …well?

 

 

The monks just stare and stare at the raving girl.

 

 

EPIPHANY. See. No one’s saying, “Yes.”

 

2. Because—

 

EPIPHANY. Because you’re not in charge.

 

2. I know I’m not in charge!

 

EPIPHANY. Good.

 

2. I never said I was—

 

EPIPHANY. Who’s in charge?

 

 

Finally, one of the others is brave enough to say something:

 

 

 

 

5. Girl…you’re not allowed here.

EPIPHANY. Says who? The man in charge? <> Pleasure to meet you. My name is—

 

 

 

 

 

2. We don’t allow names here!

 

 

He stomps his angry little monk’s foot up and down. His sheer rage makes for a strange sort of enthusiasm.

Well self-righteousness is a flame that spreads.

Yet another monk feels it’s all right now to chip in some censorious words.

 

 

3. You must leave this place at once!

 

EPIPHANY. Ok. Anybody have keys to the helicopter?

 

 

 

4. < INSTANTLY REGRETS IT>> Sorry!

 

3. Heli…copter ??? But where does she think she is?

 

1. Perhaps this is good.

 

 

 

 

5. What do you mean? “Perhaps this is good???”

 

2. Perhaps it’s not!

 

3. Perhaps it’s disastrous!

 

4. But it might be—!

 

EPIPHANY. <> Yeah! He’s got the right idea! It might be what, pal?

 

4. <> Ooooooooh!

 

 

 

 

2. You see?

 

5. Terrible.

 

3. Disastrous!

 

1. This might be the best thing that’s happened to us. <> Listen!

 

2. I will have no part in this. Come on. Let’s go.

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. But who are you talking to? Because nobody’s listening! They’re listening to him. The man in charge! <> Go on, Grandpa! Why am I such a good idea?

 

1. You bring the world to us.

 

EPIPHANY. Aww, chucks! You barely just met me! How could I mean the world to you?

 

3. Bring.

 

EPIPHANY. Bring what?

 

5. The world.

 

EPIPHANY. Oh. I can’t do that. Are you kidding me? I could barely bring myself up here. Bring you the world…. <> Even Atlas couldn’t bring you the world! He can’t even take a step, let alone trolley himself up these rocks.

 

3. Atlas?

 

5. Who’s Atlas?

 

2. Atlas is—

 

4. Tell me about Atlas!

 

EPIPHANY. Oh. Uhhh….

 

2. He’s a—

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. He’s a turtle who holds up the stars, I think.

 

2. No! He’s—

 

4. All hail Atlas!

 

5. <> They have funny beliefs down where you come from.

 

1. See? She brings the world to us. We didn’t know about Atlas—

 

2. She doesn’t know about Atlas. I could have told you who Atlas really was.

 

1. But in all your years here, you never did.

 

2. Because—

 

1. Brothers! Please listen to me. Brothers, over the years, I have been considering the possibility of going down back to civilization.

 

 

Everyone’s shocked.

 

 

3. You of all people will renounce your vows?

 

5. You of all people will return to civilization?

 

1. No! It’s not because I wish to quit this way of life. That’s not it at all. Rather I’m eager to put my knowledge to the test. Up here, I have learned much about life. Much. <> I do not consider myself wise, but I certainly think I’m wiser than I once was. But up here…ah! Isn’t it the hiker before his hike? Even before he starts, he imagines finishing his journey and reflecting on it. Well actually being on the road is an altogether different beast. Isn’t it, girl?

 

EPIPHANY. I thought I’d be up here in a matter of hours. Not days. A week! I almost died at various points.

 

 

 

 

1. Yes.

 

EPIPHANY. Wait. What if I did?

 

1. Being up—

 

EPIPHANY. What if you’re all ghouls and ghosts? <> You certainly are, you snarler. <>

 

 

 

 

2. Ow!

 

 

EPIPHANY. Oh! <> Well that solves that.

 

2. Not quite invisible am I? You’re going to wish I were.

 

EPIPHANY. That’s a threat! <> Those are grounds for expulsion! Right?

 

4. Well…! We can certainly make an argument for it.

 

1. Being up here and practicing ‘The Way’ is one thing. But being down there and actually living it is something else. Imagine yourselves as gluttons. You come up here to cure yourself of your unclean passions. And, indeed, after much time, you succeed in stemming the flow of those energies. But, Brothers: are you truly free of those old desires? Or have you merely made it easy to escape them? Here, there’s barely any food to eat. Let alone to gorge on. It’s impossible to fall to temptation. But what about down there where there’s plenty?

 

 

Epiphany feels like saying something funny, but all of her juice has run out. It takes a lot of energy just listening to these people. They’re so dry…. They’re so damn dry!

 

 

1. We develop our strengths by daily putting up a good fight. We must battle ourselves to the death. Once we learn how to struggle with ourselves up here, we ought to practice our studies. This is what has been on my mind lately, Brothers.

 

2. Bah! We practice them up here. All that’s just bad philosophy.

 

3. What do you suggest then? Huh?

 

2. I suggest we stay up here as we have. All this woman has done is stirred the old man crazy. Perhaps he remembers someone whenever he looks at her. Well the temptation one ought to do violence against is the temptation to go down. Remember, Brothers! It’s impossible to live spiritually in human society.

 

 

 

 

 

Epiphany wonders if they’re just being extra boring for her sake. On a normal day, they probably sleep a lot more and talk a lot less, yeah? Yeah?

 

 

5. Yes, this is true.

 

2. Down below, it’s impossible to live as one should. By its very purpose, human society designs to control what it should not.

 

3. Yes. I agree.

 

4. <> Oooooh…. I don’t know what to think.

 

1. I am not suggesting we abandon ‘our path.’ I agree: we ought to keep to our monastery. But only with open arms. <> We must accept the girl.

 

EPIPHANY. <> Huh? “Accept this….” Hey! That’s right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Yes! We should!

 

1. It is no secret many of you are attracted to her.

 

4. But why are you all looking at me?!

 

5. You can barely hide your boner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. I think the girl has much to teach us.

 

3. And, if we take her in, much to learn as well.

 

 

He crosses his arms bitterly.

 

 

5. That’s right. …girl? Why are you here?

 

EPIPHANY. Iunno.

 

5. What do you know about us?

 

EPIPHANY. Well, you don’t pay taxes. And you don’t work, so…

 

5. What do you know about our beliefs?

 

 

Didn’t she just answer his question?

 

 

EPIPHANY. You don’t believe in paying taxes or working.

 

2. She doesn’t know a thing about us.

 

1. She’s perfect.

 

4. <> She is!

 

1. She comes with no false ideas.

 

2. She comes with no ideas at all.

 

1. Good. They are easier to cultivate than to eradicate. There is nothing so dangerous as a bad idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Well, she’s a bad idea.

 

EPIPHANY. Hey, dickwad! What have I ever done to you anyway?

 

3. If a man thinks he has a chance with a woman, he’s overly sweet.

 

5. And if he knows it’s never going to happen, but still retains affections….

 

3. Yes. He becomes overly bitter.

 

2. All of you are ridiculous.

 

EPIPHANY. So when do I start?

 

1. Later tonight. Take a tour around the place and relax your mind. You will need to be acute.

 

EPIPHANY. Awww! You’re a charmer. You really are, old guy. I am not cute. Shut up!

 

2. No. You’re a moron.

 

4. A cutie!

 

5. A novice!

 

3. And she’s late! <> Get to it!

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Whaaaa?! Why are you barking at me?

 

3. Because you’re just standing around! You ought to be calming yourself. You were given a command! Get to it!

 

EPIPHANY. It’s awful hard to force contemplation!

 

3. You will have to learn!

 

EPIPHANY. Stop barking!

 

3. Get to it! Get! Get!

 

EPIPHANY. All right, all right! <> Ooooo! A tree! …Aaaaaah! A leech!

 

 

 

 

The rest of them walk off.

 

SCENE 2 – OUT AND ABOUT IN MONK NOOKS AND MONK CRANNIES

 

 

The monks are trying to train the girl, but she’s too distracted by “the shivers” to concentrate. It’s the coldest she’s ever been. Or so she claims.

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Brrr! This is the coldest I’ve ever been.

 

3. Or so you claim.

 

5. You couldn’t have been any warmer on your climb.

 

EPIPHANY. But I was. Not only was there the fire of motion, there was also the sheer burn of reaching the goal. But now that I’m here? I’m ice.

 

1. You’ve only just begun the goal.

 

EPIPHANY. Uh, no. I actually finished it.

 

1. One never finishes it.

 

EPIPHANY. Uh, yeah they do. That’s why I’m up here.

 

5. You’re thinking of it in a concrete way—

 

EPIPHANY. Then think about it like cement. Porcelain. I don’t care. Done’s done. …hey! Is it true you guys have a disease up here where if you eat a bunch of daises, they sprout all over your arms and all over you face? And the only way to cure it is to throw yourself into a conflagration of flowers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Is that true?

 

2. No. Not at all.

 

EPIPHANY. How would you know? How can you be so certain? The burden of proof’s on you.

 

2. We don’t have any daises up here.

 

EPIPHANY. Well that’s pretty damning. But still. I don’t expect you’ve checked every nook.

 

4. He hasn’t.

 

5. Because there isn’t any need for it.

 

3. <> But it’s precisely the type of tedious work that helps identify a monk.

 

1. Yes. Once a monk defeats the two-headed dragon—

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

 

5. He’s speaking metaphorically.

 

EPIPHANY. Then what does the metaphor stand for? A two-headed bird? That’s still pretty cool if I get to eat it.

 

 

 

 

 

1. The—

 

EPIPHANY. I’d roast it first, of course.

 

1. The—

 

EPIPHANY. And pluck it, too. Sorry! Go on, go on. I’ll be quiet.

 

1. The—

 

EPIPHANY. <> I promise! …sorry, sorry! It’s just too funny. Ok, main man—

 

2. He’s not the ‘main man.’

 

EPIPHANY. Well you’re certainly not.

 

1. The two-headed dragon symbolizes pain and boredom. If, as a monk, you overcome those twin emotions, you are capable of overcoming anything.

 

 

 

 

5. Indeed. You must learn how to watch yourself from a distance. Imagine a road, if you will, that stretches out for a thousand miles. Were you to run that road…. <>

 

 

A thousand miles, a thousand miles, a thousand miles. “Run a thousand miles.” It’s a hideous echo inside of Epiphany’s head.

 

 

5. Yes, girl. The entire thing. Should you actually stand a chance at completing it, you’d have to master the dissociative arts.

 

 

A thousand miles, a thousand miles, a thousand miles. These people are nuts!

 

 

3. <> If you detach from the body and watch yourself run, you’re capable of ignoring pain.

 

 

“Detach from the body….” Like ripping your head off? Like hanging your eyes around your neck? Yuck! They’d probably knock together! But hmm. That’d actually be interesting. Bumpity, bumpity, bump. Would you see waves? Would you—

 

 

3. ‘These legs feel torn apart,’ you say. ‘And that is OK. Just as it’s OK that the sky is blue for now. Both are only temporary. Colors change. And legs eventually get their rest.’

 

5. The challenge then becomes about overcoming boredom. For if your consciousness is not fully invested in its sensual body, it will wander.

 

 

Sensual body….

 

 

5. —and everything—

 

 

Sensual body. Mmm.

 

 

5. —that wanders—

 

 

Huh?

 

 

[* 5. -- *]gets lost.

 

 

Oh!

 

 

5. Yes, it gets lost and feels restless to find the way back. So it is that after a while daydreaming, the child eagerly rushes back to his games.

 

3. Or the man forgets himself in debauchery.

 

1. But if you successfully manage to cultivate focus—

 

Who are these people even talking to? What are they even talking about?! Epiphany scratches the back of her neck and takes a look around.

 

 

EPIPHANY. Say, why isn’t he saying anything?

 

4. Oh!

 

 

He points to himself.

 

 

4. Who me? I’m just a beginner myself!

 

 

 

 

3. And he respects his elders.

 

EPIPHANY. No, no. Not him.

 

 

This saddens 4. You can almost hear his heart go, “Oh.”

 

 

EPIPHANY. <> Him.

 

5. <> He has his own ideas.

 

3. Thinks we’ve shoddy thoughts.

 

EPIPHANY. Easy to be a critic. OK, then. Let’s hear it. What’s your great religion?

 

2. <> It’s better for you to learn how to focus. Even if it’s wrong, it’ll teach you to be silent: a virtue you desperately need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. He believes more in getting away from the world than trying to live the Truth.

 

3. He’s a man-hater, girl.

 

2. I don’t hate men. Shut up.

 

EPIPHANY. You sure play the part well!

 

2. I’m starting to think I hate women, though.

 

But enough of all this silliness. It’s time to start the girl’s initiation in earnest.

 

 

1. Girl, I want you to sit on the ground and visualize a pure, white sphere.

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. I don’t know about all of that…. Umm…what gods do you believe in? Let’s start there before any of this sphere business.

 

3. We believe in the Living God.

 

2. <> They believe that paradise is a perspective. Ha! Tell that to the leopard’s victim as it bleeds from the neck.

 

 

 

 

5. Do as you are told, you saucy girl. You are too insolent. You wish to be a monk—

 

Epiphany thinks to herself, actually, I wish to be exempt from taxes!

 

 

5. —but you don’t wish to listen. Go on! Do as you’re told! Imagine a white sphere.

 

 

But she’s too distracted for any of that. She points at 4.

 

 

EPIPHANY. <> Imagine you’re at a store.

 

 

 

 

 

4. OK!

 

EPIPHANY. Imagine that instead of clearly displaying all of the items, though, the storeowners decide it’s best to hide everything in black bags.

 

 

 

 

4. Hmmm.

 

EPIPHANY. Hmm, indeed. Now imagine if you were forced to buy something. Forced! You had to!

 

 

She points rather aggressively at 4.

 

 

4. <> …oh! Yes! Forced!

 

 

EPIPHANY. You’d feel apprehensive, wouldn’t you? Not knowing what anything is? Especially if you only had some limited funds.

 

4. This is true.

 

EPIPHANY. Well nothing’s more limited than life. I don’t have many years to waste on a mystery. I need to know before I start—

 

4. What it’s like to finish?

 

EPIPHANY. Sure. Even just a hint is all I need.

 

4. But that’s corrupted thinking.

 

1. Good.

 

 

 

 

4. You can’t possibly finish.

 

EPIPHANY. Well, then I can’t possibly start.

 

 

Hmm. Perhaps it was a mistake coming here.

 

3. You’re thinking of squirreling out a truth or two.

 

EPIPHANY. Sure. Maybe even three.

 

3. <> But that’s just not how it works. You must live the truth, girl. Just as you must sprint to run. We can’t possibly transfer over such a sensation; we can’t use your feet for you. But we can teach you how to properly jog. And day by day, we can help you build better and better form.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Ha! Convenient beliefs for those who can’t provide any answers.

 

5. You weren’t quite so mouthy before, you know.

 

3. Are you interested in impressing someone? Has your pride been re-inflamed?

 

 

3 smirks and taps his chest. He’s simulating a fluttering heart.

 

 

2. Do you know what pride is, you little fool?

 

3. What? What’s pride? You tell me.

 

2. <> It’s always insisting on being so holy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Come on now!

 

2. It’s counting how many days you’ve been good. It’s holding your head up high because you starve. Well humility is knowing one is base.

 

1. One isn’t base, though. Being a scoundrel is a choice.

 

2. One is always base. No matter how much one tries, one can never purify one’s nature. Humility is realizing that there is always the need to repent.

 

 

“One, one, one!” Hee-hee. These people are funny. “One must blah! One most blee!” Epiphany feels like bringing two up, but she doesn’t. One must be respectful.

 

 

1. You’re sounding dogmatic.

 

2. Losing virtue’s nothing to get in a fuss about. Humility knows that. There’s no difference between ten years of temperance and one damned day of it. It’s almost even better to have recently failed. The arrogant fool going a decade strong—he might secretly think he’s mastered the universe. Well fuck that. Fuck that guy. He needs to die.

 

3. So what do you suggest? We all commit ourselves to barbarism? All so we can express remorse better?

 

2. I’m saying it’s not so bad to fall every once in a while. There’s no top to the mountain life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. But if you keep climbing, you’ll be higher than you were yesterday.

 

5. That’s right.

 

2. And who’s keeping track of that? Your pride. Come on now. It’s not so shameful to be a human being every once in a while. <>

 

EPIPHANY. Whoa there, cowboy!

 

2. …it’s ALWAYS shameful! <>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Hey!

 

 

She pushes 2 off and wipes her lips.

4 tries to pounce on 2, but he is stopped by 3.

 

 

3. Enough! Enough!

 

 

There is an embarrassed silence among all of them. Despite 2 being 2, the rest of the monk’s can’t help but feel responsible for his actions.

 

 

3. …We need to separate you two.

 

He takes Epiphany’s hand and pulls her away.

 

 

3. Girl, you’re obviously too tempting for this man.

 

2. Bullshit.

 

 

Epiphany wants to say something, but this is such a shock.

 

 

EPIPHANY. <>

 

All of the monks look at each other. They don’t know what to say. What’s gotten into 2? Is this the reason he took to the mountains?

 

 

5. <> …We’ll take you to your quarters.

 

 

He looks around at the others for approval. The consensus is “shrug.”

 

 

5. If you wish to start despite all this, get up before the dawn.

 

EPIPHANY. <> I—

 

3. But only if you’re willing to obey!

 

 

3 looks around. There are some scowls.

What? He can’t help it. Being a monk is being a monk.

 

1. <> Think about everything we’ve said. I hope you consider staying.

 

 

Epiphany is still too shocked to say much of anything. 3 leads her away.

 

 

2. <> How does it feel to know never in this lifetime? Well I just did.

 

 

 

 

4. <> The reward—

 

2. There is no reward. Not here, not ever. Might as well take what you want! I do what I do without thoughts of rewards. I’m a monk without an empty promise keeping me honest.

 

1. A lie can build a substantial person. A person of true character. And yet, what do your uncompromising values create but a hollow man? The prideful one is you.

 

2. Bah! Fuck off. I don’t want to be pestered tonight. Not with any of this nonsense, I don’t. <>

 

 

 

 

 

3. Expect him to be gone by morning.

 

5. Good riddance!

 

SCENE 3 – 3’S (TEMPORARY) LIVING QUARTERS

 

“Living quarters.” Eh. That’s a suspect term for this place. “Living quarters” makes it sound like it could be something of a hotel room, mini-fridge and ice buckets.

It’s more of a dilapidated shed, actually.

 

 

 

 

 

And it’s not very much 3’s, either—so as not to get too attached to one place, the monks move from hut to little hut.

Don’t expect to find anything personal adorning the walls. No posters or trinkets from home. No drawings or sweet, inspiring quotes. “The only way to achieve your goals is by daring to dream!” No, none of that. All living quarters are austere living quarters.

But enough, enough. None of that matters. Not right now it doesn’t. There are urgent matters to attend to.

3 has gone off to get some help.

Even if he lived in a grand palace, 3 would have rushed to get some help.

Because after a night of sleeping on the straw floor, Epiphany has begun to suffer from convulsive shakes.

 

She’s sitting slumped against the wall, eyes staring ‘up.’

Hmm. ‘Up,’ ‘up,’ ‘up.’ Hmm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not really ‘up,’ is it? It’s more so ‘beyond.’

 

 

 

 

Yes. ‘Beyond.’ That’s a much better word for it!

 

 

5. But she looks fine!

 

3. Fine enough now. But you should have seen her earlier.

 

1. You said she was grunting?

 

3. And thrashing about. As though she was being burnt from the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Did you do anything to her?

 

3. No. She actually woke me up.

 

1. <> Boy, go and check her pulse.

 

5. She’s not really breathing is she?

 

3. What is she looking at?

 

4. <> Owww! She’s hot!

 

3. After all the exertion, she must have gotten sick.

 

4. No, no. She doesn’t feel warm like that. She’s more of a furnace! Look! <> It’s like I touched a pot of boiling water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. We’re missing a monk.

 

 

They all know who he’s talking about.

 

 

1. He wasn’t in his room this morning. I checked.

 

5. Ah. Just as I expected. That’s too bad.

 

3. Indeed. Our pessimist! Our rational man! Our man of science! Too good for spirituality now.

 

1. I think this is beyond science. Look!

 

 

A beam of light strikes down on Epiphany. She immediately assumes an erect posture. In fact, she looks just about ready to shoot up into the air.

 

 

 

Just as everyone gasps, 2 walks into the scene.

 

2. I was going to leave, too, without saying a word to any of you. But I came all the way back—two hours!—to tell you to your faces what I think. After so many years of holding it in, I would have regretted keeping quiet.

 

1. Look!

 

 

1 points right past 2.

But no. That wouldn’t be so insulting, actually.

It’s more like 1 points right through 2.

 

 

2. Huh?

 

 

He looks behind him and sees Epiphany hogging the spotlight. This, of course, infuriates him. His one big moment and—!

 

 

3. —what do you think it is?

 

4. It’s almost like she’s floating!

 

5. Are her legs touching the ground?

 

1. I don’t believe my eyes.

 

3. What is it?

 

 

Enough! Enough! What is this joke? 2 moves a little closer.

 

 

2. <> Aaah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Don’t!

 

 

2 thrashes about.

 

 

2. It burns! Don’t get around her! It burns!

 

 

He wishes he could get some ointment.

So much for detaching from your “sensual body.” So much for ignoring pain! But 2 was never one much for that anyway.

 

 

4. What do you think it is?

 

1. It can’t be a natural phenomenon.

 

3. Why do you say that?

 

1. The roof would have burnt down by now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. And it’s not really coming through the roof, is it?

 

 

The monks stare at the light as long as they can. But it’s bright, bright, and harsh on the eyes.

 

 

3. Do you hear that?

 

4. What—

 

3.sshhht!

 

 

The sound starts innocent enough: low and barely imperceptible. Nnnnnnnnnn. Nnnnnnnn. Like a soothing vibration.

 

 

5. A strange humming!

 

As the seconds tick on, though, the humming grows stronger and stronger and increasingly unbearable.

Eventually, 1 feels compelled to plug his ears.

 

 

 

 

1. Oh! It’s a dreadful sound.

 

 

It’s a flood of noise and the dam of his hands won’t suffice.

 

 

4. I don’t really hear it, though.

 

2. Nor do I.

 

3. I hear it faintly.

 

1. It’s torture to my ears! Make it stop, make it stop!

 

 

The sound grows ever stronger. Nnnnnnnnn. Nnnnnn.

It gets so overwhelming, the old monk is sure he’ll eventually go deaf from it.

But he can’t wait for “eventually.” He wants to go deaf now. Right now. He wants to rip his ears off!

Nnnnnnn. Nnnnn.

 

 

1. Ah! Ah! My ears! My head!

 

It grows to a crescendo.

 

 

1. <> Ah! Ah!

 

3. <> Yes! Mine too!

 

5. <> And mine!

 

 

The old man collapses.

 

 

4. Oh!

 

 

The other monks are in too much pain to really notice.

 

 

2. —what?!

 

Suddenly, the sound stops.

 

 

3. Oh! It’s…gone!

 

5. Done!

 

3. What a relief!

 

1. <> …yes. Relief.

 

 

4 goes over to help the old man up, but he insists on getting up himself.

 

 

1. I’m fine, I’m fine! I’m fine now. In fact… <> Strange as it is to say…

 

5. <> Yes.

 

 

3 nods and smiles as well.

They all look at each other with the strangest friendliness.

 

 

 

2. What?

 

3. <> Are you spooked?

 

2. What the fuck is it?! Why are you three looking at each other like that?

 

5. We feel refreshed, don’t we?

 

3. As though we’ve been washed in the gentlest waters.

 

 

 

 

1. …my soul! <> I haven’t felt this young in years! Oh! I want to cry and I can’t quite explain why! Suddenly…! Oh! It came so sudden!

 

 

4 looks a bit sour.

 

 

5. Don’t be jealous, boy. <>

 

 

It’s hard for 5 to talk. He’s just woken up from a beautiful dream.

 

 

5. With time and training…. <>

 

4. With time and training what?

 

5. Oh. Yes. You’ll be attuned to it too. <>

 

4. But what if I never hear the sound? What if I turn out like him? <>

 

2. Then that’s all the better for you! You won’t look like a ridiculous moron!

 

 

The monks begin to overcome their strange calm. They come down a little bit back to Earth.

 

 

5. <> You can be a skeptic even at these times?

 

3. Look at her! How serene she looks now.

 

 

 

 

 

1. But not at all passive, either.

 

4. Oh! This girl is something special.

 

2. Morons! All of you are morons! You’re gullible idiots!

 

1. Gullible? But what is she selling us that makes us gullible?

 

2. Because…! Because…!

 

3. You’re jealous.

 

2. Of what?!

 

5. You want it to be you surrounded by the light.

 

3. Perhaps It would have visited you instead if you weren’t so eager to leave.

 

2. ‘It?!’ What’s ‘It???’

 

 

 

 

1. We don’t know.

 

2. Oh please! Do you really expect that after one night of being here, something would come visit her? What about us? Any of us? We’ve all been here for years! Why—

 

5. This seems beyond the scales of justice. Or any human perception of fairness.

 

1. Indeed.

 

2. ‘Human percep….’ But why this awed reverence?! She’s swindling you! Look at her! She knows she’s won!

 

 

 

 

 

3. Yes. Look at her. Go on. Really take a look. How could she be the cause of any of this?

 

2. …I don’t know! She comes from below where they invent all sorts of technologies. We’ve been away for so long, we are all ripe for tricking. We don’t know what they have down there. Robotics and gizmos and—

 

5. You’re burning with jealousy!

 

2. I’m not jealous! I just don’t think that after one night something like this would happen to her.

 

3. But it is happening!

 

2. She doesn’t deserve

 

1. <> I think this is beyond anything we’ve ever taught.

 

 

1 recognizes a new humbleness within himself.

 

 

2. …so you’re renouncing the order now?! Because of this piece of shit??? <> I spit on you, I spit on you, I spit on you all!

 

5. I see you don’t spit at her.

 

4. He’s afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Fuck you!

 

1. I’m saying we ought to reconsider things.

 

2. Well I’m saying—

 

3. Look! It’s gone!

 

 

The beam of light disappears. At once, Epiphany falls unconscious to the ground. She begins to twitch a little.

 

 

5. What should we do?

 

3. Would it be profane to touch her?

 

 

But 4 doesn’t even think. He dashes straight towards her.

 

 

4. <> She needs help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Be careful! She could incinerate you!

 

4. I don’t care! She needs a proper bed. And she needs to rest.

 

2. <> We’ve no beds around here, boy.

 

4. Then we need to build her one.

 

1. Agreed.

 

2. …what?! Now you’re building her a—a—a throne???

 

3. It’s not a throne, you—

 

2. Well then! Let me sit outside in the sun. I’ll be cross-legged and humming. Hummm, hummm, hummmm. Perhaps then you’ll treat me like a king. All it takes is a little bit of light. After all these years—

 

5. That’s what you wanted? To be treated like royalty?

 

2. <> Whatever you say! I can’t believe this. You’re all morons.

 

3. Well I’d rather be wrong and side with myself than be right and side with—

 

2. Yeah, go fuck yourself.

 

5. So much rage! Where did this come from?

 

1. Enough! We must attend to the girl. That’s what’s important here.

 

“That’s what’s important here.” “That’s what important here.” “That’s what’s important here.” It repeats over and over in 2’s head.

The monks carry her away carefully.

 

 

3. <> Won’t you come with us?

 

 

“That’s what’s important here.” 2 thinks about those words.

 

 

3. Hey! Hey!

 

2. Huh? <> Oh.

 

5. Leave him be. Leave him be. Come on. Let’s go!

 

 

They leave with their “precious cargo.”

 

 

“That’s what’s important here.” 2 begins to behind indulge his rage.

Bang, bang, bang!

Suddenly he’s smashing the walls.

Bang, bang, bang!

He threatens to do away with the hut with his very hands. Bang, bang, bang! He kicks and hits and tantrums. Bang, bang!

 

 

2. <> Well…! Come to me! Go on! Come to me! I’m not afraid! If you’re real, come to me!

 

 

 

 

But ‘It’ doesn’t.

 

ACT II

 

SCENE 1 – BETWEEN TWO TREES

 

 

 

 

Epiphany wakes up to find herself high up on a hammock.

Though it’s nothing like the straw mat she was supposed to be laying on, she fails to question it.

Yes, she fails to question the sudden comfort. The open air, the evergreen smell. All of it. She even fails to question there are four monks beneath her, openly praying to her figure.

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, she focuses on the fact that they’re there.

It’s woefully late in the morning. She promised she would be up by dawn. But she never woke up! She slept right through the sunrise.

And now they’re here and they’re probably going to kick her out. Look at them down there.

3’s a little bit of an authoritarian isn’t he? He’s probably especially itching to kick her out.

But that’s not fair, is it? To be forced to leave after one mistake? One teeny, tiny mistake? There’s not even a rooster up in these parts of the world. How could they expect her to get up? Cock-a-doodle-doo! That stuff’s important when you’re so used to it.

Look at them kneeling down there! Is this what they do before they give people the boot? They pray that their god incinerates the offender?

They don’t even have boots. They have sandals. They can’t kick her out. Sandals don’t hurt the arse much. She’ll withstand their toes.

 

 

EPIPHANY. …umm!

 

4. <> Psst! She’s stirring about!

 

3. <> She’s up! Look! She moves!

 

5. <> But is she fully conscious?

 

1. <> Miss…?

 

EPIPHANY. Oh!

 

 

Epiphany can’t help but blush. She’s awfully embarrassed. They gave her a chance and she blew it!

Maybe she won’t withstand their toes after all.

 

 

EPIPHANY. I can’t look at your faces! <>

 

3. <> Turn around, turn around! You heard her. She doesn’t want to see our faces. Turn around!

 

 

They don’t dare question her “command.” At once, they turn their backs.

 

 

 

It’s awful silent for a few moments.

Epiphany bashfully peeks through her fingers.

 

 

EPIPHANY. …oh!

 

 

It’s awfully funny to see their tushies. Quite the unexpected sight.

Epiphany can’t help herself.

 

 

EPIPAHNY. Hee-hee! That’s funny.

 

1. <> What’s funny?

 

EPIPHANY. No, no, no! I didn’t mean it that way.

 

5. <> You heard her! “Not that way.” She didn’t want our backs to her. Turn back around!

 

3. <> But lower your faces! Hide them!

 

 

They don’t dare question her “command.” At once, they turn back around.

They bow.

 

 

EPIPHANY. I didn’t want to sound disrespectful when I said it’s “funny.” It’s just—

 

3. <> She thinks we’re being disrespectful. <> Apologize, boy!

 

4. <> Sorry!

 

 

 

She thinks they want her to apologize.

 

 

EPIPHANY. …oh! Yes, sorry! Jeez, I’m so sorry.

 

 

They think she wants them to apologize.

 

 

1, 2, 3, and 4. <> Jeez, I’m so sorry!

 

EPIPHANY. <> Are you mocking me?

3. <> Oh no! She’s not pleased by the anemic effort! Louder!

 

1, 2, 3, and 4. <> Jeez, I’m so sorry!

 

EPIPHANY. OK then.

 

 

She scratches her neck. This is sort of odd.

But what the hell? They’re monks. “Odd” is kind of their job.

 

 

EPIPHANY. By the way, when I said, “that’s funny….” You see…. Hmm. It’s just that the rituals of others—they’re kind of funny when you’re not used to them. Travel to a foreign country and you’re bound to laugh and laugh at all the everyday stuff ordinary people do. Well, ordinary people to each other. But to you, the locals are all…they’re all like tigers and clowns! And elephants and…like purply sheep! Do you get what I mean?

 

 

 

 

 

The monks whisper among each other.

 

 

3. What is she on about?

 

5. Be quiet!

 

1. She’s expounding her wisdom.

 

3. But it’s not very straightforward, is it?

 

5. No, it isn’t. It will require much interpretation.

 

1. <> Years of study.

 

EPIPHANY. I can’t quite hear you up here! But I hope you understand me.

 

1. <> Years of study!

 

EPIPHANY. Yes, yes. I know! And I was supposed to start today. But I woke up late. Gosh, I’m so sorry.

 

1. <> Gosh, I’m so sorry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. It’s a lame excuse. I know, I know. I just don’t know what happened. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I’d like to be one of you. I really would.

 

 

She waits a few moments for a response. It never comes.

 

 

EPIPHANY. …I will admit you’re intimidating! And I do feel awful guilty. So whatever you’re doing works. I want you to know that. …but….

 

 

She giggles.

 

 

EPIPHANY. If I’m to be perfectly honest, the effect is sort of ruined by the novice boy. I’m sorry to single you out, but it really looks like you’re having some sort of itchy fit! And like you want to stand up!

 

3. <> You heard her!

 

5. RISE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

4. <> Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!

 

3. Now is not the time to be a coward!

 

1. If you will be smitten, then do it proudly! Allow yourself the bliss of lightning!

 

 

4 tries his best to stand tall and proud.

 

 

EPIPHANY. I didn’t mean to get you in trouble! Aww man, I’m so sorry!

 

 

4 repeats after her.

 

 

4. Aww man, I’m so sorry!

 

EPIPHANY. An echo chamber!

 

3. <> It’s a command!

 

5. <> We must do it at once!

 

 

From the ground, the monks begin moaning and groaning in unison.

Nervous as ever, 4 moans and groans as well, albeit in his own way.

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. You can stop!

 

 

They do.

Now, before she rhapsodies and drones on, keep in mind all of the other monks are huddled together. All of the monks are close to the ground. There’s comfort in that.

4, on the other hand, stands tall and away from everybody. He can’t help but feel like a lightning rod. He can’t help but feel that everything she’s saying is directed at him.

 

 

EPIPHANY. You can stop. Because I understand, I really do. The silent treatment. Yes. I understand that. It works.

I was told once that what makes Judgment so dreadful is the terrible silence. That it’s a giant cavern with you right in the middle. And you know God is somewhere watching. He’s somewhere in the dark. Perhaps he is the dark. Who knows?

He’s silent. In whatever corner he hides, he’s silent. Never says a word.

And yet for an eternity, you’re waiting for him to say something. Anything! At any moment! Yes, the entire time, you’d on edge.

“Any second, he’ll excoriate me for my life on Earth!” That’s what you’re thinking sixty times a minute, sixty minutes an hour.

And you sit and you sit and you go through all of your misdeeds. You go through all your various evils in your head. And you judge yourself and it’s so very awful. Because you know He knows everything.

Even the time you were a little slow in killing the bug! You wanted the bug’s death to be quick. Quick, quick and painless. But it was up against the carpet and your slipper was too soft. You felt it squirm right beneath your feet and you were too disgusted to do it the favor it deserved. And so you half-crushed it and exponentially raised its suffering.

Well even that small childhood incident becomes too much to bear.

You are so sorry. You are so sorry you ever breathed.

Oh! For the first time, you truly understand that to exist as a human being is to exist in sin. For the first time, as you weep and weep, you understand you committed an atrocity by being born. That you are solely responsible for all of the evil in the world. You and you alone!

And in that moment, God realizes you are on the path to forgiveness. And he releases you into purgatory.

He’d throw you in Hell, by the way, if by the end of it all, you hated Him instead of yourself.

 

4. <> Ooooooh!

 

 

 

 

 

The monks whisper among themselves.

 

 

5. Should we touch him?

 

3. No, let him be!

 

5. …is that really the afterlife?

 

3. It’s the worst thing I’ve heard and makes me want to cry.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Fool! Who are we to question God? We are His property!

 

She can’t quite hear them, but she assumes she knows what they’re saying.

 

 

EPIPHANY. Yes! I see you muttering among yourselves. I had the same reaction. It’s ridiculous. Laughable, almost. A clear ploy to get you to eat your Wheaties and be kind.

 

The monks whisper among themselves.

 

 

3. We don’t have any Wheaties up here!

 

5. What do we do?

 

1. Eat the dirt!

 

 

They do.

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. It’s one of many reasons I left: I hoped to learn something better up here. I didn’t like hearing about any of that judgment stuff—that sitting in a cave for eternity business.

…but the way you’re punishing me for getting up late! It’s too familiar. Too rooted in guilt, my friends. Please let me be. Please forgive me.

…I can’t accept this silence! I can’t bear it anymore! Talk to me! Talk to me! I’m not afraid. If you are truly holy men, talk to me!

 

 

 

 

 

3. <> Boy! Get up!

 

EPIPHANY. Talk to me!

 

3. Boy!

 

4. <> Huuuuuuuuuh?

 

3. Talk to her! Say something! Anything!

 

4. <>…I!

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Talk to me!

 

4. <> …I!

 

EPIPHANY. What?!

 

4. <> Aaaarrrkkgghhhh!

 

1. <> What the boy meant to say was….

 

 

1 tries his best to think up something ingenious on the spot.

 

 

1. What he meant to say was: how do you do, Miss?

 

 

 

 

 

3. <> ‘Miss?’ That’s a little too saucy, isn’t it?

 

5. <> Be quiet! He knows what he’s doing.

 

EPIPHANY. ‘How are you?’ After all this time, you’re asking me what’s up?

 

3. <> See!

 

 

3 is horribly upset. 1 shouldn’t have been so casual and disrespectful with that “Miss” business. What a mess.

 

 

5. <> I think she said, “Look up.” We should look up.

 

They do.

Now everyone bravely stares at Epiphany.

This is almost worse than the silent treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

3 feels it’s necessary to rectify 1’s mistake. He wants to show respect.

 

 

3. …GODDESS!

 

 

Epiphany laughs one of those mature laughs. One of those adult laughs that’s not really a laugh. She can take a joke.

She gets it.

They’re humbling her by mirroring the snotty attitude she gives off.

 

 

EPIPHANY. That’s good! That’s great. You’re a witty one. <> And I get it. It’s a little insolent to demand you talk to me. But it’s a little lonely up here, too. Can I come down?

 

 

Suddenly, 5 sticks his chest out. Real tough stuff.

He speaks loud so everywhere can hear.

 

 

5. I believe that greatness is a risk.

 

EPIPHANY. Uh…are you saying I should jump?

 

5. There must be potential for injury for there to be potential for might. I will not bow my head down.

 

1. Don’t!

 

5. <> Why are you here? Why did you visit us?

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. As I said, there were a variety of reasons.

 

 

She tries to think of a good analogy.

 

 

EPIPHANY. Ummm…before I start, let me ask you: are any of you brothers?

 

3. We’re all Brothers.

 

EPIPHANY. No, I mean…brother brothers.

 

3. Huh?

 

EPIPHANY. OK. Did any of you come together? Like did all of you climb alone?

 

5. …yes.

 

EPIPHANY. Yes? Wait. To which question?

 

5. We all made the climb alone.

 

EPIPHANY. Wait, wait, wait. Hold on now. I’m not talking metaphors. I don’t mean you all were tethered together with a rope, but hiked each step ‘alone.’ Like, because you can’t take a step for another. No, when I mean alone, I mean alone alone.

 

3. Yes, we all come ‘alone alone.’

 

EPIPHANY. OK. Hold on, then. Hold my beer.

 

 

 

5. …beer?

 

EPIPHANY. It was a joke! But now I’m not joking. I’m really going to jump. Catch me!

 

1. She’s jumping!

 

 

They all rush to break her fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Woo! That was fun!

 

4. I think I broke my neck!

 

EPIPHANY. <> Can you feel that?

 

4. Oww! Oww!

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. <> Then you didn’t break your neck.

 

5. …why are you here?

 

 

But he feels he is being too forward.

 

 

5. <> …your Highness?

 

EPIPHANY. I’m sure all of you understand why. Because all of you had the same impulse I did. Just to get up and go. Each of us had an anchor tied to our feet. Some leaden weight or another that prevented us from taking flight. Like…me and gravity just now. I had to tumble down to get anywhere. And our whole lives were like that. Everywhere we went, we had to drag the anchor with us. Well it’s hard to go anywhere far like that. But then one day, we got lucky. We did. The chain snapped and we were set free.

Snap! Liberty!

Once that happened, I ran away to the farthest place I could to clear my head. First opportunity I got. I ran.

 

 

 

 

 

5. So you came to escape?

 

EPIPHANY. Eh! Why not? It’s an adventure. And, like I said, it clears my head.

 

1. Yes, we must clear our heads.

 

5. Yes.

 

3. Yes.

 

EPIPHANY. …yes.

 

5. <> Is that the good life?

 

EPIPHANY. Oh gosh, now you’re quizzing me. I thought you said it’d be the opposite. You know, walk the walk first, talk the talk later.

 

3. <> ‘It’ speaks in riddles does it not?

 

EPIPHANY. Riddles! Oh great! That’s wonderful. I was hoping you guys did that type of stuff. …OK. I have one! What’s the name of a riddled monk?

 

 

 

 

1. What?

 

3. <> Are you taking notes?

 

4. I’m committing her every word to memory.

 

EPIPHANY. Are you really?

 

4. As best I can!

 

EPIPHANY. OK, pal. Then what did I say three sentences ago?

 

4. <> ‘What do you call a riddled monk?’

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Well…?! Don’t just stare blankly! What’s the answer?

 

4. I don’t know.

 

EPIPHANY. Your face!

 

4. My…f—

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. It’s not a very good riddle, I’ll admit. But it’s better than what you’re giving me.

 

5. <> What’s the good life?

 

EPIPHANY. That’s it?

 

 

3 leans over and whispers into 1’s ear.

 

 

3. She’s turning it back on him.

 

1. <> I see that.

 

 

Meanwhile, Epiphany is trying to figure out 5’s stupid riddle. “What’s the good life?” That sucks.

 

 

EPIPHANY. I don’t get any clues?

 

5. What do you mean?

 

EPIPHANY. I mean, you’re being so vague. Usually good riddles make you feel stupid because they’re obvious.

 

5. So what do you want me to say?

 

EPIPHANY. Is it round? Is it big? Does it smell? Make me curious.

 

1. I understand. I understand completely.

 

EPIPHANY. Yeah! There you go!

 

1. <> She’s saying that in describing the good life, you create it. And that the more detailed you are, the more you’ll realize it. But the imagination is not so strong. To furnish concrete examples, one must live them first.

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Wait just a second. That sounds familiar. <> …aww man, old man! That’s what you told me yesterday: live the truth first, then describe it. No offense, but you’re always saying the same damn thing.

 

1. <> I have much to learn, even in my age.

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. So…uh…what now?

 

5. <> Should we follow our intuitions? If so, how can we determine the good ones from the bad?

 

EPIPHANY. <> Oh, bother….

 

3. <> She seems bored. Do something, boy!

 

4. <> Daa-daa-daa-deee-da-daaaaaa!

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Not a very organized bunch, are you?

 

1. What would you have us do?

 

EPIPHANY. Focus on spheres…right?

 

 

Suddenly something clicks in 3’s head: she might not be talking metaphysics here. It’s possible she’s abstruse because she’s…obtuse! This all might be a big misunderstanding.

Never mistake stupidity for cryptic mysticism!

 

 

3. Wait! Wait! Perhaps she does not know!

 

EPIPHANY. You sure are onto me!

 

3. Because…! Look! Think about it! An instrument does not necessarily know to compose!

 

5. Sacrilege!

 

3. <> …girl!

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Monk man!

 

3. What do you remember about this morning?

 

EPIPHANY. Well, I was up on that hammock….

 

3. And how did you get up there?

 

EPIPHANY. …hey! That’s actually a good riddle. <> How the…?! I went to bed in…!!!

 

The monks discuss among each other. Can an angel be an idiot? Can she be unaware of herself?

Or is it rather than an idiot can be possessed by something Higher?

 

 

3. Do you see? We’ve been blessed.

 

1. No. She has.

 

5. Indeed. Albeit, the visit was brief.

 

4. She’s still special, even if she doesn’t know!

 

1. That’s undeniable, boy.

 

3. We have much to discuss!

 

5. We must make sense of this!

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. That was kind of cool with the hammock and all. But someone please explain what’s going on!

 

 

All day, it’s been ‘they do,’ ‘they do,’ ‘they do.’ Finally, they don’t.

 

SCENE 2 – 1’S HUT

 

It’s some indeterminate time in the future.

Not years, though.

Or months or weeks.

Days, more like it. Perhaps even hours.

The monks have gathered around to debate. Epiphany, meanwhile, has been sent off to hunt for a rose that doesn’t exist.

 

 

 

 

1. That was cruel, what you did.

 

2. We need to feel free to talk. She couldn’t be here.

 

1. But why make her look for a gilded rose?

 

 

 

3. She really fell for it it, too.

 

5. The shine in her eye….

 

3. For a few hours, she’ll believe in magic.

 

5. And she’ll feel disillusioned for the rest of her life as a result.

 

1. It’s cruel. We don’t even have any roses.

 

2. Then why didn’t you tell her? Huh? Why’s all the blame on me?

 

3. She sped off before we could process what you’d said.

 

2. Well good! Let her know frustration.

 

1. I hope she never comes to know envy as you have.

 

2. She’s ruined you, old man. You used to say—and with such confidence, too—that the point of it all was to be comfortable with discomfort. All of you were such indomitable monks. You contorted yourselves, you starved yourselves, you wasted away in the rain, you glorified the sun because it burnt your skin. You were thankful for your health even though it was bad health. But now? None of that. Not any of that. You can’t even tell me which way is up with any certainty, old man. She’s ruined you.

 

1. I was wrong to ever be so sure of anything. You mustn’t have much respect for the sheer majesty of life if you can say anything about it with thick-headed self-assurance. I see that now.

 

2. Do you see that now with thick-headed self-assurance?!

 

 

 

 

3. You are too disrespectful.

 

1. No, he is right. Even when I try to be better than myself, I am only me.

 

2. And that’s all you’ll ever be. That’s all you ever can be.

 

While 1 and 2 are yapping on and on, 5 thinks back on the mysterious light.

 

 

5. <> Was it a warning?

 

3. That implies there was Something to warn us.

 

5. Can it be we were so wrong about everything? Is there really a God?

 

 

 

 

 

3. Of course there’s a God. Come on now! Don’t you act like we didn’t believe there was.

 

5. But not anything like this God. I’m not even sure what we believed anymore. We certainly weren’t praying to something out there. Something beyond us.

 

4. No…! You’re right. You’re right. It was more about aligning ourselves with the Natural God.

 

3. That’s correct. <> And yes, you would know better than the rest of us. The student knows the lesson better than the teacher.

 

4. Does he?

 

 

 

 

 

3. Yes. The teacher is always focused on the greater purpose. He can’t bother with each particular. There are too many.

 

2. Turns out the teacher’s greater purpose was crap!

 

5. This is utter pandemonium. I can’t put it into words. I feel sick. Devastated. Can a visit from God really bring about such dread? Suddenly the sky seems dreary to behold. I’m afraid to sleep at night.

 

3.<> You must be happy, though.

 

 

 

2. Why should I be happy, though?

 

3. Yeah, you couldn’t be happier.

 

2. <> Whatever. I won’t beg it out of you.

 

4. Because…! Because…! <> Because you’re a mean creature. You’re vicious and, and, and…!

 

2. And what? <>

 

4. You feel best when others suffer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Now, now, little whomp! Just because everything’s out of sorts for you doesn’t mean you can talk to me like that! Ha! I knew you’ve always wanted to say something.

 

4. Yeah? Yeah? <> And?

 

2. You were always too much the coward. So you played nice. <> But now that you think Someone Special is on your side….

 

 

 

 

 

4. No, that’s not it. <> It’s that I’ve just realized that I’ve been too proper dealing with such a—

 

3. Hey!

 

3 steps in between them.

This isn’t good. None of this is. A little confusion should not beget a little violence.

2 finds this to be the perfect opportunity to punch 3 in the back of the head.

 

 

3. Owww!

 

 

 

 

2. Whoops! Meant to strike your stooge.

 

4. You did not!

 

5. <> You must be happy! It’s true!

 

2. Why do you people keep saying that?!

 

4. Life is beginning to look more and more like you want it to!

 

2. You mean an insufferable misery? An interminable hell? An on and on of greed and lust? That’s what I want? Or is that what I’m rational enough to see?

 

4. Anything as long as others suffer!

 

2. Then I’d make me the devil and I’d give myself the prod.

 

4. Well who says you haven’t…?!

 

1. Up until now, we’ve been adamant about teaching serenity. Inner calm.

 

3. And it seems that God is turmoil. Strife.

 

5. Obedience!

 

1. Not at all about peace.

 

 

 

2. But why with the sudden pessimism?

 

1. You were not there when It seized her!

 

5. It took hold of her with violence.

 

3. I’m shocked she wasn’t split in half!

 

4. Or immolated on the spot!

 

1. How can such an interfering God be a God of tranquility?

 

5. Oh it feels oppressive to be alive! At any moment…oh! The terror! <>

 

2. <> No, no! It won’t happen!

 

4. How can you laugh at a time like this?

 

2. Because he actually thinks the sky will tear in two from a thunderclap! He’s worried he’s going to be sucked the fuck up right from the spot!

 

 

 

4. And that’s funny?

 

2. Because it’s ridiculous. God has favorites. And he’s obviously not one of them. <>

 

4. Well you aren’t either.

 

1. But he’s right.

 

3. What?!

 

1. We’re being ridiculous. We act as though we’re capable of knowing God. We know nothing. Nothing!

 

2. Hee-hee! If we know nothing, we can do anything!

 

3. How’s that?

 

2. No way to tell what’s good or bad!

 

4. Wait! Here she comes!

 

 

Indeed, Epiphany runs into the scene. She’s carrying a golden rose.

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Found it!

 

 

 

 

1. A miracle!

 

EPIPHANY. If you wanted me to climb trees, though, you could have just said so!

 

5. But what do you mean, you crazy girl?!

 

EPIPHANY. They’re all over! But only at the very tippy tops. You have to have quite a reach!

 

 

 

 

 

4. <> And what do you have to say for yourself now?

 

 

2 is actually quite stumped for a moment. Quite stumped. He won’t admit it to himself, however. And he certainly won’t admit it to any of these fools.

 

 

2. …I say it’s a miracle she found a bucket of paint.

 

EPIPHANY. OK, then. You want me to find you a silver one? One with pink dots?

 

2. Those are all colors! All colors. It’s only impressive once.

 

EPIPHANY. How many buckets of paints are there anyway in these woods?

 

 

2 still can’t comprehend what’s going on. How did she…?!

Ah! Gah! He needs time to think.

 

 

2. Then…! Then bring me a cactus!

 

 

The other monks look at him like he’s a mad man, which he is.

 

 

2. There’s only one on this entire mountain. I’ll know it when I see it.

 

EPIPHANY. It’ll hurt my hands.

 

2. It’ll toughen you up.

 

EPIPHANY. Fine! But only because it’s something to do.

 

 

It’s been a struggle to keep quiet about how boring it is. Epiphany is bored. Terribly bored. Was life always this dull?

 

 

As she breezily passes by, she notices that 4 is falling apart. He’s never looked worse.

 

 

EPIPHANY. Try not to look so composed!

 

 

4 doesn’t say anything. He just watches her go hunt for non-existent things that she makes exist.

 

 

4. “Try not to look…,” but what did she mean?! Composed???

 

 

 

 

3. Sarcasm, boy! You look as though she had three heads.

 

4. But she actually brought the rose!

 

5. I’m curious if she’ll bring the cactus.

 

4. Those don’t exist in these parts.

 

1. Neither do roses of any color.

 

2 still hasn’t figured out her magic trick.

Because it is a trick.

It has to be a trick!

 

 

2. She said she found one up on a tree? She’s lying. She must be. I bet if I took a look and see, I’d find nothing.

 

3. Can you be so dense? Even after physical proof? Lying. BAH! And what does she have to gain?

 

2. …amusement! It’s for amusement!

 

 

2 feels the rush of being right. It’s all suddenly starting to make sense to him.

Yes, yes…. That’s a good angle: amusement.

 

 

2. No, think about—here comes a girl, no attachments whatsoever. ‘Why not mess with the stupid monks?’ Why the hell not? ‘It’ll be fun while it lasts.’

 

4. But the rose!

 

2. OK.

 

 

2 thinks for a moment.

 

 

2. Then make her an imp.

 

 

He smiles and feverishly nods along with himself.

Yes, yes…. Amusement. An imp!

 

 

2. After all, you can’t prove she isn’t here as an agent of malice.

 

 

The monks stare at him as though he’s lost his mind, which he has.

 

 

3. You’d rather the girl be a demon than admit her some respect?

 

2. Respect for doing what?! At best, she’s lucky! She doesn’t even know what’s going on! Or so she plays the part. Well if she really is an ingénue, we’ve nothing to respect her for. It’s effortless on her part. Might as well praise you or you or you for breathing. Or you <> for reeking up a stink.

 

 

4 self-consciously smells his armpit.

 

 

5. In that case, she is of our philosophy. The mantra’s always been to do without doing. Right?

 

1. I’ve grown weary of this tiresome conversation. Any one of her infinite aspects can be argued in infinite ways.

 

3. We can’t just give up because it hurts our head.

 

1. I was never one for logic. This is obviously beyond me.

 

2. Now you just hold on there. I like this idea, saying she’s an imp!

 

 

 

 

 

4. Of course you like the idea. It’s your idea!

 

2. <> If she approached you in the middle of the night and said, ‘Monk! I’ll give you a choice! You can accept everything as I’ve left it: an utter mess. Or we can clean it all up and bring upon oblivion.’ Which would you choose?

 

1. <> I don’t wish to play such games.

 

2. In any case, you better think about it. The night is long and allows for many unseen visitations.

 

 

That sounds like a threat, “unseen visitations.”

 

 

2. <> What about you? If she offered you the peace of doom, would you accept?

 

3. I’d never agree to an imp’s terms. They are deceitful creatures.

 

2. You’re already talking as though they’re real.

 

3. I’m looking at one right now.

 

2. And if she made you an imp? <> If she forced you to spend eternity causing mischief?

 

5. Oh please! You’re just trying to cause a spook! I can conjure up any old nightmare just as well as you can.

 

2. You might as well, then! Apparently, anything goes. We know nothing. Including what is or what is not possible.

 

5. Be quiet. Here she comes in the distance.

 

3. She looks to be carrying something rather thorny.

 

 

 

4. Wait! She’s collapsed! She’s collapsed! <>

 

 

But suddenly…

There’s luminance!

 

 

5. Oh my!

 

3. Don’t touch her! The light!

 

1. <> She’s floating! She’s really floating this time!

 

 

 

Everyone but 2 runs to get a better look. He, on the other hand, stays behind to wallow.

Eventually, he begins to eat the golden rose, plucked petal by plucked petal.

 

 

 

ACT III

 

SCENE 1 – 1’s HUT

 

1’s out and about doing God knows what. Monk stuff, probably.

Epiphany is impatiently awaiting his return. Tap of the foot, tap of the foot, tap of the foot…. She sighs. If she had a wristwatch, she’d be wristwatching her time away. Sigh. Life’s a fritter. Tap, tap, tap.

It’s getting late. Quite late.

Too late for her plans!

There’s no one in sight. Sigh. It’s too late for her plans. No one in sight….

Or, well, that is until 2 intrudes in on her.

 

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Where is everyone?

 

2. You sound angry.

 

EPIPHANY. <> Well now I have to wait until morning!

 

2. For what?

 

EPIPHANY. I want to go. I want to get out of here. But I need to say goodbye to everyone first. It would be rude, wouldn’t it? Not to say goodbye first? Ah! But now it’s too dark to set off!

 

2. You’re—?

 

EPIPHANY. —did you see the sun this evening?

 

2. No. I was too busy.

 

EPIPHANY. Too busy for your vespers? What kind of monk are you?

 

2. An imperfect one, I’ll admit. I do things sometimes—

 

EPIPHANY. —well, if you’d seen it, you’d have probably screamed.

 

2. Did you scream?

 

EPIPHANY. Me? No.

 

2. Why would I have screamed?

 

EPIPHANY. I’m not a screamer.

 

2. And neither am I.

 

EPIPHANY. But it was a terrifying sight! Horror on the horizon! I’ve never seen the sun so red. Most frightening though, was that all its color was concentrated on one spot.

 

 

 

 

2. Isn’t that how it usually goes?

 

EPIPHANY. Not at all. Usually, when the sun sets, it’s a wonderful evening sheet all over, all around. Multi-colored display, there it is with its purple over here, the majestic color. And an orange you have never seen. You would have never claimed orange as you favorite color, but this shade’s different. How could you not love it? Favor it?

 

2. But tonight—

 

EPIPHANY. Tonight, it wasn’t anything like that. It was one crimson spot—a knotted up little pool of violence. Looking at it, I felt as though I were hearing the very highest notes of a violin. My heart dropped and I staggered.

 

2. You’re leaving?

 

EPIPHANY. It’s as good of a time as any. I figured all of you monks were up to something…‘special’ with such a terrifying sun. Hmm. ‘Special.’ Might I say ‘sinister’ instead?

 

2. <> Perhaps.

 

EPIPHANY. Maybe you guys are all part of some spooky cult. And you do your spooky business after I’ve gone to sleep. …maybe I’m the sacrificial lamb!

 

2. Perhaps.

 

EPIPHANY. What a sun! What a sun! It makes me believe in all sorts of terrible things.

 

2. Perhaps we induced it.

 

EPIPHANY. If you monks were capable of that, I wouldn’t be leaving. Because that’s actually kind of cool. Spooky cults are spooky. Sure. But they’re also actually kind of cool. Magic powers and all—that’s why I came! I wanted to learn how to turn fire into ice. I thought you guys did that kind of stuff. I mean, why else would you be up here?

 

2. Suddenly, I’ve grown sad. I hate to hear impossible plans—hopes that won’t be fulfilled.

 

EPIPHANY. Wait what?

 

2. You seem to be so excited to leave.

 

EPIPHANY. …and that’s impossible?

 

2. It is.

 

EPIPHANY. Come on now! It’s no so very hard. I made it all the way up. Going down should be easy! Much easier.

 

2. What’s causing you to think you’re going?

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. It’s just so boring up here. Not at all like I imagined it’d be. It’s aimless and frankly feels like a waste of time. Nobody ever does anything! It’s more like a group of homeless guys up here than any sort of organized brotherhood.

 

2. You wanted it to remain a brotherhood?

 

EPIPHANY. Well sure!

 

2. Then why did you come, sister?

 

EPIPHANY. Oh please! Brothers can’t have sisters?

 

2. You’ve changed everything. Surely you must realize that!

 

EPIPHANY. How would I know? I have nothing to compare it to. As far as I know, all of you have always been nothing but floaters.

 

2. Floaters?

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. Loose leaves just lifting and twisting with every little wind. Why is it you’re the only one who treats me like a person? Does it really affect everyone else that much?

 

2. What? That you’re otherworldly?

 

EPIPHANY. Ha! See! I like that! You’re sarcastic with me. That’s good. ‘Otherworldly.’ Yes. That’s precisely how they seem to view me.

 

2. Can you blame them?

 

EPIPHANY. Uh…yes. I’m just a girl.

 

2. No. You’re not just a girl. Don’t play an idiot with me. There’s no one around.

 

EPIPHANY. Are you gay?

 

2. …what? How is that relevant?

 

EPIPHANY. Like I said, you’re the only one unfazed by me.

 

 

2. No. You’re playing the fool again! Stop that! I won’t have it!

 

EPIPHANY. Don’t be so defensive about it. It’s all right if you are. Right? Your order allows that? You guys seem like ‘everything goes’ type of guys. Because it’s the ones who are most opposed to every little thing who’re busy all day. Censorship’s hard!

 

2. Stop it! Stop it! Just come out with it! <> Go on! Sparkle with your lights!

 

 

 

 

EPIPHANY. You’re certainly neurotic. But at least you’re honest. Ah, maybe honesty’s the strongest sign you’re nuts. After all, nobody’s honest and everyone’s normal.

 

2. If you insist on playing the fool, then I insist on forcing it out of you! <> Go on, girl! Call upon the heavens! Shine! Either that or die!

 

 

 

2 begins to strangle her. She squirms around and kicks her legs and tries her hardest to scream.

To scream, to scream, to yell! But how can she scream when she can’t even breathe?

There’s pressure building behind her eyes. Terrible pressure. She wants to scream!

But what would she scream?

Help?

Well help never comes.

Not after thirty excruciating seconds. Not after one excruciating minute. Not after two excruciating minutes!

Never.

2 eventually strangles her. 2 eventually succeeds.

 

 

2. <> Even now, I can’t tell if you’re faking it! <> You seem pale and stiff-dead…. Then so bet it! I’ve killed an angel!

 

 

At that moment, 1 rushes into the scene.

Took him long enough.

 

 

1. Oh you horrible fool! What have you done?

 

2. Are you impressed?

 

1. You fool! You fool! That girl knew nothing!

 

2. I wasn’t after her knowledge.

 

1. Don’t you realize she died without knowing anything? Every time she had those visions…oh, you fool! She lost all consciousness. She never remembered and nobody ever told her! You fool!

 

 

 

 

2. Then so be it! Next time, the gods ought to choose someone who can defend herself.

 

1. They did! They picked you! Don’t you realize it?

 

2. …I—

 

1. They picked all of us. And all of us failed. Because the angel appeared to us. Not her. She didn’t know the first thing about it! <> We were, in each of our ways, God’s elect few. But we had to be tested. And we failed miserably.

 

It takes a moment for 2 to register 1’s words. Evidently, though, when it finally clicks in his head, it makes sense. Perfect sense.

 

2. <> Wake up! Wake up! Get up! <> Get up!

 

 

1. No, she won’t get up! Not ever again. It’s done!

 

2. <> Wake up! Wake up! <>

 

1. It’s done! It’s done!

 

But it’s not! Miracles and miracles, she begins to stir.

 

 

EPIPHANY. Ooof!

 

2. Girl!

 

 

2 gets off of her immediately.

 

 

EPIPHANY. <> Ooof!

 

2. Girl!

 

 

She opens one mischievous eye and sees how concerned 2 is.

 

 

EPIPHANY. Woof.

 

2. …girl!!!

EPIPHANY. <> I said woof! Woof! I’m a dog now. Woof!

 

1 and 2 look at each other. They don’t know whether she’s serious or not. Anything’s possible. Anything. After all, she just came back from…!

But did she? Did she?

She must have.

No one can fake being strangled. Just like you can’t fake being drowned.

Someone can lie down in a river. They can tie stones to their feet. They can have all sorts of heavy, heavy rocks in their pockets.

Yes, they can lie in the river. They can lie for several minutes until they turn blue.

What they can’t do, though, is get up and say, “Just kidding!” Death is death. It’s impossible to overcome.

Impossible for everyone, that is, but Epiphany….

 

1. Girl…!

 

EPIPHANY. Yeah, it took you long enough! <> Oh god! I can barely breathe! I really shouldn’t be talking.

 

You can see the red handprints all over her neck.

To say that 2 is embarrassed about himself is to say too little. This is something beyond embarrassment. Beyond mortification. This is like being summoned to God’s throne room and pissing yourself in front of Him!

 

1. …girl!

 

EPIPHANY. I have a name, doofus!

 

 

But can you believe it? 1 has actually forgotten her name.

Did he ever learn it?

 

 

2. I’m sorry.

 

 

He throws it out there as quick as he can. Little voice and everything.

 

 

2. I’m sorry.

 

EPIPHANY. Well I don’t forgive you! It’s not nice putting someone in a sleeper hold. That’s very dangerous! <>

 

2. Dangerous? But, but—! But I killed—

 

EPIPHANY. Yes, dangerous! Very very dangerous.

 

1 and 2 look at each other. How oblivious can she be?

 

 

EPIPHANY. Well, if I was leaving before, I’m definitely leaving now. <>

 

1. …you’re leaving?!

 

EPIPHANY. Of course I’m leaving! Are you nuts?

 

 

And they are nuts. All five of them. How can they not be?

After the story is told and retold and told thrice over, how could they stay sane?

Up in the mountains, far from the world, how could they ever stay sane?

Don’t make your home 10,000 feet above the heart! The head doesn’t know anything!

 

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Devil as the Monk

A girl walks into a monastery and disrupts all order. Everything is havoc for a few days--maybe a week. Maybe two. But monks are resilient, aren’t they? They are, they are. Yes they are. The persevere--they endure. They get used to her. They even try to incorporate her. But then one day, she’s visited by an angel. An actual angel! After that, it’s beyond “disrupting all order.” It’s pure chaos. Part-play, part-picture book. The pictures are included to help those of you with wee-little imaginations visualize the scenes. Or perhaps the pictures are included to help my wee-little imagination convey the message: in the presence of an angel, be a saint; don’t try to turn the Celestial into man. But enough with all of this maundering chatter. The devil is loquacious. Or, at least, every single bore is. So let’s shush up. Shh. Silence is divine. “God? Are you there God? If you are, please answer me!” It’s why he’s always so quiet. So damn quiet.

  • ISBN: 9781370400027
  • Author: Porphyro
  • Published: 2016-08-04 04:50:50
  • Words: 12129
The Devil as the Monk The Devil as the Monk