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Mark Fullerton as Jackson, James Weidman as Weaver, Eric Mulholland as Ripley, Cole Hornaday as Krieger. Photo by Joe Iano.

Krieger's Dilemma

produced at the 14/48 festival, 2/27/15. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Rotten to the Core." My random actor draw: write a play for four men and zero women.

WEAVER narrating in darkness: Our boat sank twelve days ago in the middle of the ocean. We have no food, no water… no radios and no one has come for us. We will all die soon.

Lights up on four men in a life raft, afloat on the ocean, clearly near death. One of them, Krieger, is unconscious in a corner. The others - Weaver, Jackson, and Ripley - huddle around the edges of the raft. They are all sun-burned, dehydrated, and miserable. A very long silence greets us as the play opens. Then Weaver sits up, surprisingly animated all of a sudden.

WEAVER: Oh, hey, I had this idea I keep forgetting to run by you guys. I think we should kill Krieger and eat him.

Long silence, as Jackson and Ripley struggle to sit up.

JACKSON: I’m sorry… I must be hallucinating, I thought you said we should kill Krieger and eat him.

WEAVER: I did say that. I totally think we should. I mean, aren’t you guys hungry?

RIPLEY: Yeah, of course we’re hungry. But we’re not gonna kill Krieger and eat him.

WEAVER: Why not?

RIPLEY: Because he’s our friend, Weaver.

WEAVER: Ah, come on, Ripley - he’s been unconscious for, what, a day and a half? He’s not gonna make it. We should kill him and eat him while he’s fresh. If he dies while we’re asleep, he’ll start rotting, and who wants to eat a rotting corpse?

JACKSON: You can’t even catch a fish, Weaver. None of us can. How are you gonna kill a human being?

RIPLEY: A human being who is your goddamn friend, Weaver.

WEAVER: Well for starters, we need to stop thinking of him as our friend, and start thinking of him as a delicious banquet at sea. He’ll be easier to kill if we dehumanize him first.

RIPLEY: Weaver, we are not killing Krieger.

WEAVER: Why not?

RIPLEY: Because we might get rescued! And then we’d be sitting here, covered in Krieger’s blood, trying to explain how we had to kill and eat our friend because we were too inept to catch fish. What do you think Carla would say when we got back home?

JACKSON: Oh, man, Carla would be pissed.

WEAVER: Maybe, if we killed Krieger and ate him, we would have the strength to catch fish.

RIPLEY: For fuck’s sake, we are not killing Krieger and eating him!

Krieger stirs finally, comes awake. Jackson and Ripley are attentive, surprised and happy that he’s awake.

KRIEGER: What’s going on? Where are we?

JACKSON: Krieger! Hey, buddy, just take it easy. We’re still on the raft.

KRIEGER: Oh. That’s terrible.

RIPLEY: It’s good to see you, pal. Thought we were losing you there.

KRIEGER: God, I was having this totally fucked up dream. I thought you guys were planning to kill me and eat me. That’s just insane, right? Pause. What?

JACKSON: Weaver does sorta want to kill you and eat you.

KRIEGER: Seriously? Weaver, seriously?

WEAVER: I been thinking about it.

KRIEGER: Well, stop thinking about it!

WEAVER: Thing is, I think I speak for everyone here, we’re all pretty hungry.

KRIEGER: Catch some fucking fish!

JACKSON: We tried, buddy. I guess the fish are just smarter than we are.

RIPLEY: They’re not smarter. We just don’t have any tools and we don’t have any bait.

WEAVER: Well, hmm.

JACKSON: What do you mean “hmm”?

WEAVER: We could tear pieces off of Krieger’s legs and use that as bait.

KRIEGER: You are not - are you out of your fucking mind?

WEAVER: I’m trying to compromise here!

JACKSON: How would you tear pieces off without any tools?

RIPLEY: Jackson, don’t encourage him!

WEAVER: No, it’s a good question.

KRIEGER: No it’s not - Jesus!

WEAVER: To answer your perfectly legitimate question given the circumstances, Jackson, I think you underestimate the maximum bite force of the human jaw.

JACKSON: Interesting. How would you stop him from bleeding to death?

WEAVER: I’m confused, is that actually a goal here?

KRIEGER: Ripley, do something! They’re obviously delirious!

RIPLEY: Both of you can just keep the fuck away from Krieger, you got that? You just - stay on that side of the raft, and we’ll stay over on this side, end of discussion.

Ripley takes up watch huddled next to Krieger, who is still very weak. Jackson and Weaver eye them both.

WEAVER: You see what’s going on here, Jackson?

JACKSON: I think I do.

RIPLEY: Oh really? Enlighten me, Jackson.

JACKSON: I think you’re trying to keep Krieger all to yourself. You wanna be first in line at the buffet table.

KRIEGER: What does that even mean?

WEAVER: It means whenever you die of heat stroke, or dehydration, or ennui or whatever the hell finally puts you down, old Ripley here wants dibs. He’s staking a claim to your carcass, Krieger.

JACKSON: It’s like the old saying - “there are no vegetarians in life rafts.”

KRIEGER: Nobody ever fucking said that!

Long pause.

JACKSON: You know… could be another reason he don’t wanna kill Krieger. Could be… he wants to fuck the living shit out of Krieger while he’s still warm.

KRIEGER: Oh, now come on, seriously? That’s just crazy talk, isn’t it, Ripley? Pause. Ripley?

RIPLEY: I mean, sure, it’s crossed my mind once or twice.

WEAVER: Ah, see, now we’re getting somewhere.

KRIEGER: What! We’re not getting anywhere!

RIPLEY: Krieger, shut up.

KRIEGER: Ripley, you can’t seriously be considering-

RIPLEY: I said, shut up already, or I’ll smother you myself!

Krieger falls silent - now terrified.

RIPLEY: Sure, if we’re getting it all out into the open… sure I wanna fuck the living shit out of Krieger. Who doesn’t? I mean, be honest, you both got urges, same as me. It’s just human nature, isn’t it, to want to pound some poor helpless bastard into oblivion before you die, am I right?

JACKSON: On my bucket list for sure.

RIPLEY: And here we are, on the verge of death, no laws and no police, and hell Carla ain’t never gonna find out… I mean, Carla had no fucking idea how good she had it with you, Krieger, did she.

KRIEGER: Of course my wife Carla knew how good she had it with me...

RIPLEY: Anyway… sorry fellas, for being such a greedy bastard. If we’re gonna survive out here… we’re gonna survive together.

WEAVER: Without Krieger.

RIPLEY: Yeah, obviously.

JACKSON: So what do you think the next steps ought to be here?

WEAVER: It’ll be easiest for everybody if we just wait him out and let him fall unconscious again. Then we just… take turns on him for a while, right? I mean clearly Ripley should go first.

RIPLEY: Thank you, Weaver, I appreciate that.

KRIEGER: This is not happening. This is not okay. I do not want this.

JACKSON: I hear ya, buddy. But it’s like the old saying - “there’s no explicit consent in life rafts.”

KRIEGER: Nobody said that…

WEAVER: Then when he expires of natural causes, or internal bleeding or whatever, maybe we save some of his leg parts for bait, otherwise it’s all Thanksgiving dinner.

JACKSON: Assuming we survive that long ourselves.

RIPLEY: I got a surprise for you, boys. I been torn up about sharing these because there’s four of us and I only got three, but since that’s all about to change… He breaks out three power bars, passing one to Weaver and one to Jackson, keeping one for himself. Gotta keep our strength up! Lots of excitement on the horizon.

Lights fade as Ripley, Weaver and Jackson bite into their power bars.

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