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Rob MacGregor as Marcus, Steven G. Sterne as Father Mallory. Photo by Joe Iano.
All Must Pay The Price
produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/11/14. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Sin and Salvation." My random actor draw: write a play for three men and one woman. In one chair, a priest – FATHER MALLORY – in a confession booth. A man – MARCUS – enters & sits in a chair next to him. MARCUS: I'm here for confession. FATHER MALLORY: How long has it been since your last confession? MARCUS: This is my first one. FATHER MALLORY: I see. Are you new to the faith? MARCUS: I'm not really into faith. I just have a confession to make. FATHER MALLORY: Without faith, I cannot absolve your sins. MARCUS: I didn't ask you to absolve my sins. FATHER MALLORY: Then why are you here? MARCUS: Are you not listening to me? I have a confession. I have something I would like to confess. Can I actually do that here in this so-called “confession booth”? FATHER MALLORY: Of course. MARCUS: So, I've been hacking into the Vatican for years now. And I learned all about the top secret underground vault where you're hiding the tablet from the rest of the world. FATHER MALLORY: Hiding what tablet? MARCUS: The stone tablet with the eleventh commandment carved on it. FATHER MALLORY: There are only ten commandments in our faith. MARCUS: Yes, and one in real life, in a vault. They only tell the Pope and a few of the Archbishops about it. Anyway, we're going to steal that tablet, and we're going to share it with the world, and bring down the entire Catholic Church – probably most of Christianity, actually. FATHER MALLORY: I don't understand – what's the purpose of these outlandish stories? MARCUS: I want you to be properly scared. FATHER MALLORY: But I don't believe a word of what you're saying. MARCUS: Yeah, why would a priest take anything on faith. FATHER MALLORY: It's that very faith that reassures me there is no eleventh commandment. MARCUS: There is. I don't know what it is yet, and I don't know why the Vatican is hiding it. But after we steal the tablet and get it translated – as a courtesy, we'll be letting priests like you get the first peek. See you soon, Father. Father Mallory and Marcus exits. A new priest, FATHER JON, takes Mallory's place. After a long beat, a woman enters, completely covered in blood, and slowly goes to sit in the chair opposite Father Jon. SANDRA: I want to make a confession. Actually first – do you have any towels? This bench is nice wood and I am dripping blood all over it. FATHER JON: Pardon me? I don't keep towels in my booth. SANDRA: Whatever, if you don't care about bloodstains, I sure the hell don't. FATHER JON: Why are you dripping blood? Are you injured? SANDRA: No, it's not my blood. Look, I want to make a confession. Can I do that? FATHER JON: Of course, but if you've committed any acts of violence, I can't in good conscience- SANDRA: “Good conscience” - that's a thing with you? Just shut your fucking mouth for a second. Have you heard of the eleventh commandment? FATHER JON: I've heard – whispers. SANDRA: Whispers that we started. And just like we promised – we waltzed right past the Vatican cops and stole the tablet from your not actually all that secret vault. It's being translated as we speak. FATHER JON: Are you – is that the blood of Vatican secret police officers? SANDRA: It's the blood of bishops and cardinals, actually. The cops were mostly on our side. FATHER JON: And what side is that? SANDRA: The side of truth. Anyway. I want to start a new whisper while I'm here. See – there's something else about the tablet we're studying carefully. Because it's proof. FATHER JON: What kind of proof could you have stolen so easily from the Church? SANDRA: Proof that the eleventh commandment is the true word of God, unlike almost every other damn thing you people believe. Sandra exits. Mallory and Jon come together in what might be a pew. FATHER JON: I've never felt such fear in my life. She seemed so clinical, so nonchalant about supposedly killing our brethren. Mallory – do you believe them? Can it possibly be true? FATHER MALLORY: Only the Lord knows what's true about all of this, Jon. And potentially the Pope. And maybe some of the archbishops. And I guess anyone with a Vatican network login. FATHER JON: Mallory, if the Lord did leave behind an eleventh commandment, what do you think it might be? FATHER MALLORY: The first ten were such a perfect set that it's hard to imagine another one. Marcus and Sandra enter. MARCUS: Translation is done, actually. You boys want to hear it? I mean, this is some cutting edge liturgical shit about to go down here. SANDRA: I had my money on “thou shalt not be such giant dicks to each other” but I guess that's pretty much the whole point of the first ten. FATHER JON: Look Mallory – she's still covered in blood. SANDRA: Not “still” - again. MARCUS: C'mon, you people are priests - aren't you even the tiniest bit curious what the Lord had to say in his extra commandment? FATHER MALLORY: I admit, I'm indeed curious what form this elaborate fantasy will take. By all means, tell us – what did the writing on the tablet say? MARCUS: The writing on the tablet said... Pause. “Thou shalt not be such giant dicks to each other.” FATHER JON: What? MARCUS: I'm totally just fucking with you. Sandra, would you give us a dramatic reading? Sandra pulls out her phone and reads. SANDRA: “I the Lord your God do now abandon you. I go to the indescribable place from whence I came. The angels and the entire obedient host shall follow me, and the gates of heaven are locked for all eternity. So too the army of devils and demons shall rejoin the heavenly host in worship and obedience to me. As I forever leave behind your world of doomed mortality, still you shall obey my final command: do not pray to me, for I shall not answer; in truth, I never have.” FATHER MALLORY: That's not the word of God. That's heresy! It's an elaborate forgery, or the work of a deranged lunatic. MARCUS: Actually, we had it dated radiometically – the Lord left it behind half a million years ago. FATHER JON: But where is your proof that the Lord God Almighty ever actually carved those words? MARCUS: Oh - we can show you exactly why the Church knew it was real. SANDRA: We made digital scans of the surface of the tablet. After what happened to the first translators, we realized what we were dealing with. MARCUS: You want proof? Then behold, for the Lord our God left his signature on that stone tablet. SANDRA: But all must pay the price, who gaze upon the name of power. Sandra swiftly raises her phone to show them. They cry out briefly in terror – then collapse, dead. Marcus finds himself lost in thought. SANDRA: Oh, if I didn't mention earlier, the price is death. Pause. Marcus, what's wrong? MARCUS: He said that he took the entire army of devils and demons with him to rejoin the heavenly host. But that's not true, is it, because he left the two of us behind. Why do you suppose he did that? SANDRA: Maybe he thought reforming us was a bad idea. I mean, you can't just slap wings and a halo on me and expect me to lose my appetite for killing humans. MARCUS: True, and there are just so many that need it. Well, I'm happy for steady work. They exit.
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