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Photo by Omar Willey.

Do Not Wait For Further Messages

Produced by Seattle Theatre Works at the Medicine Ball festival, Feb 13-15, 2015. The theme for the weekend, loosely, was "Love and Sex." Additionally I was provided the above photo to use as a prompt, and given a specific prop (Sweetheart candies) to include. My actor draw: write a play for three men.

AIDAN to audience: I had a dream the other night. I was learning how to skydive - practicing on the ground. Mark was there. I hadnít seen Mark in a long time.

MARK: Is this your first time skydiving?

AIDAN: Yeah.

MARK: You scared?

AIDAN: Nah.

MARK: Why didnít you jump tandem for your first jump?

AIDAN: I donít Ö you can do that?

MARK: Sure, thatís what I did. I had some burly Russian air force dude strapped to my back to open the parachute for me.

AIDAN to audience: And I remember, that was my first alarm bell, like something wasnít quite right about the situation, but then this training montage started up.

Aidan and Mark lie on their stomachs, practicing the basic skydiving pose, as the Instructor enters.

INSTRUCTOR: Now remember - when you jump out of that plane, immediately spread your arms and legs out wide, as fast as possible. Yes, just like that, boys. You want as much air resistance as you can get. You screw that up, you could go into an uncontrolled spin, black out from the gees, and pow youíre a smear on the ground.

AIDAN sits up: Doesnít the chuteÖ open automatically?

INSTRUCTOR: What kind of fairytale dreamland are you living in, son? Nothing happens automatically in this world. Your life depends on your own free will, plain and simple.

MARK sits up: I think he wants to jump tandem for his first jump.

INSTRUCTOR to Aidan: Oh do you now.

MARK: Wouldnít that be safer?

INSTRUCTOR: Of course it would be safer. If you prefer entrusting your life into the hands of a complete stranger for the duration of your freefall experience, I can arrange that. But I thought you were a different kind of man.

AIDAN to audience: Which, I guess that was my second alarm bell, because I donít really, it doesnít usually-

MARK: Heís questioning your masculinity.

AIDAN to audience: Which usually, isnít, a thing with me, or whatever. To Mark: Wait, why are you here anyway?

MARK: Oh, right - funny story, so you remember the last day of college - well, my last day, I guess you had another semester - and that whole big thing in the quad with the marching band and all the, somebody had-

AIDAN: Somebody had fireworks.

MARK: Anyway - I tried to, I wanted to, say goodbye, I thought you, the way you were, the way we were - I didnít know how to - anyway, I tried to...

AIDAN: You tried to kiss me.

MARK: Yeah. Yeah. But you didnítÖ

AIDAN: I didnít kiss you back. Because, reasons.

MARK: Yeah. Yeah.

AIDAN: So?

MARK: So nothing. I just wondered if you remembered that.

AIDAN to audience: And for some reason, I looked up into the sky, and I saw-

INSTRUCTOR: You think youíre seeing patterns in the clouds, is that right?

AIDAN: Itís pretty weird, actually. It almost looks like - writing.

INSTRUCTOR: Thatís because those arenít clouds at all. Those are chemical trails. Secret messages left in the air by high-flying intelligence drones. Spies in the field decode these messages each day before the trails dissipate, and our enemy is none the wiser.

AIDAN: And what do todayís messages say, do you happen to know?

INSTRUCTOR: They say, ďDo not wait for further messages, for this is the last of all days.Ē

AIDAN to audience: I guess - sometimes people tell you something in a dream that you donít understand, but you know itís true.

INSTRUCTOR: A fine day for a skydive if you ask me.

AIDAN to audience: And I guess - I mean, Iíd always wanted to skydive, and this was my last chance. And Mark was there.

MARK: You got something better to do?

AIDAN: No.

MARK: You scared?

AIDAN: I mean, maybe.

INSTRUCTOR: Wheels up in ten!

The sound of a small aircraft rises up behind them. The Instructor puts on aviator goggles and a bomber jacket, occupies a seat that has magically appeared and mimes piloting the plane. Aidan and Mark mime holding onto some kind of crash bar inside the back of an imaginary airplane, perhaps sitting on a bench. As the Instructor speaks, Mark slowly peers out an open doorway in the hold of the plane, looking outside and down, anticipating his jump.

INSTRUCTOR: Gentlemen, weíve just cleared 15,000 feet! Now normally, on a day like today, with clear blue sky as far as the eye can see, normally youíd get a fantastic view of the entire Cascade Range, from Canada to Oregon. We even put that on our web site because normally itís just a fantastic view up here. Normally today would just be fantastic for visibility.

AIDAN: Why do you keep saying ďnormallyĒ?

MARK: Aidan, take a look at this.

AIDAN: Why do you keep saying ďnormallyĒ? Whatís, is something different-

MARK: Seriously, you gotta see this.

AIDAN: Is something different about, today, right now, is something not normal?

MARK: Aidan, seriously!

Aidan turns to Mark, then looks out of the plane with Mark, and is awestruck.

AIDAN to audience: And I looked down, and that was my last alarm bell, because I couldnít - I mean, everyoneís seen, skydiving on video, you know what itís supposed to look like when you look down from 15,000 feet. But this was, I just, freaked out a little, because-

INSTRUCTOR: Itís the last of all days, gentlemen - thereís nothing normal about it!

AIDAN to audience: I couldnít see, I mean there was no-

MARK to Instructor: Whereís the ground?

INSTRUCTOR: I have no idea! Normally thereíd be mountains!

AIDAN to audience: But all I could see wasÖ clear blue skyÖ and clouds or chemtrails or whateverÖ but the runway was goneÖ and the fields around the runway were goneÖ the entire surface of the planet was gone, period.

INSTRUCTOR: A fine day for a skydive if you ask me!

MARK: Are you kidding?

The Instructor gets out of his seat and crosses to the open doorway, pushing his way between Aidan and Mark.

INSTRUCTOR: The autopilot will fly the plane true, until she runs out of fuel. I have no idea what happens then - maybe sheíll glide, maybe sheíll spin. Anyway, I wonít be here to find out!

MARK: Where are you going?

INSTRUCTOR: I know thereís probably a good reason for everything thatís happened today. Iíll bet the enemy never saw this coming! But I must admit, just between you and me and the Indivisible Spirit of the Lord Almighty, I sure do wish Iíd said a proper goodbye to my wife before I left the house this morning. If this truly is the last of all days, Iíve gotta find her before itís over. Godspeed, gentlemen!

The Instructor leaps out of the plane and drifts off stage.

MARK: Well, thatís interesting. The groundís missing but heís falling anyway.

AIDAN to audience: Which, technically yes, that was interesting, in a Mr. Wizard kind of way, but not exactly relevant, in this other significant way.

MARK: Still want to jump?

AIDAN: Yeah, thatís - why Iím here.

MARK: You scared?

AIDAN: Sure, I mean, of course. Long pause. But I canít help thinkingÖ it sure would be nice if my first jump wasÖ a tandem jump.

MARK: I donít think you have the right harness for that.

AIDAN: Iím pretty sure itís the right harness.

MARK: Anyway if thereís no ground below, youíll never need to open your parachute. Youíll be perfectly safe just sailing off into the clear blue sky.

AIDAN: Yeah, I guess. But I think I already tried perfectly safe, and thatís - why Iím here.

Mark approaches Aidan from behind, wraps his arms around Aidan as the airplane sound fades.

MARK: Is this okay?

AIDAN: I think so?

They jump - an opportunity for a physical moment, if Mark can lift Aidan into a skydive pose for even a brief moment. Then Mark sets Aidan down and exits. Aidan sits in a chair that has magically appeared, next to the Instructor who had shed his aviator glasses and bomber jacket in favor of a blazer and spectacles. He sits opposite Aidan, acting as Aidanís therapist; he munches from a box of Sweetheart candies, studying the slogan on each one before he pops it into his mouth, chewing noisily through his upcoming lines.

AIDAN: And then I woke up.

INSTRUCTOR: Do you know what falling dreams mean, Aidan?

AIDAN: No. I mean, I looked on Wikipedia, but clinically I donít think thatís-

INSTRUCTOR: Falling dreams signify a loss of control in a situation or a relationship. The world around you is topsy turvy. Youíre grasping for a hand hold, but reality is not cooperating. Does that feel about right to you?

AIDAN: I mean, maybe.

INSTRUCTOR: Only one thing for it. Give in! Start screaming! Join the circus! I donít know for sure. Anyway, you canít trust Wikipedia for a case like this. Every day the pages of Wikipedia are rewritten by intelligent software agents that embed narrative cyphers into the text. Spies in the field decode these cyphers each day before the moderators delete the changes, and our enemy is none the wiser. Anyway, if the ground was truly missing, if there was no planet left to revolve around the sun, maybe that last of all days might actually have lasted forever, understand?

AIDAN: No, I donít.

INSTRUCTOR: Well, pardon me, son - Iím a skydiving instructor, not your therapist! Pause. Do you like Sweetheart candies, Aidan?

AIDAN: No, I donít.

INSTRUCTOR: Well, you might like this one.

The Instructor flips a candy to Aidan, then exits. After a small beat, Mark reappears, standing behind Aidan, hands on Aidanís shoulders.

AIDAN: And then I woke up.

MARK: I was reading - too much B6 can give you really vivid dreams, and I checked, you get like, 845% of your daily allowance in that supplement you take.

AIDAN: Thatís interesting, in a Mr. Wizard kind of way. Pause. Iím misremembering, though - it wasnít your last day of school - in the quad? You came back for a semester.

MARK: It was supposed to be my last day. I decided - to pick up a few more electives.

AIDAN: I see. Pause. And here we are now. Still - freefalling together.

MARK: I guess. Oh, what did that Sweetheart candy in your dream say?

AIDAN: It said, ďIíll bet the enemy never saw that coming.Ē

Lights fade.



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