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THE SURVIVALISTS A Verse Play in One Act
(December 31, 1999, 11:33 p.m. A basement bunker with low cement ceilings, stained orange carpet, couches scarred with cigarette burns, and a low table on which are littered empty beer cans. INVAR, a somewhat obese late-middle-aged man, sits on the couch next to ANDY, a florid Brit in his forties. CRONO, a small, nervous man, sits on the opposite couch, chainsmoking. ANDY opens another can of beer and tosses it to INVAR.)
ANDY: Drink up, old man, you'll need the cheer, Youre gonna need this extra beer. The bets are on, the wager's approaching, The computer's off, and I need coaching.
INVAR: Relax, fellow trooper; here, take this gun. When midnight strikes we'll have some fun.
CRONO (looking up): Is it my mind, or did the lights just flicker?
ANDY: Nope. I thnk you've lost your ticker.
CRONO: I swear I saw the lights go down!
INVAR: Shut up Crono! You cowardly clown!
(A KNOCK comes at the bunker door. INVAR leaps up, a shotgun in his hands.)
INVAR: It's the Feds! They've come to git us! (cocks the trigger): I'm ready boys! They won't outwit us! (shouting through door): Whoever you are, get off my grass or I'll blow this gun and cream your ass!
VOICE FROM BEHIND THE DOOR: Relax INVAR! It's me, pal RAY! I've come to deliver some play-by-play. I've been downtown to the heart of the city, I'll tell you the news, and it ain't pretty!
INVAR (opening door): Come on in, boy. Why didn't you say so. Have a beer and tell us the get-go in that bastion of liberal flower-power. God, I hate city folks with a passion sour.
RAY: There're hundreds of 'em gathered in the street, Adults, children, even dogs underfeet, Instead of rioting they're singing a song, Ringing in the New Year over a thousand strong. Some are lighting candles and linking hands, And dancing to the tune of many bands.
ANDY: Baaaaaawhaha! The city slicker spittum Won't even have a clue what's come to hit 'em.
INVAR: It's all so free-minded it sickens my belly. Their minds are like great bowls of jelly.
RAY: It's hard to believe it, but I tell you no lie! I saw 'em cavortin' with my very eye!
CRONO (fiddling with radio): I can't get Art Bell on this radio station. He must've been captured by aliens from some planetary nation!
ANDY: Or he shut off his power expecting the worst. Even Gary North has ordered a private hearse.
CRONO: What do you mean? Why would he do so?
ANDY: Oh, it fits in with his role As Robinson Crusoe. Stranded on his compound, his own inland "isle," He means to transport his near and dear in style. He can't save everyone. He's admitted as much. Even Gary North doesn't possess the Midas touch.
CRONO (sadly): I'll miss reading him after all the mobbing, And the arsons and lootings and vandals and robbing.
ANDY (glancing at clock): The bewitching hour grows near! I think I'll open another beer!
(OFFSTAGE, we hear the eerily faint voice of LURKERS, chanting in chorus):
LURKERS: We're longtime lurkers, We know the score, We've followed Y2K To its essential core. These men fascinate and repel us, Their convictions nearly make us jealous. You see, we can't make up our minds one way or the other, About all this fuss and noise and bother. We don't know if these tales are mere trash, Or whether we ought to pull out our cash. Still, it's amusing to watch these actors Make hard decisions based on tenuous factors.
INVAR (sighing loudly and opening another beer): I'm glad I read the news today, And saw that all has gone astray. The world's a mess, Klinton's gone Hitler, And you can't even trust yer auntie the quilter.
ANDY: I agree, INVAR, a hundred percent! I think we should stay put in our tent. The right-wing papers tell us all that we need, Not liberal rags with their "objective" screed.
(Stage RIGHT: Yourdonites OLD GIT, DIANE SQUIRE, and BIG DOG sing in CHORUS):
CHORUS: We're camped out here by INVAR's concrete bunker, In case the crisis heeds us to hunker. We know those guys are kind of cracked, But we like 'em all, and that's a fact! Still, we prefer to stick together, Even in this wintry weather.
BIG DOG: I got a degree from a fancy school, But I'm a programmer, and no one's fool. I've read a library of distinguished books, But I'm convinced the government's composed of crooks.
DIANE SQUIRE: I research, and prepare: I'm Diane Squire. I've grown used to INVAR's inflammatory ire. You see, I think all deserve a chance To express themselves in this crazy dance. Even if someone is patently absurd, I'd rather be silent than risk their word. I'd rather that my true thoughts not be seen. Folks on this forum can be awful mean.
OLD GIT: Oh, Diane, you worry too much. No one gives a hoot as such.
(In bunker, INVAR stares at the clock as it ticks toward midnight. ANDY has passed out on the couch.)
INVAR (muttering to himself): I hate all liberals with a passion, I hate books and people of fashion. I hate blacks and japs and Jews, I hate the Klintons and Pollyannish news. I hate the Sulzbergers and their evil empire, I think I may even hate Diane Squire. I hate women and I hate Injuns, I hate the Pope and all his minions. I am INVAR, I fear and hate. I am what once made this country great.
(Two Sprites, "a" and DIETER, hover about the ceiling, invisible to INVAR and his companions.)
"a": Ass! He thinks he's great and immortal! Excuse me while I howl and chortle!
DIETER (hissing toward INVAR): SWiNisH LoUsE! MEnTaL MiDgiT! YoU siCkEn DiEteR! VeRMiN! IdIOT!
RAY: Say, INVAR, is there ANYONE you like? When you were a kid, did you like Ike?
INVAR: The only type I'll listen or hear out, Is an Honest Christian, or a militia scout.
CRONO (jumping up from couch): It's nearly midnight! It's almost nigh When Y2K will blow us sky high! I'm scared! I'm frightened! I can hardly swallow! Lord save me from this evil hollow!
INVAR: Shut up Crono. And take a seat. This gun is packed with plenty o' heat. If you know what's good you'll shut yer trap, I can't take no more of yer whiny crap.
(They all stare gloomily at the clock as it approaches midnight. The tick-tock of the clock grows louder, and louder. Exactly at midnight, the lights in the bunker blink OFF.)
RAY: See! I told you! It's really happened! The Pollyanna's will be doin' some head slappin'!
INVAR: I've got the gun! Now hunker down! Get on all fours! Stay close to the ground!
CRONO (terrified): What is that scurrying in the corner there?
RAY: I heard it too, but I'm not scared!
(INVAR points his shotgun toward the corner.)
NORM: Relax! Don't shoot! It's me, your pal Norm! I've just stepped in here to get out of the storm. I know, I know, I'm just a troll, But please! Don't send me back to my hole! You see, I've brought some very bad news: The grid's apparently broken a fuse.
DiEteR (hovering): IdIot! DOn'T yOu tHiNK we kNoW it? WiDgEt brAiNed wEAsel! Go oFF aNd bLOw it!
INVAR (calmly): Okay, Norm, this time you pass. But say one thing more and I'll torch your ass. Remember, I'm the guy, the only one Who's holdin' this here well-oiled gun.
(Frantic KNOCKING is heard at the door.)
INVAR (leaping): Back off, you Feds, you martial men! Back off, I say, from this fortified den!
(A VOICE comes from behind the door; it belongs to UNCLE DEEDAH.)
UNCLE DEEDAH: It's me! It's Unc! I've come with news!
RAY: Unc! Is it true? Is it really truly you?
UNCLE DEEDAH: It's me, I tell you, with some Y2K facts. Now let me in before I freeze my ass!
(INVAR lets UNCLE DEEDAH into the bunker. BIG DOG, DIANE SQUIRE, and OLD GIT stand outside with their ears pressed to the door.)
UNCLE DEEDAH: Relax! Calm down! I've got recent word About the blackout that's just occurred. The outtage that made our minds seize and whirl, Was caused by none other than a winter grey squirrel! Seems the critter knawed his way down to the wire, And caused the huge blackout, and a power plant fire.
CRONO (nearly weeping): I don't believe you! I'm gonna crank my Baygen! And tune in to the local Patriot station! They tell the truth, in all its guises, They don't pull the wool over any of our eyeses!
UNCLE DEEDAH: But it's true. I heard it from a power plant man, A regular fellow by the name of Dan. He showed me himself where the wire'd been chewed. Come see for yourself, and we'll end this feud.
INVAR (in a cold, small voice): I don't want to see it, I don't need to know. I think you're trying to give us the snow. (menacingly) So you've been talking to Dan, Our nemesis! The Power Man.
UNCLE DEEDAH (frightened): It's not THAT Dan! It's another man!
INVAR: I don't believe you, I think you're a liar. I have a yearning to set your ass on fire.
NORM: He's a troll, I tell you, a bald lyin' troll! I think you ought to send him in here to the hole!
INVAR: Shut up, Norm! Or you'll rue the day that you first posted news that things were okay.
UNCLE DEEDAH (stepping back outside through door): I agree! I'm going! I'll see you all later! (slams the door) You slimey fat fear monger and hater!
(OLD GIT, BIG DOG, and DIANE SQUIRE gather around UNCLE DEE DAW):
BIG DOG: One minute longer, And you would have been a goner!
DIANE SQUIRE: I'm glad, Unc, you escaped from that mess, I was worried there, I must confess!
OLD GIT: You poor man! You poor thing! All because you dared to sing!
UNCLE DEE DAW (disgustedly): I'm not a parrot! I'm no one's canary! I don't mind that it was gettin' kind of hairy in that den of dankness and ooze. (sighs) Let's all go out and have us some booze.
(UNCLE DEEDAH, OLD GIT, BIG DOG, DIANE SQUIRE exit stage RIGHT.)
RAY: I guess we showed him! I guess we did! If Unc is wise he'll keep himself hid. The shit's just begun to hit the proverbial fan. (mockingly): If it's just a squirrel, where's the power, Dan-Man?
(The lights in the den suddenly blink ON.)
CRONO: It's a government conspiracy! It's a hidden federal heresy!
INVAR: Shut up! All of you! I can't think! Or maybe I just need another drink. This hasn't gone exactly as planned, But just you wait! We'll have the upper hand! When marital law arrives, guns will set this place afire, and the Feds'll never drag us to their camps drear and dire!
ANDY (stirring): Zzzzzurrghurrmph........
LURKERS: Though no one came further to the paranoid den, Not even a relative or next of kin, Because the Patriot Station said the martial hand Was spreading like cancer throughout the land, It did eventually transpire That INVAR set the bunker afire. Ourselves? We keep reading the forum, And hope to hear some news of Ed Yourdon. Cory says he's safe and sound, And keeping his cash stored safe in the ground. In the meantime, we all hold our breath, And hope the Bug won't bring us to death. The rest of you can snore and snooze, And digest the latest spin and news, But we're addicted to the forum, you might say, And wonder if the economy will buck and sway. We really hope things turn out for the best, So we can finally get a decent night's rest. So goodnight, dear Reader, and may all your care, Go toward beating The Bug, and remember, PREPARE!
-- Can't Believe It (Broadway@broadway.theatre), April 17, 1999
I'm sure Invar can defend himself and does'nt need my help, but that was another cheap shot.
-- KoFE (Your@town.USA), April 17, 1999.
STANDING O!!!!!! FINGERSNAPS!!!!
-- spun@lright (email@example.com), April 17, 1999.
More more!! hoot hoot catcall and more to boot LOLROFLMAOTIP hic
-- h (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 17, 1999.
Actually, I would never have said "hoot" in that context, it being peculiarly American. I probably would have said the S word. Oh. That's American too. Okay, so I'm a vulgar
-- Old Git (email@example.com), April 17, 1999.
Dear Can't Believe It,
I was feeling a little depressed today, and this dark tour de force was the cure.
-- Wanda (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 17, 1999.
-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), April 17, 1999.
While certainly entertaining....
someone has way too much time on their hands...
-- Mutha Nachu (---@lordy,lordy.lordy), April 17, 1999.
ROTFLMAOff!!! A veritable tour de force there can't believe it's not butter, but WHO are you really??? Hmmm, this one is going to bug me, obviously an old hand here, educated (classically), that rules out y2k Prairie Dog, urbane, that rules out Flint, sophisticated, that rules out HoffMeister (follow the bear), witty, that rules out most of the other trolls aprt from YES!!!! IT MUST BE MY OLD FRIEND AND NEMESIS SLIMFAST uh, I MEAN DIETER!!!!
Come out come out whoever you are... DIETER!!!
I HATE YOU! JACKAL!!!
-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 18, 1999.
Must've been written in haste. Some very sloppy rhymes. Scansion's a little jumpy too. Good effort. B-minus.
-- Prof. (sunshine@curmudgeon~.edu), April 18, 1999.
>Some very sloppy rhymes
Maybe, but I think some are cute.
"...longer ... goner"
-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), April 18, 1999.
It was ME!
-- INVARiably Stupids Mother (sorry@Ihadthat.child), April 18, 1999.
INVARiably stupids mother, you should've had an abortion, or have been neutered before the fact.
What a great spoof. I loved it. So what if there were no metaphysical conceits, strained metaphors, no overdone aesthetic distance. Hooray for "Chicken Poop for the Soul."
-- gilda jessie (email@example.com), April 18, 1999.
WHaT iS THis fOoLISHness??????? IDIot!!!!!!! DIetER DOeS NOt EVeN DRiNK SPRiTE!!!!!!!! JAckaL BreaTH!!!!!! AND WhaT IS THis HOVer ABouT THe CEiLinG NONseNSE???????? HuH????? wELL?????? diETEr dOES NOt HOvER!!!!! IDIoT!!!!! DIetER IS a heAVier THAn aiR CRafT, IS he NOt?????? WHeRE OR WHerE Did YOu geT THis insANE IDEa thAT DIEteR Has VTOL ABiLiTies????? weLL????? whAT?????? EViL deViL!!!!!
-- Dieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 1999.
Somehow, I dont think it would play on Broadway ... wa-a-a-a-y off.
BTW, bunkers hold little appeal for most on this forum.
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), April 18, 1999.
And that poor squirrel.....
-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (Cook.R@csaatl.com), April 18, 1999.
Great fun but, um, DOGgeral compared to all those GREAT Books I've read.
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 18, 1999.
Well, it made ME laugh and even the responses where amusing, except for Gilda's icky comment about abortion. Sheesh.
I doubt we'll ever know who the author is, but that was hysterical. I haven't followed this forum long enuff to understand all the innuendos, but hey, it worked for the most part.
-- pamela (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 1999.
Yes, I am so "icky." I made that "icky comment about abortion. "Sheeesh!" Pardon me for offending one so pure, so holy, so sensitive. "Icky poo on me!!! Sheesh!!
-- gilda jessie (email@example.com), April 19, 1999.
Kofe, considering INVAR's previous contributions to the Y2K fiction genre, a cheap shot is exactly what was called for.
-- The Peanut Gallery (.@...), April 19, 1999.
the poster rhymes nicely. it kinda reminds me of Sir Richard the Dale and his limericks.
-- jocelyne slough (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 19, 1999.
I'm that Compliance Officer again, you know, the one that hosted the Y2K seminar the INVAR attended and later wrote a summary about to this forum. He's not overweight and I don't think he's out of this thirties, he's just a guy with an opinion. He really tried to stump me at my seminar, but his questions were great! We have verrrrry different views on Y2K, but I've learned so much from everyone on this forum, that I would hate to discourage any one person from participating. Even those that have no time for me and my line of work!
-- Diana (email@example.com), April 19, 1999.
I appreciate your rare contributions.
Any more "news" from the bankside of Y2K ... from your personal perspective?
-- Diane J. Squire (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 19, 1999.
Diana, Free speech is a right guaranteed to all of us---but just read over what Invar has posted to this forum. He really is always attacking, fearful, hateful. I for one think we SHOULD stand up to him! I'm tired of letting people like this get away with their rancorous right-wing propaganda. People should have stood up to the Nazis in the thirties. Let people express their opinion here, but let them express it in a civilized way, not a hateful, attacking way.
-- Think about what you are saying (email@example.com), April 19, 1999.
What an unexpected treat.
We can only hope for an outcome so pleasant - but thanx, B'way, whoever you are...
-- Grrr (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 19, 1999.