Sunday, February 12, 2012

2/4/12 - The Third Temptation of SPYGOD - Act 2, Scene 2


Black lights come up on a mostly darkened stage, with mist floating along the floor. The only structures we can see are raised, white daises that are just large enough to let a person curl up inside them. These all have white lights shining directly down upon them. In the center of the stage is a slightly higher, much larger dais that is unlit.

On every smaller dais is a single person, dressed in plain white clothing. They are apparently trapped in prisons only they can see. Some writhe as if in great, indirect pain, some are clearly being actively tortured, some are having nightmarish or furious conversations, some sit and stare as if their minds are broken, and some are curled up, trying to sleep but unable to. All these tableaux are performed in silence: we cannot hear their torments any more than we can see them. 

Entering STAGE LEFT is a man in a large, black robe that hides his exact shape, and conceals everything but his head and hands. Every so often something will randomly move under the robe in an area contrary to human anatomy, suggesting a hideous, inhuman body we are being spared from seeing. Red fluorescent makeup ornately outlines his lips, chin, cheekbones, eyebrows, and areas under the eyes. This is SUPERIOR, who walks up to the unlit dais and waits.

A few beats later, two more figures in large, black robes, with similar red fluorescent makeup, though not as ornate, enter STAGE RIGHT. One of them is BEAUTIFUL STRANGER, the other is SUBORDINATE, who follows three steps behind. SUBORDINATE carries a pair of fluorescent red, Egyptian-style flails, one in each hand. They walk up to the unlit dais, where BEAUTIFUL STRANGER stands across from SUPERIOR, and SUBORDINATE stands three steps behind BEAUTIFUL STRANGER, flails at the ready.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I am here to make my full report, sir.

SUPERIOR: I have observed your preliminary report already. I must tell you that I am not impressed. 

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I can understand that, sir. But if you will permit me to present the full report, I think you will find it's not as bad as it looks.

SUBORDINATE: It looks like failure to me, sir, if I may be so bold as to interject.

SUPERIOR: You may, and I tend to agree. Are you, his apprentice, ready to assume his duties, including this contract, should I find against his report?

SUBORDINATE: Oh, absolutely, sir. I am most ready. 

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: If I could but present the report prior to my punishment? I may be unable to point out its nuances otherwise-

SUPERIOR nods to SUBORDINATE, who violently cracks BEAUTIFUL STRANGER across the back with one of the flails. There is a loud sound like a screaming, small animal being put to death, just under the auditory threshold of pain. BEAUTIFUL STRANGER shudders in pain, but does not cry out, merely taking a moment to collect himself. 

SUPERIOR: Your tone does not help you here. Only facts and their correct application, past and present, are your ally. Confine yourself to them should you wish to continue in your current position.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Of course, sir. The facts are these. After leaving (REDACTED) in the future for 24 hours, I came back to collect him. He had been unable to see the things we did not wish him to see. However, given his talents, he found ways to look around the absences, and come close to the truth of the matter. This did not please him, and he found a way to make his displeasure physically known to me. 

SUBORDINATE whacks BEAUTIFUL STRANGER with a flail again.

SUBORDINATE: That was sloppiness on your part. You should have read my prepared report more carefully. I explicitly said he would do these things. I also said that if a way to hurt you existed, he would find it and use it. 

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I read your report, my dear apprentice. But SPYGOD-proofing the planet to your specifications would take time we do not have. I rolled the bones, as it were. And there is more.

SUPERIOR: More? Do you mean to say this was part of your plan?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: A part of it, yes, should certain things go wrong.

SUBORDINATE whacks BEAUTIFUL STRANGER with both flails this time, one after the other.

SUBORDINATE: You taught me that being humiliated in front of a customer is not part of our corporate image.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Not normally, no. But if you will be humble in your position, I think you will realize that some rules must be broken to achieve the goal. 

SUPERIOR: Yes, but did you achieve that goal? I see this scene, here, and I think the answer can only be no.

SUPERIOR waves both hands before the larger dais. The lights on the other daises dim, and a brightly lit scene unfolds, as if on film, on the larger one. It's SPYGOD's room, more or less just as it was left, though it's apparent some time has gone by. BEE-BEE is on a different spot on the bed, snoozing on her AK-47, and the beer cans aren't there, anymore. (METALMAID must have cleaned them up). SPYGOD and BEAUTIFUL STRANGER appear by the bed, which makes BEE-BEE twitch her ears and snort, and then go back to sleep. Maybe.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: So, here we are.

SPYGOD: So we are...

SPYGOD goes over to his dresser, grabs a fancy, tall box, and unwraps it, revealing some expensive-looking bottle of what may be liquor. 

SPYGOD: One of my contacts in Sri Lanka sent me this for a present, one year. I can't pronounce the name, and if I told you what it was made out of, you wouldn't want to drink it.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I've probably had worse.

SPYGOD: No doubt.

SPYGOD walks the bottle over to another corner of the room, and gets two small glasses. He opens the bottle up and pours a measure into each. It's black as pitch and smokes as it hits the glass.

SPYGOD: They give this to someone when they're going to embark on a difficult journey. Marriages, usually, these days. They don't into the kind of !@#$ they used to, back when this was made, so notion of proving you were willing to enter !@#$ by having a glass of this !@#$ is kind of a macho thing, rather than the sacred ritual it used to be.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: But here you are, king of the macho men.

SPYGOD: I !@#$ hate that song.


SPYGOD: Maybe that's why I hate it.

SPYGOD stands there, looking at the glasses, and then looking at BEAUTIFUL STRANGER. BEAUTIFUL STRANGER smiles, reaches into his pants, and pulls out a black business card. He flicks it at SPYGOD, who catches it out of the air and looks at it.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No doubt you'll want some assurances, from time to time. Perhaps some minor favors to go along with the larger plan. I can be contacted at any time, though it may take some time to see you. You're a busy man, yourself-

SPYGOD: Did I say yes, yet?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No, but you were about to.

SPYGOD: (putting the card down by the drinks) No, I wasn't.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: You weren't? Then why were you pouring us a drink?

SPYGOD: These drinks are for me, !@#$. I always make it a double.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Then what's the difficult journey for you?

SPYGOD: Guess.

SPYGOD throws the bottle at BEAUTIFUL STRANGER, who ducks. It smashes against a wall, and black gunk roils down. BEAUTIFUL STRANGER looks at the mess, then turns back to SPYGOD, only to discover he's holding a large revolver on him. The weapon is ornately-engraved black metal, with an upside-down cross hanging from a chain on the butt.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Oh, don't tell me we're back to that again. These weapons of yours are not capable of hurting me...

SPYGOD fires, and BEAUTIFUL STRANGER explosively loses his left arm. He screams and flails off the bed and onto the ground. BEE-BEE looks up and hisses, but doesn't move. 

SPYGOD: If oil doesn't !@#$ work, try water. Someone told me that, once. How you like having some of your own medicine, there, sweetie?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER howls and tries to get up. SPYGOD shoots him in both knees, destroying his legs. He seems incapable of reforming his wounded appendages.

SPYGOD: I take it I have your !@#$ attention?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: You do... yes...

SPYGOD: The answer is no. I will not be taking your generous offer, as it conflicts with my personal sense of right and wrong, as well as my work ethics. As per our agreement, I would prefer it if you would tell your superiors to please stop calling on me. Consider this the equivalent of a no-call list, okay?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: You will regret this. I can promise you that-

SPYGOD: Yeah, blah blah !@#$ blah. Say hi to Adolph for me, will you? Let him know he's still delicious.

SPYGOD shoots him again, in the head this time, but the image is frozen in mid-shot, the bullet stopping inches from his forehead. The lights come up on the other daises, and SUBORDINATE whacks BEAUTIFUL STRANGER twice with each flail. 

SUBORDINATE: Classless, clumsy, and stupid. How did you fail to secure a deal?

SUPERIOR: How indeed? Make your final report, please. I would like to hear at least some attempt to rehabilitate this poor showing for our side of things.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Yes. If I may continue without more... prodding? I have three points.

SUBORDINATE: Not counting the one on your head-

SUPERIOR: Be silent. Let him speak.

SUBORDINATE: Of course, sir. My apologies.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Point the first, while he may have seemed resistant to a deal-

SUBORDINATE: Violently resistant, we should point out.

SUPERIOR: Yes, this is true. Quite violently.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I maintain that this violence is merely surface. An act done to convince himself he should say no. And no longer so convincing.


BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: You will recall that in previous instances, when we sent envoys, he sent them packing rather quickly, and never really looked back. This time, however, he has been quite hesitant. His confidence has been shaken. He came close to realizing certain uncomfortable truths, this time.

SUBORDINATE: And this is an excuse, in your eyes?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: It is an observation. If I may continue

SUBORDINATE: I think we have heard enough, sir. If we follow this line of thought we might as well unpunish those who failed before. That would be silly and counterproductive.

SUPERIOR: That would be a silly thing to do, yes. But I am willing to listen to at least one more point, if only for some amusement before I must punish such a promising salesman. 

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Point the second, if I may point out a rule of order, the deal is not yet completely off.

SUPERIOR: How do you believe this? I think these scenes illustrate his definite unwillingness to deal with you.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: On the surface? Yes. But please observe, he has my card.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER gestures at the scene on the large dais, and we zip forward to the present, where SPYGOD sits on the bed, watching television and slowly sipping the contents of one of the glasses he poured. BEE-BEE is snuggled up on his lap, purring. The camera zeroes in on the table, where the black card still sits.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: He has looked at it three times, today, each a little longer than the last. And, as we all know, once the card is given, the deal is not denied until it is consciously and purposefully destroyed by the one we gave it to.

SUPERIOR: Oh, a wily one you are. And this is true.

SUBORDINATE: But this is also a minor rule of order, sir, and one that could be noted by whomever we hand the contract over to, next.

SUPERIOR: This is also true. So, what is the third point? Do you have any other, perhaps more compelling evidence? Or will you submit to punishment for failure?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Actually, yes. I do have more compelling evidence. Please observe again, at the end, when he shoots me.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER waves a hand, and the scene zips back to where it had been frozen, before. The bullet resumes its motion and completely destroys BEAUTIFUL STRANGER's head and neck. His body flops down and exudes bloody and black demonic appendages, wings, and grotesque and cancerous protuberances. SPYGOD stands there, visibly disgusted, and keeps shooting until there's nothing left but twitching muck that starts evaporating. 

SPYGOD: I !@#$ hate these guys. Sorry to interrupt the nap, Bee-Bee.

BEE-BEE stops hissing, stretches, and starts licking itself somewhere private. The scene freezes.  

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Now, we operate with different rules, here. Whatever we withhold from mortals is not withheld from from one another. We all know what they have to offer us, all aspects of the deal, what we want from them, and what we're getting into. Or at least we should.

SUPERIOR: Are you suggesting you were not informed of something critical?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Indeed I was. He was able to truly hurt me on a spiritual level. Now how would he be able to do that?

SUBORDINATE: So he has a defense against even the likes of you? What is your point?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: The point is that when I was shot, I detected the unmistakable smell of cat feces on the bullets.


BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: So why did no one see fit to tell me about that?

The scene zeroes in on the freeze-frame of BEE-BEE, licking her !@#$hole.

SUPERIOR: Is that...?

SUBORDINATE: It can't be.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: It is. That's Voland's cat.

SUPERIOR: Extraordinary. I thought it had been destroyed, ages ago. What is she doing with the likes of him?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: More importantly, why was I not informed that she was residing with him?

SUBORDINATE: Well... I... um.

SUPERIOR: You were asked a question, apprentice! You will answer. 

SUBORDINATE: I was not informed of this, either, sir. This is the first I have learned of this. Perhaps he has a way of hiding her presence from us-

SUPERIOR: That is no excuse. You have left out a critical piece of information that has affected this transaction. You will be punished for this.


SUPERIOR: Leave us. Your Master and I have things to discuss.

SUBORDINATE hangs his head, and hands the flails over to BEAUTIFUL STRANGER, who takes them. As he turns to go BEAUTIFUL STRANGER whacks him with both of them. SUBORDINATE does not cry out, though it's obvious he's in terrible pain, and walks off STAGE RIGHT. Once he's gone, BEAUTIFUL STRANGER turns back and bows to SUPERIOR. 

SUPERIOR: How soon do you think he will turn? Months? Weeks?

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Days, I think. Maybe a week at most. He has no idea how much worse it is going to get.

SUPERIOR: Truer words were never spoken. But I would prefer sooner rather than later. We do have something of a deadline, here.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Our competitors have made no move to stop it?

SUPERIOR: Not a one.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: But that is madness, surely. Why would they make no move-

SUPERIOR: Why did they make no more to stop it before now? Numerous worlds have already fallen. Why were they any less important than this one? Why were our colleagues on those worlds any less capable of stopping it?


SUPERIOR: We have other plans, in case yours fails. You will not live to see them, of course. You know the price of failure on this scale.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I do. I will not fail. 

SUPERIOR: See that you do not. You may go.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: May I see to my Apprentice's correction, sir?

SUPERIOR: You may. Please make certain he learns the enormity of his mistake.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER smiles wickedly, and turns to leave, exiting STAGE RIGHT. Once he is gone, SUPERIOR gestures to the central dais and watches the scene continue on. SPYGOD is drinking and watching the television.

TELEVISION: ... the speaker today completely reversed his previous comments about SPYGOD, now saying that the President should not only demand the COMPANY Director's resignation, but also see about having him up on charges for gross incompetence in the wake of the Guanacaste disaster...

SPYGOD: One difficult journey, ahead, Bee-Bee. This is where it gets !@#$ weird. You with me?

Bee-Bee snorts, snuggles, and resumes purring.

SPYGOD: I'll take that as a yes, you little furry !@#$.

SUPERIOR waves a hand and the screen freezes on SPYGOD.

SUPERIOR: You will deal with us, (REDACTED). You must.


(SPYGOD is listening to Tainted Love (COIL) and having something truly nasty)

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