Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shattered Windows, Vampires and He Who Stayed

There are children . . . four of them.

[Her voice catches us by surprise. We look down to the dark stage. Though no lights are on, we can still see the outline of the cage and the silhouette of the girl. Beneath the cage sits the children.]

[We count them.]

[There are four. The oldest is under ten and she holds the youngest—an infant girl—in her arms. The middle two are boys.]

I am obligated to these children . . .

[We turn our heads toward the other end of the stage.]


[Click clack. Click clack. Click clack.]

She speaks words of wisdom.

[Head whips from side to side. Voice deepens to a growl.]



[We are startled by the change in Corn's voice; at how he snaps his head from side to side as if . . he were talking to someone who is not there.]


But, she is right.



[The anger erupts from Corn's mouth and if he were any closer to the audience we would fear for those nearest him.]

[We watch as his shadowed form approaches the cage.]


[Snaps fingers. Lights come on.]

[The cage has been lowered. He peers into the girl's eyes. She does not cower away.]

What else?

[His voice is a growl. Spittle flies from his lips.]


[His face softens slightly and he looks to his left.]

Give her a moment.

{Brows crease. Anger flares in his eyes and he cocks his head to the right.]



[For the first time in weeks, our hearts give a collective leap. Something has soured for Corn and he appears to be falling apart.]

[One of us whispers into another's ear. That one follows suit, whispering to another and then another and another. The statement reaches each of us and we are both joyous and terrified at the same time.]

He is arguing with himself. He is a dual personality.

[It is a trait we had not seen up to this moment and we are not sure if it is good or bad.]

[Murmurings fill our ranks. What if's enter our souls.]


The children need me. That is why we can't get married yet.

[Tears streak down her face and her voice is but a whisper.]



[Corn slams his fist onto the stage flooring. The tile cracks and splinters, sinking in an inch or two.]

[He turns from her. Points to the cage opposite her.]

He didn't figure it out in time. Will you?


[We look to where the man had once been. In his place is the pulpy remains of flesh and bones. We see one eye dangling down and through one of the bars of the cage. A dried pool of blood sits beneath it. In the pool is what looks like the man's scalp.]


[Turning. Searching.]

[Corn stomps off the stage and drops into the audience. His anger is visible.]


[Points. Sneers. Lone eye dances with anticipation.]

You're next.

[Snaps fingers. Lights dim. Silver screen drops from the rafters, hiding the cages and the children beneath the girl.]

[The man's eyes snap open. They are not vacant like most of Corn's victims. They hold a contempt in them.]

Let's see you make it out of here alive.

[The nightmare pours from his eyes and onto the screen.]


He is in an abandoned cafeteria. The building is dusty and the walls are made of glass allowing them to see their surroundings outside the cafeteria.

Around him are children and he is one of them—the oldest in the bunch. They all have dark hair and appear to be frail.

They are scared.

"He's coming," one little boy says. They begin searching but none of them leave the cafeteria. Fear oozes from their pores and the outside world feels dangerous.

A dilapidated car drives by, its black exterior flaking away; wheels dusty, windows missing.

He leaves the building and walks to the car. As he looks in he sees the one they fear. The man is not more than a boy himself. Eyes dark, hair the same; skin painfully pale; lips void of color; clothes tattered.

He reaches in and shakes the man's hand. The hand is rough and he pulls it away. The man speaks but he is backing away toward the building. The words are lost to him.

The car drives off and he runs back into the cafeteria.

As he enters, night falls around them. He huddles the kids in the center of the cafeteria. The fear is thick and they all look around.

The man comes back, walking this time. With him, he brings hundreds of others like him. Pale, dark haired, dark skinned, tattered clothes, lifeless eyes. They shatter the windows of the building but never enter.

"We've not invited them in," someone says.

Though they are safe from the vampires, they still huddle in the center of the room, too fearful of what would happen if one of them left their group.

The man and his people leave as the sun rises.

"He'll be back," the little boy says.


Vampires? Broken windows? Night? You're a work of art, young man.

[Corn giggles. Strokes chin.]

You have issues.

[Grin widens.]

What is your problem? Why is your nightmare significant to you?


[His head hangs down on his chest as Corn taunts him. Off to the side we hear the Quelchers howling and moaning. We can feel their hunger in the electric air of the theater.]

[He turns his eyes to Corn. They are not void of emotion and understanding.]

[Corn steps back, scowl on his face.]


You think you know the answer, don't you?


[Man smiles.]

Unfulfilled dreams. Goals never met . . . There are obstacles in my way.


What else?

[Corn whispers.]

[He whips his head to the left as if staring at someone.]



I said shut-up.

[His own hand slaps him across the left side of his cheek.]


[There is a slight screech of pain as Corn slaps himself.]

[We wonder if the dual personality is the one who cried out in pain or if it were Corn himself.]

[At any rate, the other voice goes silent.]


I'm my own enemy.

[The shackles on his ankles snap.]

I'm too abrasive with people and I need to be gentle, to address people in a different way.

[The cuffs on each wrists snap open, releasing his arms.]

I've ignored things about me for too long and they need to be addressed.

[His skin changes from pail to tan, his eyes turn blue, his lips flush pink. His clothes remain dark.]

I have a lot of things that I need to address, to change about me if I am to be happy.



[Corn staggers backward.]

You people are catching on too easily.


[We watch as the theater doors open again and light washes the dark aisles and the remaining audience members. The people are like flowers as they crane their necks toward the light, attempting to get just a touch of the sun's rays on their pale skin.]



[Points to door. Eyes squint against the bright sunlight.]


[The man stands and walks up the aisle.]

[We watch as he reaches the door and looks back. We follow his gaze to Corn, who is limping away, toward the stage.]

[The man slips into a seat in the back row and the doors close as if he had left the theater.]

[We are curious as to why he stayed, but none of us breathe whispers to each other for fear he would be noticed.]

[Darkness envelopes us and Corn stomps away. He yells in anger as he leaves the area, exiting stage right. It echoes in our ears.]

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