's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Bones of God "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

"Bones of God": A Play to be Performed Before an Audience of the Dead

Cast of Characters

The EMPEROR, uncontested master of his domain

The EMPRESS, his devoted wife

The JESTER, a simple entertainer

The KNIGHT, a defender of the truth

Props/Set Pieces

The JESTER's juggling balls

The KNIGHT's bone spear

The void of undying decay in which the characters inhabit

(Dim lights on an empty dust-covered stage with a plain wall for a backdrop. The EMPEROR stands up center, his throne having broken down and been thrown out many years ago. He is dressed in worn-out robes the colors of bone and urine, with a miter of ivory and gold perched atop his spiked, porous cranium.

Downstage left, the JESTER dances merrily and juggles several shabby rubber balls. She wears the traditional motley, and covers her face with a blank mask. A cloying stickiness can be felt in her presence.

The EMPEROR watches her dance for several moments before becoming tired of her and speaking.)

EMPEROR: Cease your frolicking, Jester. I am in no mood for merriment.

JESTER: Why ever not, Emperor?

EMPEROR: I am quite ill.

JESTER: All illnesses improve eventually, sire.

EMPEROR: Except for the ones that do not.

JESTER: Some might say a disease that kills is preferable to one that lingers.

EMPEROR: I will have to give the matter more thought. Now cease your frolicking.

JESTER: I cannot, sire. I am too filled with joy.

EMPEROR: I cannot imagine the feeling. The joy in my heart has been replaced with a fluid in my lungs. (He hacks and coughs.)

(Suddenly, the EMPRESS enters excitedly from stage right. Her robes are the color of coagulated blood. She wears a golden tiara on her flaking, sparsely haired skull. Her eye sockets are clogged with unformed jelly.)

EMPRESS: My darling husband! Have you heard the news?

EMPEROR: I have not, my dear. I have been in all day, tending to our glorious hall. (Fully sincere, he gestures out towards the empty stage.)

EMPRESS: It is so exciting! We have discovered the bones of God!

EMPEROR: The bones of who?

JESTER: How exciting!

EMPRESS: Indeed, Jester! I saw it myself when the great iron skeleton fell from the clouds into the sea. Truly it was a miraculous sight! I pity you for missing it, my love.

EMPEROR: How can we be sure that this is the skeleton of God?

EMPRESS: Our scientists have taken measurements and done studies. There can be no doubt. The skeleton is radioactive iron, with Hebrew inscriptions etched upon the flukes. Twenty of our scientists have gone mad looking at it!

JESTER: Fascinating!

EMPRESS: What do you make of this news, my love?

EMPEROR: I make of it that the natural order of things will collapse in short order without God to keep them in line. We are living in the final days.

JESTER: We got along fine before in God's absence. I'm sure that we will get along just as well in God's death!

EMPRESS: Indeed, and at least we now know the truth behind our existence! The existence of God has been proven, albeit slightly late!

EMPEROR: I cannot say I can believe your assertions offhand.

JESTER (who has not yet stopped dancing and juggling): You've got to believe in something, sire. After all, God is dead.

EMPEROR: Jester, do you not tire of your constant merriment? Do you not become worn out from your dancing and frolicking?

JESTER: Of course I do, sire, but someone has to do it.

(The KNIGHT enters from stage right. He is dressed in a suit of rusty greenish-gray armor that entirely covers his body, with a face-covering helmet sporting a beaked visor and an upward-pointing spike. He carries a long spear with a vicious bladed head of sharpened bone.)

KNIGHT (as he enters): I must object, Jester. No one has to do anything.

EMPEROR: Good day, sir Knight.

KNIGHT (who speaks emotionlessly): Hello, my lord.

EMPRESS: Knight, have you heard the news?

KNIGHT: I have, my lady. The descent of the bones of God.

EMPRESS: What do you make of it?

KNIGHT: Nothing good can come of this, my lady.

JESTER: You always say that!

KNIGHT: And it always reveals itself to be true, Jester.

JESTER: What have we to be sad about, sir Knight?

KNIGHT: What have we to be happy about? God is dead.

JESTER: My point exactly, sir Knight! We are now the masters of our own destiny. The puppeteer has set down our strings, and now we may take them up ourselves!

KNIGHT: What puppet can move without a puppeteer, Jester?

JESTER: We do, sir Knight, as we speak.

KNIGHT: We may, but not for long.

EMPRESS: Whatever do you mean, sir Knight?

EMPEROR: Indeed, elaborate. (Coughs.)

KNIGHT: I was once a defender of the virtuous and true. Today, that ends. With the death of God, so dies virtue, so dies truth, and so dies my purpose. So dies all of our purposes. The meaning in our lives has died with God, and we have begun our march into the grave to join him.

JESTER: You may see your life as meaningless, Knight, but I still see my purpose.

KNIGHT: We are all just as meaningless, Jester. Allow me to demonstrate.

(Swiftly, the KNIGHT spears the JESTER solidly through the chest.)


(The KNIGHT shoves the spear through the JESTER's body and out her back before quickly withdrawing. A waterfall of pink and purple sand pours forth from the JESTER's wound. Her body silently deflates and crumples into a pile of uninhabited dirty clothes on the stage. Her juggling balls roll in all directions.)

EMPRESS: Wonderful! A wonderful trick!

EMPEROR: I did grow weary of her dancing.

KNIGHT: I have hastened her process of inevitable decay, and now I hasten my own.

(The KNIGHT drops his spear and lifts his helmet. No head is underneath; a powerful rush of hot, steamy air escapes from his armor. He immediately dies, collapsing to the floor.)

EMPRESS (applauding): Bravo! Bravo! Good show, sir Knight!

EMPEROR: I do so tire of these meaningless demonstrations.

(As the EMPRESS and the EMPEROR speak, the stagehands gambol forth and drag the remains of the JESTER and the KNIGHT offstage. They quickly sweep away the JESTER's sand and collect her scattered juggling balls as well.)

EMPRESS: Whatever do you mean, my love?

EMPEROR: There will be death no further. We have catalogued the bones of God. God can no longer work the machinery of life. Death is over.

EMPRESS: Ah, but my love, does that not mean that life can go no further as well?

EMPEROR: I suppose you are right, my dear.

(The EMPEROR undergoes another coughing fit. Upon its conclusion, he spits a mouthful of bilious, bloody fluid upon the stage.)

EMPEROR: Perhaps God could have had the courtesy of waiting to die until after I had. I will quickly grow tired of shouldering this incurable cough for the rest of time.

EMPRESS: You will survive, my dear. We all will.

EMPEROR: Yes, but in what state?

EMPRESS: Does it matter? All that I know is that we will be together in our love for all time.

(The EMPEROR begins coughing again, more severely than ever. He vomits blood onto the floor and collapses into it.)

EMPRESS (suddenly enraged): You great buffoon! You sloppy oaf! You have ruined your lovely robes! I must call the staff to clean up the mess you've made!

EMPEROR (semi-delirious): In what state? In what state?

EMPRESS: You fool!

(The EMPRESS storms off stage right in a huff. The EMPEROR lies there for a while.)

EMPEROR: What sort of life is this? No sort. No sort of life.

(He despairs for a moment, but slowly begins to make a realization.)

EMPEROR: No life... No more life! (He begins shouting offstage to the EMPRESS): Go on without me, darling! I will be happy here. This floor will be my resting place, our great hall my mausoleum. I will die whether or not God wills it! No more life! No more life...

(The EMPEROR breaks down into a coughing fit that trails away as the stage lights slowly fade to complete blackness. Curtain. End of play. Uproarious applause and cheers from audience of corpses. Actors take no bows.)