Act Two, Scene Five
DSU council chamber. PRESIDENT, DUCK, WELFARE, SOCIETIES and ODR seated around desk. PRESIDENT on phone.
President: Hello, Oxbridge? … Hello, it’s Durham … Yes, hello again … Yes, we’re still well. And you’re well? … Good.
Look, Oxbridge, we’ve had a slight complication … Well, you know those silly folks of ours – the ones who are trying to leave the Bubble – well, they’re refusing to turn back … Yes, we’ve tried reasoning with them but, you see, the thing is, we’ve informed them that you don’t exist, so they’re not taking us seriously … Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time … I’m sure you don’t think it was a good idea, but that’s beside the point … Well then, can we at least agree to disagree? … Good …
No, I’m not going to shoot them, what sort of monster do you think I am? Look, Oxbridge, I just need to know, if our people did get out – which they won’t – but supposing they hypothetically did, is there any way you could, maybe, not bomb us? … What do you mean, “it’s impossible”? … A computer programme? Well, why the bloody hell did you do that? Who gives the ability to bomb someone to a computer? … What do you mean, “a failsafe”? I fail to see how creating a computer programme to bomb us is safe … Well, that’s your opinion. And I suppose you’re going to tell me you can’t disable it … You can’t? Well, what good is that? … A deterrent? Against what? The whole world’s a nuclear wasteland, you idiots, we’re the only ones left …
Oh, you’ll do your best, will you? Well, this is the last time I try to hold a reasonable conversation with a bunch of scholars, I can tell you that! (He slams the phone down. Pause. Picks up the phone.) Juliet, take Oxbridge off my Christmas card list. Thank you. (Puts the phone down).
ODR: You see, Mr President? We have no choice but to resort to a more forceful solution.
President: No. I will not have the people of Durham remember me as a bloodthirsty dictator.
Welfare: Mr President, if we don’t do something, there won’t be much of the people of Durham left to remember you as anything.
Societies: He has a point, Mr President: it’s a choice between the deaths of four people and the deaths of fourteen thousand people. And let us not forget, Mr President, that those fourteen thousand people are all voters. Their deaths might seriously hamper our re-election.
DUCK: Or it might help, Archibald is looking very strong this year.
Societies: Yeah, although he suffered in the straw vote.
Welfare: We might have to tell him to “get stuffed”.
President: Will you three shut up? Representative, surely there must be some other option?
ODR: I’m afraid, Mr President, there is not: either kill the doctor and her accomplices or watch Durham die.
President: (sighing). Very well, Representative, do what you must to stop these maniacs. You have full authority of the DSU. The fate of Durham is in your hands.
ODR: (standing). Thank you, Mr President. Rest assured I shall act only for the good of Durham.
Welfare: Mr President, are you sure we can trust him?
Societies: He is rather unpredictable, being a mercenary and all.
President: Gentlemen, I can think of no better person to place our trust in than the Representative.
DUCK: But, wouldn’t it be better if we kept an eye on him, just to make sure.
President: You mean, follow him?
Welfare: Yes, and if things don’t go the way they should, we’ll be on hand to intervene.
President: You mean do it ourselves?
President: Fine, let’s go. (They all rise). I just wish we could have one meeting that doesn’t end with us agreeing to kill someone.