Durhamageddon

Or how I learnt to stop worrying and love the bubble

Act Two, Scene Three

DSU council chamber. PRESIDENT, WELFARE, SOCIETIES and DUCK seated at table.

President: Right, item 1951: lack of attendance at Planet of Sound. Well, gentlemen, why is no one going to Hounds? (Phone rings). Yes, Jenny? Oh, send them in, right away. (Enter ODR and TRUSTEES). Ah, representative, you got our message?

ODR: Of course, Mr President. The matter has been dealt with.

Welfare: “Dealt with”? How?

ODR: I’m afraid to say, gentlemen, that Dr Butterwood is dead.

DUCK: Dead? How? We only wanted to give him a warning.

ODR: Consider him warned. Dr Butterwood resisted arrest; we had no choice but to draw our weapons on him. It would seem, gentlemen, that Dr Butterwood’s treachery went further and deeper than any of us could have anticipated.

Societies: Poppycock. Butterwood was a cad and a scoundrel, but no traitor.

ODR: I’m afraid the truth is much darker: Dr Butterwood was planning to leave Durham.

DUCK: What?

Welfare: Impossible.

Societies: Heresy!

President: Explain yourself, representative.

ODR: Well, Mr President, it seems that Dr Butterwood gained access to restricted files on Stock-town.

President: Stock-town?

Welfare: Legend.

DUCK: Myth.

Societies: Lies we tell children!

ODR: The old university campus outside of Durham. Most respected scientific figures state it destroyed by the bomb, but Dr Butterwood theorized it may not only have survived but prospered.

President: Could he be right?

ODR: I don’t know, but he has calculated its location and was planning an expedition out there.

Welfare: What does that matter? The crisis is averted, Butterwood is dead. Oxbridge won’t retaliate.

ODR: I’m afraid, gentlemen, that it does matter. Butterwood may be dead, but his colleague, Dr Butler, has taken up his cause. She and three of Dr Butterwood’s assistants have taken his notes and are leaving to find Stock-town as we speak.

President: They must be stopped.

ODR: I am well aware of that, Mr President, but it will not be easy. If, however, I could be guaranteed immunity from the repercussions of my actions…

President: No, no more violence, I don’t want a trail of bodies staining my agenda again. Find them, apprehend them and bring them here peacefully.

ODR: Very well, Mr President, as you wish, but I suggest you talk to Oxbridge; I can give no guarantees at this moment.

ODR and TRUSTEES exit.

Societies: Mr President, what are we going to do?

President: (picking up the phone). Janette, get me Oxbridge on the line. (Pause). Hello, Oxbridge? Hello, it’s Durham speaking … Durham. Up north … No, not that far north … No, that’s even further north … No, that’s a 19th century scientist … Yes, that right. Got there in the end, didn’t we. Haha. Are you well? Yes? … Yes, we’re fine, too. So we’re all fine … Good. Now look, Oxbridge, I know it’s not something we tend to talk about … What do you mean we never talk? We always talk. What about last Tuesday? … Well, we spoke, didn’t we? … No, I’m not avoiding you, it’s just I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment, what with work and all … Look, this is beside the point. I’m calling about our arrangement regarding people leaving the Bubble … Yes, I know no one’s allowed to leave … Yes, I know you’ll bomb us if anyone does leave … I just thought you should know that a few of my people are doing a silly thing and trying to leave … Yes, I know you’ll bomb us if they do … Don’t worry, it’s all under control, I just thought I should keep you in the loop … No, I don’t think bombing us preemptively would help … Well, for a start, I wouldn’t like it … I should bloody well hope you wouldn’t like it either … Good, so neither of us would like it … Well, were doing everything we can, and we will catch them; I just thought you should be kept informed … Good … Well, speak to you soon … No, you hang up … no, you hang up … no, you hang up (continue through slow black-out).

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