Or how I learnt to stop worrying and love the bubble

Act One, Scene Twelve

The Viaduct. BUTTERWOOD is at the table working. MELT is pacing back and forth, fiddling with his axe.

Melt: Oh, where is Mary?

Butterwood: Lay off the girl, everyone is allowed one night of pleasure.

Melt: Why take an entire night over it? Nip in, nip out, home in time for Klute, that’s what I say.

Butterwood: And you wonder why women take one look at you and run screaming in the other direction.

Melt: They won’t when I get my head back.

Butterwood: Ah yes, the ultimate aphrodisiac: a severed head. What’s with you and that head, anyway?

Melt: Nothing, it’s … personal. (He continues pacing).

Butterwood: Will you stop that? Look, come over here and hold these. (MELT obeys).

Melt: Look, doc, do you really think there’s something out there that’s worth all this.

Butterwood: What, you mean all this reading?

Melt: You know what I mean.

Butterwood: (sighing). I do believe, Melt, I have to. I’m this close to losing everything. This is the last throw of the dice for me: either I die in here or I take my chances out there. Stock-town could change everything, not just for me, but for everyone. Think about it: food, water, medicine, order, safety, these are what Stock-town offer. Now, don’t you think that sounds like it’s worth it.

Melt: I guess so, I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it.

Butterwood: I thought not. Melt, what do you want from life?

Melt: My head.

Butterwood: Apart from your head.

Melt: (shrugs). Dunno.

Butterwood: Oh, come on, you must have some sort of aspirations. What did you want to be before the bomb?

Melt: I wanted to go into advertising.

Butterwood: Well, that explains a lot.

Melt: Is there going to be fighting on this journey?

Butterwood: Not if I can avoid it, but even with those intentions, very probably.

Melt: Good. I was worried it was just going to be one of these dull science trips: nothing but boring old men talking about boring old stuff on boring old pieces of paper.

Butterwood: Well, I’m glad we’ve got your vote of confidence. Oh, and Melt, never go into advertising.

Melt: Don’t worry, that dream is over. I’m gonna go get more supplies, you want anything

Butterwood: Oh, no thanks, Melt, I think I’ve got everything I need. Just be back before morning.

MELT exits. BUTTERWOOD continues muttering over his calculations. The TRUSTEES and the ODR enter. BUTTERWOOD does not notice their approach.

Butterwood: Eureka, I’ve found it.

ODR: Very good, Dr Butterwood, I was hoping you were as good as they said.

BUTTERWOOD spins around.

Butterwood: You! What are you doing here? Get out, all of you, you have no right coming in here: I’ve done nothing wrong.

ODR: Oh no, Dr Butterwood, I agree, you’ve done everything right, and for that I am very grateful. If there were any other way, you would be allowed to keep your life, as a sign of my gratitude. Unfortunately, your activities are attracting the attention of those fools who call themselves my masters, and so I believe the most expedient course of action is to close this particular act.

Butterwood: What do you mean to do?

ODR: Trustees! (He clicks his fingers and the TRUSTEES point pistols at Butterwood).

Butterwood: No, please, I beg of you, have mercy.

ODR: I’m sorry, Dr Butterwood, I truly am, but this is for the good of Durham, you must understand. (He clicks his fingers).

Blackout and the sound of gunfire.

End of Act One.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.