Glaciers of dust covered the yellowed document. It was bound with loops of age dulled stainless steel.
“It’s a script.” Seamus turned a page, his mouth moving, silently at first, but slowly diecibeling into an awed whisper. “…they stand in the ancient chamber, looking…”
“Look! Our names are in it.”
“We’re a story. The threads that bind.”
“Let’s read from it.”
The party is startled by the old man’s cackle. Chester is startled.
SEAMUS: The party is startled by the old man’s cackle. Chester is startl-
CHESTER: (nervously) Who’s that?
The party search the shadows.
UNCLE: (cackling still, mirthlessly) The monster’s afraid! Ha-ha! Which came first, the chicken or egg, Chester?
SEAMUS: Who are you?
VOGINA: Such a dreadful voice!
OLD MAN: It’s played out, the drama. I’m oh so tired.
CHESTER: How do you know my name?
OLD MAN: It’s written in the book.
OLD MAN walks up to the manuscript and lets his finger linger along its length, looking intently at SEAMUS who fidgets uncomfortably.
OLD MAN: A lifetime like no other. A wealth of experience. A Tome of Time. My bones are weary, my hands palsied.
OLD MAN spreads his hands which tremble violently.
SEAMUS: You look very familiar, (looking at the script) Old Man.
UNCLE emerges from the shadows. A soft shard of music, the scrabble of little rat feet, the hiss of unaccustomed breezes through cobwebs. He flanks OLD MAN, who laughs excitedly. VOGINA’S eyes widen with shock.
CHESTER: You! (dead hand flashing with green grace towards the revolver at hip)
OLD MAN steps in front of UNCLE and intercepts the deadly trajectory. A small red rose smelt of iron blooms from his heart.
OLD UNCLE: (blood flecked lips moving like a young butterfly’s tentative flutterings) My part ends at last, and I bow out, if not very gracefully. Good-by! Good-by!
CHESTER: (tears gel at his eyes and slime down his cheeks like deranged slugs) Jesus! I’m sorry!
UNCLE: It’s all right. It’s in the book, isn’t it, my friend?
CHESTER sobs, the workings of his phlegmatic lungs visible through a hole in his chest. UNCLE smiles down at OLD MAN and gingerly places his body onto the cold floor. OLD MAN is wearing a peaceful smile.
CHESTER: I don’t know what came over me! I-I just saw something… I thought I had forgotten.
UNCLE: My dear Vogina. It’s your cue.
UNCLE: Ahh, wonderful. Right on script. You’ve got excellent theatrical timing. Please do continue.
VOGINA peruses the book, blanches as she reads her previous lines and searches for something to say. Once she gets started, her eyes abandons the script, knowing it’s all in there, all that’s to be said. CHESTER is wandering aimlessly, torn inside at his display of senseless violence.
VOGINA: Why are we here? (Accusingly, narrowing her eyes)You aren’t really a PR agent, aren’t you?
SEAMUS: What? You know her?
UNCLE AKA FLASHBULB B. GETTER sniggers. With a flair, he bows gracefully.
FLASHBULB: Yes, and no. Vogina, m’dear, I am your PR agent, amongst other things.
FLASHBULB steps astride SEAMUS to whisper into his ear. VOGINA haarumphs and crosses her arms, jiggling disconsolately.
FLASHBULB: (breath hot on SEAMUS’ ear) I hired you for the botch.
SEAMUS: (whispering) Jesus!
FLASHBULB: Otherwise she wouldn’t have had the mettle to do this. Now, quick! Don’t let her read the book. She mustn’t suspect.
VOGINA is eyeing the book, having just figured out a way to overhear the conversation, but SEAMUS intercepts the book before she can do anything about it. She haarumphs some more and stares at CHESTER, who is still shuffling in no particular direction.
FLASHBULB: (mocking ceremonial voice) You must go into the hinterlands. I tis written.
VOGINA: Fuck you! I’m done with you telling me what to do!
FLASHBULB snickers. His eyes holds wisdom, and his smile reveals it came with heavy cost.
FLASHBULB: My dear… (he spreads his hands) It matters not what you do. It’s impossible to deviate from the script.
FLASHBULB laughs again.
FLASHBULB: I’ve got something for you, Chester.
FLASHBULB raises a large satchel, opens it up to pull out a large zip-loc bag filled with a greyish almost liquid.
FLASHBULB: Brains! If you’re careful, this can last you weeks.
CHESTER: Where did you get them?
FLASHBULB: (spreading his hands wide, snickering) This here, my friend, is evidence that hardened criminals are really, in fact, softies deep down inside. The cream inside the hard filling, heh heh.
And they begin to close the book—
CHESTER: Close the book, already. It’s written.
SEAMUS: It just says that we begin to close the book.
CHESTER: As it should, expecting that you are going to close the book.
As Chester and Seamus argue about the closing of the book, Vogina growls and stalks to the book, grabbing it with angry grubby fingers—
SEAMUS: I was reading that!
VOGINA: Come off it already.
CHESTER: Yeah, Seamus.