Providence Act 1 Scene 02

ACT 1
SCENE 2
Tea Time

(Lillian and Annie are sitting on, perhaps a couch, with a small coffee table slightly down stage. Sarah enters with a tea tray, STAGE RIGHT.)

SARAH
We didn’t have the honey.

ANNIE
Well, don’t you worry none. I’ve got just the thing.
(Annnie pulls a small container out of her purse and sets it on the table.)
This new sweetener, saccharin they call it, seems to be all the rage; makes it twice as sweet with half the amount, and just a hint of tamarind I think, mmmm.

LILLIAN
Tch! More like asper-ine.

ANNIE
To the unrefined palate, perhaps.
We used to be such trendsetters, remember the days?
‘The Phillips sisters, what an elegant three, the Phillips sisters-‘

LILLIAN
‘-and their cooky husbands, two dead, one insane, there “O” for “O”.’
(She looks at Sarah.)
That’s called par in golf, you know.
(Lillian begins to help set the tea.)
I’m sorry all this is happening, Sarah, really, I am…

(Annie tries to silently signal her to shut up.)

…all this, and uh- well, Winnfield too… really. I don’t mean to speak ill all the time, my mouth just get’s ahead of me is all. – hell, if he had bought me a rock like yours, I’d probably forget what “No” means too.

ANNIE
Lillian Phillips!
(Annie pinches Lillian.)

LILLIAN
What!? Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

ANNIE
“Diamonds are a”- Honestly, I don’t know where she gets this stuff.
(She looks over at Sarah.)
Ain’t she just a picture, Lillian. You always were the prettiest of the three, Momma’s little flower.

(Lillian gives a look of disapproval.)

ANNIE
Wouldn’t you say, Lil?

(Lillian smiles unconvincingly and nods.)

LILLIAN
Of course. It is odd that she named me Lillian though, Lily’s a flower, don’cha know.

(Annie scowls, Lillian begins to feverishly dole out saccharin and cream.)

SARAH
(Just registering that they were speaking to her.)
Hmm?
(She goes to sit.)
No, the flowers are dead, Annie. You know that. They only bloomed for Winnfield. I could never keep up, they just died after they took ‘em away… one by one.

(PAUSE)

ANNIE
(In desperate need to change the subject, she whiffs at her tea.)
MMmmm-mmm, this smells delicious. I will never know how you do it. Everything you make is just to die for, Sarah, you really must tell me your secret some day.

LILLIAN
Yes, please do. Everything she makes actually is to die for.
(Offers Sarah a pour from the pot.)
Won’t you have some tea?

SARAH
(Disconnectedly takes the cup and sips from it.)
I’ve been trying to figure it out…

ANNIE
What’s that, honey?

SARAH
What it means.

ANNIE
(Looks at Lillian worriedly.)
You know, we haven’t taken tea together in ages. When was the last time you think? Huh? Huh, Sarah?

SARAH
“Eh-“… or maybe “Ee”… no, that’s not it…

ANNIE
When do you think, Sarah?

SARAH
Soon.

LILLIAN
What?

ANNIE
Pardon me, hon?

SARAH
He said “soon”. Culthoo?..

ANNIE
(Puts a hand on Sarah’s shoulder.)
Darlin’, maybe you should go lie down.

SARAH
(Looks terrified at the thought.)
Get your hand off me!
(She stands.)
You listen. Now, there was something he said, just before… I can’t remember… and he- oh god, he was terrified. I’ve never seen someone look so scared.
I didn’t know what to do- I didn’t… he was dying, my little baby, and I couldn’t even hold him. Couldn’t bring myself to, because… because… I was scared too. God forgive me, but he scared me. And all he wanted was that I look at him… look at my son in the eye… and then I did… oh lord, I did.
And… and-and he said something… important, I know it. It’s the reason. It’s- how could I have not known? How… God, there has to be some reason.
“Soon, eeuh… or… uh”- goddamn it, I can’t remember!

ANNIE
Sarah… come on now…

SARAH
Don’t you look at me like I’m crazy!

LILLIAN
Well, you sure ain’t makin’ no damn sense.

SARAH
(Pronounced ee-ah)
“Ia”… that was it… “Soon” then “ia, ia…”

LILLIAN
C-cthulhu?
(She stands.)
(Pronounced: COO-THOO-LOO FA-TAG-IN)
Cthulhu fhtagin?

SARAH
How did you-?

LILLIAN
Oh my god.

ANNIE
What?

LILLIAN
My dream… that’s what he said in my dream. “ia, ia, cthulhu fhtagin.”

SARAH
Your dream?

(Lillian, hands quaking, pulls a white rosary out of her pocket, and holds it to her chest.)

LILLIAN
Hail Mary, mother of God, the lord is with thee, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death…

SARAH
What dream?

ANNIE
It’s nothin’, Sarah. She’s just having a conniption, if we ignore her it will pass.

LILLIAN
Annie, please, we have to leave this place. We have to-

SARAH
What dream!?

ANNIE
Please, don’t start her up again.

LILLIAN
Sarah, he’s comin’- he’s comin’… Oh Mary, mother of god, the lord is with thee…

SARAH
Who is? Who’s coming?

LILLIAN
Oh no– no, no, no…

SARAH
Who, Lillian?

LILLIAN
We have to leave- we have to get out…
(Lillian runs for the front door, CENTER STAGE.)

(The doorbell rings loudly, just before Lillian gets to it, she screams and backs away.)

ANNIE
I’ll get it. Both of you… you just sit down and rest a bit.
(To herself as she crosses to door.)
Haven’t slept for days, half crazed, jumpin’ outta your skin at the sound of a bell, lord have mercy.
(Answers the door.)

(There is a man in the door, well dressed, very business like. Has some sort of bag with him resembling a doctor’s bag, he wears a hat and black leather gloves, has a mustache perhaps.)

MAN
I have come for the body.

ANNIE
(To the others.)
Now you see, it’s just the damn coroner. You’ll have to pardon us, sir, it has been a long week. Won’t you come in, Mr…?

MAN
No yes.

ANNIE
Come again.

MAN
No yes.

ANNIE
You don’t want to come in.

MAN
No, no, no…

ANNIE
(Begins to shut the door.)
Well, come back when you’re ready then.

MAN
(Stops her from shutting the door.)
No, my name.

ANNIE
Yes?

MAN
Right.

ANNIE
Now just one cotton pickin’ minute-

MAN
(Ponounced NOI-ez)
I am Mr. Noyes, that is my name, my name is Noyes.

ANNIE
Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place? Come on in, Mister uh- These are my sisters, Sarah, and Lillian.

MR. NOYES
How do you do?

ANNIE
They’re just fine. We just sat down to have a cup of tea.

MR. NOYES
May I see the body please?

SARAH
…the body…

ANNIE
He’s right up the stairs, the door at the end of the hall.

MR. NOYES
Thank you, ma’am.

ANNIE
Uh-huh.

(Mr. Noyes exits stage left.)

ANNIE
Well, ain’t he a joy?

LILLIAN
I don’t like him.

ANNIE
Well he ain’t the most polite a’ sorts, but I don’t imagine you need a lot a’ manners hangin’ around all day with those dead-
(Looks to Sarah.)
Oh honey, I’m- I’m sorry, I’m so sorry

SARAH
What does it mean? Lillian, what does it mean?

(A clatter is heard from upstairs, STAGE LEFT.)

ANNIE
God almighty, you two just stay here and drink your tea. I’ll be right back.
(Annie exits STAGE LEFT.)

LILLIAN
Hail Mary, mother of god, the lord is with thee…

(Black out.)

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Providence – Scene 0

Providence
A Stage Play Written by Will Night

Act 1
Family

Scene 0
Our Benefactor

Note From The Author:
When writing this play, I intended for it to be completely immersive, much like H.P. Lovecraft’s work is to me. That being said,  let me take you now into a small theatre, the surroundings are intimate, close seating, almost too close for comfort. The stage is low to the ground, perhaps only raised a foot or two, and only a foot or two away from the seating area. The seating area is set into two rectangular sections, five seats across, and five seats deep, with a space of three or four feet in the center.
           The first thing you notice is the temperature, it’s actually rather chilly, which should be no problem since the advertisement asked that you bring a light jacket any way. Also the room is really quite dim, the signs on the doors said wait to be seated, now you know why.
           An usher is already guiding you down a dim isle to your seat. Third row, right on the isle, you really feel rather exposed sitting so closely to the stage, but anticipation is creeping up on you as you view the scene before you.
           There is a dark orange glow casting thick, striped shadows over the audience, it is strongest at its apex, to the left of the stage. The light is shuttered by what appear to be short, rectangular boards, floating in mid-air; the boards are cluttered by objects you can scarcely make out in the light, jars and boxes, books on shelves perhaps, a large rectangular shape, and… yes, is that… a mannequin… or a man.
          You can hear the wind howl in the distance, crickets are chirping, seldom the low mournful wail of wolf, or the faint call of a lonesome owl is heard.
         Before you know it, darkness begins to close around you, the audience is seated, the doors of the theatre are closing.
         No turning back.
         The lights shudder, and slowly fall so that a level, dim, orange is all around you, the orange of a late dusk. You realize now that is where you are, dusk, you are seated in the bosom of it. 
        You almost jump as a different sound Interrupts the ambiance, a voice, small and meek, yet articulate resonates from the man-shaped silhouette on stage.  

Our Benefactor
(After a moment, as if coming up from some book or writing.)

       Well…my goodness, hello. You must forgive me, I am afraid I was not expecting visitors. Is it cold in here? Dark? Yes, it- it is isn’t it? I am sorry I cannot accommodate you more fully, but make yourselves at home, by all means.
This is my study, here in the attic, I know it’s not much, no, I know there are… spiders, brittle boards and web… things unseen speak to you like thoughts on a lonely night. Ah, but welcome, all of you, truly, to this place, where we draw down the sun and the gibbous moon must rise and rise.
Here… here is the last stand. Indeed, here my greatest battles were ever fought, my bravest dreams conceived and, I think, all too often born still… cold and wet. This, the place in my darkest hour, and the clock would mightily toll… had there been one.

– It’s dark now, much darker, you hadn’t realized the darkness falling by tiny degree as the voice spoke from its seat, and just as the dark fell, the sounds of night you now realize have been growing ever louder.

Our Benefactor
(CONT’D)

       The darkness… it presses in with its unknown intent, its lifeless gaze, its talonous hands chill up the spine like the spectral tentacle of some malignant, vestigial, mutation that seeks out the base of your skull- to suckle, to feed upon fear. A loathsome feast it is, a wanton sacrifice to be given.
Come! Step into the maw of madness! You who seek the truth, will you find it? You who wish enlightenment, light upon this. The truth has been my terror dream since swaddling, come and have it!
(He stands.)
Welcome, ye interlopers, ye wayward shades! Welcome, visions of what will be to this place! Come you to lurk with the unseen? Come to learn the lessons of what trespassers find upon sacred ground? Come to know that if you stare too long into the abyss, that the abyss too shall stare into you!

-The figure shouts in a fit of anger, and, in direct contrast, all falls silent, the lights regain their brightness.

Our Benefactor
(CONT’D)
Let us discuss horror.

-Suddenly you are plunged into utter darkness, and where, for a moment the senses were given brief reprieve from the nocturnal noises, now they are so loud you can hear nothing but the mewling of animals, the chirp and scurry and buzz of insects, sounds of mastication, the desiccation of bone and meat, the death cry of horses and sheep, the flow of water, the whispers of unseen specters; all things harried, and mad, weeping, and screaming; the chorus of a lifetime of nightmare gnashing its yellow teeth in the pendulum pit of the mind. Yet, not only do you hear now, but feel as diaphanous textures sweep down your arm, flicks and light thumps, and rough textured scratches. Above the chorus, you hear the voice shouting.

Our Benefactor
(CONT’D)
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is of the unknown. Don’t you agree?

-A harsh beam of light blasts through a layer of fog from above into the middle isle. The man in silhouette, that you realize now was sitting at a desk in some sort of attic room, is gone, now, carved out of stark light and deep grooved shadow, there is a thing standing in the center of the isle.
It wears a black tie, a starched white, button down shirt, an unbuttoned cardigan, sand-colored, and tan slacks with brown leather loafers, but you are not looking at its clothing, for atop that loathsome figure sits a green scaled visage, faceless, no not faceless, but as if the scales of a monster had grown over a human face, leaving the form of an eternally closed mouth and scaly mound of a nose without nostrils, two small craters of eyeless sockets, and instead of ears, two sharp points jut upwards on either side of its head.
Without a mouth you hear it screech like a hell hound.
Then darkness, silence, and the slow resurgence of the light, and the small sounds of dusk. The man is back at his usual seat, silhouetted at his desk.

Our Benefactor
(CONT’D)

        Pardon the minor interruption. It is rude of me, I know. I fear my age has made me crass. Eighteen, you know, a man now. All the perils of adulthood are mine… or were, perhaps.
I wonder, tell me, what thinks you of retreat? I am loathe to make such causal inquiry, but I am afraid necessity outweighs propriety just now.
I ran, you see, like a whipped child, I ran… but you wouldn’t listen. No one would listen.
Allow me to illustrate my point briefly. Let us imagine that you were plagued with an agonizing disease, unknown to science, immeasurable, save unto its cause of fear and pain. How then could you look down upon escape? Retreat? When faced with your own insanity, would you flee to amorous peace, or stand your ground– as the cold-slimed ventricles bore into your psyche, eroding away the soul of you, leaving only a blithering, drooling mass of spasmodic gibberish for your loved ones to weep over and regret?
Pah! I have you. I have drawn your number, and it is zero, the clock tolls, my children… soon… very soon.
I have stared into the black eyes of god. I have stood where mad men found their reason and knew it well. Writ worlds, landscapes of horror that dwell not in the hearts of men, but upon mowed lawns, among plastic flamingos… as distant as the kiss of death, as close as the border of sleep, restless below the bedside table… biding its time, sitting in the seat beside you. Warnings, a litany of warnings to a people who care not, care not about themselves, about this tiny, pathetic planet, universe, existence! Mine eyes have seen the glory, and could not bare it.
I fear… indeed I fear… that the mind can be a floodgate who’s safe border folds upon ending. Then out come the unwritten words of the damned, roiling like heated air into the world, and I am a fool–

– You hear the tolling of a great, distant clock tower.

Our Benefactor
(CONT’D)

      It is time for me to leave you. I hope you don’t think me an ungrateful host, but you were, after all, the intruders here, and I must go. I must leave you with perhaps the second oldest of fears, the fear of being alone… alone in the dark.

(BLACK OUT and SILENCE)