The Experiment

Topic: Adaptation of a Fairy Tale                         Ron Campbell

soarfeat@gmail.com

 

THE EXPERIMENT

 

SETTING:

A Laboratory

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

                                                            Dr Klar

Rip Van Winkle

Doris Van Winkle

 

 

(Lights come up on DR. KLAR, who is busy checking things on a clip board. He wears a lab coat.)

 

DR. KLAR

Van Winkle! Come in here. I want you to see something.

Damn kid. Never around when I need him. Here we are on the brink of an amazing breakthrough and that good for nothing assistant of mine is probably doodling away his time in the cafeteria, day dreaming his life away when he should be in here, with me, as we count down to our grand experiment!

(Rip enters in a rumpled lab coat, perhaps he has some flowers in his hair.)

 

RIP

Sorry  Dr. Klar. I was just  testing the torque calibrations on  Chrono- Destabilizer Three.

I noticed a small time wrinkle discrepancy but it looks like it was just a momentary glitch in the moment suspension inter face.

I just dropped in an extra phase shifter into the quantum vault and that seemed to fix it.

DR. KLAR

Chrono Destabilizer Three is only a triple redundancy fail safe. You know that. Listen. We’ve checked every continuum drive from top to bottom. Our factosis ratios are perfect. We’re ready.

I want to talk to you about scheduling a launch.

 

RIP

A Launch? But that’s impossible. We’re not ready. What about the nano filament time wire? Without that the subject would be flung into ”limbiotic soup” as you always say.

DR.KLAR

We got some.

RIP

What? You got some nano filament time cord? Why didn’t you tell me?

 

DR. KLAR

I wanted it to be a surprise.

RIP

But don’t you know this is what I have been waiting for? This moment? I have so many questions.

When did it come? Is it a dual follicle or a single?  Does it fit onto the dyno spool?

DR.KLAR

Yes, yes it all fit perfectly. It came this afternoon and I installed it myself. I’ve braided in the binary counter. She’s good to go.  That’s why I wanted to talk to you about scheduling a launch

RIP

But the nano filament is going to work, right? Our calculations were correct?

DR.KLAR

Down to the giga-second.

RIP

And it’s a reputable company?

DR.KLAR

Rapunzel Industries is known throughout the kingdom for it’s nano filaments, Rip.

 

RIP

It’s just all so sudden.

DR.KLAR

We’ve been working on this for years. So I think the time has come to schedule a launch.

RIP

But how? We haven’t even selected a subject. There is screening and mental profiling and endurance training and all the rest of it. Come on, doctor. You know as well as I do the subject can’t be just anybody.

DR.KLAR

Exactly. There is only one person who qualifies to be the subject of this grand experiment.

You.

RIP

Me? But I’m just a common man, a lowly tinker toiling in the shadows of ignominy. Not an Intrepid voyager into the trackless vastness of uncharted eons.

First of all, I don’t think I could withstand the mental strain.

DR.KLAR

Of course you can. In fact, your years of vacant daydreaming and vague, shiftless loitering were the exact kind of training needed for this mission.

As you know, in order to survive the time slip, the subject must achieve and maintain a deep vegetative state REM cycle throughout the experiment.

RIP

That’s true-

DR.KLAR

And I have personally seen you space out for hours on end in the cafeteria contemplating the tensile properties of a twisty straw. I’m constantly finding you gazing idly off in the distance, a dandelion dangling from your lip, in a state of stagnant meditation. These are the exact qualities necessary for the subject to make this experiment a success.

RIP

But are you sure? What about the anti-butterfly effect boots? They probably won’t fit me.

DR.KLAR

I took the liberty of making a tracing of your feet when you were dozing barefoot one afternoon in the rec room. Nine and a half, extra wide.

 

 

 

RIP

I don’t know what to say, I’m stunned.

DR.KLAR

Just say you’re ready to make a small step for man and one giant barefoot leap for mankind.

RIP

But when? When do we schedule a launch?

DR.KLAR

Tonight.

RIP

Tonight? I can’t.

DR.KLAR

Why not?

 

RIP

My wife. She wants me to be home early. Her scrap-booking group meets tonight and she wants me to have some hors d’ ourves prepared. Plus it’s trash night.

DR.KLAR

But you are on the brink of one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind. Surely she can understand.

RIP

You don’t know my wife. Youngest of the Hubbard family. Had to fight for everything as a kid. Slept on a worn out gel sole. Jostled over scraps with odor eaters. She had it tough. And she doesn’t like it when I stay late at work.

DR.KLAR

We’ll just make a brief exploratory test then. You’ll be home in time to cut plenty of carrot and celery sticks.

RIP

How long were you thinking of calibrating the Chrono Destabilizer?

 

DR.KLAR

A very brief test, Van Winkle. Three seconds.

RIP

Three seconds? But that’s hardly long enough to get an accurate reading. What if the nanno follicle lifeline snaps in the tension? I could lose contact with the time grid.

DR.KLAR

We never thought there wouldn’t be risks.

RIP

I should probably run it by her. I’ll just give her a call.

 

(he takes out his cell phone- sees the time)

 

Oh Lord. Look at the time. I’m already late. I was supposed to pick up the dry cleaning since I forgot to at lunch and then stop at the market and pick up some tiger balm so I can rub her elbows tonight after the scrap booking. Plus she said I have to clean out my old boxes of comic books out of the garage or she’ll dump ‘em. Nope. It looks like the experiment will have to wait.

 

DR.KLAR

Van Winkle, you’ve been working on this project on and off for so many years. Your whole life has gone by. Due to your lackadaisical nature, you have drawn this out to the breaking point. Finally all the pieces are assembled. We’ve checked and re checked. Tonight is our moment. Face it, Van Winkle. You’re not getting any younger.

RIP

I just don’t know… The little woman-

 

DR.KLAR

You’ve used that excuse long enough. For once in your life just do something!

RIP

(A decision.)

Alright doctor. I will.

DR.KLAR

Thatta boy! Put on the anti butterfly effect boots and I’ll power up the proto equilibrium time wave impeller.

(They begin some elaborate button and switch clicking procedure.)

 

RIP

We’re really doing this aren’t we?

 

DR.KLAR

Correction: You’re doing it. I’m just working the dials. You’re the one doing the traveling. And tonight you’re going to see what it’s like… three seconds in the future.

RIP

Now you’ve got me excited. What will our world be like three seconds in the future, What strange customs will we have adopted in the time that has passed  during those three long seconds? I can hardly wait to see the world that awaits me.

DR.KLAR

Remember Rip. You must remain calm. Your tendency to gaze listlessly at nothing in particular for long durations is the only thing that can save you from defragmentation on your re-synching. But don’t worry. I will be in constant communication via the nanno follicles. Prepare yourself.

 

(DR. KLAR takes out two tin cans. They are attached to each other with a string. RIP puts on some fuzzy boots. There is lots of elaborate turning of dials and moving of levers. RIP takes a “Ready”  position stage right. DR. KLAR is Stage Left. They each hold a can.)

DR. KLAR

I’ve set the synchrometer for three seconds. Prepare for time skip initiation phase. Good luck, Rip. God be with you.

 

 

 

RIP

Thank you doctor. I could never have done this without you. I’m releasing the Vacu-latch on the time port.  All systems go.

 

 

DR.KLAR

Time skip initiation phase completed. Calm your mind, Rip. Commence time walk on your go. Slow and steady, boy. This is it.

 

RIP

(RIP takes a few tentative steps. Speaks into the can.)

 

So far so good. I’ve crossed the one second mark. You should see this, Doctor. It’s beautiful. What are these things floating around me? They look like… dandelions.

DR.KLAR

That’s just  protoplasmic time detritus burning away. Nothing to be concerned about. Keep going, son, you’re almost there.

 

RIP

Reaching two second mark. Alpha waves still below normal. I think I’m going to make it.

DR.KLAR

Stay calm, Van Winkle. Remember to breathe. Heartbeat monitor at 60 kb.

 

 

RIP

I’ve made it. Do you hear me? I’m at T plus 3 seconds. It’s hard to believe I’m actually standing three seconds in the future!

 

DR.KLAR

Keep calm, Rip. Your vitals are spiking  toward non somnambulant levels.

Wait- someone is coming down the hallway- Hold on-

 

(Enter DORIS, RIP’s wife.)

 

DORIS

What is wrong with you people? I was ringing the bell for ten minutes. Don’t you people ever answer the door? Where’s Rip? He was supposed to be home half an hour ago. We have guests!  I need Rip to get home and make the beds in the guest room. Where is he?

DR.KLAR

I’m sorry Mrs. Van Winkle. Rip is in the middle of a rather involving experiment. He can’t-

DORIS

Another one of his stupid experiments. Ridiculous. What is it this time? Magic growing beans? Or spinning straw into gold?  I don’t know why I married that shiftless lazy tinkering idiot in the first place.

 

(She looks around the lab.)

 

Where is he?

DR. KLAR

He’s on the end of this nanno filament, Mrs. Van Winkle. Three seconds in the future.

 

DORIS

What! But We have company! My scrap booking group meets tonight. He knows that.

DR. KLAR

Well scrap booking will have to wait. Your husband is embarked on a journey into the future.

DORIS

Three seconds in the future? Well tell him to come back. This instant.

DR. KLAR

It’s not that easy, Mrs. Van Winkle. He’s currently balanced on a single thread of the fabric of space time. To suddenly yank him back now would risk complete scattering of his corporeal body. He’d simply melt into limbionic soup.

DORIS

I don’t care if he comes back a big bowl of boulliabaise, we have company coming over! I need him to make some nice vegetable crudités !

DR.KLAR

I’ll try hailing him via the nanno follicle but I warn you: don’t over excite him. He needs to keep his REM cycle down to a minimum or he will implode upon  resynching.

(He talks into the can.)

Van Winkle? Do you read me?

 

 

RIP

Yes Doctor, loud and clear.

 

(RIP has a beatific smile on his face.)

 

You can’t believe what I’m seeing out here. It’s beautiful. Everything is so… advanced.

DR. KLAR

Rip, Your wife is here. She wants you to come home.

 

RIP

Now? But I’m on the brink of a major discovery. I’m witnessing what the world will be like… three seconds from now.

 

(DORIS grabs the can from DR. KLAR and yells into it.)

 

DORIS

And I’ll give you three seconds to get your skinny ass back here before I come over there and pull you by the ear all the way to the present! Now get over here this instant. And don’t think I didn’t notice that you didn’t sort the recycling before you went to work today, you lazy good for nothing-

 

DR. KLAR

Mrs. Van Winkle! Be careful. The slightest fluctuations in his alpha waves could endanger his mooring on the time fabric. I suggest-

 

DORIS

You suggest nothing. Rip you little pipsqueak, get back here before I yank you back. My mother warned me against you, you no-good rotten-

 

(But during this, RIP has taken out a pair of scissors. He calmly cuts the string connecting the two cans.)

 

 

 

DORIS

Hello? Don’t you dare hang up on me you lousy stinking little- It went dead.

 

(DR.KLAR takes the can. He reels in the string. Examines the frayed end.)

 

 

DR. KLAR

Van Winkle?…He’s gone.

 

DORIS

 

What do you mean “He’s gone.” He’s got work to do.

 

DR. KLAR

He’s gone. The nanno filament somehow got severed. He will for ever more be doomed to float listlessly in the folds of the time weave…

Of course he will never age, never feel hunger, never be tied to any schedule for he will be forever more suspended like a single grain of sand in an hour glass. Free to do exactly as he pleases.

 

DORIS

But we have Company!

 

(During this, RIP has quietly slipped off his boots and stretched out with a beatific smile on his face. He reclines happily and mimes picking a dandelion.

RIP

A dandelion. I guess I’ll make a wish…

 

(He blows on the imaginary flower.)

 

BLACKOUT

END OF PLAY

The Experiment.doc

The Experiment
A 10 minute play by Ron Campbell

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