A Short Play by Ron Campbell
A Solar System, Somewhere in The Milky Way.
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Sun…………Male, Big, initially garrulous, turns serious. Wears crown.
Eartha…….Female, Unhealthy, sniffling.
Red…………Male, Perhaps a Russian accent, bitter.
Murky……..Male, Small in stature, Glum.
Saturn……..Female, Wears hoop ear rings. Perhaps she has a hula hoop.
Venus………Female, Wears glasses. Homely.
Neptune…..Female, Distant. Sarcastic.
Uranus…….Male, Bent over. Talks out of his ass.
In the darkness we hear Thus Spake Zarathustra or Holst’s Planets. Soon we hear voices. A party, everyone talking at the same time. Then: BOOM! A huge explosion. Then silence.The lights come up. It becomes apparent that all the other characters are slowly circling around SUN at different distances. There is a polite order in their movements. After a moment:
All right, gather ’round. Let’s get started. Wow. It feels like an eternity since we all last talked. Anybody remember the last time we all sat together? Oh wait- Now I remember. And what a party that was! All of us in the hot tub. Man, that got wild.
(Shaking his head at the memory, laughing:)
I didn’t know where I ended and you all began! And look at you all now. All grown up. You’ve matured. You’ve each got your own separate and distinct personalities. I’m just so proud of you all. And since I’ve become pretty much a- I won’t say star- a celebrity since that first big shindig I wanted to check in with my old buddies. Let me just say that I think you are all so cool. ‘Course compared to me pretty much everybody is cool. So I thought I’d just send out a flare and see who was still hanging around from the old days. It’s great to see your smiling faces. I got to tell you you’re all really a reflection of me and I would not wear the ol’ “corona” (He indicates his crown) so proudly if I was in this thing all alone. But knowing you were all hanging around gave me the strength to “bring it” each and every morning.
So. How is everybody?
Nothing. The planets just circle.
SUN addresses Murky, who is closest to him:
Hey little buddy. My closest friend, how are things with you?
Really? How so?
People say I’m dense.
Well I hate to break it to you, little buddy, but you are.
I’m not as dense as her. (Points to EARTHA) Hell, she’s the slow one, I can run rings around her.
(EARTHA sneezes, sniffles, wipes brow.)
Rings? Did someone say rings? You know I love my bling.
Look, Murky, you little runt. Don’t bug me. I’ve got enough problems. I’m really under the weather. Plus I’ve got this lunatic stalking me 24/7. (She blows her runny nose.)
Stalkers did you say? Oh I’ve got one of those too. Huge guy. A fucking Titan!
What a coincidence! I’ve got a few of those too. I didn’t ask for them. But I guess what goes around comes around. But don’t worry, I keep my eye on ’em.
JUPITER lets out a big fart. Others react.
Sorry. I’m gassy.
No worries, Jupiter, we’ve all got a bit of that. Venus baby, I didn’t see you there. You snuck up on me. Still single?
(She is turning in the opposite direction on her axis as everyone else.
Look it up.)
Yes, as you see. No pesky stalkers for me. And so of course no ring. (She shows her unadorned fingers.) Slow and steady wins the race I say. I know with this crater face I’m not going to win any beauty pageants. (Adjusts glasses, overlaughs.) No Miss Universe for me I’m afraid.
Don’t sell yourself short, Vee. C’mon. You’re Venus. You’re…volcanic. Looks to me like the acne has really cleared up quite a bit since we last talked.
You’re such a flatterer. But don’t shine me on. I’m at peace with my pockmarks. And as sure as you come up in the west I’ll always be there for you.
How about you, Red? How’s it with you? You seem awfully quiet.
I am, how you say, pissed off.
(Points at EARTHA.)
Her. She can’t control her people. And it’s constant these days. The paparazzi. The looking, looking, looking with their spy glasses. The spying. That’s what it is. I can’t take it! Now they’re just scratching the surface but I have a feeling it’s going to get worse. I’m not some amusement park you can go to just to take joyrides in your dune buggy!
Aww sit on your axis and spin, dirtball.
Eat my dust, slimey! And to think I used to like you. The food wasn’t great but at least you had atmosphere. Now, blechh!
Okay that’s enough you two. (Addresses Uranus:) Say, we haven’t heard from you old friend. Why the cold- uh- shoulder?
(He is hunched over, speaks out of his ass:)
Leave me alone. You’d be like this too if you had my problems. Something bumped into me right after the big bash and since then instead of going around like this, like everyone else, I go around like this. Forever. And you guys complain about stalkers? I’ve got twenty-seven of ’em. Twenty-seven! Count ’em! Twenty-seven! Plus I’m the butt of every joke. So if I seem a little icy, you know why!
Twenty-seven? That’s nothing. Try sixty-seven. I’ve got sixty-seven. And that’s just the last time I even looked!
(He farts.) Sorry.
Wow. I had no idea you guys had so many issues. (To NEPTUNE:) Hey, what’s your name, I forget.
(Sighs:) Neptune. It’s Neptune. Geez.
Why so distant?
I’m just not that attracted to you.
Fair enough. Say, didn’t you used to have a pet or something? I seem to remember…
You mean Pluto? He’s not here.
But I remember really liking him. Where is he? Pluto? Pluto, where are you boy? C’mere. Where’s my big boy? Where’s my Pluto?
He wasn’t invited. You said Planets Only. Remember?
Oh. Right. Hmm. Awkward.
Well, let’s get down to business, shall we? I’ve got some news for you guys. Now I’ve really loved having you around all these millennia. It’s really meant the worlds to me. But the fact is I’m not going to be around forever.
Various reactions from the group, some laughter.
It’s true. And I can already feel it. You may have noticed some spots on me. They’re normal. But something’s not right. I guess it’s old age. And you know I want to be here for you guys but it’s just not up to me. I’ve done the radiation thing. For a while now. I’m working on my core. But one day you’re gonna wake up and I’ll be gone. Just a black hole where I used to be.
The Planets look at each other. This is serious.
So that’s really why I called this meeting.
Now you know I don’t play favorites. I love you all equally. But I have to say one of you is, well, special. One of you is my pride and joy. Only one of you has a heartbeat. Only one of you breathes. Saturn you’re beautiful and no one can deny your rings are gorgeous. Sure, Jupiter you’ve got sixty-seven followers. But I don’t think any of you understand the gravity of the situation. Only you, Eartha, can breathe. Only you can react. Only you can… feel.
(Tugging on SUN’s sleeve:) But what about me? I’m right here! I’ve always stood right beside you.
Murky, I love you. You’re my rock. But a rock can’t feel. It’s you, Eartha. You’re my reason for being. You complete me. But here’s the thing. The thing I love about you, Eartha, I’m starting to realize, is a disease.
A hungry, smelly, noisy disease.
And it breaks my heart. And I don’t even have a heart. But you do. I can hear it from here. I hear it in all that chattering. All those radio signals. I hear it in the wail of your newborns. And the low thud of your weapons. I hear it in your distress signals. And your podcasts. And your operas. I hear it when I get a whiff of your wifi. The tangle of a thousand languages. The thrum of your machines.
And your disease is getting stronger. As our red friend here said, you’re even spreading out to others. That’s the way it is with your disease.
And I blame myself. I’m the one that gave you everything you needed to create this disease. The heartbeat in this trackless vastness we call home. So I’m going to ask you to do something for me. I’ve never asked you for anything. And I’ve always given you stellar service. But now I’m going to ask something of you. It’s my last wish. My …dying wish.
I want you to kill yourself.
Yes. Take one for the team. Stop the disease before it spreads.
But. I’m so young. So full of life. Where else are you going to find waterfalls that fall at just. that. speed? And flowers and hot dog stands and hammerhead sharks and elephants and-
Actually, I’ve got news for you. The elephants aren’t looking so good. In fact-
Okay, maybe that’s not a good example. But I’ve got so much to live for. I’ve got… life to live for.
Then you need to tell your people.
I have! But they won’t listen. I’ve tried everything.
Floods, earthquakes, famines, tsunamis. I even stole a whole airplane. They just don’t get it! They’re just so …busy.
What are they so busy doing?
All kinds of things. A lot of them are fighting. Each other. They get attached to certain areas on my surface and actually fight for them. As if they actually own them. And some of them are not fighting. But if they’re not fighting they’re kissing. And if they’re kissing then the next thing you know there’s more of them.
All the more reason you need to drop out of this merry-go-round. Eartha, listen to me: they’re sucking you dry.
Well. Can I at least think about it? I mean it’s a big step, suicide.
I did it.
What? You? When?
Long time ago. I had it. Your disease. How do you think you picked it up? But I got rid of it. I warmed up. Burnt ’em out. That did the trick. You should consider it. Maybe you already have.
I don’t know…
Do it. Take his advice. Amazing how nice it is once the disease is gone. So quiet. No chatter. No podcasts. No babies crying. Just a beautiful, natural nothing. A silence like before the big bash. Only more silent because there’s no one around to not hear it. Just imagine it. It sounds like this:
A looooong pause.
I’m sorry. But I can’t make that decision. I’ll talk to the disease a little more. See what they say. It’s up to them. Hell, I’m fine either way. I’m just a big blue marble out here. I just do my thing. I just…be. But it’s like the man says: they’re the heartbeat.
Besides. Without them who’s gonna write my obituary?
Maybe they already have.
The planets slowly exit, leaving EARTHA all alone. We hear the chatter of a thousand podcasts in a thousand different languages.
The voices fade as the lights fade.
In the darkness, a baby wails.
END OF PLAY