And here’s the version with the modern story as well

Here’s a version with both the cave story and the modern-day story intercut.  If you’re going to read one, you might as well read this one, instead of the last one I posted, I guess.

ACT ONE: Inside the Cave

 

[The stage is dark.  We hear wind whistling, and dripping water.  We wait for awhile, and then hear a distant drum booming, approaching; soon we can make out a kind of moaning song and the occasional mournful groan of some tusk trumpet being played.  Three shaggy characters enter, wearing furs and ornamented with peculiar artifacts: fetishes made of bone and twigs.   One is burdened by an enormous drum, another by the horn, and the third bears a flickering torch that provides a dim light, by which we can make out their sloped brows and heavy shoulders.  They go about their business as the narrator speaks: they light a big fire in the middle of the stage, with great ceremony, for in their minds they are enacting the birth of the universe; they shuffle about assembling their puppets and saying preparatory prayers to their heathen gods.]

[The tribe is plagued by doubt, and the shamans have determined it is time for them to do enact the ritual that reassures them of their place in the universe. They are ready.  They stand before the audience.]

[They enact the creation of a prehistoric Adam:

one of them wears antlers and has goat-bladders strapped from his body so that he appears like a deranged deer-human mother creature: Big Mama.  The other two assist in the birth of a collection of puppet body parts; perhaps one acts as a kind of narrator of the events.  Once all has been extruded from Big Mama’s twiggy vulva, they gather the parts of the puppet, and use the great tusk to blow into its nostrils, bringing him to life.  They dance with joy at their success, and react to the creature as if it is a living thing, cooing at it like a baby.]

 

[The puppeteers bring forth ugly little bat puppets made from soot-blackened leather and teeth tied to branches, and make them flap about like it’s a Disney movie; Adam is delighted, and he coos at them.  The puppeteers bring forth some sightless grubs, and then some cave rats, which are puppets made from the skins of real cave rats worn as slippers; the puppeteers shuffle across the stage.  Adam finds a club and tries to bash one of them.  He keeps missing.]

 

[Adam whines mournfully.  Enter Eve, another puppet, snuffling and grubbing about.]

 

[They see each other, and are initially suspicious.  Soon, though, they approach each other.  Eve has a wad of cave-lichen, which they share in a touching scene of first love.]

* * *

[Enter a wailing kid.  He’s deeply upset for some reason.  It might be clever to have squirt bottles in its head, so that it sprinkles tears.  The other puppeteers stomp about, each wearing an enormous leg – it’s the kid’s Dad, from the kid’s eye-level.  Dad mumbles conciliatory things, but the kid wails even harder.  Finally, Dad’s enormous hand offers the kid a Happy Face Balloon on a string (in fact, it’s a wire, so we can make the balloon look like it’s full of helium even though it’s not).

[I’m not super sure how to do that with two puppeteers in legs and the other working the wailing kid.]

[The kid takes the balloon, and is satisfied for a moment, and plays with it a bit.  But then it accidentally lets it go, and it flies away.  The kid begins to wail again.]

* * *

[We return to Adam and Eve holding hands, about to kiss.  Big booming drumbeats and howling interrupt them.  They panic, and scamper to hide.  Enter King Gog, the alpha male of the tribe; he is huge and primitive, closer to ape than Adam and Eve.  It might be possible to use something that looks like a boulder for his head; he wears some kind of crown, hewn from branches and bones.  He is dragging the half-eaten carcass of a sightless cave-fish.  One puppeteer handles both Adam and Eve, while the other two work Gog and a crowd of other tribe members, played by rocks tied to sticks.]

[King Gog pounds his chest and bellows, for he has brought dinner for everybody.  The tribe gobbles at the carcass.  Gog dominates, deciding who eats what, feeding the tribe-rock-puppets himself, and batting them around occasionally.  Truth be told the carcass is a poor feast – it’s mostly rotten and already chewed by whatever killed it – the tribe is evidently starving, and these are miserable scraps.]

 

[Adam and Eve creep up to the carcass.  They attempt to have a bit for themselves.  Gog is surprised by their arrival, and refuses to let Adam eat.  He lets Eve have a munch, though, and then grabs her and humps her, to Adam’s horror.]

[Adam tries to stop him, but Gog gives a great roar, assisted by the sound system, that is utterly terrifying.  Adam is cowed.  Gog rewards his obedience with a scrap of fetid fish, which he takes reluctantly.]

 [Exit Gog, dragging Eve; but he is intercepted by Big Mama, who is jealous of Eve; she bats Eve away and exits with Gog.  Eve is sad and lonely.  She looks to Adam.]

[Adam longs for her, for a moment, but he is too fearful to take action.  The other young males of the tribe gather around him to distract him from the dangerous temptation, and soon they are full of teenage boy camaraderie – laughing and slapping each other on the back and bumfucking each other.]

 

[Adam and the rock-puppets settle into sleep.]

 

[Now that the boys are asleep, Eve approaches the snoring Adam, and touches his face longingly.  He awakes, and bats her away, grunting.  He goes back to sleep.]

* * *

[The projector shows a downtown skyline.  A puppeteer brings out a window with a ledge, which he holds.  A man opens the window, and steps out onto the ledge; wind makes him sway dangerously.  He has tear-stained cheeks, and carries, perhaps, a file folder.  Inside the file folder are papers that are all cleverly rigged with strings or rods or something, so that we can enact them blowing out of the folder and away in the wind.  The man looks down off the ledge; traffic noise from below.  He takes a deep breath, ready to jump, when the Happy Face Balloon from before floats by.  He brightens, wiping away his tears, and reaches for the balloon, losing his balance, and falling.  Lights go out to a horrible crunch.]

* * *

 

[Eve goes to stare out at the world from the edge of the stage.  In the distance, she hears strange animal moans and screeches and roars, which are performed by one of the puppeteers using conch shells and rattles and such things – maybe from in the audience?]

[The puppeteer blows through a big windy tusk-trumpet (maybe there’s some way to make a prehistoric wind-machine – the spinning bone-on-a-string could work).  A wild gust blows in through the cave mouth.  The fire surges and then goes out.]

[Weird moonlight fills the cave.  The two free puppeteers make shadows on the skins with their fingers and some props: the creatures of the night.  A bird, cawing.  A deer, shuffling around or something.  Trees waving in the wind.  And then – the shadow of a monster, entering the cave.  The puppeteers make it with all four hands, but then it becomes an animation – it’s a silhouette, but then its eyes begin to glow like fire, and it’s too complicated to make using their fingers.  It beckons to Eve – the other puppeteers, afraid, scamper from their shadow-making spot and cower with her.  The shadow of the Monster speaks weirdly, and the image becomes a beautiful image of the world outside – a true Eden in shadows.  A shadow-sun comes up, and the winter blows away, and fruit hangs from the tree to eat.  We see the shadow of Eve in that world; she eats the fruit and it’s delicious.  And then we see the shadow of Adam, and the two of them together and happy; she offers the fruit to him and he eats it and everything’s wonderful.]

[The shadows dissolve into the shape of the Monster, beckoning – or maybe we realize that the Monster is in the audience.  It disappears.]

[Eve is flabbergasted.  She’s just been the first human in the world to imagine something.]

[She goes to tug at the snoring Adam.  He wakes.]

[She sings weirdly to him, but he doesn’t understand a damn thing.  She finds a charred stick – or maybe she bites off the end of her finger, yikes, I don’t know.  Point is: she makes a way to make a mark on the wall.  She draws a stick figure of herself, and then one of him (they have happy-faces).  He doesn’t really get it.  She makes it so the two stick-figures are humping.  He still doesn’t get it.  She draws the crown on the figure of him, and he gets it.  They fall into lovemaking.]

* * *

[The puppeteers run in with two puppet cars, about the size of those cars you give to kids to paddle around in.  They place them as if they are parked along a curb, with just barely enough space to fit the third between them – and then enter the third car, which is driven by a guy dressed as a clown.  His car is full of happy face balloons, which he obviously sells.  He sees the parking spot, turns on his blinker, and tries to get into it.  It’s almost impossible.  He backs in, doesn’t quite make it, pulls back out, tries again, fails, tries again, fails, as his ability to contain his frustration mounts.  Somebody behind him starts to honk.  Finally he bumps into one of the other cars, and even so is still parked shittily.  He freaks right out, which is funny to watch partly because we can’t hear him except for maybe a totally muffled shrieking.  He’s banging his head against the steering wheel when suddenly the guy who fell from the ledge lands on the clown’s car.]

* * *

 

[Suddenly, Gog awakes.  He rises behind them, and roars.  They scramble to hide, covering their genitals with the old leaves and twigs that are strewn about the cave-floor.]

[Gog is enraged, and attacks Adam.  He picks him up and hurls him about.  The puppeteers are shrieking like monkeys.  It’s an epic battle, but Adam is severely outmatched.  Gog grabs a club, and it’s evident that Adam is about to get killed.]

[Eve jumps out and pushes Gog into the fire.  The flames leap up, and he screams as he is burned.  The whole stage is filled with flames and smoke; the other tribe members run around shrieking as the cave is consumed (this would be using the projector, probably).

[Meanwhile, Adam and Eve escape the cave – by running off into the audience, maybe?]

[The flames burn down, and we see Gog’s charred remains fall over, dead.  And also: some of the ribs of the great mastodon proscenium skeleton fall down; the cave has collapsed and is replaced by a landscape of silhouetted rib-hills and protruding ribs that can be draped with crap to make them look like trees.]

* * *

[An assembly line: a table, containing a conveyor belt; on one end a stack of boxes marked with happy face balloons, one of them open to receive products from the advancing conveyor.  A forlorn Mexican woman stands behind the contraption.  One puppeteer runs in from one side, and puts an un-inflated balloon on one end of the conveyor belt; the other puppeteer cranks the belt so the balloon approaches the woman.  She takes it, stretches it, blows it up, lets it deflate, and then puts it back on the conveyor so that it travels to the waiting box.  Another balloon, another test inflation, and another, and another; she’s not fast enough, though, so they’re beginning to pile up.  The projector shows a video of the same scene – an identical woman doing the identical task.  The image multiplies and multiplies like that trick with two mirrors until there are millions of identical women and puppeteers doing the same task (that is, we’ve filmed the scene beforehand).  Finally a buzzer sounds, indicating the end of the shift.  The image dissolves.  The woman stops working, and sighs.  She exits, just as an identical puppet enters from the other side of the stage.  The buzzer goes again.  Fade to darkness.]

END OF ACT ONE

(not that there’s an intermission)

 

ACT TWO: Outside the Cave

 

[The world outside the cave: puppeteers are dressed as shrubbery, so that there is a primeval sense of vegetation that moves of its own accord.]

 

[A puppeteer clambers up an erect rib to make the sun, which is a rock painted yellow with weird stringy bits; birds and insects flutter about – it’s the first time they’ve seen the outside world, and it is beautiful.  They are filled with conflicting emotions – pride of victory, and an uneasy terror that they have done something irrevocable.]

[But they are desperately hungry.  Eve is disappointed to discover that there are no fruits handily hanging as was promised by the vision.  Adam manfully gets a pointy stick and makes a display of his intention to find something and kill it – of course, his experience of such things is limited to cave rats, so he is preparing to confront a little creature.]

[Rumbling from without – Adam readying himself.  Enter a Mastodon, which is enormous, not tiny.  Adam is terrified, and attempts to poke at it with his stick, to no avail.  The Mastodon trumpets and charges; it chases Adam out of view.  We now see a smaller version of both puppets, chasing along a rib-hilltop, and then maybe even smaller versions chasing along a more distant hilltop that leads to a cliff.  The Mastodon bowls Adam over but then can’t stop itself from plummeting over the cliff to its doom.]

[Enter Adam, full size, dragging a huge haunch, heroically.  Eve is delighted and impressed.  They feast – but as they feast, they hear a horrible howl in the distance.]

[They must escape the area.  They pack up some chunks of meat and exit.]

* * *

[The balloon’s POV, projected.  Earth, receding.  The balloon spins, and now sees outer space; in the distance we can see other balloons floating away into the heavens.  Now it sees the moon.  The moon gets closer and closer.  On the surface of the moon we see ecstatic moonlings, worshipping the appearance of the balloon.  And now the moon recedes, for the balloon is falling back to Earth.]

* * *

[Now we see Adam and Eve from above, trudging across a stretched skin, which we view now as forest turning to tundra.  This is accomplished either through projection or puppetry; maybe projection provides lengthening shadows as the sun goes down.]

[Night-time.  They huddle for warmth.  Their bellies rumble.  A puppeteer clambers up the rib to replace the sun with the moon (a pale rock), and then clouds (balls of hair) and then rain (water poured from a bladder) while another one makes rain sounds (pebbles in a wood bowl) and thunder (with his mouth or something).  Our heroes are miserable – and then the howl again.]

[Adam is angry that they left.  He sees visions of Gog moving in the fog (projector), and believes they are haunted by Gog’s ghost.  He barks and grumbles at Eve, and they begin to smack each other and growl – when suddenly they discover that she is pregnant.  Of course they don’t understand why this happens, but they recognize that something miraculous is occurring.]

[Eve sings a plaintive little song that conjures projected images of the paradise she drew in the cave.  They draw strength, and press on in hopes of finding it.]

[The weather turns even worse – a puppeteer blows snow (cold ash from the fire) at them; they are growing weaker and weaker; they continue to sing their little song but slowly it runs out.  Finally they come to a desolate place.]

[Eve cannot continue.  She collapses in the snow.  Adam struggles to pull her along, grunting little bits of their song, but he too is exhausted.]

[And now from the shadows the Shadow Monster emerges, speaking weirdly like before in the cave.  It looms large above them, as shadow animations of paradise fading and dissolving play around it; the tree with the fruit of Eve’s dreams turns into a tree strewn with skulls.  We realize that the Monster has lured them out of the cave with the visions, so it can eat them.]

[Adam lunges at it with his pathetic little stick, attempting to block the Monster from seeing Eve, but it’s a hopeless case.  The Monster hisses and attacks, and Adam is caught in its jaws or claws or whatever; he drops the stick, but he keeps fighting desperately, calling to Eve to escape – but Eve circles behind it and spears it with the stick.  The Monster shrieks and thrashes and finally dies.]

[Adam is mangled beyond hope, though.  He is dying.  Eve cradles him.  Perhaps she tries to sing their little song, but Adam stops her.  He offers himself to be eaten, and then dies.]

[Eve forlornly eats him.]

* * *

A cloudy day at the beach.  The balloon falls from the sky, shriveled, and lands limply in the sand.]

[An old man approaches, shuffling.  He’s wearing a nametag that says ‘if lost, call this number.’  He’s dressed in a housecoat and slippers, and his hair is askew.  He shuffles painfully slowly up to the balloon, and discovers it.  He bends over, creaking, and picks it up.  He looks at it, and for a moment an old photograph of him as a child, happy with a happy face balloon, flickers from the projector, and then is gone.  The old man painstakingly puts the balloon back on the sand, and then continues on his way.  He gets partly across the stage, when we hear from off somebody calling for him: Mr. Kowalchuk!  Mr. Kowalchuk!  He grunts and turns back around, to escape the nurse who’s looking for him.  Of course his escape is hopeless, since he’s so absurdly slow.  But he comes upon the balloon again, and discovers it as if for the first time.  He’s breathing hard, though, from his exertions, and as he picks it up, and the happy photograph flickers in his mind, he has a heart attack and dies.]

* * *

[And then, suddenly, with the new nourishment, Eve has a contraction.  And then another.  And another.]

[She scrambles to get into position, and (as the puppeteers grunt and shriek in support) she gives birth to a Happy Face balloon that expands and expands until it is enormous.]

[The tribe is content.  The Happy Face balloon floats up into the grid while hopeful music plays.]

The End.

 

About Judd Trout

Judd Palmer is one of the Old Trouts.

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