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Official website of Seattle-area actor and writer Nathaniel Jones

• For Your Own Good •

As the audience enters the theater, they are roughly frisked for weapons, must show identification, and asked basic questions (address, date of birth, place of employment). Those that enter in groups are separated to sit in different areas of the theater. Several of the seats will be filled with actors who should be indistinguishable from the actual audience.

 

On stage, a movie screen.

 

Just before the lights go down for the start of the show, guards move to each exit to block anyone from leaving during the film.

Once the theater is completely dark, the movie screen lights up, and begins to show an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. As the cartoon runs, we should hear sounds of a couple people trying to exit the theater, but being stopped by the guards. One of the people should be audibly beaten, but we should not be able to see the beating happen.

 

 

On stage: When the lights return, we are in the home of TRISTAN ORIEL – a dark place.

The walls are bare, and the only light in the room is a small lamp on an end table next to a ragged futon, on which lies a crumpled blanket and magazines from years past.

A FLUSH, and we see TRISTAN enter from the bathroom holding a newspaper. He tosses the paper aside, moves the magazines on the futon, sits and turns on the television.

He rapidly flips through the channels, and we only hear brief glimpses of each program to give us an idea of the world outside:

VARIOUS TV VOICES

Continued in the streets today as / no sign of letting up / no word yet on what caused / live on the street / with no interest financing until / authorities are taking control / calling in reinforcements / encourage all viewers to stay in their homes until / we can’t let ourselves give in to these / expected to continue through tonight and maybe even / as quickly as possible to end / apply directly to the forehead / this administration ignored every warning / human rights violations / can’t sit back as America is taken / stock market fell yet again on news / prices reached record highs today as /

 

Sirens and helicopters are heard outside. TRISTAN shuts off the television, shuts off the lamp and checks the window. Gunshots are heard, and TRISTAN moves away from the window. Outside, we hear voices and the sounds of dogs barking and people running.

 

VOICE

Freeze!

 

More gunshots, a cry of pain, and louder barking.

 

TRISTAN goes to cabinet and takes out small bottle and a syringe. He fills the syringe with liquid from the bottle and injects himself, and collapses on the couch. He grabs the remote control and points it to a radio.

 

RADIO ANNOUNCER

your home for the best of classic rock! That was the No Doubt’s classic, “Don’t Speak,” followed by the Smashin Pumpkins with “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” After the break, we’ll bring you twenty minutes of uninterrupted music, starting her off with Harvey Danger’s hit “Flagpole Sitta.” That’ll be going out to Stan in Oak Harbor. Stick around for more classic rock favorites here at your home for the best classic rock, 91.7 FM!

 

As the radio plays, the effect of the drugs grows as TRISTAN drifts off into a daze.

 

Lights fade out. Lights fade up, revealing TRISTAN passed out on the couch. He wakes up to the sound of “Love Fool” playing on the radio. He turns off the music, and tries to refill his syringe, but it is empty.

 

He gets up off the couch and drowsily moves to the door. He tries to open the door, but an electronic voice chimes in from a speaker next to the door.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry – due to heightened security levels for your area, we are currently in a temporary lockdown. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. If you are experiencing an emergency, please enter the proper override code now.

 

TRISTAN enters a few numbers into a keypad by the speaker.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry – request invalid. If you feel you have received this message in error, please enter the override code again.

 

TRISTAN enters more numbers.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry – request invalid. If you feel you have received this message in error, please enter the override code again.

 

TRISTAN enters more numbers.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry – request invalid. To better serve you, we must limit your override requests to three. Please wait until the next service cycle and submit your request again. Thank you. Have a nice day.

 

TRISTAN punches the speaker.

 

He types a few numbers into the keypad. The electronic voice returns.

 

VOICE

How may I direct your call?

 

TRISTAN

Pizza delivery.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry. Due to heightened security levels in your area, all food delivery requests are being denied. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

 

TRISTAN

Oh come on – I need some food over here!

 

VOICE

I’m sorry – that is not a recognized voice command. Please speak slowly and clearly into the microphone, or use the adjacent keypad to use the proper entry code.

 

TRISTAN goes to a small cabinet and looks through it. He finds a packet of ramen and places it next to the sink.

 

TRISTAN

Ramen it is then.

 

He grabs a pot from the dish drainer next to him, and tries to fill it with water, but when he turns the faucet knobs, nothing happens.

 

TRISTAN

Come on!

 

He goes back to the speaker box.

 

VOICE

How may I direct your call?

 

TRISTAN

Utilities.

 

VOICE

Connecting. Hello, and thank you for calling the National Utilities Commission. How may we help you?

 

TRISTAN

My water’s shut off.

 

VOICE

Thank you. I’m sorry, according to our records, your location has used its current water ration. Please wait until the next service cycle and try again. If this is an emergency, please enter the proper override code now.

 

TRISTAN enters some numbers.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry, you have used your three overrride requests. Please wait until the next service cycle and try again.

 

TRISTAN

I just need a cup of water to cook some ramen!

 

VOICE

I’m sorry – that is not a recognized voice command. Please speak slowly and clearly into the microphone, or use the adjacent keypad to use the proper entry code.

 

TRISTAN grabs his ramen and begins to eat it dry from the package as he turns the television back on.

 

VARIOUS TV VOICES

Necessary to maintain the freedom that makes this country / going overboard! How can we / up to three sizes in three weeks / another record breaking day in the / (same bugs bunny cartoon from the beginning) eh – what’s up doc?

 

TRISTAN stops flipping channels, turns up the volume on the cartoon as he crunches on the ramen. After a moment, the cartoon stops.

 

VOICE (on TV)

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the Federal, State and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions. This station serves the North Western region. This test will continue for 45 minutes. This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area (etc)

 

TRISTAN switches stations, but all stations are showing the test. Tristan throws the packet of ramen at the screen and tries the door again, but receives the same voice error.

 

He then tries to open the window, but receives another voice error.

 

He looks around the room and sees a small stone bust of the President, which he picks up and throws at the window in an attempt to break it, but all it does is leave a small scuff mark. He throws it again, with no more success.

 

VOICE

Break in attempt detected. The police will report to your location immediately. If this message is being received in error, please enter the override code now.

 

TRISTAN jumps to the speaker box and enters a code.

 

VOICE

I’m sorry, you have used your three override requests. Please wait until the next service cycle and try again.

 

TRISTAN grabs his ramen back off the floor, and begins to eat it in silence. After a moment, police sirens are heard approaching the building, and another moment later the sound of beeping from outside the door.

 

VOICE

Entry code accepted.

 

The door opens, and two burly police officers enter.

 

 

OFFICER 1

Good evening sir. A break in attempt was detected in your home. For your protection, please come with us.

 

TRISTAN

No, it was just a mistake. I dropped a statue and it hit the window accidentally. There’s no problem here.

 

OFFICER 2

I’m sorry sir. Due to increased security, we must treat every report as a real threat. Please come with us, sir.

 

TRISTAN

Really, it’s OK. I’m alone here – nothing to worry about.

 

OFFICER 2

For your own protection, please come with us sir.

 

TRISTAN

I really don’t think that will be necessary.

 

OFFICER 2

You have been asked three times. Any further denial of our request will be deemed unlawful refusal of official request.

 

TRISTAN

This is all a big misunderstand-

 

OFFICER 1 injects TRISTAN in the neck, causing him to go limp. OFFICER 2 goes to the speaker box and enters a code.

 

OFFICER 2

Suspect apprehended, perimeter cleared.

 

The two OFFICERS lift TRISTAN’s body and carry it out of the door. The sirens start again, and fade off into the distance.

 

The movie screen lowers again, and the cartoon finishes playing. When it ends, the lights return, and the guards in the theater escort the audience out, instructing them to return immediately to their homes.

2009 - Nathaniel Jones