Below we present the complete text of Eye of the Beholder; episode 3 of Another Twist of the Tale.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
EPISODE #3 – Eye of the Beholder
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2013 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
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Episode 3: Eye of the Beholder
Peter, a man struggling to cope with reality, visits his psychiatrist, blissfully unaware of the reality that is being kept hidden from him by these trusted health professionals.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
NARRATOR: The Narrator
PETER: A man struggling to cope with reality
DR HARVESTER: A psychiatrist
DR SLAUGHTER: Dr Harvester’s supervisor
SFX ARTIST: Minimum one required
SCENE 1: INT – DR HARVESTER’S OFFICE (PETER, DR HARVESTER)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: SOFT CLASSICAL MUSIC – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) The brain is an amazing organ. It contains untold millions of cells making millions of connections, constantly renewing itself and interpreting the world for us. But the line between sanity and madness is very thin and even the healthiest brain sometimes has reason to question its experiences…
- PETER: Hi, Dr Harvester. Thanks for seeing me at such short notice.
- DR. HARVESTER: Not at all Peter. Come in. Please sit on the couch.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS. CREAK OF COUCH – LET IT FINISH.
- DR HARVESTER: What can I do for you today, Peter?
- PETER: Well, it’s going to sound a little strange.
- DR HARVESTER: I’m a psychiatrist, Peter. I promise you that there is nothing you can say that will seem strange.
- PETER: Well, it’s like this. It’s a feeling that’s been growing on my mind. A sense that the world is vaguely wrong. As if nothing in it is real except me. I keep expecting to turn around and find everything has disappeared. As if the world only exists while I’m looking at it.
- DR HARVESTER: Oh, Peter, you have nothing to worry about. Everybody feels like this from time to time. Usually at times of high stress.
- PETER: So I’m not going mad?
- DR HARVESTER: No, I don’t think so. Let me ask you a few questions. How are you sleeping at the moment?
- PETER: I’ve had a few restless nights, why?
- DR HARVESTER: Any major deadlines at work?
- PETER: Of course. We’ve been very busy with the Sallinger Account. The new software is almost ready to go into production.
- DR HARVESTER: And I’m guessing you’re working a lot of late nights?
- PETER: Yes.
- DR HARVESTER: Which would also mean you’ve been tempted to skip meals, eat at odd hours, and miss out on your usual amount of exercise?
- PETER: Well, when you put it like that…
- DR HARVESTER: Don’t be embarrassed Peter, it’s a perfectly normal reaction to stress during a busy time.
- PETER: But… it feels so strange – as if I’m disconnected from things.
- DR HARVESTER: How’s your imagination, Peter?
- PETER: I’m sorry?
- DR HARVESTER: Your imagination? How is it?
- PETER: It’s fine, obviously, but what’s that got to do with…?
- DR HARVESTER: Peter, you are obviously concerned that you are going mad. Some people think that imagination is the heart of delusion, but I am personally of the opinion that a healthy imagination is a key indicator of sanity.
- PETER: How so?
- DR HARVESTER: Imagination lets you see beyond yourself. The healthy person can put themselves into the shoes of others by exercising their imaginative faculties. They can see possibilities beyond themselves. The sick individual draws a narrow circle of possibilities around themselves and locks him or herself within it.
- PETER: I’m not sure I understand your point.
- DR HARVESTER: Let me give you an example. Take, for instance, the man who thinks he is persecuted. It does no good to try and persuade him that you are not his enemy. After all, that would be just the kind of thing a real enemy might say in order to get past one’s guard. Do you see what I mean?
- PETER: Ummm?
- DR HARVESTER: Alright, let me put it this way… The sick person is chained up by certainty. For example, the paranoid man is convinced people are out to get him, every conclusion he reaches is perfectly logical within the assumptions he allows himself. But he is trapped. Trapped by his inability to imagine a broader world. One in which everyone he meets is not his enemy.
- PETER: Ah. I think I start to see it.
- DR HARVESTER: Your concerns arise out of uncertainty. If you were mad, you would be certain the world around you is not real. Instead of opening yourself to wider possibilities you would close the door on a healthy understanding of reality. Do you see?
- PETER: Why yes, Dr. I think I do.
- DR HARVESTER: So, Peter. Are you feeling a bit happier about things?
- PETER: Yes, Dr. Harvester. It’s a weight off my mind.
- DR HARVESTER: I’m glad to hear it. How much longer will your current work situation last?
- PETER: I’m not sure. The deadline for the Sallinger account is next week. After that, I’m not sure how the next project will look.
- DR HARVESTER: Then, Peter, I suggest you give yourself a little rest. Go for a run. Get some sleep. Take a short break. It will do you a world of good.
- PETER: Yes, Dr. That’s good advice. You’ve been a real help.
- DR HARVESTER: Think nothing of it. Be sure to see my secretary on your way out to set another appointment.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE TRANSITION – LET IT FINISH
SCENE 2 – INT – CONFERENCE ROOM (DR HARVESTER, DR SLAUGHTER)
- SOUND: HOSPITAL HUM – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN AND SKITTERING FOOTSTEPS ENTER – LET IT FINISH.
- DR SLAUGHTER: (CHITTERING ALIEN VOICE) Ah, Dr Harvester. How did it go?
- DR HARVESTER: (CHITTERING ALIEN VOICE) Good evening Dr Slaughter. I think it went very well thank you. Peter no longer believes the world we have constructed for him is artificial. I would suggest we reduce the level of adrenaline we are feeding into his body though.
- DR SLAUGHTER: Was that the reason he nearly woke up?
- DR HARVESTER: Yes. The fantasy world we created for him was starting to fracture under the strain we were placing on his body. I think a slightly lower dose will reduce the risk of him coming out of the coma while keeping his body in the condition we need it to remain.
- DR SLAUGHTER: Agreed. (BEAT) It never ceases to amaze me how well adapted to our purposes these humans are.
- DR HARVESTER: Yes, I know. All their senses are mediated through their brains. Create a signal in their brains and they believe it is reality. Of all the races we’ve invaded, these have been the easiest to conquer. They are so easy to breed and they make such perfect hosts. It’s almost as if they were custom made to serve us.
- DR SLAUGHTER: Speaking of which, how is Patient XV37’s batch of eggs?
- DR HARVESTER: You don’t like the designation “Peter”?
- DR SLAUGHTER: I find it easier to use the numbers. It minimises the chance that I will form any unnecessary attachments to them.
- DR HARVESTER: I quite understand. The eggs we implanted in his comatose body are growing well. We should get a crop of some one hundred hatchlings from him.
- DR SLAUGHTER: And the humans make such a fine source of food for each new brood. It’s such a pity they all wake up during the hatching.
- DR HARVESTER: Why is that?
- DR SLAUGHTER: Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not concerned for their pain. It’s just that the rush of chemicals that results when they wake up and realise what is happening to them has a tendency to spoil the flavour of the meat.
- DR HARVESTER: Really? I rather like the taste myself.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINSIH.
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) Ah well. Poor Peter. Trapped in a dream until the hatching when he at last, however briefly, will awake from the perfectly crafted world in which he currently slumbers. Take comfort, dear listener in the certainty that you, at least, know what is real. There is no chance that the things you hear, and feel, and see, smell, and taste, are just the result of the signals passing through your brain. Is there? Mwahahahaha.
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME – LET IT FINISH
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR CHARACTERS
NARRATOR: Hello, I am your spooky voiced narrator. I introduce the cold stormy nights on which our stories take place, the dark alleys, and darker personalities who inhabit the lonely city. It is my job to set the scene and establish the serious tone of suspense and intrigue that will carry the story forwards. I do this with a creepy laugh and ghoulish enthusiasm for the misery that is about to be unleashed upon the characters.
PETER: I just can’t shake this feeling that there’s something wrong with the world. Maybe it’s just natural paranoia, but I can’t quite shake it. It’s a good thing I’ve got Dr Harvester to turn to. He’s always been so supportive and able to talk me through things when I start feeling like this.
DR HARVESTER: I’m cold and analytical (sociopathic even, at least by human standards) but I can fake warmth when dealing with my “clients”. It’s my job to keep the calm, happy (docile even). They must never be allowed to suspect the truth.
DR SLAUGHTER: I’m also cold and analytical (and just as alien as Dr Harvester). It’s my job to surpervise Dr Havester’s work and make sure everything is going to schedule. I never have to fake any warmth, so I don’t.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Victoria, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and, in general, make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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This post and all its content is copyright © 2013 Philip Craig Robotham and has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This play cannot be reproduced, shared, or performed commercially without the written permission of the author. The production of derivative content, merchandise, or creative works and materials is expressly forbidden under this agreement. However you may share, reproduce, and perform this play freely so long as authorship is acknowledged, no money changes hands, and the play is not modified in any way.