An Evolutionary Step ForwardsMature

So this was part of my AS Creative Writing coursework (I got a B by the way) and it is an extract of a play about zombies. It's got a lot of flaws but I still really like it so I thought I'd share it with you :) If enough people ask I might even write the rest of it, you never know.

The curtain lifts to show the basement of a rural English suburban house. An oak ladder protrudes onto the stage right. The basement has very white walls, and there are white picture frames with the word “family” in them and pristine wicker hearts hanging off the wall lights. 4 teens, JULIAN, MIQUEL, KIERAN and LAURA, 6 year old ANITA, and an older gentleman, JARED, can be seen sitting on the polished wooden floor (though JARED may sit on a hard backed chair). All are blood splattered and flushed. The lights on the characters should be warm and contrast with the cold colour lights on the set. There is a pause before any of the characters move or speak.

MIQUEL: (Standing up) I just don’t understand. It doesn’t make any sense.

JULIAN: There’s nothing to understand. And we can’t help anything by sitting here wondering.

MIQUEL paces and glares at JULIAN, who doesn’t flinch.

JULIAN: Look, we thought we knew what we were up against but clearly, we don’t. Nothing else to it. We just need a new strategy, then we’ll be fine. Fine. It’s just not exactly like the movies.

ANITA: Did you know the first films were created on a Phenakistiscope? It moved in a circle and all the images switched so it looked like a horse was moving. (Pause). But I suppose that’s not important right now.

She looks at her hands and there is another short pause. LAURA kneels and shuffles over to her and begins to play patty-cake with her. JULIAN takes out a penknife and begins sharpening a stake into a point.

ANITA: You have very pretty hands, Laura.

LAURA: Thank you (she beams and inspects them). I only wish I’d had time to take off my nail varnish before I left or that I’d brought an extra bottle with me; they’re all chipped now. (She sighs)

KIERAN: (mutters) Oh for fuck’s sake.

MIQUEL stops pacing and stands with her arms crossed at stage left.

MIQUEL: Problem, Kieran?

KIERAN: Ooh, you know what, yeah, I do have a problem. My problem, is us dancing around the fucking great massive elephant in the room. Fucking patty-cake my arse.

JULIAN: (without looking up) I’d rather not.

KIERAN: (raises his voice, but doesn’t shout) Did you see them? Did you fucking see them? They’re fucking… superhuman shit.

JULIAN: Again, I hope not.

KIERAN: They’re faster, stronger – just BETTER than us. We go outside (he points) right now, we’re dead in a minute. (mutters) Zombies aren’t supposed to be fucking smart.

LAURA: Well, I don’t happen to remember the last zombie apocalypse, care to remind me? (she waits for a beat) We don’t know anything about these – creatures. They could’ve been anything. Don’t assume anything about how this will happen just because you saw it in (she searches her memory and gestures gracefully, her hand moving in a circular motion) Shaun of the Dead or something.

KIERAN: (scoffs) Oh, and you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead, have you?

LAURA: As a matter of fact, I have. Miquel showed it to me. I have to admit I didn’t much care for it.

KIERAN: (mocking) “didn’t much care for it”. (laughs a single laugh) Christ, how did you even become friends with Miquel when you’re such a posh twat?

LAURA: Hm, maybe because Miquel isn’t so much of a judgemental poohead.

KIERAN: Oh, so I’m a poohead.

LAURA: There is a child present.

KIERAN: Sorry, Princess.

LAURA glares at him then looks back at ANITA and smiles.

LAURA: You ok, ducky?

ANITA nods and smiles. Another pause. MIQUEL sits down in one motion, folding her legs beneath herself. She sits with her head on one hand.

MIQUEL: I just don’t understand it. They were talking.

JULIAN: They were.

MIQUEL: I thought they’d be like – like Frankenstein, all dead eyes and low voices saying “buh” (she makes a ridiculous face and JULIAN, ANITA and LAURA smile)

LAURA: Have you read Frankenstien?

MIQUEL: No, I haven’t.

LAURA: Well, the thing about the mon– wait that was our set text for GCSE English Lit?


LAURA: And you didn’t read it?

MIQUEL: I was reading The House on Mango Street.

LAURA: But you got an A…


LAURA: Well, anyway, the monster in Frankenstein isn’t dumb, or slow, and he’s able to speak. Eloquently, even.

KIERAN: Oh my god… and why should I care?

LAURA: Because Frankenstein’s monster was made from bits of old dead person and he was able to speak and move and was even described as physically stronger than ordinary humans. (She pauses.) Perhaps coming back from the dead does not impeded one’s cognition. Rather, coming back from the dead and eating brains would surely improve cognition?

KIERAN: The fuck is cognition?

ANITA: Ooh, I know that! It means thinking, right?

LAURA: Right. My point is, maybe these zombies are actually better than us. An evolutionary step forwards.

There is another pause.

JARED: Would they be themselves?

EVERYONE looks at him, as though they’ve forgotten his presence.

MIQUEL: What do you mean?

JARED: Well, how much of the physical brain is associated with the mind? With personality? If a human has come back to life, is he still the same man he was when he died? Or does his experience not imprint itself physically on the brain? Is there a spiritual factor?

KIERAN: As always, Granddad, you ask the dumbest question. Of course there’s no spiritual factor. When brains are damaged, personalities are too. Like that guy who got his brain stuck through with a fucking rail-road rod.

LAURA: Phineas Gage.

JULIAN: I thought they were crisps?

KIERAN: Whatever, the point is, the brain is the mind and when it dies and comes back to life, so does the mind.

LAURA: Well that’s not necessarily true. Psychology can’t yet explain how much the mind is influenced by biology, I mean look at the placebo effect. No biological change, yet a cognitive change takes place. The mind is separate, I think, from the brain itself. The two are only correlatory.

KIERAN: Could you stop being so fucking Asian for one second? Jesus!

LAURA: (smiles, then pauses). No. I can’t. I know you think I’m trying to show off, and frankly I think that stems from your inherent hatred of intellect due to your regretful lack of it, but I’m not. I don’t want to show off. I just want to remember. You know why I spurt out facts whenever I can? It’s not to belittle you, or make you feel stupid and small. It’s not even for the reason Anita does, because she wants acceptance, and because she’s genuinely fascinated. It’s because I have to revise. Every second. I have to constantly be building myself up. Every second I have to explore a new angle of a debate or retrieve another fact or understand what the fuck is going on in the Middle East because I need to get into Cambridge.

JULIAN: It’s not the end of the world, Laura.

LAURA: Oh what a time to say that, eh? (She looks down and smiles.) No. It’s the end of mine. I have to get into Cambridge, or my Dad in Beongdeok has been working himself to the bone for nothing. There is so much pressure on me to be perfect, and to get out of the slums my parents lived in that there can be no thought of failure. I have to be the best. I have to. I just have to.

MIQUEL walks over to LAURA, crouches beside her and holds her shoulders and there is another pause.

KIERAN: I don’t hate intellect.

MIQUEL: Are you really going to focus on yourself right now?

KIERAN: Just because she’s sad doesn’t mean I can’t be too. We all feel pain the same way, whatever pain yours is it’s no worse than mine because we all feel our own sadness with the exact same neurotransmitters. That’s right, I can use big words too.

JULIAN: Could’ve fooled me.

MIQUEL: What’s your point, Kieran?

KIERAN: It’s just… I love intellect. I love laughing along with my parents going on about Descartes drinking and disappearing.

JULIAN: Oh, that’s a great one!

KIERAN: I love it. But I don’t understand it right off, I don’t have it. My whole family is Ravenclaw and I’m a bumbling Hufflepuff. I wish I was witty; I wish I was clever! I wish I’d done better than C’s, that I could take Chemistry instead of Business. I wish I could be as driven as you, Laura, to go to Cambridge. I wish I could ever get in. And I hate these fucking zombies because they’re cleverer than me and I haven’t even got to axe any of them yet.

JARED: I worry about how you thirst for violence. How killing is a game to you. What’s to say these zombies aren’t an evolutionary step forwards? Who are we to stand in the way of nature. Perhaps we should not kill them, for the good of the earth. But of course we will. Try. It’s human nature.

A long pause ensues.

JULIAN: Do you want to hear the Descartes joke?

MIQUEL: Go on then, little brother.

JULIAN: So Descartes walks into a bar, and the barman says “Can I get you anything?” And Descartes says “I think not”, and disappears!

At that moment a trap-door is kicked open over the ladder and quick, lithe zombies clamber down the ladder and onto the stage. The lights go black.

The End

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