Act One: Scene ThreeMature

[BENJAMIN is alone onstage but faint noises coming from the back-stage suggest that there is someone else near.]

BENJAMIN

The light, the light! It crashes down and buries itself within - my - eyes.

[KIM stumbles through the forest and sees BENJAMIN. There is an idea forming in his head by KIM does not notice. She laughs to herself.]

KIM

Are you talking to yourself again, Benjamin?

BENJAMIN

Staves off the boredom, Kim. (spins to face her) What took you so long?

KIM

The trees. But mainly the fact that you rushed off and I didn't know where you had gone.

BENJAMIN

(mock-serious) I blame you. You should be able to keep up.

KIM

With my amazing skills in following tracks, of course. Plus, we've lost Lucy.

BENJAMIN

(dismissive) She'll find us.

KIM

Not likely. What were you saying when I found you?

BENJAMIN

Nothing important.

KIM

Tell me.

BENJAMIN

It wasn't important.

KIM

Then tell me.

BENJAMIN

No.

KIM

Please.

BENJAMIN

No.

KIM

Pretty please.

BENJAMIN

You remember that woman? That woman just before the fighting? Our devious little lieutenant.

KIM

Who doesn't?

BENJAMIN

I heard that what they did to her was horrendous.

KIM

Horrendous has lost most of its meaning, Benjamin. Every day just made the last look sunnier. (beat) But now each day gets sunnier.

BENJAMIN

(dark) You weren't even there for the worst. (half mocking) You locked yourself away and hid, didn't you? Scared of the vicious, angry men with their vicious, angry guns.

KIM

You're drifting.

BENJAMIN

(like a camp-fire story) Well I hear they caught her. All she did was laugh at them. So they                 tied her up. Made her beg. Then they set fire to her hands and watched as she screamed. Then they burnt her eyes out and they set her loose in the forest, wandering about with empty sockets.

KIM

(half-afraid) But...?

BENJAMIN

Some say she's still out there. Scratching her way through the trees. Seeking revenge.

KIM

If you're trying to scare me then you aren't doing a very good job. She was on our side.

BENJAMIN

But she can't see you. She'll just take you and rip you and...

[A groaning sound is heard offstage. KIM turns to look into the trees for the source but cannot find it. She nods and forces a smile. LUCY stumbles through the trees, getting caught up in the vines that hang between the trees and slowed down by them. Neither KIM nor BENJAMIN see her but she does not know this.]

KIM

(gesturing to the trees) That's a nice trick, I have to give you that.

BENJAMIN

(genuinely concerned) That was no trick. There's someone out there.

KIM

(laughs) Sure you want to go with 'something'? Besides, we actually have a purpose here. So            get on your knees and start looking.

[KIM bends over and starts looking through the dirt on the floor. BENJAMIN does the same. AMELIA and ROY start to make their way through the audience to the stage as LUCY exits the forest. However, she trips over the last tree and falls into KIM who screams. BENJAMIN gets up quickly and makes to run when he sees who it is.]

ROY

(rushing on) What's all this about?

LUCY

Just the trees have a bit of fun with us.

KIM

Not with me!

LUCY

(sternly) Nothing you need to worry about.

BENJAMIN

I don't suppose you could help us, could you?

ROY

What?

BENJAMIN

We're looking for...

ROY

For what?

LUCY

Witches!

BENJAMIN

Don't be silly.

AMELIA

(coming on stage) What witches?

LUCY

The ones right behind you.

[AMELIA turns around in shock but there is nobody there. She scolds LUCY with a harsh glare.]

BENJAMIN

I was just telling them about the woman... Well it doesn't matter. It's just a story. It isn't real - it can't be real.

AMELIA

(pause) What are you looking for?

KIM

My necklace. I lost it a while ago.

ROY

How long ago?

KIM

Quite a while ago.

BENJAMIN

I think it was...

ROY

Days? Weeks?

KIM

Probably months.

LUCY

Probably gone. I keep telling her to give it up but she never will.

KIM

It belonged to my mother.

LUCY

Well as lovely as that is, we are long past the time for sentiment.

AMELIA

(ignoring LUCY) You mean the lovely one, don't you?

[KIM nods. They all begin to search except LUCY who inadvertently keeps getting in someone's way.]

LUCY

Define for me, if it isn't too much trouble, the meaning of tedium.

BENJAMIN

Not helpful.

LUCY

(smiling) Who said I was trying to be?

ROY

What does it actually look like?

BENJAMIN

What difference does that make in all reality? You find a necklace on the ground - chances              are it's the right one. How many are you expecting to spot, eh?

KIM

(sigh) Silver with a small pendant.

AMELIA

(upbeat) We'll find it.

ROY

You shouldn't say things like that.

AMELIA

What?

ROY

Promises that you can't keep. Won't keep.

AMELIA

What makes you so sure?

ROY

It's a fruitless and (looking to LUCY) tedious activity.

LUCY

(smiling) Well put.

BENJAMIN

If you aren't going to say something useful.

LUCY

Say something derogatory.

AMELIA

We may still find it.

ROY

If you insist.

LUCY

As entertaining as your domestic is...

ROY

That's it. This is a waste of time. Come on, Amelia. We've got much better things to be doing.

AMELIA

But I want to help.

ROY

(forceful) Come on.

[ROY leaves. Unsure what to do, AMELIA makes to follow him but is stopped by BENJAMIN.]

BENJAMIN

Remember what I said.

AMELIA

You're wrong Benj. You hardly know him.

BENJAMIN

And what do you know?

AMELIA

Just stay out of this. It doesn't concern you.

BENJAMIN

I'm still right. The world may have been turned on its head but I still know what I'm talking about.

AMELIA

You can pretend to play the psychologist all you like. It simply won't change a thing.

BENJAMIN

So what? You're just going to ignore me? Disregard what I said?

AMELIA

Well what else do I do?

BENJAMIN

Listen to me!

AMELIA

You can keep your warnings and advice to yourself. (looking back to KIM  as she leaves) I hope you find the necklace.

[AMELIA exits. The search continues. KIM thinks she may have found it but it turns out to be nothing more than a scrap of metal that is reminiscent of a blade. She picks it up and looks at it for a moment, losing herself in the metal. She turns it in her hands and spots the blood on it. She drops it in disgust and frustration. She sits down, giving up.]

LUCY

Have we finished with this game yet?

BENJAMIN

(resilient) When we find it.

KIM

(half-upset) This is stupid.

LUCY

Just forget about it. Focus on the here and now.

BENJAMIN

(weaker than he'd like) Surely it's worth more time.

KIM

(defeated) Not only is the likelihood of finding it extremely slim but... (pause) We have      better things to do.

BENJAMIN

Like what?

KIM

(sigh)

LUCY

Come on.

KIM

I need a drink.

LUCY

Then let's get you one. Coming Benj?

[BENJAMIN shakes his head. LUCY and KIM exit.]

BENJAMIN

It's got to be here.

CLIFFORD

(offstage) You'll never find it.

[CLIFFORD comes out from his hiding place in the trees. He greets BENJAMIN with a nod before practically standing over him.]

CLIFFORD

It's a fool's errand.

BENJAMIN

(sarcastically) So watch me dance and joke.

CLIFFORD

But what's the point? There were five of you here and you couldn't find it.

BENJAMIN

Maybe one of us missed it.

CLIFFORD

Not only that, but you know how big this forest is and how many clearings just like this there are. How good are you at probability, (beat) Benj?

BENJAMIN

(sigh) My name is Benjamin.

CLIFFORD

Well the question still stands. (confident) Not as good as me, I suspect. You assume that     there are, what, nineteen clearings within easy walking distance, each about this size. I assume what you're looking for is small, yes?

BENJAMIN

Save me the maths.

CLIFFORD

You've already figured it out, haven't you?

BENJAMIN

Vaguely.

CLIFFORD

And you're still looking?

BENJAMIN

Pick a reason. (beat) Doesn't bother me what you think.

CLIFFORD

(half-aside) Foolhardy.

BENJAMIN

You aren't going to help are you?

CLIFFORD

(pause) We don't want you wasting your time.

BENJAMIN

As lovely and peculiar as the sentiment is, go away.

[CLIFFORD exits through the back-stage.]

BENJAMIN

Thank you. (falls backwards) Maybe he was right. (gets up)

[CLIFFORD appears on the balcony.]

CLIFFORD

And now I can see more. You said you wanted help. (points) What's that over there?

BENJAMIN

Just a bit of metal.

CLIFFORD

(looking down) It's a long way down.

BENJAMIN

(calling up) Anything else?

CLIFFORD

(looking down) It is a very long way down.

BENJAMIN

Hello?

CLIFFORD

(absent-minded)  Nothing there.

BENJAMIN

So you're giving up again?

CLIFFORD

Try somewhere else.

BENJAMIN

Well thanks anyway.

CLIFFORD

Don't mention it.

[BENJAMIN starts to leave.]

CLIFFORD

It really is a long way down.

[CLIFFORD smiles to himself.]

BENJAMIN

How did you get up there?

CLIFFORD

Climbed.

BENJAMIN

Can you get down?

CLIFFORD

I reckon so. Should I?

BENJAMIN

What?

CLIFFORD

If they come back. Shouldn't I stay up here?

BENJAMIN

What difference does it make? They'll get you.

CLIFFORD

They'll get me anyway. At least I get to control it.

BENJAMIN

What?

CLIFFORD

Take some with me.

BENJAMIN

What?

CLIFFORD              

They're coming, Benjamin. I can hear them when I listen. Always coming.

BENJAMIN

Right.

CLIFFORD

They're coming for me. I know too much.

BENJAMIN

Do you now?

CLIFFORD

Yes. I've seen them. I know what their weaknesses are. I'm valuable.

BENJAMIN

No. You're paranoid.

CLIFFORD              

They've got to you. You believe them don't you? They want us calm and collected.

BENJAMIN

Why?

CLIFFORD

It makes their job easier. They can get rid of us much quicker and much quieter that way.

BENJAMIN

You’ve got a very ‘victim’ view of things.

CLIFFORD

It's sad. I may stand here, up here, and look to you like I am. I can have my voice, my face, my own words but it changes you, it changes everything. It takes you, the raw heart and soul of you and gives you something new in its place. Something old, I suppose. Something cold and hollow and heartless and metal to carve and rip and steal you. Arm us all with that stoic unchanging face and face the consequences. I want to be me, the actual real me for the rest of my life. However long that may be. That's what's the most important thing, isn't it? Identity theft used to be a crime. But things change with wars. Crimes become the best of deeds. What… what wrong. What utter wrong.

BENJAMIN

(pause) So you're staying up there?

CLIFFORD

Just in case.

BENJAMIN

(leaving) Just in case. One foot in the tree, one foot in the grave.

[BENJAMIN exits. CLIFFORD remains on the balcony for a moment as the moan is heard again. He jumps and rushes off.]

The End

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