The Death of the Universe

The Death of the Universe

A Play in Two Acts:

Characters:

Jim                              29 Years old; Passenger

Neil                             27 Years old; Passenger

Frank                          34 Years old; Passenger

Alice                           32 years old, Spacecraft Pilot

 

Setting:

The bridge of an old well-worn spaceship, the passengers having dwelled there for a long time had clearly set themselves in. Stage back right there is a chair facing a desk with a black screen and navigational software. There is a homely lounge area behind the navigation seat.

Time:

The Big Rip; The end of the universe; as dark energy has increased the rate and pressure the universe is expanding under, to the point that it starts to tear apart all matter in the universe. The characters have survived by stationing themselves in the ever-falling sweet-spot between the crushing force of a super-massive black-hole and the tearing universe. The sweet-spot is on the verge of collapsing into the singularity of the black-hole as the rate of universal expansion grows stronger than the gravitational force of the black-hole.

SCENE 1

SETTING: The bridge of an old well-worn spaceship; Stage back right there is a chair facing a desk with a black screen and navigational software. There is a homely lounge area behind the navigation seat.

AT RISE: ALICE is in the navigation chair. JIM is standing in the center of the lounge behind ALICE, NEIL and FRANK are sitting in the lounge facing JIM.

 

JIM

My friends thank you for joining me here on this closing occasion of our aged old universe. As you are all well aware, long we have lived in this vessel, our home; long have we floated at this final way-point of our decaying existence. Upon this precipice between the two concluding annihilative glooms we sit trapped, below us is the event-horizon of a black-hole that would stretch the essential life from us as it would pull us beyond time into its bottomless pit; above us is the dark endless void of a ferociously expanding universe, hardly a moment away from overwhelming the heavy pressure of this gravity; as if it is manically determined to lay witness as the space between the very fabric of our particles expands outward, ripping and tearing our precious bodies into a silent extinction more entire than even that of death.

NEIL

Why are you talking like that Jim?

FRANK

Yeah what’s with the oration?

JIM

Don’t either of you feel even a little that this event should be commemorated in some way?

NEIL

I don’t see why, we are going to be dead soon.

FRANK

Yeah, having the most likely ways I might soon die described to me is not helping me appreciate the moment very much.

JIM

You are both being pessimistic, I for one want to die with a little dignity.

NEIL

You have a strange form of optimism Jim. Wasn’t this all supposed to work, yesterday weren’t you telling us how you could feel that we were going to make it?

JIM

I meant if I am to die I want to do so with dignity, but what difference does it make to you?

(JIM stands up)

JIM

You have never given an eye to hope; always the skeptic, always making the rest of us dance to save you from yourself. Well it’s the end now, there is the airlock, if you are so determined to make the rest of us miserable for our last few moments; then for the love of god take a walk outside!

(NEIL stands up)

NEIL

Dance around me? We all have to dance around you; you’re too chicken-shit to face the truth. You parade the idea of hope because you can’t hack it

(NEIL pokes JIM in the chest)

And in reality all your parading does is remind us all how much we have lost, how close we are to the end.

(JIM pushes NEIL)

FRANK

Hey guys, there is no need for all that, calm down.

(JIM and NEIL start to scuffle, FRANK stands up and moves to break up the fight.)

Awe shit, come on guys knock it off.

(Alice slams HER hands on the navigation desk and pivots around in HER chair; JIM and NEIL stop fighting and look at ALICE)

ALICE

Dammit already! Calm down you two. You know it is the pressure, we have a chance and we need to stay focused and hopeful. Now we need to be alert and on our feet and not succumb to space madness.

(JIM and NEIL regain their composure, JIM stays standing, and NEIL sits back down)

JIM

I am sorry Alice, but can you blame us? I mean we can’t understand the technical stuff, but when you tell us the math is good we can see how scared you really are. You don’t have to lie to us if it is hopeless, I just want to know.

ALICE

Like I keep telling you guys, this is going to work; I am just not sure what it is going to do. As space begins to rip apart the black-hole it will drop our bubble of nullified gravity toward the singularity; all we, and by ‘we’ I mean the computer, has to do is accelerate and ride the shock-wave through the E.R. bridge. The part I am not sure about is what to expect once we get through the wormhole. No one has ever had the chance to pass through a stable wormhole, but the shock-wave of the expanding universe should stabilize the wormhole enough for us to pass through. We will be coughed into another universe; we just have to hope it is a universe that won’t kill us instantly.

NEIL

Oh that boosts my confidence a lot; the best case scenario is do what science never could and even IF that works cross your fingers.

(NEIL breathes a heavy sigh)

Still, if anyone can do it, you can Alice. I’m sorry. I just get so nervous, y’know? They used to say that even if the ship does make it through that the Insoms will get their brains fried when we pass through infinity.

ALICE

If I thought that was true I would be in stasis with the rest of the Sleepers.

(JIM, NEIL, and FRANK look surprised)

NEIL

I didn’t know you weren’t an Insom Alice.

(ALICE smiles at NEIL)

ALICE

No the procedure worked on me, but once I heard that there were going to be others awake I volunteered to monitor the flight program for anomalies. So far I haven’t had to make any corrections so that’s a good sign.

NEIL

So you don’t think we will be brain-roasted?

ALICE

I am not sure what to expect, but as far as catastrophes go I think brain-roast is a much lower risk. At some point you have to decide to stop fearing death and live your life.

FRANK

I am all for living, but if I wasn’t an Insom I would be snoozing in a pod. Really I can appreciate your vigor, keeping us safe and whatnot, but limit your risks woman, you have the rest of your life ahead of you.

NEIL

All five minutes of it.

ALICE

I am aware of the risks, but you have to understand I have a chance to see with my own eyes an occasion that can only happen once in a universe. As a scientist how could I sleep through that?

FRANK

Every occasion only happens once in a universe, all your science has done by telling you to marvel at the rare ones is make you blind to how rare they all are.

ALICE

To be fair my science is saving your life at this very moment, and I have to admit it is rich hearing a sermon on appreciating life from the man who would be sleeping.

FRANK

Oh come on now, don’t start flirting with me.

ALICE

Do you guys hear him? I think he has got the Insom madness.

FRANK

Don’t turn this into a witch-trial you piloting temptress.

JIM

(To FRANK)

Give it up, you don’t have a chance.

FRANK

It’s the end of the universe, if I ever had a chance I do now. What do you say Alice? It may be the last chance you ever get.

ALICE

As much as I want to, which is not at all, I have to monitor the navigation.

(ALICE pivots around in her chair to face the screen)

NEIL

At least we got the crash out of the way.

(JIM moves to the center of the lounge area)

JIM

So the plan is set; to surf upon the final breath of existence and carve through a realm that cannot be, in hopes of washing upon hospitable shores that cannot be said to exist.

FRANK

Are you really jumping back into your commemoration?

JIM

First Neil, and now you have something to say too? What is everyone’s problem with ceremony?

FRANK

Ceremony? More like auto-fellatio.

ALICE

(Still facing the screen)

Will you guys just stop arguing, it is really grating on me. You know Jim won’t stop until you let him finish, so. . .

JIM

What is that supposed to mean? Fine, you all don’t appreciate what I have to say, I will keep it to myself.

NEIL

You won’t last five minutes.

FRANK

You are all acting like a bunch of children. Can we just relax and wait calmly for this to get itself over with?

(JIM sits down)

NEIL

So what do you guys think it will be like on the other side?

(ALICE pivots and looks at NEIL)

ALICE

Is that the possibility of success I hear?

NEIL

Well, if we make it of course.

ALICE

I hope it will be a young universe with lots of proto-stars we can milk for beauty and energy.

FRANK

If it is too young there won’t be any suitable planets for terraforming. We would be stuck in the ship for ages, while all the genetic samples in the Arc would be at risk of loss. I hope we can get onto a planet, feel a real atmosphere that isn’t waiting for a chance to leave you breathless like this one.

ALICE

I think it would be gorgeous, to see the death and then the birth of time, I don’t mind the ship so much. It has been a home for me my whole life, it feels more natural to me than any of the rocks from history ever did.

(ALICE rubs her hand across the navigation console)

And as for the Arc, the stasis keeps it safer there than it is anywhere else anyway.

FRANK

Well I didn’t mean that we’re all better off without the ship, I meant the best of all possibilities is the one where we don’t need it anymore.

ALICE

I think we can all agree to that. But even if we do find a planet I think I will stay with the ship.

JIM

Why would you want to? A planet under your feet, no walls to hold you in, that sounds like freedom to me.

ALICE

To pilot a vessel that can take you anywhere to see anything, this and a universe with destinations to actually go to, now that sounds like freedom to me.

NEIL

You make living in a box sound romantic and all, but doesn’t it bother you even a little that our little spaceship is the perfect metaphor for a sperm cell?

ALICE

(Laughing)

It is, isn’t it? But I think I have to side with Jim on the occasion; I don’t want that to be the last thing that goes through my head, we are getting too close to the end to be talking about sperm.

(JIM looks past ALICE at the monitor)

JIM

I know you two are trying to be cheery, but doesn’t the emptiness of it all tear at you? A universe that abhors our very existence, that strives to annihilate all that we are. It has no room for us, and it is willing to spare no niche, it slowly backs us into ever-deeper corners, where we invent ever-more elaborate means to escape it.

(JIM starts to panic)

The ending game of cat and mouse and the sad part is that it isn’t death we run from, it is the truth.

(JIM gasps for air)

JIM

Oh I can’t  . . . breathe

FRANK

Well the truth, and death too; actually mostly death.

(JIM glares breathlessly at FRANK)

Don’t look at me like that, I am glad you can’t breathe; you did it to yourself and it serves you right too.

(JIM finishes catching HIS breath)

NEIL

You know what I find strange? Isn’t it odd that at the end of time we find good old homo-sapiens, shouldn’t we all have of evolved out of this form by now? I mean really it draws the whole plausibility of this reality into question.

(NEIL, JIM and ALICE all laugh uncomfortably and rub the back of their necks; FRANK elbows NEIL in the side and motions his hand across his throat mouthing “shut the hell up”)

ALICE

Yep that sure is a good question; I bet the answer is somehow directly linked to the high cost of alien costumes on Earth during the early 21st century.

FRANK

Knock it off you guys, you are ruining the mystique.

ALICE

(Sardonically)

Oops . . . I mean, you sure are superstitious Neil, I can’t believe you believe in that ancient theory.

JIM

What are you talking about? Evolution is a scientific fact.

(ALICE NEIL and FRANK look at JIM and point to the audience)

I, I, I mean evolution is a scientific fact . . . that . . . is . . . what someone would say in the future, shit, I mean the past.

(FRANK puts his palm over his face; ALICE and NEIL nod their heads at JIM disapprovingly)

FRANK

(With emphasis as if hinting to someone beyond the stage)

If there is some divine director of this universe I sure hope he will give us some segue out of this mess or I am pretty sure that will be the end of the lines.

(The sound of rumbling is heard: ALICE, NEIL, JIM, and FRANK start to move as if the stage has begun shaking)

JIM

What is happening?

ALICE

The collapse is starting.

(The rumbling continues)

NEIL

The Lord works in mysterious ways Frank.

ALICE

We are accelerating toward the singularity we are right on course.

(There is a loud bang; JIM, FRANK, and NEIL fall down, and ALICE moves as if jolted)

It is ok just some fluctuations in the local space-time, I am making corrections to compensate.

(JIM, FRANK, and NEIL stand on their feet)

(Some of the stage lights start to flicker off and on)

We are approaching the choke point. There is strong electro-magnetic disturbance; I can see the singularity . . . oooohhhhh . . .

(ALICE looks Dazzled by the screen)

(ALICE speaks softly)

(The rumbling gets quiet and distant sounding)

It is like staring at God.

(There is a loud bang; JIM, NEIL, and FRANK fall again as if jolted, ALICE acts jolted then slumps at the controls. The lights shut off and the rumbling stops.)

BLACKOUT

END SCENE

 

SCENE 2

SETTING: The disheveled bridge of the space-ship

AT RISE: ALICE is sitting unconscious at the screen; NEIL, JIM, and FRANK are lying on the floor in the lounge area.

(JIM begins to stir)

JIM

Is everyone ok?

(FRANK and NEIL awaken as JIM shakes them)

JIM

Are you guys ok?

FRANK

Yeah I am fine

NEIL

I’m good. You ok Alice?

(FRANK, NEIL, and JIM stand and walk over to check on ALICE. FRANK shakes ALICE)

FRANK

Alice, wake up.

(ALICE wakes up)

ALICE

Ugh, We made it?

JIM

It seems so, what was that at the end?

ALICE

I am not sure it almost felt like we hit something.

(ALICE looks into the screen)

ALICE

That was a gamma-ray burst. We were just spat out of a collapsing star as it became a black-hole. Oh my God, guys look at all the lights out there; they are stars, real burning stars. You can see them with your bare eyes.

(FRANK, JIM, and NEIL gather around the screen)

NEIL

There are so many of them.

JIM

They are so beautiful.

FRANK

Are there any planets?

ALICE

Oh yeah, let me check. Yeah already found one . . . whoa they are everywhere . . . millions, no billions, oh the numbers keep going up. It is so much bigger than I imagined, I mean I knew there were tons of black-holes in the old universe. But they didn’t seem so . . . individual.

FRANK

Hey, that’s a mesoplanet with an orbit inside a habitable zone. It isn’t that far, I don’t even think we will need to terraform it. 78 percent nitrogen 20 percent oxygen, shit we can breathe that as is.

(FRANK, JIM, and NEIL move away from the screen)

ALICE

I am setting in the course now. We should be there in about . . . five months, ten days, thirty one hours, twenty eight minutes, or so.

JIM

So what do you think it is going to be like when we get there?

NEIL

I bet we crash land near a small town named Roswell, New Mexico.

ALICE

What if after we colonize, the world climate shifts and buries all technology in an ice continent. Meanwhile humanity continues in its primal form for generations after one-another, and after all that time passes  the only thing that remains of our story is old superstitious mythology passed down by ancient oral tradition.

FRANK

I bet some future Darwinian would blow a fuse if that were to happen, can you imagine trying to accept that?

ALICE

(Laughing)

I bet I wouldn’t be able to. That would be pretty sad to have the truth be so misconstrued.

NEIL

That’s what Eve said to Adam last time this happened.

FRANK

Now that’s rich, Noah’s Arc is really a terraforming story.

JIM

It would make our own Arc pretty ironically named.

ALICE

Oh shit, the Arc! The Sleepers!

(ALICE begins to mess with the controls on the console)

Oh, they are fine all systems report only minor spikes. The sleepers are dreaming, and all DNA samples in the Arc are undamaged! The sperm cell is healthy and has made it into the womb!

FRANK

I’m sure Neil Armstrong would be proud of that.

(NEIL, JIM, and FRANK laugh)

ALICE

Well when we land on the planet you can try to think of something better to say.

JIM

I think that honor is naturally mine.

NEIL

Not if the future is supposed to remember it.

(NEIL mimics JIM)

NEIL

And on this most momentous of occasional moments, I declare that we take the occasion to commiserate upon this moment.

(ALICE laughs at JIM and playfully taunts him)

FRANK

So Alice, I gotta ask you, if you hadn’t made the course corrections, would we still be alive?

ALICE

I am not sure. It isn’t the sort of thing we can know, but I can say I am damn glad I did them.

JIM

I’ll say, I can’t believe we are actually alive. We are in a living universe, full of energy and light.

FRANK

(Deviously)

And opportunity. . .

JIM

What do you mean opportunity?

FRANK

I am just thinking, purely hypothetically mind you, the entire human population is in stasis, they are fine there. They aren’t bothering us, we aren’t bothering them. What if we were to say, leave them there until after everything is established.

JIM

I don’t like the sound of this, are you suggesting we never wake them up?

FRANK

No, no nothing of the sort, I am just observing that we have absolute power, and control over how that power is distributed in a new world. I think that is something we should at least acknowledge and address before we agree to any course of action.

ALICE

You know Jim; I think Frank has a good point.

(JIM looks Shocked)

JIM

What are you kidding me?

NEIL

No, I totally agree. It really is the only responsible thing to do.

(NEIL looks excited)

FRANK

Don’t get so ruffled Jim, I am just saying we have a responsibility to make sure things go the right way.

ALICE

Not to mention, no one will let me keep this ship, if they have a choice in the matter.

(Alice motions around at the ship)

JIM

The right way for who? You can’t build Utopia, it defies human nature; you will dissolve all the political progress of humanity into totalitarianism.

FRANK

They can have any laws they want, I don’t want to be some emperor.

NEIL

(Motioning frantically)

I DO! Are you crazy? We have absolute power, we should absolutely use it.

FRANK

Keep talking like that and you’ll be wearing a spacesuit soon.

(FRANK moves imposingly toward NEIL)

NEIL

Better than you’re idea, you pathetic hermit.

(ALICE turns around in her chair and stands up, SHE walks toward NEIL and FRANK triumphantly)

ALICE

Calm down you guys, I have the password to all the controls I just locked; so there is no need to argue. Now we have five months to talk all about this.

BLACKOUT

END

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