(ABSOLUTE DARKNESS. A voice in the dark. After a moment, a flashlight explores the stage, moves along the bottom length, then up, finding Josh asleep on the jail bed. Josh jumps to his feet.)
JOSH Who's there? Who is it? Who's there?
(Michael holds the flashlight under his chin illuminating only his face.)
MICHAEL Why me?
JOSH What is this? What is this?
MICHAEL We played ball together. You were awesome on the field. You were unstoppable.
JOSH Survival of the fittest, baby.
MICHAEL And you were only a freshman. You could've been team captain in your senior year. Why'd you kill me? I never hurt you.
JOSH It was more fun than droppin' dudes in a video game.
(Michael's flashlight goes out. Katie holds her flashlight under her chin.)
KATIE Why me, Josh?
JOSH Why not? World's overpopulated. I wanted to do my part.
KATIE You liked me.
JOSH Once upon a time.
KATIE Why'd you have to kill me?
JOSH Felt like it, okay? Happy now?
(Katie's flashlight goes out. Matt holds his flashlight under his chin.)
MATT Why me?
JOSH What is this?
MATT Why me? I don't even know you.
JOSH You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(Matt's flashlight goes out. Jessie holds her flashlight under her chin.)
JESSIE Why me?
JOSH Why not you? Everybody's gotta die sometime. Might as well get it over with.
(Jessie's flashlight goes out. Josh lays back on the bed. Emily leans over him, holds her flashlight under her chin. Josh springs up, surprised.)
EMILY Why me, Josh? We live on the same street. We used to make mud pies together when we were little kids. I taught you how to blow bubbles with chewing gum. I came to your birthdays, you came to mine. When we were eleven you let me play war with you and the other boys because you liked how I died.
(Let the five deceased improvise pre-teen kids playing war, using their fingers for guns and making shooting sounds. They run around in the dark, their flashlights sweeping the floor, looking for the enemy, the lights criss-crossing. Let them shout "bam, bam you're dead"
("pow, pow" and other variants). Eventually Emily "kills" Katie and Matt who drop dead. Michael shoots Jessie who falls dead. Michael and Emily shoot each other at the same time. Michael drops dead at once. Emily dies very dramatically with all the appropriate sounds. Beat.)
EMILY (LYING ON FLOOR)
Hope I didn't disappoint you in the cafeteria this morning. Hope I died just right for you, Josh.
JOSH You didn't have to fall on me and get me all bloody.
EMILY Want to see it again? --Go on. Shoot me again.
(Josh pretends to shoot her. She dies again very dramatically.)
JOSH Love that feeling.
ACTOR 2 Love it.
ACTOR 4 Crave it.
ACTOR 5 Need it.
ACTOR 2 Gotta have a gun grip in your hand.
(Chorus echoes the word "hand.")
JOSH Always wanted to be an Army Ranger parachuting behind enemy lines, ever since I could hold a-
ACTOR 4 Cap gun.
ACTOR 5 Water gun.
ACTOR 2 Air gun.
ACTOR 4 Pop gun.
ACTOR 5 B.B. gun
JOSH Twelve gauge.
ACTOR 2 22.
ACTOR 4 38.
ACTOR 5 45.
JOSH A gun makes you feel alive.
(Chorus echoes "alive.")
(Lights on Actor 1 and Actor 3 as Josh's parents. The deceased train their flashlight beams on the parents as they enter.)
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) Josh, there's no way we're buying you a rifle.
JOSH Mom, will you listen to me?
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) First you had to have a p.c., then every video game ever made, then a laptop--
JOSH For school, dad.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) Then a cell phone, a beeper and the newest style Nikes every three months--
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) You have to have every CD you hear on the radio.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) An expensive mountain bike you rode three times.
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) A snowboard you never used. And now a rifle? Please.
JOSH Grandpa wants to take me hunting.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM)
I'm absolutely against it.
JOSH Grandpa hunts. Are you rejecting what your own father thinks?
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) Of course not.
JOSH Then I should have the rifle, right?
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) I wish you felt as passionate about your grades as you do about a rifle.
JOSH You're changing the subject.
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) You've got a high I.Q. Your B's and C's could be all A's.
JOSH Will you get off my back about my I.Q.?
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) We might feel differently if you were living up to your full potential.
JOSH Okay, you get me the rifle and I'll bring home all A's on my next report card. Deal?
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) We'll talk about a rifle when we see all A's.
JOSH You don't even trust me.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) Josh, you know that's not true.
JOSH If you trust me, then get me the rifle now.
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) When you get all A's, we'll discuss it.
JOSH Hunting season will be over before grades come out. Then I have to wait a whole year!
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) You have to learn patience.
JOSH Hunting teaches patience. Grandpa said. But what's he know? He's only your father. All I want is to spend some time with grandpa and hear his stories about when he grew up. Learn some responsibility. Learn respect for firearms. How is all that bad?
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD)
It's not bad, Josh. It's just that we're not comfortable with guns.
JOSH If I wanted to, I could get a gun in school for fifty bucks.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) How?
JOSH Easy. I know a kid who stole a gun from his father. But I wouldn't buy it because that would be wrong. Is this what I get for being honest?
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) Maybe his honesty deserves the rifle for a reward.
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) Maybe you shouldn't cave in every time Josh throws a tantrum.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) What about the electric guitar you got him when he threw himself on the floor?
ACTOR 1 (AS JOSH'S DAD) At least that showed an interest in music.
ACTOR 3 (AS JOSH'S MOM) Yeah, and now it's collecting dust in the closet.
(Actors 1 and 3 walk off arguing.)
JOSH Divide and conquer. Works every time. So don't blame me. Blame my folks, okay? They didn't have to buy me a rifle.
EMILY You still didn't answer my question. Why me? Why did you kill me?
JOSH It's simple math. My rifle holds five bullets. Five bullets, five people. Perfect.
MICHAEL The bullet that killed me pierced my parents' hearts, too.
KATIE Pierced my brothers' and sisters' hearts.
MATT Pierced my friends hearts.
JESSIE Pierced the hearts of parents who send their kids to school.
EMILY Just five bullets wounded hundreds.
KATIE Wounds that bleed.
MATT Wounds that weep.
JESSIE Wounds that never heal.
EMILY Wounds that are very real.
JOSH Get lost.
(Josh lies down to sleep again. Emily pulls off his blanket.)
EMILY That's not a good enough answer, Josh.
MICHAEL And that's not fair.
KATIE Not fair.
MATT Not fair at all.
JESSIE That our bodies lie in coffins.
EMILY While you still breathe the air.
JOSH Look at it this way: you got yourselves a cozy little place, and you can't beat the rent.
MICHAEL It's not fair.
KATIE Not fair.
MATT Not fair at all.
JESSIE That we're under the earth--
EMILY And you don't even care.
JOSH Know what's not fair? Some dude jumped me before I had a chance to reload. I could've dropped a lot more bodies and made history.
MICHAEL We demand an honest answer, Josh. Why? Why'd you kill us?
JOSH It was fun.
(The deceased stand in a circle and push Josh around like a ball.)
KATIE You don't have the proper frame of mind.
MATT We'll be all over you.
JESSIE Up one side.
EMILY Down the other.
MICHAEL In your face.
KATIE Under your skin.
MATT Till you tell us why.
EMILY Why'd you kill us?
JOSH Lay off me.
MICHAEL We're gonna open you up.
KATIE Dissect you like a frog.
MATT Pluck out your heart.
JESSIE Just for a start.
MICHAEL Till you tell us why.
MICHAEL Why me?
KATIE Why anybody?
EMILY Why'd you kill us?
JOSH 'Cause there was nothing good on t.v.
MICHAEL We'll do whatever it takes tonight.
KATIE Whatever it takes.
MATT To crack you open.
JESSIE Till then you'll live in hell.
EMILY Without love.
MICHAEL Without decency.
KATIE Without comfort.
MATT A kid in a cage.
JESSIE In a zoo of misfits.
EMILY Even until your release.
MICHAEL When you're a stooped--
MATT Bitter, old man.
JESSIE Full of scars.
MICHAEL Scars on body and mind.
JOSH (LAUGHING) Some lawyer'll get me off.
MICHAEL If you survive.
JOSH Survive what?
DRUMMER (AS CON) Yo, bad boy.
JOSH You talking to me? My name's Josh. What's yours?
DRUMMER (AS CON) You the new dude that offed seven people?
JOSH If that dude didn't jump me I had enough ammo on me to take out a hundred more. I'd've made history.
DRUMMER (AS CON) Tomorr' we gonna see just how bad you are.
JOSH What do you mean?
DRUMMER (AS CON) You'll see what we mean, bad boy.
JOSH As the cop said, I have the right to remain silent. Anything I say can be held against me in a court of law.
(Quick drum rhythm. The deceased up-end the box converting it to a judge's bench by opening the lid so that it's up vertically. Actor 2 stands behind box and bangs the gavel. [Because the courtroom scene is just a fantasy, it should be played speeded up, without pause, so that Josh's nightmare trial is over in a matter of seconds.])
ACTOR 2 (AS JUDGE) The court will hear the prosecutor's opening statement.
ACTOR 4 (AS PROSECUTOR) Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: seven dead bodies. Dozens of witnesses. What's to think about?
ACTOR 2 (AS JUDGE) The court will now hear from the public defender.
ACTOR 1 (AS PUBLIC DEFENDER) Josh was a good student, a popular student, a good son. There's only one explanation—temporary insanity.
ACTOR 4 (AS PROSECUTOR) I call witnesses for the prosecution!
ACTOR 3 (AS WITNESS) Josh pulled the wings off a butterfly when he was five and he plagiarized on a paper for English class.
ACTOR 2 (AS JUDGE) The court will now hear closing statements.
ACTOR 4 (AS PROSECUTOR) As I see it, you the jury have a very difficult choice between the electric chair and lethal injection.
ACTOR 1 (AS PUBLIC DEFENDER) Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, he's just a child. I urge you to put Josh in a psychiatric ward.
JOSH I'm not psycho just because my parents forced me to see a shrink. I knew what I was doing!
ACTOR 2 (AS JUDGE) Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?
ACTOR 5 (AS JURY FOREWOMAN) We have Your Honor. Life imprisonment without possibility.
JOSH Possibility of what?
ACTOR 5 (AS JURY FOREWOMAN) Without possibility of anything good.
(Beat. Lights fade. Chorus exits. Deceased and Josh remain.)
MICHAEL You'll never achieve your dreams.
KATIE Never skydive.
MATT Never scuba off Australia.
JESSIE Never explore the caldera of a volcano.
EMILY Never fly a helicopter.
MICHAEL Never be a sportscaster.
KATIE Never ski again.
MATT Never body surf.
JESSIE Never meet people on the internet.
EMILY Never know what you could've been--
EMILY Loved in your lifetime.
MICHAEL Now you'll never know all the happiness that was yours.
KATIE But you'll wonder.
MATT And the wonderment will eat you alive.
JESSIE Eat you for breakfast.
EMILY Eat you for lunch.
MICHAEL Eat you for dinner.
KATIE While all your dreams mock you--
MATT Mock you--
JESSIE Mock you--
EMILY Mock you through the bars.
(The box is restored to a bed. Josh lies down to sleep on the blanket.)
JOSH Who cares? The whole thing will be off my record when I'm eighteen anyway. Maybe I'll be out of here when I'm twenty-one. You're all just a bad dream.
EMILY Sometimes bad dreams come true.
(The deceased wrap Josh in the blanket, pick him up, making the box a coffin. They drop him in, close the lid. We hear Josh kicking and screaming inside. They turn the box on its side, open the lid. Josh tumbles out screaming and thrashing around. He begins to look at the deceased with new respect.)