Below we present the complete text of The Bunker; episode 5 of Another Twist of the Tale.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
EPISODE #5 – The Bunker
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 5: The Bunker
A toothache turns terrifying when the dentist chooses to enact his revenge upon the drunk driver responsible for his daughter’s death.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
NARRATOR: The Narrator
BILL: The Survivalist
JEAN: Bill’s Wife
NEWS READER: Radio News Reader
ELSIE WHARTEN: Journalist
VICE ADMIRAL STANLEY WAITCHEK: Pentagon Spokesman
SFX ARTIST: Minimum one required
SCENE 1: INT – BILL AND JEAN’S KITCHEN – AFTERNOON (JEAN, BILL, NEWS READER, ELSIE WHARTEN)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: (WALLA) RADIO BEING TUNED IN – UNDER.
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) “Be prepared”. That’s a great principle to live by. The cold war is gone, but it could come back. And there’s no point taking any chances. How prepared are you for the day when fiery death rains from the sky? In this story we visit with a couple who have made being prepared into something of their own personal creed.
- JEAN: Bill, what are you doing? Bill?
- BILL: (AT A DISTANCE) I’m in the nursery, assembling my new mini-gun.
- JEAN: Bill, I really wish you wouldn’t call it the nursery. It’s your shed.
- BILL: (AT A DISTANCE) Well, Jean, I didn’t nickname it that. Your sister did.
- JEAN: Yes I know. She made that joke one time, fifteen years ago. Just because she said I was married to a toddler you’ve never let her back in the house.
- BILL: (AT A DISTANCE) Darn straight. A pinko, commo, leftie like that doesn’t deserve to keep company with decent people like us.
- JEAN: She’s the president of her chapter of the libertarian society.
- BILL: (AT A DISTANCE) Yeah, well… that’s only a couple of letters short of being a liberal and I won’t have one in this house.
- JEAN: (SIGHS) I don’t want to argue with you right now. Come and listen to this. Things seem to be hotting up in the pacific.
- BILL: (AT A DISTANCE) Well hot darn! That’s great news.
- JEAN: (SHOCKED) Bill!
- SOUND: DOOR OPENS. – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS APPROACH – UNDER DIALOG
- BILL: (APPROACHING) You know what I mean. We’ve gotta stand up to those Reds. First it’s those islands in the pacific, then they’ll be marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.
- JEAN: Well, things are starting to sound serious, listen.
- NEWS READER: We interrupt our usual musical presentation to bring you breaking news that talks between Washington and China over the disputed Pinnacle Islands have broken down. We cross now live to our Washington Correspondent, Elsie Wharten. Are you there Elsie? What’s happening on the ground?
- ELSIE WHARTEN: Well Chuck, the Pentagon’s spokesman Vice Admiral Stanley Waitchek, has just informed the press corps that approximately one hour ago, Chinese officials walked out of talks with Washington negotiators.
- Under normal circumstances this would not raise a great deal of concern. Walking out of negotiations has been a standard bargaining chip employed by Chinese diplomats over many years.
- READER: So what’s different this time?
- ELSIE: The Vice Admiral went on to explain that, without notifying anyone, the Chinese negotiators departed Washington and have been in the air, returning home to China, for some forty five minutes.
- READER: That would be unprecedented wouldn’t it?
- ELSIE: Yes, Chuck. Nothing like this has happened before and seems to mark a new low in Sino-U.S relations.
- READER: And what is the Pentagon making of it?
- ELSIE: Officially, Vice Admiral Waitcheck is confidently passing this off as a new form of negotiating tactic designed to delay a settlement regarding the islands, but sources of my own within the Pentagon are telling me that there are a lot of furrowed brows engaging in a lot of flurried diplomatic activity.
- READER: Thanks Elsie. (BEAT) That was Elsie Wharten reporting live from the Pentagon Press room on the latest developments in the fraught negotiations with China over the disputed Pinnacle Islands.
- SOUND: CLICK RADIO OFF – LET IT FINISH.
- JEAN: Well, what do you think?
- BILL: I think things are definitely heating up. We’d best check that we have everything in the bunker and make sure all the services are working; water filtration, air filtration, fuel and generators, etc. I’ll check we’ve got adequate food, guns and ammo.
- JEAN: You really think it might come to that?
- BILL: It’s better to be safe than sorry. And while we’ve got one of those lilly-livered limp-wristed bleeding heart liberals in the White House I reckon anything’s possible. Why, in my daddy’s day…
- JEAN: Alright, alright. We don’t have time for another one of your rants. I’ve got the checklist right here. (BEAT) Do you think I should call my mother?
- BILL: Heck no. No use scaring people. Besides, she’s on a pension.
- JEAN: What’s that got to do with it?
- BILL: So, I’m just saying she’s one of them lazy scroungers – if she’d planned for retirement when she was younger, if she’d been prepared…
- JEAN: She worked her fingers to the bone her whole life, and always voted Republican. I’m not going to stand here and listen to you call her some kind of lazy “liberal” just because she’s collecting an entitlement.
- BILL: (MUTTERING) Hmpf… (BEAT) It’s still an “entitlement”.
- JEAN: What was that?
- BILL: I said “turn the radio back on”.
- JEAN: Sure.
- SOUND: CLICK – LET IT FINISH
- NEWS READER: And in further news, we’ve just received confirmation that a Chinese’ diplomatic aircraft, returning home from tense negotiations in Washington regarding the sovereignty of the Pinnacle Islands, has accidentally been shot down after straying into the no-fly zone created by the U.S. blockade around the islands themselves. The Pentagon has confirmed that the small passenger plane was destroyed by an F-14 Tomcat fighter after it repeatedly failed to respond to attempts to hail it and redirect its course.
- JEAN: Oh goodness.
- NEWS READER: Any moment now we expect Vice Admiral Waitcheck to address the press room about the Chinese response to this international incident. We cross now live to Elsie Wharten at the Pentagon for this report.
- SOUND: (WALLA) EXCITED BACKGROUND CHATTER – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- ELSIE: Thanks Chuck. Behind me, Vice Admiral Stanley Waitcheck is about to address the gathered press corp. You can tell by the noise that numbers have swollen to the point where they can barely be contained by the venue.
- SOUND: TAPPING ON MICROPHONE – LET IT FINISH.
- VICE ADMIRAL WAITCHECK: (AHEM) Ladies and gentlemen. We are currently endeavouring to re-establish contact with the government of mainland China. As yet we have received no word on their response. We hope very shortly to bring you… (BEAT) Ladies and gentleman, I have just received word that… is this right?
- VOICE: Yes sir.
- WAITCHECK: And it’s been cleared for release?
- VOICE: Yes sir.
- WAITCHECK: (AHEM) I have just received word that mainland China has responded with a massive military mobilisation and launch of missiles. We can confirm that some hundreds of missiles are heading towards the continental United States even as we speak… they were launched… ago…this threat… response… forces deployed…
- SOUND: STATIC AND STOP – LET IT FINISH.
- BILL: (PANICKED) What? What just happened?
- JEAN: Oh no, Bill. The batteries died in the radio. What’ll we do?
- BILL: (ANGRY) Darn it Jean, how many times have I told you? You’ve got to be prepared. The batteries should be replaced after every 12 hours of continuous use.
- JEAN: Oh, who can keep track of it all? I think there are some more in the cupboard… no wait, I think we ran out last week.
- BILL: (ANGRIER) I can’t believe you sometimes. But there’s no time for that now. Grab the radio and let’s get down to the bunker.
- JEAN: But surely if they’ve just launched we have time to…
- BILL: No, we may have no time at all. The radio cut out just as they were telling us how long those birds have been in the air.
- JEAN: What about the neighbours?
- BILL: There’s no time. They’ll just have to fend for themselves.
- JEAN: But…
- BILL: There’s no time. They should have been prepared.
- MUSIC: DRAMATIC SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 2: INT – THE BUNKER – LATER (BILL, JEAN, NEW READER)
- SOUND: TWO SETS OF FEET HURRIEDLY DESCENDING METAL STAIRS – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: HEAVY METAL DOOR CLOSING – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: SWITCH BEING THROWN AND HUM OF ELECTRICITY – ESTABLISH AND UNER.
- BILL: (OUT OF BREATH) There, we’re in the bunker. The batteries for the radio are on the shelf.
- JEAN: Got them. What’s that big button you’ve added to the door.
- BILL: Something new. It’s a magnetic time lock. Once we know the bombs are falling we can seal ourselves in here for the next twenty five years. No-one will be able to get in or out until the surface is safe again.
- JEAN: Isn’t that a bit drastic? Oh wait… here’s the news.
- NEWS READER – (NEAR TEARS) … and we can confirm we’ve lost Washington, Seattle, Chicago, and New York. At least one, possibly more missiles will strike us here in the next five minutes. Now is the time to gather with your loved ones and…
- BILL: That’s it. I’m sealing us in.
- SOUND: BEEP AND HISS OF COMPRESSION – UNDER.
- BILL: There.
- NEWSREADER: (UNDER BILL ABOVE (LINES 409-411)) …say your goodbyes. There is no time for evacuation and all the major highways are jammed. I’m sorry, this is the end… this is the…
- SOUND: STATIC (UNDER)
- JEAN: (CRYING) Oh no. Bill…
- BILL: (CONFUSED) But there’s no boom. There should have been an earth shattering boom…
- NEWSREADER: And so dear listeners we come to the end of this week’s modern dramatic adaptation of that famous end-of-the-world story by Neville Shute, “On the Beach”. Be sure to tune in next week for our next exciting episode.
- MUSIC: TINNY RADIO SHOW THEME MUSIC – FADE OUT.
- NARRATOR: I guess anyone can make a mistake, can’t they? But a twenty five year time-lock is going to take some getting used to. Ah well, we can only hope Bill and Jean enjoy each other’s company. Mwahahahahaha.
- 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.
BILL: I know you think I’m nuts, but there are threats everywhere and I ain’t gonna be caught napping like them folks sitting around waiting for the “gummint” to give ’em their next welfare check. I worked hard for what I got, and I ain’t afraid to protect it. But if you think I’m gonna give you a helping hand when the time comes, you got another thing comin’. I’m prepared. I know better’n to think our enemies are gonna beat their guns into plowshares just ’cause lazy folks wants to make believe the world is full of hugs ‘n puppies.
JEAN: I’m tired of being scared all the tie, but I don’t think I know any other way. Bill tells me we gotta be prepared. Prepared to fight the commies. Prepared to fend off our neighbours. Prepared to protect what’s ours. If I’m honest, I’m not sure people are as bad as he thinks. Not everyone’s a communist in waiting, are they? And most of my neighbours are pretty nice when I meet them down the street. Liz’s boy at number 12 helped me get the sugar down off a high shelf at the grocery store last week and didn’t seem so bad… even if does have an ear-ring and wear those “death metal” t-shirts. But if a war is declared, then I guess all this preparation will show that Bill’s been right all along.
NEWS READER: I’m the calm, thoughtful, reassuring voice of the daily news. No matter how bad things get, I’m here to keep everyone calm and informed.
ELSIE WHARTEN: I’m a responsible journalist. It’s my job to ferret out the news and follow a story to it’s finish. It’s my job to make sure people know the truth. Though, if I’ve got to bend the rules a little to get at the truth, then I’ll do that as well. My job takes courage, but you’ve got to “speak truth to power” if the news is going to serve the public interest.
VICE ADMIRAL STANLEY WAITCHEK: I’m career military. I did my time serving on some of the finest ships, and with some of the finest men an women on earth. Now I’m stuck behind a desk, working in the white house. Well, I do my duty wherever it leads ,and if that means fronting for mealy mouthed politicians, that’s what I do. They still represent the people I swore to protect.
VOICE: I just deliver messages. But now they’ve got me interrupting press-conferences. All those cameras and recorders! I just hope I don’t throw up all over my shoes.
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.