26 Stories

26 Stories: An Atheist in an Apocalypse

This short play takes a break from being as dark as some of the other stories I’ve written. It’s mostly funny–or supposed to be anyway–taking a few shots at people trying to deal with an ongoing, likely religious apocalypse (but maybe not… I’m not ready to commit to that without further evidence). I even manage to take a swipe at sometimes insufferable atheists like myself.

I’m also including a PDF version with the hope that this will make my stories easier to read on, say, a phone or printed instead of on a computer monitor. While this exercise is primarily for my accountability, it sure would be nice to get some feedback, and making it easier for you to read could facilitate that.

So, without further ado…

An Atheist in an Apocalypse
7th Floor

SCENE

 

(TREVOR and GORDON barge into​​ TREVOR’s​​ darkened apartment.​​ In the distance, there are sounds​​ of SIRENS, the occasional EXPLOSION, and piercing SCREAMS.​​ TREVOR stumbles to the couch, clearly shaken. GORDON slams the door shut, standing there holding it as if something is about to try to force its way though.)

 

TREVOR

(On the verge of losing it.)

Oh Jesus oh Jesus​​ oh Jesus….

 

GORDON

It’s alright, Trevor. We’re safe, for now.

(Still, it takes him a moment to stop leaning on the door.​​ He very clearly locks it​​ before walking away.)

 

TREVOR

It’s​​ most​​ definitely​​ not​​ safe, Gordon.​​ 

 

GORDON

I don’t think we were followed.​​ And we’re, what, seven floors up?​​ Maybe we can just hunker down here until this all blows over.

(As if to contradict him, a loud EXPLOSION thunders in the distance.)

 

TREVOR

This isn’t blowing over, man. And,​​ can I just say,​​ that while I value our friendship​​ and don’t usually like to say things like this to friends, but...​​ I told you so.

 

GORDON

Um…​​ You really didn’t.

 

TREVOR

Oh yes I did. I know we had our differences and all, and I was always glad that​​ we could discuss those differences rationally,​​ but clearly…​​ clearly,​​ you​​ were wrong, and​​ I​​ was right.

 

GORDON

(Annoyed)

We don’t know that yet.

 

TREVOR

(Astounded)

What? Yes we do!

 

GORDON

No, we​​ don’t.

TREVOR

(Gets up and walks up to GORDON.)

Dude.​​ Literal​​ gates to​​ literal​​ Hell have​​ literally​​ opened​​ all over town! All over the God-damned world…

(Pauses)

Oh no.

(Crosses himself and looks to the sky)

Sorry! Sorry, I didn’t mean to take your name in vain!

 

GORDON

You’re not even Catholic, Trev.

 

TREVOR

What?

 

GORDON

The, uh,​​ crossing yourself thing…​​ 

 

TREVOR

I’m covering my bases! Just like you should​​ do, too.

 

GORDON

I’m not ready to jump to that conclusion just yet.​​ Plus, Pascal’s Wager is kind of bullshit to begin with.

 

TREVOR

Pascal’s... Look, a​​ fucking demon with bat wings and everything just flew off with Karen from HR!

 

GORDON

I don’t think we can label that​​ thing​​ as a​​ “demon”​​ just yet.

 

TREVOR

It called itself “the great demon A’zule, ruler of the plane of whips and knives!”

 

GORDON

And I can call myself “Gordon​​ Powel, ruler of the Hooters on 5th​​ and Main,” but I still don’t get to grope the waitresses.​​ 

(Beat)

Nobody liked Karen, anyway. If that was a demon, then you know she deserved to be carried off.​​ She was responsible for cutting our benefits last year​​ and she always microwaved her leftover crab cakes in the breakroom, remember?

 

TREVOR

From the place with the delicious po’ boys, I…

(Beat. Frustrated.)

Don’t change the subject!​​ How are you holding on to this atheist thing, now!?

 

GORDON

Look, I admit that this is really, really​​ unprecedented.​​ 

 

TREVOR

Thank you!

 

GORDON

But,​​ I’m not willing to go whole-hog one way or the other until we’re a lot more certain of what’s happening.

 

TREVOR

(Gobsmacked)

Did… did you miss the part where I said that literal gates to Hell opened…

 

GORDON

“Gates” to somewhere opened, yes.

 

TREVOR

To Hell.

 

GORDON

So you​​ say.

 

TREVOR

There was fire and screaming and…

(Frustrated)

Bat-winged demon…

(Stammering)

Plane of whips and knives!

 

GORDON

(Sighs)

Look. I’m not unreasonable. Assuming we survive this…

 

TREVOR

Assuming? We’re going to die and be judged for our sins!

 

GORDON

Maybe. But maybe not. So, assuming we survive this, I am most definitely going to be making a major reassessment.

 

TREVOR

Oh, well,​​ he​​ finally​​ sees reason.

 

GORDON

It doesn’t mean I’ll be seeing​​ your​​ reason.

 

TREVOR

How can you not?

 

GORDON

There are and have been hundreds,​​ if not​​ thousands,​​ of different religious views​​ on this planet since mankind started wondering just what in hell—pardon the pun—made the thunder​​ rumble. You can’t tell me that you know for 100% certain that all that out there…

(Waves vaguely at the window)

... is the Judeo-Christian version of the end of the world.​​ 

 

TREVOR

It seems pretty fucking close!

 

GORDON

Correct me if I’m wrong, but “pretty fucking close” doesn’t cut it with your god, right?

 

TREVOR

Well…

 

GORDON

So why are you so sure that you’re right?

 

TREVOR

Uh… demons?

 

GORDON

Do you know how many religions have something that is​​ basically the same thing as “demons?”

 

TREVOR

Uh… two or three?

 

GORDON

Probably hundreds. If not thousands. Christianity. The Djin in Islam.​​ Acheri. Empusa.​​ Those college students that do the while live-action role-playing thing...

 

TREVOR

Okay! Okay! I get it. Oher people have demons.​​ 

 

GORDON

Which​​ raises the question… how do you know that​​ these​​ demons​​ out there​​ are​​ your​​ demons?

 

TREVOR

(Aghast)

Does it fucking matter?!

 

GORDON

Maybe.

 

TREVOR

How so?

 

GORDON

If you’re wrong about one thing, then maybe​​ you’re wrong about other things.

 

TREVOR

Is this really the time to be having this philosophical disagreement?

 

GORDON

If not now, then when?

 

TREVOR

Maybe when the​​ goddamn end of the world isn’t happening?

 

GORDON

That might well be the perfect time.​​ I mean, if the world​​ is ending, then this is pretty much the​​ only​​ time to have this​​ discussion.​​ 

 

TREVOR

Is that really…

 

GORDON

Look, it’s all the same to me.​​ 

 

TREVOR

Oh really.

 

GORDON

Yeah. Something terrible is happening out there, and whatever it is...

 

TREVOR

Revelations.

 

GORDON

Whatever​​ it is, we’ve got to consider how we’re going to get through this.​​ 

 

TREVOR

By confessing our sins.

 

GORDON

If it’ll make you feel better.

 

TREVOR

I fucked your girlfriend.

 

GORDON

(Pausing)

Julia? Julia cheated on me with you?

(Shocked)

Oh man... I can’t deal with this right now.

(Sits down)

 

TREVOR

Oh,​​ that​​ you can’t deal with?

 

GORDON

(Upset)

No! Man, I thought we were friends! That’s not, quite frankly, very Christian of you!

 

TREVOR

(Aghast)

I thought it was “all the same to you?” Why do you suddenly care about how Christian I am?

 

GORDON

I just feel very betrayed. Why’d you tell me that?

 

TREVOR

I’m confessing my sins! You know, one of those things that makes me “Christian?”

 

GORDON

Well, maybe you should have picked a different sin. Traitor.

 

TREVOR

I have to do​​ all​​ the sins, man!​​ 

 

GORDON

So you​​ th-

 

TREVOR

So I think, yes!​​ And I have to forgive people.

 

GORDON

Well, I for one don’t think​​ I​​ can forgive​​ you.

 

TREVOR

I don’t need​​ your​​ forgiveness.

 

GORDON

Well, that’s just rude. You’re the one who fucked my girlfriend.

 

TREVOR

Argh. Then I forgive you for having such bad taste in women.

 

GORDON

Woah, hey now! You know, as pissed as I am at Julie right now, it’s not like I own her, or anything. She’s responsible for her actions. She has agency. You’d do well to remember that when talking about women.

 

TREVOR

Geez, sorry.

GORDON

See? I’ll forgive you for that.

 

TREVOR

It’s… ugh!​​ 

 

(The door opens, and JULIA walks in, shaken.)

(GORDON and TREVOR both YELL.)

(JULIA YELLS.)

 

GORDON

Julia?

 

JULIA

(Awkward.)

Uh… hey, Gordon. What’re you doing here?

 

GORDON

What are you doing here? And how’d you get in?​​ I​​ locked the door.

 

JULIA

Uuuuuhhh…

 

TREVOR

She has a key.

 

JULIA

Trevor! Ix-nay on the e-kay.

 

TREVOR

He knows.

 

JULIA

What?

 

TREVOR

I had to confess my sins.

 

JULIA

Why?

 

GORDON

Trevor seems to think that this is the Christian end of the world.

 

JULIA

Oh. I guess I can see that. But it’s not.

 

TREVOR

I already had to explain about the plane of whips and knives.

 

JULIA

It’s not because we don’t have an apocalypse.​​ 

 

TREVOR

“We”?

 

JULIA

You know I’m Jewish, right? Anyway, there’s no apocalypse in Judaism. At least, not the mainstream versions of it.​​ 

 

GORDON

See? There’s another option.

 

TREVOR

Then what’s all that out there?

 

JULIA

Beats me. But, I mean, don’t take my advice; I’m a shitty Jew. I loves me a good bacon cheeseburger.​​ Not shellfish, though… gross.

 

GORDON

Yeah, I never ate any of those. Sea bugs. Ugh.

 

TREVOR

I can’t believe this.

 

GORDON

That’s the spirit!

 

TREVOR

No!​​ I can’t believe you two!

 

JULIA

Yeah… I mean, we probably were a pretty lousy couple, huh?

 

GORDON

I thought it was okay. Most of the time, anyway.

 

JULIA

Still, shit… I feel bad about the whole thing with me and Trevor.​​ 

 

GORDON

Well, it hurts, you know?

 

JULIA

I know. He wasn’t worth ruining “us,” for what it’s worth.

 

TREVOR

I’m right here!

 

JULIA

Oh… uh, sorry.

 

TREVOR

You’re forgiven.

(Excited)

Yes! One down!

 

GORDON

Well… um… I’m not perfect either.

 

JULIA

What do you mean?

 

GORDON

You remember Sally? From the office party last year?

 

JULIA

(Shocked)

No!

 

(There’s and EXPLOSION outside, someone SCREAMS in the distance, and something else GROWLS and ROARS.)

 

TREVOR

(Exasperated)

You know what? Fine. You both have this thing out, but…

(Beat)

Wait, Sally from the call center?

 

GORDON

Yeah.

 

TREVOR

Nice.​​ 

(They fist bump)

 

JULIA

Pigs. ​​ 

 

GORDON

It was just the one time, I promise. And, I mean, we were having that argument over moving in together.

 

JULIA

I really wasn’t ready for that.​​ 

 

GORDON

And I was, but​​ I wasn’t listening to your​​ concerns. I got angry and made a mistake.

 

JULIA

I think we’ve both fucked up, huh?

 

TREVOR

What the hell is going on here?

 

(The POWER teeters on the edge of going out as more EXPLOSIONS rumble. The orange and yellow of not-too-distant fire flicker in the window.)

 

GORDON

Yeah. Can you forgive me?

 

JULIA

(Beat)

Yes. Can​​ you​​ forgive​​ me?

 

GORDON

I already have.

 

TREVOR

(SLOW CLAPS)

Wonderful. You two made up. All is well. Can we​​ please​​ get back to the issue at hand? The-

(He is cut off as an intense light hits JULIA)

What… what is that?

 

JULIA

Wow, that feels warm. And… peaceful.

 

(Another hits GORDON.)

 

GORDON

Oh wow, that does​​ feel nice.​​ 

 

TREVOR

No…

 

JULIA

I think…

 

TREVOR

No, no, no…​​ 

 

GORDON

Well, guess I​​ was​​ wrong. Hey Trev? I was-

 

(The lights all go off for a moment, and when they come back, GORDON and JULIA are gone.)

(TREVOR, incredulous, is momentarily speechless.)

 

TREVOR

Where’s my light?

(Looks up to the ceiling)

Where’s my light!?

 

A’ZULE

(OFFSTAGE, booming, evil demon voice)

There is no light for you,​​ sinner!

 

TREVOR

What? No! I was a good Christian! I went to church! What sins did I commit that I can’t be​​ forgiven for?​​ 

 

A’ZULE

(OFFSTAGE)

Your love of shrimp​​ po’​​ boys!​​ Eating shellfish is the only unforgivable sin!​​ 

(LAUGHS evilly)

 

TREVOR

What?

 

A’ZULE

Enjoy​​ the plane of whips and​​ knives!

(More evil LAUGHTER)

 

(A TRAP DOOR​​ opening to red lights​​ opens below him,​​ and he falls.)

 

TREVOR

Noooooooooo!

 

THE END

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