Sunday, 29 March 2015

Trembling Tales Of Terror

Dramatis Personae:

[In order of appearance]

CHICK                      >>>>>>>>>              Exactly What It Says On The Tin
ICEGUY                   >>>>>>>>>              The Nice Guy, but without the N.
BUTCHER MAN      >>>>>>>>>                Utter and Complete Psychopath
DICTATOR             >>>>>>>>>                Voice Heard Offstage
WHAMBO               >>>>>>>>>                One Man Army

[Dramatic Music plays]

[CURTAIN RISES on typical average terrorist den, ill-lit and evil-looking. Posters of famous terrorists such as Raghead, George W Bush and Ball Quackeray decorate the wall. There will be racks of weapons against the wall, the more primitive-looking the better. One a shelf to one side there is a very old cabinet radio.

In the centre of the room is a table around which there are several chairs. As the CURTAIN rises, the CHICK is doing something at this table which involves a screwdriver, a hip flask and a couple of beer bottles. She is so engrossed she doesn’t even look up when the ICEGUY enters, carrying a large rolled up poster.]

ICEGUY: Chick? What are you doing?

CHICK [starts violently, almost upsets bottle, grabs it in the nick of time]: Damn it, Icey, don’t startle me like that. If this bottle had fallen...

ICEGUY [looks at bottle]: Kingsquisher beer? What’s so special about it?

CHICK: It’s not beer in the bottle. It’s nitroglycerine and [indicates the flask] one or two other things.

ICEGUY: Nitroglycerine?

CHICK: And other things. Don’t forget the other things.

ICEGUY: All right, I won’t. But why are you putting nitro and other things in a beer bottle?

CHICK: Isn’t it obvious? I’m making bottle bombs. I’m planning to sneak these into liquor shops. Then when someone buys them, and drinks them?


CHICK: Well, I think so. I haven’t actually tried it. You wouldn’t want to volunteer as a test subject?


CHICK [persuasively]: Come on, it’s very tasty. I can offer you beer and Bailey’s Irish Cream flavours. What do you say? Anyway, probably nothing will happen.

ICEGUY: Um, no, thanks all the same.

CHICK [glumly]: Um, yeah, it’s probably a waste of good alcohol anyway.  [Brightens up] Hey, you know what? I could probably put it in orange juice or something. I hate orange juice.

ICEGUY: Or Coke. It would be a blow against neoliberal imperialism if you put it in Coke.

CHICK: I’m glad I chucked the idea of wasting booze. [Takes a gulp from one of the bottles, sighs with pleasure.] Ah, that’s good.

ICEGUY: What was that, Bailey’s?

CHICK [peering short-sightedly at bottle]: No, actually, I think it’s the nitroglycerine. [Belches demurely] Well, it proves that you don’t go boom if you drink it. Besides [takes another swig] I think I’ve just found a new favourite drink.  

ICEGUY: Don’t drink it all at once, we might need some for later. [Unrolls poster] Look what I’ve got here!  [Holds up poster for the benefit of the audience. It reads, in huge red letters on a black background, DEATH TO, and below that is an indecipherable squiggle.] I’m having ten thousand copies printed.

CHICK: What’s that at the bottom?

ICEGUY: That’s the beauty of it. We can use it for literally anything. You see, the way the bottom bit is put, you can read it anyway you want.

CHICK: I don’t know, it looks like a pair of drunken spiders danced the bhangra on it to me.

ICEGUY: You just need to read it in better light. Hey, Chick, wasn’t the Butcher supposed to come here tonight?

CHICK: He said he’s on the way.

[Enter BUTCHER MAN, carrying a large bag.]

CHICK: There you are. Hey, Butcher.

BUTCHER MAN [irritated]: What do you mean Hey? Weren’t we supposed to use the secret greeting when meeting each other?

CHICK: Yeah, but I’ve forgotten what it is. Icey?

ICEGUY [Scratching head]: So have I. What was it, Butcher?

BUTCHER MAN: Um, actually, I’ve forgotten it too. I was hoping you two would remember.

CHICK: Oh well, doesn’t matter. [Raises nitorglycerine bottle] Cheers!

ICEGUY: That was it! That was the greeting. We were supposed to raise our hands like we’re holding glasses, and say “Cheers” three times.

BUTCHER MAN: Oh yeah. I remember now. [Puts down bag on table.] Well, I –

CHICK: So what have you been doing all day, Butcher?

BUTCHER MAN: Well, I began with writing an epic revolutionary poem featuring the three of us. Then –

CHICK: Ooh, really, an epic revolutionary poem? I’d love to hear it.

BUTCHER MAN: OK. It’s called The Lime of the Suicide Bomber.
[Pulls out a piece of paper from pocket, takes up declamatory attitude]
It is a blood-drenched terrorist man
He shooteth one of three
“Now, by the mad gleam in my ruthless eye
You two will come with me.”

He takes them to his secret base
“There is a tale,” quoth he.
“Hey now! We’re thirsty, terrorist man!”
So some beers opened he.

He put them in a former sty
Iceguy and Chick sat still
And listened to the terrorist man
Who called himself Butcher Bill.

Ice and Chick, they sucked their booze
And settled down to cheer
The dread tale that the terrorist man
Meant to kill them both with fear.

“The car bomb made, the suicide brigade
Was charged up, on the hop
Drove down the road, past the pond
Past the old bus stop.

Drone Man flew by on the left
On the left flew he!
Then made a loop, and, turning back
Crashed right into a tree.

No flat tyre, no engine fire
Would stop that car bomb too soon –“
Ice and Chick laughed loud and long
As Butcher Bill attempted to croon.

For the terrorist man could not sing
Though he loved to think he could
And he had a singing voice
Like death watch beetles boring wood.

Ice and Chick laughed loud and long
And sucked upon their beer –
But mumbled on the terrorist man
To try and kill them both with fear.

“Now the suicide car hurtled fast –
Through ruins spread all around
The back seat men went paper white
But never made a sound.

With souped up engine, growling low
Rushing on towards the foe
To try and strike a mortal blow
-Not sit back chewing bread –
The car drove fast, towards its final blast
And into the sunset red.

And now there came a distant glow
From burned out cities old
As though rotting wood, turned maggot-food
Covered with phosphorescent mould.

And through the night the stars so bright
Did light up far too well –
The enemy began firing shells
To send the car to hell.

The shells were here, the shells were there
The shells were all around!
They blammed and slammed and flashed up fire
With a deafening blast of sound.

At length there came a drone on by
Which bombed the other side
And opened a way for us to stay
On our happy final ride.

It provided the cover we needed so bad
And round and round it flew –
And we could only guess at the motives
Of that drone’s PlayStation crew.”

“What makes you shiver, Butcher Bill
As though you want to moan?”
“Stomach filled with bile, I took a missile
And shot down the drone!

Drone Man now came from the right –
Out of the night came he!
And turning round to rocket us
Crashed again into a tree.

And still we drove past strife and shrine
But no drone flew for us
To blow the foe out of our way
Or bring pizza without fuss.

The tracers flew, the landmines blew
The machine-guns fired free –
We dodged first, and burst for burst
Forced them all to flee.

Down dropped the fuel gauge, the engine coughed
The car rocked and hurdled, tossed
Over dead bodies by the dozen
It was plain that we were lost.

Minute after minute, we sat in the car
Watching the fuel gauge flop
Down to zero, and told each other
That there still must be a drop.

Corpses, corpses everywhere –
And all the road did stink!
Corpses, corpses everywhere
But of fuel not a hint.

The very night did burn. Oh Bush!
That ever this should be!
We were stuck in Nowhere Land
And had zero velocity.

About, about, both thin and stout
The dead men swelled up tight –
And burst open with pops and bangs
That gave us quite a fright.

‘Tis your fault, the rest assured me
We’d not be here alone
If you hadn’t brought on calamity
By shooting down the drone.

And as we sat, the dawn’s red light
Grew sullen in the east
Half mad with stink, we mouth-breathed in
And then we saw the beast.

It was a tanker truck so sweet
Turned turtle by the way
And its bulk had fallen on
A high stack full of hay.

We all rejoiced, and found our voice
Rushed to fill ‘er to the brim
And then we found, sad to recount
A fact both sad and grim.

We had no hose, no jerrycan,
No bucket to fill it up
For receptacle all we had
Was a tiny porcelain cup.

Then looking around, on the ground
I saw a pipe of green.
Fit it up! I cried to them
And let the fuel trickle in.

That is how we came to town
Where I do not know –
So far from our destination that
We were meant to blow.

Let’s do it here, my crew all cried
This town of glittering sin
We’ll park the car before the mall
And blast the sucker in.

So this they did. I meanwhile
Went to get a juice
For my throat was desert-dry
And my thirst craved a truce.

While I sucked on my lime and soda
Those morons in the car
Bombed the mall to fragments, and
Got dead drunk in a bar.

Since then, at no certain hour
My yearning fast returns
To tell my tale to some victims here
More painful than torture-burns.

And when my words sound in their ears
Much sharper than the steel –
So you’re bored to bitter tears?
Just think of how I feel.”

ICEGUY [Wiping away bitter tears]: Now, about the plan for the next –

BUTCHER MAN: Wait, I’m not through. I told you I wrote that to start off with. Then I...[swells up chest with pride]...I stole a Bomb.

CHICK [finishing the last of the nitroglycerine]: What’s so special about a bomb?

BUTCHER MAN: Not a bomb. A Bomb.

ICEGUY and CHICK, together: You mean The Bomb? The Bomb?

BUTCHER MAN: Yes, got a lead that there was one available, so I stole it. It’s in the bag here.

ICEGUY: That’s wonderful! [Curiously] What, uh, are we going to do with it?

BUTCHER MAN: Um, I’m not sure. We’ll think of something. Meanwhile – [goes to turn on ancient cabinet radio] I wonder what the Dictator is saying. They must have found out by now that the Bomb is missing.

ICEGUY: How would we be able to listen to the Dictator on that? He must have all kinds of secure ultra-secret communications.

CHICK [woozily waving a bottle]: Don’ worry about that. Big shtron...strong communicamations. No good against old radio.

BUTCHER MAN: Shhhh. I think I’m getting him now.

DICTATOR [Voice on radio]: ...and this theft of a Bomb is an intolerable danger. Who knows what the terrorists might not be able to do with it? They could blow up the capital...including me. They could hold the country to ransom!

CHICK: There you shee, that’sh what you can do with the Bomb. He’s telling ush.

DICTATOR: I will stop them before the smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud. After all, the world looks to us for leadership. We’re the one indispensable nation, the exceptional one. Destiny has conferred on us not just the right but the responsibility to rule the world.

ICEGUY: So how does he intend to stop us?

DICTATOR: There’s only one man who can stop them. That is why I have sent a message immediately recalling Whambo from retirement.

ICEGUY, CHICK and BUTCHER MAN together, gasping: Whambo!

DICTATOR: Yes, when Whambo gets on to them, those terrorists are toast. I will personally see to it that...[voice breaks off in static]

BUTCHER MAN [turns off radio]: Whambo!

CHICK [waves around bottle]: Whambo!

ICEGUY: Who is Whambo, anyway?

BUTCHER MAN: How should I know?

[Enter WHAMBO, with his red headband tied over his eyes so that he stumbles and falls to the floor with an almighty crash. Struggles to his feet, waving machine gun.]

BUTCHER MAN: Who on earth are you?

WHAMBO: My worst nightmare. [Pauses] That didn’t come out properly, did it? I meant your worst nightmare.

BUTCHER MAN: You aren’t a cop, obviously, and you’re far too incompetent to be a soldier, so what are you? Lost tourist?

WHAMBO: I’m no tourist.

ICEGUY: So do you have, um, a name or something?

WHAMBO: Whambo, James Whambo. [Adjusts headband to uncover eyes and sees bottles] I’ll have mine shaken, not stirred.

ICEGUY: Oh no it isn’t, and you don’t. That’s verging on copyright violation.

WHAMBO: Just Whambo then. No-first-name Whambo. Terrorists tremble in total terror when they’re told my tagline. [Thrusts knife into table] Mission...accomplished.

CHICK: Wha’ mission?

ICEGUY: This isn’t your mission.

WHAMBO: It is now. [Picks up bomb bag and drops it on foot]  They taught us to ignore pain, right? It’s not working.

BUTCHER MAN: I see you’re no stranger to pain. [Picks up bag and puts it back on table] So, what do you want?

WHAMBO: To survive a terrorist, you gotta become a terrorist. [Points gun at them] You, the woman.

CHICK: You talkin’ to me?

WHAMBO: Pick up that bomb bag and come with me. These two others are expendable.

ICEGUY: Expendable?

WHAMBO: It’s like, you’re the flat tyre on the car and it doesn’t really matter. You’re expendable. [To CHICK] You comin’ or not?

CHICK [Weaving drunkenly to her feet]: Not. [Belches loudly]

WHAMBO: In that case, goodbye. [Pulls out the pin from a grenade with his teeth.] Ow, that hurt!

BUTCHER MAN: I thought everybody knew by now that you do not pull out pins from grenades with your teeth.

WHAMBO [Thinking]: I’m sure they told me back in my last film that’s how you take out a pin.  Any of you boys wants to surrender, now’s the time. Not that I care either way. I’ll get a Hollywood movie out of this.

CHICK [Belching again]: Surrender? Eff you.

WHAMBO: Die for nothing, then. [Throws grenade. It touches CHICK’s belch in mid air and explodes instantly after leaving WHAMBO’s hand. There’s a tremendous blast that knocks everyone down.]

CHICK [Sobering up fast]: What happened?

ICEGUY: Must have been all the nitro you drank. Turned you into a bomb launcher.

BUTCHER MAN: In order to survive a bomb, you gotta become a bomb. What happened to Whambo?

ICEGUY [Peers at WHAMBO, turns away]: Don’t ask.

CHICK: Well, now that the only man who could stop us, didn’t stop us. we have the Bomb. Let’s have a look at it.

ICEGUY: Yeah, so many things we can do with it now. The Dictator gave us good ideas.

BUTCHER MAN [opens bag, takes out bomb. Bomb is a round black ball with a fuse sticking out of one side.]: Here you are.

ICEGUY: Uh. Wow.

CHICK: At least it’ll make all the other terrorist outfits in the world jealous as hell, there’s that.

BUTCHER MAN [proudly]: We got the Bomb!

ALL [Including WHAMBO’s corpse, the DICTATOR on the radio, and the Bomb itself]: We got the Bomb!


Copyright B Purkayastha 2015


  1. I want a part. I can run through at intervals screaming about bedbugs. I'm experienced. Charming. And persuasive.

    Brilliant play.

  2. I was picturing this with an overly-enthusiastic audience - one that laughed a little TOO immediately and too hard at every punchline.

    The twisted Rime of the Ancient Mariner section was fun, too.


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