SCIENCE FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER

"The Counselor"

                                                               by Richard Nathan

 

Before the lights come up, a voice announces the title of the story:

                                                            VOICE
                                    "The Counselor"

On stage is a table with three chairs behind it, and in the middle of the table is an odd-looking piece of equipment that can be connected by wires to each of the three people who will be sitting at the table.  DR. SKINNER, a scientist, is examining the equipment, making certain that it is in working order.  Skinner picks up a hand-held remote control device and uses it to test the equipment. 

Enter two of Dr. Skinner's patients, MR. AND MRS. HOPPER. 

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Mr. and Mrs. Hopper!  I believe we're
                                    nearly ready!

                                                            MR. HOPPER
                                    Where's Marsha?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    She'll be in momentarily.  We want to prep you
                                    first.  So if you will be seated, I'll hook you
                                    up to the counselor.

Mr. and Mrs. Hopper sit at the table and Dr. Skinner hooks them up to the equipment.

                                                            MR. HOPPER
                                    Why do you call it the counselor?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    In the old days, people sometimes went to a
                                    family counselor to modify the behavior of
                                    someone who was making the family unhappy. 
                                    Our counselor does the same thing, but more
                                    directly, using the DNA.

                                                            MRS. HOPPER
                                    If you're taking our DNA, why won't that hurt
                                    us? 

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    We aren't taking your DNA, we're copying it.  It
                                    won't affect you any more than photocopying a
                                    manuscript affects the original pages.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    I think we're ready to bring in Marsha.  You
                                    understand she's not particularly happy about this.

                                                            MR. HOPPER
                                    She hasn't been happy with anything I've done for over
                                    ten years.  Why should this be any different?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    We had to sedate her, slightly.  That's standard
                                    procedure.  It won't affect the process.

Dr. Skinner touches something on his remote control device.  A moment later, a NURSE brings in MARSHA HOPPER, the teenaged daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hopper.  It seems obvious that Marsha is under extremely heavy sedation.

                                                            MR. HOPPER
                                    Good morning, Marsha.

Marsha speaks with great difficulty.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I want you to burn in hell for ever.

                                                            MRS. HOPPER
                                    We love you, dear.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Bite me.

The nurse seats Marsha in the third chair at the table and hooks her up to the equipment.

                                                            MRS. HOPPER
                                    We only want you to be happy.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I only want you to burn in hell. 

                                                            MR. HOPPER
                                    Do you know how much we're spending on
                                    this?  I don't expect you to be grateful, but
                                    you might try to be civil!

Marsha notices that she is hooked up to the equipment.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    What are you doing?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Marsha, you know how when you're sick, a
                                    doctor will give you an injection to make you
                                    well?  In order to make you a healthier person,
                                    we're going to inject you with some of your
                                    parents' DNA.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    What do I get first, the fat cow gene or the mean
                                    bastard gene?

                                                            MRS. HOPPER
                                    I only hope look half as nice as I do when
                                    you're my age.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I hate you too.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Your genetic code already comes from your
                                    parents.  We're only making some adjustments.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Because the world doesn't already have enough
                                    fat cows and mean bastards.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Tell me, Marsha, do you think your parents have any
                                    nice qualities at all?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I could rent them out to bulimics who want to vomit.

Dr. Skinner touches his remote unit, and Marsha goes into a trance.  He makes some adjustments on the dial, and Marsha comes out of the trance.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Didn't you ever like them?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Maybe when I was really young and really
                                    stupid.

Dr. Skinner again uses his remote unit to put Marsha in a trance, make some adjustments, and take her out of the trance.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    What did you like about then when you were
                                    younger?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Little kids like their parents.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Try to remember why you liked them.

Dr. Skinner again uses his remote unit to put Marsha in a trance, make some adjustments, and take her out of the trance.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    They were nicer then.  And they took care of
                                    me.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Did they love you?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Yes.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Did you love them?

Marsha doesn't answer.  Dr. Skinner again uses his remote unit to put Marsha in a trance, make some adjustments, and take her out of the trance.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Marsha?  Did you love them?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Yes.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Why?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    They were Mommy and Daddy.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Aren't they still Mommy and Daddy?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Yes.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    I think you've said a lot of things that hurt their
                                    feelings today.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I know.  And I'm so sorry for being such a brat!  
                                    I promise I will do everything I can for the rest of my
                                    life to make it up to you.  I love you with all
                                    my heart.

                                                            MRS. HOPPER
                                    Darling!

Mr. and Mrs. Hopper go into a trance as Dr. Skinner touches the remote unit.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    They can't hear you now.

Marsha stops pretending to be sedated.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Finally!  I was about to vomit.  I
                                    don't suppose I'm permitted to hit them?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Better not.  It might leave a mark.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I thought we agreed you weren't going to 
                                    change me?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    That's what we agreed.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Then why did you alter my intelligence?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    What makes you think I did?

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I'm not an idiot, doctor.  At least not now, thanks to
                                    you.  I'd judge my I.Q. must be ten points higher
                                    than it was ten minutes ago.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Twenty, actually.  I thought it might help you to keep
                                    our secret.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Anything else?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    A slight increase in your acting skills.  That's all, I
                                    promise.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    We'll see.

She reaches into a pocket and takes out a piece of paper, which she reads.

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    You brought a test!  I'm not surprised.  Most of my
                                    clients bring tests to make sure I've kept my word. 
                                    Go ahead!  I'm sure you'll find your answers haven't
                                    changed.

Marsha reads from her test.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Still hate my parents?  Check!  Still hate my
                                    school?  Check!  Still hate the government? 
                                    Check!  Still hate this lousy world?  Check! 
                                    Still love my music?  Check!  Okay, if I'm not
                                    exactly the same, I'm close enough. 

She reaches into her pocket and takes out a cashier's check, which she hands to Dr. Skinner.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Here's your down payment.  Are they fixed yet?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    I've increased their gullibility slightly and their
                                    tolerance greatly.  They should let you get away
                                    with just about anything.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    I trust you didn't increase their gullibility enough
                                    so that anyone else can steal their money!

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    Only you!  I get most of my business from client
                                    referrals, so I hope you'll tell your friends.

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Why do you do it?  Why work for us, and not our
                                    parents?

                                                            DR. SKINNER
                                    I find teenagers are much more generous
                                    with their parents' money than the parents are.   Go
                                    back into your new persona.  I'm going to bring
                                    them out now.

Dr. Skinner touches the remote, and Mr. and Mrs. Hopper come out of their trance. 

                                                            MARSHA
                                    Mom, Dad, thank you so much for this.  You're
                                    the best!

Mr. and Mrs. Hopper hug their daughter.

                                                            MRS. HOPPER
                                    Oh, Marsha!

                                                            MR. HOPPER
                                    Sweetheart, I'm going to double your allowance!

 

Blackout!    

 

THE END

 

 

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2003 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use.  No other use may be made without the author's permission.  Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express  permission.

Send e-mail to the author at Richard-Nathan@att.net.