SCIENCE FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER

"Puppets"

                                                               by Richard Nathan

 

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

                                                            VOICE
                                    "The Puppets"

There is a boulder downstage right.  We are on an alien planet.  Enter visitors from Earth:  CAPTAIN JACOBS and LIEUTENANT MASTERSON, carrying scientific equipment.  They look around.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Nothing!  You'd think after all these years
                                    of searching, we'd have found some sign
                                    of intelligent life.

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    We've found abundant planet life throughout
                                    the universe.  All kinds of plant life, insects....

                                                            JACOBS
                                    But no intelligent life!  Doesn't that seem odd
                                    to you?

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    I guess that's just the way it is.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    There are unlimited worlds.  That means
                                    unlimited possibilities.

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    Maybe all the possibilities went wrong.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Take this planet.  It seems a perfect candidate. 
                                    The atmosphere, gravitation, chemical composition,
                                    all nearly identical to Earth!

Unnoticed by the Earth people, two hand puppets enter from behind the boulder.  The hand puppets are aliens named KRONKLE and FLOOB.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Where is the awareness?  Where is the ability
                                    to perceive and process information?  Is it too
                                    much to ask why there is no intelligence? 

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    Maybe someone dropped you on your head as
                                    a baby?

                                                            FLOOB
                                    Yeah!   And that would explain the nose.

Jacobs and Masterson stare at the puppets.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Who are you?

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    I'm Kronkle.

                                                            FLOOB
                                    I'm Floob.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    You look like hand puppets.

                                                            FLOOB
                                    You say that like it's a bad thing!

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    Praised be the Hand.

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    They speak English! 

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    We don't speak. 

                                                            FLOOB
                                    You may have noticed our lips don't move.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    You are hearing telepathy.  How did you think
                                    I was speaking when my lips don't move?

                                                            FLOOB
                                    Maybe he thinks you're a ventriloquist.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    And maybe he thinks you're the dummy.

Floob attacks Kronkle.  They fight.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Who is operating you?

Floob and Kronkle cease fighting.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    The Hand of course. 

                                                            FLOOB
                                    Praised be the Hand.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Show yourself.  Show yourself!!

Kronkle and Floob look at each other, then they look at Jacobs.  Then they hold out their little puppet arms and exclaim:

                                                            KRONKLE &
                                                                    FLOOB
                                    Ta-daaa!

Jacobs strides over to Kronkle.  He struggles with the hand puppet, pulls off the puppet, and reveals the hand underneath. 

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Who are you?

He grips the hand and pulls on it.  At this point, unseen by the audience, the performer operating the puppets substitutes an artificial hand for the real hand that was operating Kronkle.  Jacobs pulls up the artificial hand and stares at it in amazement.  Floob looks away from the hand.

                                                            FLOOB
                                    The Hand will not communicate directly
                                    with lesser beings.  The Hand will only
                                    communicate through us.  Praised be the
                                    Hand.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    I don't understand.

                                                            FLOOB
                                    Please put  Kronkle back together. 
                                    We consider it obscene to reveal the
                                    Hand.

Jacobs puts the artificial hand back at the top of the rock and puts Kronkle back on it.  While he is doing this, the performer behind the rock substitutes his real hand for the artificial hand.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Has this atmosphere been tested for
                                    hallucinogens?

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    Yes sir.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    This can't be real.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    Reality is what we perceive it to be.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    But the hand...  it's not possible! 

                                                            FLOOB
                                    Are you some kind of atheist?

                                                            JACOBS
                                    How could life evolve like this?

                                                            FLOOB   
                                    We used to be like you, with legs, and nasty 
                                    parts below the waist

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    But we noticed no matter what we did, it
                                    never turned out exactly as we planned. 

                                                            FLOOB
                                    We could never achieved everything we set out
                                    to achieve.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    It was as though some outside force was
                                    controlling us.  As if some unseen hand
                                    was guiding us.  We decided we might as
                                    well submit to our fate...

                                                            FLOOB
                                    And then when we looked down...
                                    No more legs and nasty parts!

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    We were hand puppets!

                                                            FLOOB
                                    It explained everything!  And the truth
                                    set us free!

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    No it didn't.  The truth made us hand
                                    puppets.

                                                            FLOOB
                                    Well, that's a sort of freedom.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    No it isn't.  We're hand puppets!  We're
                                    only free to do what the Hand lets us do.

                                                            FLOOB
                                    The truth set us free to do whatever the Hand
                                    lets us do.

                                                            KRONKLE
                                    It lets you be an idiot.

Kronkle and Floob starting fighting.  Kronkle chases Floob off stage.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    This is insane.   

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    And yet, it makes a strange sort of sense. 
                                    Haven't you always felt as though there
                                    was something else controlling your destiny?

                                                            JACOBS
                                    No.

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    I have.  I've always felt that way.  All my
                                    life.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Go bring them back.  We need to scan them,
                                    get some bio-readings.

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    Yes, captain.

Masterson exits.   Jacobs prepares the equipment to take readings.  He waits a moment, then calls out impatiently:

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Masterson!  What's taking you so long! 

A HAND PUPPET MASTERSON comes up from behind the rock.

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    Sorry, captain.  I looked everywhere.  I
                                    couldn't find them.

                                                            JACOBS
                                    Good Lord!

                                                            MASTERSON
                                    It's as though something wouldn't let me find
                                    them.  I'll keep trying, captain, but I can't
                                    promise anything.  You win a few, you lose a
                                    few.  It may be out of my hands..

The Masterson puppet exits.    Jacobs makes a choking sound of disbelief.

BLACKOUT!

 

THE END

 

 

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2002 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.

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