Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 13
Winter, 2013

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

Kallirroe Agelopoulou

Future Play

Darkness on stage.
Narrator: First is spring. Then summer, the warmth. Autumn, winter… First is spring, the renewed face of the world. Then the ripening, middle age. Before the end.
So it was up to the tenth of December, when Jim Tanner tumbled down to frozen ground outside the post office. The few people who were there at 06:20 in the morning, first noticed his bowing knees. And then his head, sliced right in the middle.
Bloodied pieces still clasped to their base like a flower in bloom.

First act
Light on stage. A Police Department office. Two men in uniforms: One stubby, sitting behind a desk. The other lanky, walking around the stage, embracing the space. Loudly counting his steps.
First policeman: "Thirty-one. Two. Three… And I've arrived. In total, thirty-three steps from the entrance of my home."
Second policeman: "From the entrance of 'his' home. Let's not identify with the deceased."
First policeman: "Fine. Thirty-three steps, home to post office. A walk he made every day, same time."
Second policeman: "Too early to go to work."
First policeman: "But that's the way he liked it. To be there at least half an hour before the others. Arranging, organizing papers and envelopes. According to his coworkers, he was a quiet man. Hardly ever talked. Fanatically punctual."
Second policeman: "Boring."
First policeman: "Perhaps. He never married."
Second policeman: "I know quite a few married, boring people."
The first policeman sits down on a couch across the desk, exasperated.
First police officer: "What happened to him?"
Second policeman: "There was noone beside him at the time. A clean cut in the middle of the head and that was that."
First policeman: "As if he was hit by an invisible axe…"
Second policeman: "…or the sword of Archangel Michael."
First policeman: "Hardly appropriate, with Christmas so close."
The both laugh softly and then look at each other tepidly. The man sitting at the desk whispers.
Second policeman: "What are we going to do?"

Darkness on stage. Light shines behind the simple white cloth that now hangs, covering the stage. On it, two human shadows move, mirroring the narrative.
Narrator: The thirteenth of December, at 15:10.
Mrs. Olson was sitting at the bus stop, waiting to catch a ride to Brumington. Soon, all of Mrs. Perez's two hundred and thirty pounds joined her. The women talked about the weather, the discounts that would soon begin at the Mall, the latest amateur play at the local theater and how they would like to go see it, possibly together. For a while after they sat, silently. Mrs. Olson leaned over to get a candy from her bag. She turned to offer it to Mrs. Perez — what better way to break the silence — and then she saw her. Taller than ever. Head sticking out the broken glass of the bus stop's ceiling, narrower than anyone could ever imagine a human head to be. The body, nothing but a cue stick planted in the soil; a rope, swaying to the imaginary rhythm of some fakir's flute. Magic.
Seconds after, the crushed carcass slumped to a damp carpet of its own insides.
The shadows on the white cloth multiply, people falling on the floor randomly, as if suddenly struck. A human pile.
Narrator: It happened again.

Second act
Light on stage. The same Police Department office. The two policemen standing up. Seated behind the desk an elegant man, looking at them seriously.
Inspector: "You should have asked for our help sooner."
The policemen look on guiltily. Ignoring them, the man begins to study his papers.
Inspector: "A beheading."
Second policeman: "Um, sorry to interrupt, but not exactly."
Inspector: "A cranial dichotomy then, on the tenth of December. A full-body elongation on the thirteenth. Two mutilations, the first horizontal, along the iliac crests. The other diagonally, from the sixth rib all the way to the left collarbone. Both on the fourteenth of the month."
He turns to look at the policemen, pointedly.
Inspector: "No evidence."
Second policeman: "None."
First policeman: "We live in a quiet town. All of this is new here."
Inspector: "It's new everywhere, believe me."
He leans on the table, eyes half closed.
Inspector: I saw… I saw a rock at the entrance to your city. It was always there I know, I've been here before, but I don't remember it ever looking like this. So diminished, so faded."
Second policeman: "It's just a rock. They age too, I guess."
Inspector: "It's not so simple. Or is it? The rock was hanging near the corner of the entrance sign, looming over. Majestic. Now, you could almost forget you ever saw it."
First policeman: "I didn't realize it before, but he's right! It must have happened recently."
Second policeman: "And what does that have to do with us?"
Inspector: "Maybe we should view the problem at hand differently."
The policemen look puzzled.
First policeman: "Suicides?"
The inspector crosses his arms and responds with forced flamboyance.
Inspector: "This… Is the winter of your discontent."

Darkness on stage. Light on the white cloth covering the stage. Shadows acting.
Narrator: Middle of December, early in the morning. On the street outside the post office, Mr. Barker walked hurriedly, eager to receive the package of sexual enhancements that he had ordered over the Internet. At 06:20 he turned to greet Mrs. Nikas, waving to him from the opposite sidewalk. As he raised his hand, his left eye poured out to the ground.
A full quarter of his skull followed soon after.

Third act
Light on the stage. A meeting room. The inspector is standing at the head of a round table, in front of a board, marker in hand. Seated close to him, the two policemen and three older men. All around the table, several more anonymous people. The Inspector draws a human figure on the board. He adds a semicircle, crossing through the figure's head.
Inspector: "That's how things started. The blade appears for a split-second on screen."
Second policeman: "But where did it come from?"
Inspector: "We don't know. But it's there."
He puts the marker down, hands behind his back, looking at the audience.
Inspector: "Most of you know the project we implemented, in collaboration with local authorities. After the second death outside the post office we immediately blocked all crime areas. We placed monitoring cameras everywhere, as well as undercover personnel. Our purpose, to locate any repeating exogenous factor responsible for the deaths."
Professor Morgan: "And the result?"
Inspector: "Like I said. Records, from the fifteenth. The eighteenth. The nineteenth. And this morning, on the twentieth of December at 06:20 in the morning, the last video of importance from the cameras outside the post office."
Professor Smith: "The undercover cops?"
Inspector: "None of them saw anything, all the incidents lasted for mere seconds. And they were indeed repeated, thrice, every five days."
The inspector points toward the stocky policeman.
Inspector: "Please."
The policeman reads from a paper, visibly agitated.
Second policeman: "A semicircular blade that bounces up and down, sixty-six inches from the ground to unknown height. Two metal gears meshing vertically, rotating from ground level to unknown height. A horizontal rod, seventy-eight inches long — one side fixed. It turns, thirty inches above the ground."
One of the professors sitting near the inspector abruptly gets up.
Professor Morgan: "Pythagora!"
Professor Smith: "Don't you dare force your mad views to such an important issue!"
Professor Morgan: "While you'll leave all the alien theories out of this discussion, I suppose."
Inspector: "Gentlemen…"
Professor Smith: "It's quite obvious that some extraterrestrial genius is playing with us."
Professor Morgan: "I see you're choosing to feign ignorance of my publications on this issue."
Professor Smith: "Oh, I know all about them. You substituted Nostradamus with the great Greek philosopher, enslaving his theories to your unsaturated ambition."
Inspector: "Gentlemen, I will not say it again. Shut. Up."
He moves to stand, menacingly, above them.
Inspector: "I am perfectly aware of the scope of your beliefs. You were brought here to help provide a different perspective on everything that's happened. To answer your questions, no, the government is not hiding some secret alien message. Nor as far as I know, the methods here follow any Pythagorean theorem. Unless the Ancient Greeks liked to slaughter each other inside their academies."
A moment of silence. The third professor, a scrubby old man, raises his hand tentatively.
Professor Hotskins: "Inspector?"
Inspector: "Yes?"
Professor Hotskins: "Have there been… Do you know of any similar incidents in the region? Without any casualties?"
As if he just woke up, the inspector answers quickly, but not before he throws an angry look at the other two professors.
Inspector: "Certainly, I was about to get to that."
He addresses the lanky policeman.
Inspector: "If you may."
The policeman gets up, reciting solemnly.
First policeman: "After confirmation of the event's recurring nature, a group of officers was assigned to visit the residents, door to door. We discovered that there had been similar incidents in the area this winter, several bizarrely cut trees and dead animals on the outskirts of the city. Unfortunately all of these are difficult to time precisely. More specifically, a certain Mrs. Sade had accused her neighbor's son of cutting her laundry ropes. She sued for damages and mental anguish. The ropes were cut four times, in the same places. Every five days, from the second to the seventeenth."
The three professors look at each other, uneasily.
Inspector: "Before you ask me, yes, we have already placed cameras in her garden."
Professor Hotskins: "Four times…"
Professor Morgan: "…so it's not finished yet."
Professor Smith: "Whatever it is."
The inspector cuts them off.
Inspector: "What do you mean?"
Professor Hotskins: "Inspector… The search for explanations, all the analyses, aren't they of secondary importance at this moment? Couldn't we simply leave this town? An evacuation, if the incident is still ongoing, we shouldn't even sit here."
Inspector: "Just a moment, I don't think…"
Professor Hotskins: "Don't you see? It's as if we don't exist! The play has changed, it no longer takes us into account!"
The old man is shaking with fear.
Professor Hotskins: "Who knows… Where it will strike again."
The onlookers head for the exit, shouting.
First Onlooker: "It's the end of the world!"
Second Onlooker: "We were judged and we failed!"
Inspector: "Please sit back down, there is no reason for panic. The room is reinforced with steel and titanium, even in a nuclear explosion…"
The words die in his mouth. A thunderous sound is heard, furniture crashes and all the people fall. Blood fills the stage. Quiet. Nobody gets up.

Darkness on stage.
Narrator: First is spring. This was the last winter. We never saw another spring.
Light on stage. The Narrator appears, standing below the stage lights.
Narrator: Welcome. It's our tenth anniversary here, deep under the ground.
He walks slowly up and down the stage.
Narrator: We still don't know what happened. Scattered evidence and police records, our only clues. But we know that we exist. A new life under the new 'life'. We live to remember. How the incidents spread, how the world changed forever. The grinding of metal continues unabated over our heads, quiet tools that sprout day and night, reforging creation. What's happening on the surface?
He stands in the centre of the stage, looking up.
Narrator: Some say that the world is not made for us anymore. That the invisible mechanisms will soon reach us. Any moment could be our last.
He turns to face the audience again, neutrally.
Narrator: What do you think?
Awaiting response from the audience.

Kallirroe Agelopoulou says: "I'm a med intern with a severe case of sci-fi and horror addiction. Writing helps. Some of my work appears in such publications as Darkness Ad Infinitum, Dark Bits, Sanitarium, Dark Edifice, Bewildering Stories, Thick Jam and Microhorror. I keep trying to hit my daily writing quota in Athens, Greece, but only sporadically update my blog."