The Flare (A Tragedy)

A Play in One Act


Characters in the Play (A Family from Loveland, Colorado):

Son (Gareth): Jasmine’s twin/addicted to video games/collects board games/works at Barnes and Noble/curly dark brown hair at an awkward length/wire glasses/wears skinny jeans, sweatshirt with anime characters and black and white checkered slip-on vans.

Daughter (Jasmine): Gareth’s twin/vegan/collects healing crystals/in college for mathematics at Aims Community College/long, dirty blonde hair/wears yoga pants and oversized knit sweater.

Father (Allen): Owns phone and laptop repair store/operates a phone and laptop parts eBay store/smokes cigarettes/balding with wispy combover/slightly overweight/wears a disheveled outfit of tan slacks, a white button down, and grey overcoat with torn leather loafers.

Mother (Cheryl): Assistant store manager at TJMAXX/wineaholic/addicted to pain pills/short, dyed, black hair/wears a beige, pink two-piece dress suit with matching pumps, a matching shawl, and almost matching lipstick.

Set:

Small rooms connected by doors across stage (Gareth's bedroom, living room, and office)/all characters are on stage continuously or in between wide doorways.

Lights:

Light on room in which scene is taking place/light of TV and computers light up room enough to just see characters.

SCENE I

December 6th, 2017 at 4:27 PM: A dark living room with a TV mounted on wall blaring MSNBC.

CHERYL. What do we do? They say we have 12 hours [long pause] left. There must be somewhere we can go.

ALLEN. There isn’t anything we can do but wait together.

CHERYL. [Sips wine] What do we tell the kids?

ALLEN. That we love them, as many times as we can before [buries his heads in his hands and begins taking deep breaths before starting to sob] before it's too late. [CHERYL looks down at her wine glass, circles the last bit in the bottom, then throws it back, exhaling a heavy sigh]

CHERYL. Are you really going to just sit here and let your family get burnt to a crisp? What kind of man does that make you?

ALLEN. Where do you suppose we go? They said to stay inside your homes. It will be dangerous; the whole world is being confronted by mortality. There is no saying how people will act.

CHERYL. We have to try…

ALLEN. [Angrily] We have to spend time as a family. There is nowhere to go, and trying to leave will take time that we don’t have. [Swallows sob] We are going to die. [JASMINE walks into living room carrying a computer]

JASMINE. He is right. It will be here in 11 hours and 16 minutes. I am sure we will die instantaneously. It is big and headed our direction. Bigger than the normal solar storms, and faster. Exponentially stronger than what was predicted to kill our technologies.

ALLEN. The news says we have 12 hours.

JASMINE. [Peers at TV] Well, the news is wrong. I have NASA’s site right here with a live countdown.

CHERYL. How morbid of a thing to watch, dear.

JASMINE. Watching the news is no less morbid; this is just more accurate. I'd rather know exactly when then to be taken by surprise even for a second. Although the TV and computers will likely die before we do. [GARETH strolls into the room and flops down on a couch]

GARETH. What if they are both wrong? Who knows if this thing is even coming, and if it is, it could miss, and if it is coming, there is no guarantee we are going to die.

ALLEN. [Breaks attention away from the TV] It's coming, son.

GARETH. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Either way, we shouldn’t spend the next 11 hours and 35 minutes in front of the news or the [makes air quote] “live countdown.”

[JASMINE quietly leaves the room and GARETH follows her.]

CHERYL. [Laughs] It's been them vs. us since the day they popped out.

ALLEN. [Turns on her with angry eyes and an eerily calm voice] It has been them vs. us since you have been absent as a mother in your wine and drug daze, you stupid woman. Our lives are all over and you will be smug and laughing until the end [Jumps up and leaves room].

CHERYL. [Face falls and sighs, then begins to cry, and yells at the doorway] You're right, then! Does that make you happy? [Stares at news blankly]

ALLEN. [From doorway] No! [Slams door and goes into office]

(BLACKOUT)

(END OF SCENE)

SCENE 2

December 6, 2017 at 4:31 PM. The office, a desk, and chair. Plain room with paper scattered.

ALLEN. [Yells] Goddammit! [Kicks chair out of the way and begins to search under desk and pulls out a handgun. He hides it under a pile of papers and pulls chair up to desk, searching online for countdown. Stares at computer screen intently]

(BLACKOUT)

(END OF SCENE)

SCENE 3

December 6, 2017 at 4:30 PM. GARETH’S bedroom. Posters and banners cover the walls. There is a desktop computer. Jasmine sits on the bed.

JASMINE. [As GARETH walks through door] Well? What are we supposed to do then?

GARETH. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers.

JASMINE. You seemed to out there.

GARETH. Well, I don’t.

JASMINE. [Hugs computer close to her body and whispers] I don’t want to die. [Louder] We might not, like you said. It could go away. [GARETH sighs and sits down next to her] But what if it doesn’t?

GARETH. [Softly] I don’t know.

JASMINE. You said that already! Twice or three times, but that doesn’t matter. I [shudders and begins crying] I just want you to say it's going to be okay.

GARETH. It's going to be okay.

JASMINE. You don’t mean that!

GARETH. Well what do you want to do while we [long pause] wait? We could play some games. Hey! [Goes to computer] I wonder how many people are playing World of Warcraft right now despite the, you know, the circumstances. Let’s check, okay?

JASMINE. [With a small smile] Okay.

GARETH. Umm… Let’s see… Right now there are 2, 000 people playing. That’s a lot for any day at five PM.

JASMINE. [Laughs] What else is there to do? It is not a normal day, but everyone wants it to be. At least I want it to be.

GARETH. [Motioning to her laptop] Want to play?

JASMINE. I am terrible at World of Warcraft.

GARETH. So? What else is there to do?

JASMINE. [Opens computer and nods] Okay. [GARETH plays WoW on the desktop computer and JASMINE plays on her laptop]

(BLACKOUT)

(END OF SCENE)

SCENE 4

December 6, 2017 at 7:18 PM. In the living room, CHERYL looks through her purse and finds a pill bottle, dumps some into her hand, then she shrugs, pouring out more pills. Kicking off her pumps, she gets more comfortable, turns the news up, and swallows the pills dry.

{BLACKOUT)

(END SCENE)

SCENE 5

December 6, 2017 at 11:35 PM. ALLEN is at his desk, looking at the computer. Suddenly he jumps up, grabs the gun, and puts it in the back of his tan slacks. He stops and takes deep breaths before he opens the doorway to living room.

(BLACKOUT)

(END SCENE)

SCENE 6

December 6, 2017 at 11:35 PM. CHERYL is laying back on couch, limp.

ALLEN. [Walks in from office, goes over to CHERYL, sees bottle of pills, bends down to see if she is breathing] What have you done? Oh well, I was going to take you out of your misery for you, anyways. [Kisses her forehead and the glances over at the news station. Turning up the volume, he throws the remote down and walks toward the bedroom]

(BLACKOUT)

(END SCENE)

SCENE 7

December 6, 2017 at 11:37 PM. JASMINE and GARETH are still playing WoW. There is a knock on the bedroom door.

GARETH. It’s probably, Dad. [Turns off computer screen and JASMINE closes the laptop. He gets up and walks across the room, opening the door. ALLEN enters.]

ALLEN. There are only three and a half hours left. [Looks around the room at GARETH then JASMINE, then he turns around pulls the gun from his pants and shoots his son. Then he turns to his daughter.]

JASMINE. [Screams] Why?

ALLEN. [Pointing gun at JASMINE] I can’t sit and wait anymore. [Shoots JASMINE, then shoots himself.]

(BLACKOUT)

(END SCENE)

SCENE 8

December 7, 2017 at 5:35 AM. In the living room, CHERYL lays limp, the news blares.

NEWSCASTER. Bless us all! The solar flare missed the Earth. Next up, we have a NASA spokeswoman who will explain the process of solar storm detection, what we have learned from this near miss, and how we can prevent the havoc that it caused.

(BLACKOUT)

(END SCENE)

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