This is a pretty simple tragic love story that revolves around an alchemist
Ben Fosse- An alchemist of about 23, ever in search of the elusive philosopher’s stone.
Sara Raylac- Ben’s caretaker, a young lady of 20 or so that is clearly in love with him, though Ben does not acknowledge it.
A laboratory, the table covered in chemical equipment occupying the foreground of the scene. The entire room is in a disheveled state and lit by a few scant candles. The curtain rises to BEN FOSSE tinkering with something in the apparatus.
Ben: 30 drams of phosphorous.
Ben pours the liquid into the device.
Ben: And 5 grams of zinc.
Empties the vial of dust into the apparatus. Stage lights turn a sickly green.
Ben: And finally, the quicksilver.
Pours the final vial into the apparatus then steps back, expecting something.
Ben: Could this be it? Could I have finally found the
Philosopher’s stone? Might this finally be the answer I’m searching for? The ability to transmute anything into pure gold, I may have finally found it.
The table begins to shake.
Ben (excitedly): Yes, the reaction is speeding up. The stone may
be forming. (Ben thinks for a moment, as if trying to recall something.) The addition of the mercury shall speed thy desires to their destinations. Yes, this might be what I’m looking for.
A flash, and a tremendous bang!
Ben (now even more disheveled and sporting a downcast expression):
No. That isn’t it.
Ben mutters inaudibly to himself, looks up, and walks offstage as the curtain falls.
The curtain rises to a simple dining room, revealing SARA RAYLAC setting out food onto a table for her and Ben.
Sara (to herself): I hope he likes this. (Sets a dish down onto
the table.) I swear, that alchemy of his will be the death of him someday. (Sighs) Oh well, its what he loves to do. And I guess that there’s nothing about that I can fault. (A pause, then in confessional manner) I just wish that he could share some of it with me. Or am I just imagining things? Is the connection that I had always thought between us nothing more than the gossamer strands of imagination?
He’s shown some affection of late, could that be a sign? Or is his growing closer a sign of him nearing that stone he dreams of so much?
Maybe that’s all I am to him, a caretaker on this path to the stone, of no more value than the food I give him.
NO! Look at yourself, Sara. You know that he doesn’t think of you that way. You’ve seen it in his eyes, it was distant, but the connection was there. Just wait and he’ll make it more clear how much he feels for you.
But can I really believe that? Is this all a dream? A pile of events, lain out to deceive me, or something more…
(Footsteps offstage, walking calmly.)
Sara: But I can ponder no longer, he’s here.
Ben: Hello Sara, how have you been today?
Sara: I’ve been fairly well. I heard that something went wrong out in your workshop.
Ben: Hm, where did you hear that? I only just left the workshop,
and you’re the first person I’ve talked to since last night.
Sara: Nobody told me, I heard the bang from inside here.
Ben sits down in his chair.
Sara (leaning upon the chair across the table): Ben, you know it
worries me when something goes wrong like that.
Ben: There’s nothing to worry about, I had a perfectly good idea
of what was going on. Just sit down and relax, I’ll bet this soup is really good. So just relax, I’m fine.
Sara (Sits down and begins to eat her soup): Yes, I suppose you’re right. Did you come any closer to the stone today?
Ben: No, I’m sure I’ll get it tomorrow. I felt so close. I was
sure I had it, but it wasn’t there, just like it always seems to be. It’ll happen tomorrow, though, I’m sure of it.
Sara: Well I hope you can get it tomorrow then. You know Ben,
I’ve always wondered, when you finally make the stone, what are you going to do with it?
Ben (Haughtily): I’m going to make a lot of gold, that’s what
I’m going to do with it. What else would someone do?
Sara: No, that’s not what I meant; I meant what are your plans
for when you’ve finally accomplished your dream? What do you want to do with your life after that?
Ben: I’ve never really thought about that. I guess that I’ll
just retire to a nice house and live out my days in peace and comfort.
Sara: Really, is that all?
Ben: Well, yes. I guess that’s all I’m going to do.
They both finish their soup, Sara takes the bowls.
Sara: Well, see you tomorrow Ben, and don’t skip breakfast
Ben (to himself, introspectively): I wonder about that girl
sometimes, ‘what are you going to do after you make the stone?’ what kind of a question is that? The stone is every man’s dream, what else could I wish for? I’ve got her love don’t I? Put the stone on top of that and what more could I do.
(Speaking accusatorily now)But do you really have her love? You’ve never told her, you know. You just think she loves you, you don’t know it.
(Defending himself)Sure I’ve never spelled it out to her, but I know she can tell. I mean, I talk to her more than anyone else, and I’m always trying to be around her.
(Accusatorily again.)First of all she’s the only person that you talk to, you even have her run your errands to the apothecary’s so you don’t have to contact the outside world. Second, where were you yesterday morning?
(Defensive again) I was studying.
(Accusatory) Mmmhmmm, and the morning before that?
(Defensive, now realizing that he has lost.) Studying again.
(Accusatory) Remember Ben, I know you better than anyone else, I am you after all. Just think of how much you haven’t told her.
Just think about that.
Ben exits, and curtain falls.
Ben is sitting in a room, a thick book sitting on the table in front of him. Several other books are sitting on the table, with a mostly burnt candle weakly lighting the room.
Ben (wearily reading): ‘And in the search for the stone, the
alchemist will undergo many trials, searching ever deeper
for the secret, that most noble secret, the Philosopher’s stone.’
(Speaking now) Hmm, well that’s fairly obvious, I’ve been undergoing those trials for the past 5 years, since I ceased to be an apprentice.
Ben stands up, looking at the piles of books.
Ben: Where is it? Why can I not find the stone? I’ve done
everything that anyone has ever thought was the process to
create the stone.
Ben turns around, and with a roar of frustration kicks the wall behind him, revealing a small compartment, holding a large red book.
Ben: What is this? I didn’t find anything like this when I first
began to live here. (leans down and picks up the book, reading the title.) “The Record of Cornelius Agrippa, a complete account of the processes involved in the creation of the Philosopher’s stone.”
(Ben begins laughing excitedly) I’ve found it! This man has done it and I’ve found his record! This is what I’ve been searching for. I’ve found what I need and it all will come true at last!
Lights dim on Ben reading the book excitedly.
The lights come back up a few seconds later on Ben slumped back in his chair, an expression somewhere between revulsion and fear on his face.
Ben: This is how the stone is made? This cannot be. There’s just
no way for this to be true. (a pause) I’ve come this far, why is this here to stop me now? I was sure that I could do this, but there is just no way that I can make the stone if that is what is necessary.
Anything else. Anything else and this would have been possible, but if this is what it takes than it just cannot happen.
The final ingredient.
That’s all that I’ve been missing this entire time. I’ve had everything else correct, but the final ingredient.
Phosphorous, mercury, sublimated for a tenday, until the spirits rise, then 5 grams of zinc, added to the reaction.
All this is added upon the base of the stone, formed by steel mated with the essence of the air…(drifts into muttering for a moment)
But the final ingredient still wasn’t there.
He found it though.
Agrippa, this man a giant in my eyes. He had the courage to find this final element. I don’t know whether to envy or pity the man. What circle of hell awaits such a sinner?
(Pauses in introspection)
‘The body must be shed as the insect passes out of his body, so that the pure essence may pass into the stone.’
I’d always been taught that all it meant was that sacrificing contact with the people of the world. He thought differently though. And he was right.
(Another pause, as if justifying what he’s about to say)
A human being, put into the reaction at the last moment possible, that is the final ingredient.
It’s not possible, it’s not right, I can’t do it.
But I have to find a way…
There must be something that I can do to stop someone from having to die for this. What is it?
How can I stop someone from dying so that I can have my dream?
It drowns me, crushes me, burns me, and blows me away.
I have no idea how I can make this work. But I won’t kill someone for it. That’s just not it.
There has to be away, how can I find it?
(delves deep into the stores of his memory)
its like that old rhyme teacher used to sing to me,
‘A fie a fey,
have scared you to your core,
But take your comfort,
to that of which you are made,
air and sea,
These four things are what makes thee
When your problems
Seem too hard,
Take your refuge in these, your home.’
(Pauses again, then reacts ecstatically)
After all, what is a human made of but the four elements?
By simply adding those four I could do it. And how is a human soul any different than that of any other creatures? I can simply add an insect or rat or something into this and not have to kill anyone.
Yes, that’s it no one has to die.
And I’ll have made the stone.
I’m finally there; I’ve finally found it.
The curtain falls as a tear streaks down Ben’s cheek.
Ben’s workshop again. The lighting bears a slight tint of red as the curtain comes up, not obviously, just a subtle touch. Ben is tending to all of his equipment, making sure that the stone is going to form this time.
Ben: This time I shall form the stone. All of my dreams, my
hopes and my life have led to this moment, and now I shall seize my destiny. The fates have spun their course for me and now I walk it with pride.
(Ben reaches into ajar, measures out a handful of dirt, then pours that into an oven.)
The earth is represented in my act. This measurement of the dirt shall release its spirit, replacing the bones and skin of a human being.
(Ben pours a jar of water into the apparatus now.)
The element of water shall join in the creation of the stone, its spirit released into the mixture; the fluids of a human are no longer needed.
(Ben then takes a small rat from its cage and hesitates.)
Air has already been added into this oven, thus a human’s breath is no longer required. I still have the final ingredient to add, the soul. Can this small rat accomplish that which was set out for a human? Or is this simply going to fail. If it does fail, I’ll probably be sucked into the reaction as well. I’ll die, but at least there’ll be the stone. Here it stands; this is where I must make my decision to create the stone or not. (a pause, thinking, then decisively) In creating it, there will only be the loss of this mouse. So I must go ahead with the experiment.
(Ben adds the mouse into the oven.)
And with this mouse, I shall no longer require the spirit of a human. Its sacrifice shall allay that of a man.
(Ben reaches to the oven and slowly turns up the flame)
With the flame arriving into the elements, the emotions and desires of a human being are supplied.
(Ben then adds a small block of metal into a container of air)
Now, by cooling this air I shall extract its spirit and infuse the steel with that essence.
(Ben stands back to watch for a moment.)
And finally I must add the phosphorous, (he pours it in), the zinc, (pours that in as well) and the quicksilver. (pours that in and steps back to observe the apparatus.)
Then it is ready. All of the parts are in order. And the stone shall be made.
(Ben reaches and allows the liquid to mix with the steel and air)
Now the liquid shall meld with steel, preparing it for the spirit of a human.
(As Ben lets the oven’s contents mix into the reaction, Sara enters and heads straight for the table.)
Sara (angrily): Ben!! You didn’t come to breakfast again! Why do
you keep ignoring me like this?
Ben: No! Sara, don’t touch that apparatus!
Sara: That’s right, nothing can touch Ben’s precious alchemy.
(Sara’s hand brushes the equipment.)
A Tremendous flash!
The lights come to a spot focusing solely on Ben, Ben is holding Sara’s limp body.
Ben: Sara, No!!!
Don’t be gone. (He shakes her) Come on wake up! (Ben begins to cry) No! You can’t be dead. (Ben cries as his head falls.) Sara! No… no… no…
This can’t be true, there’s just no way for this to be true.
(A second spotlight focuses onto the left side of the table, on a small rock in a jar.)
I tried so hard to stop this from coming to pass; yet it still did.
(Ben sees the stone, and looks back to Sara, then sobbing profusely he sets her body down and walks to the stone.)
Is this it? Is this the fabled Philosopher’s stone?
(Ben picks up the jar and throws it against the wall behind him where it shatters.)
I’ve finally found it, but can I ever live with myself because of what I’ve done?
(Ben begins to walk to the stone)
This is it.
(Ben picks up the stone.)
The fabled Philosopher’s stone
(Ben looks to Sara’s corpse, then to the stone, and finally back at Sara. After a moment of stability, he bursts into tears. Then after another moment, stops, and proceeds calmly.)
(Building) I’ve taken it all, her hopes, her dreams, EVERYTHING ABOUT HER IS GONE, ALL INTO THIS GOD-FORSAKEN STONE!!!
(Ben throws the stone across the room with all of his might.)
WHAT HAVE I DONE?! Sara, I’m so sorry, (Ben collapses upon her yet again.) There are so many things I never told you.
Like the time when all of your bread went missing, that was me, and all of those apples you found lying around, I put those there too. But most of all, I loved you Sara! I never told you this while you were alive, but I tell you this now: I loved you, and I still do love you.
The curtain falls to Ben kneeling over Sara’s body, crying softly.
Ryan William Murphy
Please do not steal, or otherwise infringe on the artistic integrity of this work