Think "how the other half lives" for the undead. On the job training for Zombies.
|The setting is a cemetery at night. Tombstones stand tall. The zombies are beginning to wake from their slumber. PHIL and MIKE, two zombies, enter L. They walk like any normal living being would. If it weren’t for their tattered attire and corpse-like appearance, you would think them to be living people.
PHIL: Oh, geez. My back needs popping.
MIKE: Bad day’s sleep?
PHIL: Believe me, if the living had any clue how uncomfortable those oak boxes were, they wouldn’t request them.
MIKE: Man, people got not respect for the dead. I was a claustrophobic. What do they do? They stick me in a three by seven wooden box for all eternity.
PHIL: No kidding. So how’d you sleep? And if you say, “Like the dead,” I’m gonna beat you senseless.
MIKE: I slept alright. Hey, where’s Ron?
PHIL: Didn’t you here? He’s gone.
MIKE: Gone? He’s dead. It’s not like he just got up and walked away.
PHIL: You know, that expression seemed a lot more accurate when we were alive. I mean, think about it. What are we?
PHIL: Precisely. We’re dead. We walk.
MIKE: Valid argument for a stupid remark. That still doesn’t tell me what happened.
PHIL: He was exhumed.
MIKE: He moved? And he didn’t tell me? That bastard.
PHIL: I thought everyone knew.
MIKE: I didn’t.
MIKE: So what happened? His family moving or something?
PHIL: No. His case came through.
PHIL: It seems they found the guy who put that lovely hole in his head.
MIKE: That’s great news. So, when is he coming back? After trial?
PHIL: He’s getting cremated.
MIKE: And I was just starting to like the guy.
PHIL: Happens to the best of them, the lucky stiff.
MIKE: So he’s gone to his final resting place?
PHIL: Yup. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
MIKE: Well, that explains the mound of fresh dirt.
PHIL: What are you talking about? When you exhume a body, there’s an indention, not a mound.
MIKE: Well, there’s a mound at 36-B.
PHIL: You idiot. Ron was buried at 46-B.
MIKE: Well, hoorah for Ron. There’s still a mound at 36-B.
PHIL: Oh no. That means….
STU, your stereotypical zombie, comes stumbling and grumbling in from L.
MIKE: Aww, man! I hate newbies!
PHIL: Hi, I’m Phil. Welcome to the neighborhood.
PHIL: Right. And this is Mike.
MIKE: Nice meeting you.
PHIL: So…uh…what’s your name? (beat) Comment t’appelle tu? (beat) Was heiBen Sie? (beat) Como te llmas?
MIKE: Just once I want the new guy to speak English. Just once and I’ll be happy.
PHIL: Hey, Mike. Can you check his tombstone?
MIKE: Alright, but don’t think this bossing me around thing is gonna become a constant practice.
MIKE exits L. STU lunges at PHIL. He shoves STU aside.
PHIL: Ah! Get off of me, you cannibal. We don’t eat each other.
PHIL: We don’t eat each other.
PHIL: We eat people.
PHIL: Don’t give me that attitude. You knew good and well I was a zombie.
PHIL: Yes, I know you’re hungry, but later.
MIKE enters L.
PHIL: Not tonight, but a roast would be nice.
MIKE: His name is Stu.
PHIL: Well, Stu tried to eat me.
MIKE: Disgusting! What kind of savages does he think we are?
PHIL: Listen, Stu. You need to work on those dietary habits of yours if you want to stay in this cemetery. Right, Mike?
MIKE: That’s right. You died once, and I’m not afraid to kill you again.
MIKE: That’s another thing. Your two word vocabulary? Not cutting it. All I’ve heard you say so far is “Ugh” and “Guh.”
PHIL: Seriously. Mummies say “Ugh…” Frankenstein says “Ugh…” You are a zombie. It’s a noble and ancient profession. Take a little pride in your work.
STU: (after much thought) Food.
PHIL: He speaks!
MIKE: I wish more people were like that. No beating around the bush. When he talks, he goes straight to the point.
PHIL: That’s the first and only intelligible word he’s said. He has no choice but to be direct.
MIKE: In a minute. In a minute.
PHIL: Look, you can’t just stuff yourself silly as soon as you wake up. You’ll give yourself a stomach ache, and then we’ll have to listen to you complain all night.
MIKE: You’ve got to pace yourself.
MIKE: No food.
PHIL: Sorry, Stu, but we can’t just let you run around wild. You need some on the job training first.
PHIL: For starters, you are in some serious need for reeducation.
PHIL: Well, let’s start with the basics, shall we? You are dead.
MIKE: The opposite of living. Habeas Corpus and all that jazz.
MIKE: He’s a quick one, alright. You equal dead.
MIKE: He can be taught!
PHIL: That’s right
MIKE: Uh huh.
PHIL: I believe we’ve established that point already.
MIKE: Shut up right now, or I will pummel you with your own legs. Comprende?
STU: (understanding) Dead.
PHIL: Once more with the limited vocabulary. We’ll never be able to teach him anything if he keeps this up.
MIKE: Hey, you were the English major. You teach him.
PHIL: Fine. Stu?
MIKE: Can I hit him?
STU: (throwing up arms in defense) Dead!
PHIL: Stu, I know you have worms eating away at your brain. So do I. But that’s no excuse to speak like a two year old. So I’m going to ask you a few questions, and you are going to answer me. Ok?
PHIL: Let me rephrase that. You’ll answer me with something other than “Dead.” Ok?
PHIL: Good. We’ll start simple. What is your name? (beat) Stu, what is your name? (beat) This isn’t hard, Stu. (beat) Stu, what is your name, Stu? It begins with a “St” and ends with “u.”
MIKE: Give it up. It’s hopeless, Phil.
PHIL: That’s what Ron said about you.
MIKE: I played football. All that monosyllabic grumbling was my natural way of talking!
PHIL: And look how far you’ve come….
MIKE: Insert shameless self promotion here.
PHIL: …thanks to me.
PHIL: You don’t think I can do it?
MIKE: No, I don’t.
PHIL: Oh ye of little faith.
MIKE: I beg to differ.
MIKE: Care to make a bet?
PHIL: How much?
MIKE: Fifty dollars.
PHIL: Fifty dollars? Are you mad?
PHIL: What the hell am I going to do with fifty dollars? It’s not like I can use it to go to a restaurant or check into a hotel or anything.
MIKE: Fine, Phil. You give the stakes.
PHIL: Ok, if I win, you wear a tutu around the graveyard for a week.
MIKE: And if I win, I tell Ted about the stiffy you got when his widow brought flowers.
PHIL: That was rigor mortis!
MIKE: Rigor mortis fades shortly after death!
PHIL: Fine. Since I don’t plan on losing, you’re on.
They shake on it.
MIKE: Henry Higgans, meet Eliza Dolittle.
PHIL: Shut up. Now, Stu, this is important. Do you understand?
MIKE: (singing) The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!
PHIL: Ignore him, Stu. Think hard. What is your name?
MIKE: (singing) In Hartford, Harriford, and Hampshire….
PHIL: What is your name?
MIKE: (singing) Hurricanes hardly ever-
PHIL: Well, Mike?
MIKE: (singing) With a little bit
PHIL: Shut up.
MIKE: (singing) With a little bit
PHIL: Stop being a child.
MIKE: (singing) With a little bit of luck he’ll learn his name!
PHIL: Stop it!
MIKE: (singing) With a little bit
PHIL: Knock it off!
MIKE: (singing) With a little bit
PHIL: Quit it!
MIKE: (singing) With a little bit of bloomin’-
PHIL punches MIKE.
MIKE: Shutting up.
PHIL: Ok, Stu. I’ve got a few more questions. (pointing offstage) What is that, Stu?
PHIL: Ok. (pointing to self) What’s my name?
PHIL: (holding up four fingers) How many fingers?
MIKE: So? Those are easy questions. Of course he’s getting them all right. Anyone can get them right.
PHIL: Small steps, man. Small steps. (pointing to MIKE) Who is he?
MIKE: Ah, what does he know?
PHIL: And what are you?
STU looks around nervously.
PHIL: It’s ok. I promise he won’t hit you.
MIKE: Acceptance. Only eleven more steps to go.
PHIL: You aren’t helping, Mike.
MIKE: Fine, I’ll take my cynical attitude elsewhere. I know when I’m not wanted.
PHIL: Go, you posthumous prick. I’m tired of your intellectually devoid dialog anyway.
STU: (grabbing head) Big word bad!
PHIL: Sorry, Stu. Let me translate for you. He talk dumb. He go now.
MIKE skulks about in the background. He begins defacing tombstones.
PHIL: Ok, Stu. Onward and upward.
STU: Up good.
PHIL: Seems you’ve got nouns and adjectives covered. Let’s move on to verbs, shall we?
PHIL: Those magical little words that express action or states of being.
STU: Verb good?
PHIL: See? Right there! You need a verb or you end up sounding like a wrestler, or worse, James Hetfeild.
PHIL: Verbs are good.
STU: Verb are good.
STU: Verb are not good.
PHIL: No! Verbs are good.
STU: Verb are good?
PHIL: No. “Verb” is singular. “Are” is plural. “Verbs are good.”
STU: Verb are good.
STU: No, that’s the same thing!
MIKE: Give it up, Phil. You are lucky he figured out verbs in general.
STU: (pointing off stage) She look good.
PHIL: Conjugate, man! Conjugate!
MIKE: Hey, Phil! Set aside your grammatical tirade for a minute.
STU: Me hungry.
MIKE: You hear that? He’s hungry.
PHIL: Yeah, and he’s talking like a buffoon.
MIKE: Be fair. No one can think on an empty stomach.
STU: Think bad. Food good.
PHIL: Have you forgotten verbs already?
MIKE: Cut him some slack, Phil. Have a heart.
PHIL: Fine. What do you want?
STU: Me hungry. She look good.
MIKE: Come on, Stu. Don’t be so shallow. Didn’t your mother ever tell you there’s more to a woman than looks?
PHIL: Yeah. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
STU: Heart and mind?
PHIL: Well, yes. Those are good examples, but let’s not forget about the spleen and lungs either.
MIKE: And the liver! That’s an excellent source of iron and other vitamins.
PHIL: Very true.
They stand in silence for a beat.
PHIL: Oh yeah. Right. Sorry. I forgot. Can you get something for us to eat?
MIKE: Why does it always have to be me? Why don’t you get our breakfast once in a while?
PHIL: Hey, I’m busy with Stu. Besides, I’m an English professor. You’re a jock. Who’s more intimidating?
MIKE: I don’t know. I was plenty scared of my English professor in college.
PHIL: That’s because you couldn’t read, Neanderthal.
MIKE: That was shady, Phil.
PHIL: Just get some food, huh?
MIKE: Yes, sir. Anything you say, sir. Would you like a cup of tea with that, sir?
PHIL: Well, actually….
MIKE: Well, too bad! I was being facetious!
STU: (counting syllables) Fa-ce-tious. Ah! Big word!
PHIL: See that? You’re hurting Stu.
MIKE: Fine. I’ll go. But I don’t have to like it.
PHIL: Stop your whining and get out of here.
MIKE: Keep pushing me and see what happens.
MIKE: See what happens.
He exits R.
PHIL: Anyway, where were we?
PHIL: No food.
PHIL: No food.
STU: No food?
PHIL: Sorry, Stu.
STU: Me want food!
PHIL: Verbs! That’s what we're doing!
STU: Verb bad!
PHIL: Verbs are bad.
STU: Me know.
PHIL: No, that’s the proper way to say it. I know you know this stuff. It’s just a matter of getting you to remember it.
STU: Me dumb. Me sorry.
PHIL: You are not dumb. You just need to include the verb “to be” in there.
STU: Me to be sorry.
PHIL: No! No! No! You’ve got to use the proper conjugation!
STU: Me be sorry?
PHIL smacks STU.
STU: Me are sorry?
PHIL smacks him again.
STU: Me is sorry?
STU: Me am sorry?
PHIL: Close, but no cigar, mi compadre. You have the right verb form. You just need to use the nominal case first person pronoun.
STU: (counting) Nom-i-nal! Ah! Big word!
PHIL: Sorry. Ok, Stu. Not “me” but…
STU: I! I am sorry!
PHIL: Very good!
STU: I am hungry!
STU: You am hungry too?
MIKE enters R carrying a couple of arms and a leg.
MIKE: How’s class coming, Teach?
PHIL: Kill me. Again. No. Better idea. Kill him.
MIKE: That bad? I told you it couldn’t be done.
PHIL: It can be done. I just need to take a break. Pass me that leg, will you?
MIKE hands PHIL the leg. MIKE and STU eat the arms.
STU: Thank you. I are very hungry.
PHIL shoots STU a dirty look.
STU: I am very hungry.
PHIL: Better. (beginning to eat) Eech! This tastes kind of funny.
MIKE: Well, I was going to get this muscular guy. You know, plenty of meat, low fat, healthy organs. I’m talking high quality cuisine.
MIKE: But then this used car salesman came walking by.
PHIL: You got a used car salesman? No wonder this is so greasy.
MIKE: Why don’t you get your own food if mine isn’t up to par?
PHIL: Up to par? This is an insult to my palette.
MIKE: Hey, I had to. It was the same guy that sold me the lemon that got me killed.
PHIL: The one without breaks?
MIKE: I only died once. How many other cars could it have possibly been? Of course the one with no brakes! It’s not like I was killed by a car with good brakes!
MIKE: You understand, don’t you?
PHIL: Yeah. Your petty quest for vengeance is forcing me to eat this disgusting meal.
MIKE: No one is forcing you to eat this.
STU: He right. (beat) He is right.
PHIL: Whose side are you on, anyway?
STU points to MIKE.
PHIL: After all I’ve done for you?
MIKE: See? Stu understands me, don’t you, Stu?
STU: Uh huh.
PHIL: And why does this taste burnt?
STU: I don’t know.
MIKE: Oh, that would be the cheap cigars he smoked.
PHIL: Ugh! Disgusting habit and lousy seasoning.
MIKE: No kidding.
PHIL: Oh no! Here comes Ted!
PHIL drops his leg behind a tombstone. MIKE throws his arm offstage right. STU continues eating. MIKE grabs STU’s arm (the one he is eating) and holds it behind his back. TED enters L wearing a “Eat less people” shirt.
STU: Who is Ted?
MIKE: Human Rights Activist.
TED: Hey, guys! What’s going on?
PHIL: Just talking to the new guy.
TED: Oh, hi! I’m Ted.
TED: Nice to meet you. Man, am I famished. Have you guys eaten yet?
PHIL and MIKE quickly cover STU’s mouth.
PHIL: (singing) are strange, when you're a stranger, the faces look--we've eaten nothing.
MIKE: Definitely not any people.
PHIL smacks MIKE.
TED: Well, what’s that in your hand?
MIKE: (realizing he still holds the arm) Umm….nothing…..?
He quickly hides the arm behind his back again.
TED: Nothing? No, that looked like an arm to me.
MIKE: No, it didn’t.
TED: Yes, it did.
MIKE: No, it didn’t.
TED: Yes it did. Let me see what you’ve got in your hand.
MIKE: My hand? Umm….right. Well, there’s….(he hands the arm to PHIL) Nothing in my hand.
MIKE shows TED his now empty hand.
MIKE: See? Nothing in my hand.
TED: That’s because you just handed it to Phil.
MIKE: No, I didn’t.
PHIL: No, he didn’t.
TED: Well, let me see your hand, Phil.
PHIL passes the arm and shows his empty hand.
PHIL: See? Empty.
TED: I guess I’m just going nuts.
MIKE: I’ve been saying that for years.
TED: What was that?
TED: Well, I know you guys must be starved. Lucky for you guys I happen to have a few granola bars with me.
PHIL: No thanks.
MIKE: Really, Ted. That won’t be necessary.
TED: I insist.
PHIL: Oh. You insist. Well. I guess we’ll just eat some granola bars then.
MIKE: Oh goody. Granola bars. My favorite.
TED: I knew it! They’re a lot better than human, I’ll tell you that. And more morally acceptable, too.
TED distributes the granola bars to everyone. They begin eating. It is obvious that no one likes them except TED.
PHIL: Boy, I sure do love this oaty goodness.
TED: Swallow ‘em down! They won’t kill you.
MIKE: No thanks. I’ll just.…uh….savor the flavor for a while.
STU: It’s disgusting-
PHIL: -the way some zombies eat people.
MIKE: I totally agree. I mean, who wants a tender, juicy, tastey, warm exquisite arm when they can have a granola bar?
PHIL: Not me. No, sir. Let me tell you.
TED: Well, I must be going.
PHIL: Bye, Ted!
He exists R. They all spit the granola bars out.
MIKE: Lousy, sissy vegetarian zombie.
PHIL: No kidding. Being dead is all about eating people. But no. Some guys have to take all the fun out of this post-mortem pseudo existence.
PHIL gets the leg from behind the gravestone.
MIKE: Hey, Phil. Ten second rule.
PHIL: Screw the ten second rule. I’m dead. It’s not gonna kill me.
PHIL begins to eat his leg again.
PHIL: You know, this is almost as bad as the granola bar.
MIKE: Stop complaining. Do you know where my piece is?
PHIL: I thought I gave it to you.
MIKE: Well, I don’t have it.
PHIL: Well, I don’t either.
STU: Guys? Which of you is grabbing my ass?
PHIL: Not me.
MIKE: It’s not me.
PHIL and MIKE glance at each other. STU reaches behind his back.
STU: I think I found that arm, Mike.
PHIL: You still hungry, Mike?
STU: Ah ah ah! Verbs, Phil. Verbs.
PHIL: Fine. Are you still hungry, Mike?
MIKE: That’s just disgusting.
MIKE throws the arm off stage R. STU looks offstage R.
STU: It’s Ellen!
STU: Ellen. My wife! Ellen! It’s me! Stu!
STU begins to shamble off right. We hear a female scream. MIKE and PHIL run to stop him.
PHIL: Whoa! Where are you shambling off to in such a hurry?
STU: It’s my wife. I’ve got to speak to her. Let her know I’m ok.
PHIL: And eating people.
MIKE: Forget her. She’s in the past.
STU: But I still love her.
PHIL: Eeww! Loving a living person? That’s organophilia! That’s not right, man.
PHIL: Stu, you are one sick puppy.
MIKE: I know you still love her. But she’s gone. She’s part of a different chapter in the big book of Stu.
STU: She’s not gone. She’s right there!
PHIL: Metaphorically! She’s gone metaphorically!
MIKE: Relax. She’ll die someday, and when she does, you’ll be together again.
STU: Man, this Great Beyond stuff isn’t all that great.
MIKE: And we’re still here, so it isn’t all that beyond either.
They walk over to some tombstones to sit. STU is still shambling.
MIKE: Why do you walk like that?
STU: Like what?
PHIL: You’re doing the zombie shuffle.
STU: Yeah, so? Isn’t that how you’re supposed to walk?
MIKE: Do I walk like that?
MIKE: Does Phil walk like that?
MIKE: So why do you?
STU: It just seems natural.
PHIL: Natural? Don’t you remember what I said about taking pride in your work. Mummies and Frankenstein shuffles. Zombies walk. We are in a noble and ancient profession. Remember?
STU: Wait a second…exactly how are zombies in a noble and ancient profession? You kill and eat people all night. What’s so noble about that?
PHIL: Think about it for a minute, Stu. Remember when you were a kid and your mom said “eat your veggies or the zombies will get you.” Or “The zombies eat little boys who disobey their parents?”
STU: My parents never said that. You must have had a cruel upbringing, what with your parents threatening you with a slow and painful death for insubordination.
PHIL: You are missing the point. We are used as motivation for children to learn a proper value system.
MIKE: Plus, usually we feed around midnight. Who is wandering the streets at midnight but criminals? We are crime fighters in a manner of speaking.
STU: That has to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
MIKE: It was worth a shot.
PHIL: Well, now that you know what’s so noble about the undead, do you see why we don’t shamble?
STU: But, that’s just how zombies walk, I thought.
PHIL: Says who?
STU: Everyone knows it. Like in Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc.
STU: They’re zombies, and they shuffle.
MIKE: Those are movies. I don’t think George Romero ever saw a real zombie.
STU: So? The idea of slow moving zombies must at least be partially based on some truth or it wouldn’t be so commonplace. Most myths are based on fact.
PHIL: Unless you count me before I’ve had my coffee, it isn’t an accurate portrayal of the undead.
STU: Still, there must be some explanation.
MIKE: There is. It’s called “Hollywood.” A guy can’t kill a million zombies if they move fast. So Hollywood makes them slow and stupid.
PHIL: You’ve fallen prey to stereotypes, my friend.
STU: You mean don’t judge a corpse by its coffin?
MIKE: That wasn’t funny.
PHIL: Why don’t we just stick with not judging books by covers, shall we, funny man?
MIKE: My point is you died trying to emulate television. Don’t let it screw up your unlife as well.
STU: (hiding embarrassment) I have no clue what you’re talking about.
MIKE: I read the papers. “Stuart Brown dies jumping out of 10th floor window tied only to a garden hose.” I think you watched a bit too much Die Hard before your untimely demise.
STU: Oh, hush. Besides, it’s hard to move.
MIKE: We’ll show you how to move normally again.
PHIL: Hey, I taught him to speak. You teach him to move.
MIKE: Fine. We’ll start with some warm up exercises.
MIKE: Get down and give me twenty pushups, you maggot infested maggot. Count ‘em out!
STU begins to do pushups and counts as he goes. He stops mid pushup.
MIKE: Did I tell you to stop?
STU: Guys? I can’t move.
MIKE and PHIL look at each other. The roll STU onto his back. He remains motionless. The heave a totally stiff STU into a standing position. He is still unmoving. They pick him up and carry him off left.
PHIL: Stu, on behalf of the William Peterson Memorial Cemetary, welcome to the rest of your life.
MIKE: Rigor mortis is a bitch.