PUPPETS

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

 

 

 

© 2002 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

 

 

Tags: script, puppets

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