literature

Lithium Apparition

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Literature Text

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Simon - A very wealthy, elderly man who turned himself into an android to avoid death and prolong his work in his businesses. He is now feeling the repercussions of his decisions and think that he is no longer human. He now contemplates suicide for he thinks he no longer has anything to live for.

Cullen - A calm and collected farmer who lives with his wife in his peaceful barn secluded from the commotion of the city. He makes little money by selling his crops once in a while but other than that, he grows his own food and savours his own resources. He stresses as he tries to talk his friend out of suicide by explaining to him the meaning of life and what it means to be human.




Directed by Ayal Jones




SCENE
The play is set in a bar with two chairs in front of the counter.

ACT ONE
Cullen and Simon are at a bar discussing life and catching up on lost years. The story takes place in the 23rd century inhabited by large monopolizing businesses, genetically enhanced foods and where 98% percent of the world’s population has some sort of robotic prosthetic. Cullen is a human and Simon is a well advanced android where most of his body is almost artificial. He is facing problems with himself and is considering suicide. He realizes that he is more machine than human and he feels that he has lost his sense of humanity through the mechanical changes he has placed on his body. Cullen is now trying to talk him out of his decision by explaining to him the meaning of life and what it truly means to be human.

CULLEN
Bartender, can we have 2 beers over here?

SIMON
Oh none for me,(ashamed) I don’t have the stomach for it anymore.

CULLEN
(to bartender) Never mind then, just one please. (returns to Simon) What seems to be the matter? It has been about 12 years since I last saw you. You look great! You’re younger than I have imagined. (Tries to regain memory) In fact, last time I saw you, you were at, the uh....

SIMON
Billy’s wedding.

CULLEN
Yea that’s it! Wow, I wonder how he’s doing now.

SIMON
(points to temple) Two kids. Divorced. Lives with his son and dog. Mother is dead, father resides in a home for the elderly. He now lives in a one bedroom apartment where his son sleeps on the bed and he rests each night sobbing on the couch.

CULLEN
(Lengthy pause) Wow, you speak to him a lot huh?

SIMON
No, I just know.

CULLEN
Just know? You recited his current lifestyle to me as if you were his mother.

SIMON
I know, I can do it for pretty much anybody with Internet access.

CULLEN
What?

SIMON
(lifts part of his shirt showing his side. Cullen is aghast when he sees the intricate glowing circuitry flowing across his body like a game of snake. Simon is an android.)

CULLEN
(after a long stare, he slowly and quietly asks...) What have you done to yourself?

SIMON
Don’t give me that, it’s the year 2453. In the 11th year of my absence I read about the sudden attention that bio mechanics were getting. People were rushing in and out of hospitals to get a new eye, revamped arms, new legs. It was an artificial miracle. With my money I figured hey, why not get a whole new body? I needed this body to dodge these viruses. Somehow diseases keep adapting to our medicines and evolving into something far greater than itself surpassing the strength of current medication. With some good scientists, 30 surgeons, 10 hours on the operating table and 7 million dollars, disease and pain are unknown to me. I am what you see before you. I am an android. But, for the past 12 years I was gone, I started a business in bio-nanotechnology. I  treated billions to pain relieving, memory erasing, dream enhancing, medicines. And that wasn’t all. With my booming success I took my money and invested, bought and sold like mad, and even gave to charity to bump up my public image so people could buy even more; (chuckles) like they had a choice anyway. (proudly) My products were revolutionary. With my money I could have done anything. I had charisma, political influence, all the banks wanted me, (smirks) and women even more.

CULLEN
You didn’t need it man, ya’ looke-

SIMON
(serious tone) Yes, I did. With my business and current success I didn’t want it to end. If I died, virtually no one could have superseded me. Besides, do I look like a guy that wants kids? (with slight anger) With every bloody child looking to become an engineer, scientist, author, philosopher or artist, no one was interested in the business world, not with all the bloody robots roaming about taking over jobs like fresh immigrants. Current businesses were eating each other up like cannibalistic piranha and with every new business that came out, there was always a bigger one willing to buy it. That is how people make their money and how countries thrive. Constant new businesses means newer innovation where the people decide what is good and what is not. What thrives and what doesn’t. In today’s business world, it’s survival of the fittest and the people are God.

CULLEN
I feel so misinformed.

SIMON
The world is not in its prime anymore. Not with all these mind hackers running about. Young kids too!

CULLEN
Mind hackers? They can hack your mind now? But how? Unless...

SIMON
That’s right. Computer engineered organs. (smirks) Including the brain.

CULLEN
Simon you didn’t.

SIMON
I did. My stomach, heart, lungs, bones. They’re all gone. Everything except for parts of my spine, my nerves, 10% of my brain, and...my reproductive organs, (sips bottle discreetly) for obvious reasons.

CULLEN
(chuckles) It sure wouldn’t be you without them. Why do you only have 10% of your brain?

SIMON
(nonchalantly) Minor things like personality. I didn’t want to turn myself into a complete robot.

CULLEN
Not even your skin is real? Your teeth? Nothing?

SIMON
(smiles) All synthetic my organic bud.

CULLEN
Whoa. It looks so real. I mean. You still look like...you.

SIMON
Yeah. Too bad I don’t feel like me. Not anymore.

CULLEN
(concerned) What do you mean?

SIMON
I don’t feel human Cullen. All these abilities, all these gifts, all this knowledge and wealth. It doesn’t mean anything when 85% of your life is prerecorded mental video files stored in your virtual memory. Everything that makes me, me, was extracted from my organic brain into my artificial one. You must remember that my current brain is simply just a computer. I don’t know if those memories are genuine or altered. I don’t know if they are even currently safe. I can no longer dream so I take my own pills to heighten my imagination and make forced dreams at night. I never realised how important dreams were, so now I am addicted to my own drug. My subconscious went with my organic brain. Now with vast memory space, heightened processing, and more RAM than what is required, I can have this conversation, send emails to my computer, chat with other androids, and surf the Internet and much more simultaneously.  Hell, if your brain was like mine we could be having this conversation from start to finish in the same time it took you to say the first sentence. This all seems nice but I do not know myself anymore. I can’t...I can’t feel myself anymore. All my experiences, memories, dreams, they can be removed (snaps) just like that. And I’m not talking about death, I’m talking about physically opening my head and removing a simple little card out of a slot.

CULLEN
(surprised) They still use cards? (pause) Simon, I know I cannot relate but you are still you, I know you, you know you. (reaches for arm) Ya’ haven’t lost yourself buddy.

SIMON
(pulls away) But I have Cullen. Do you know how old I am?

CULLEN
(slowly) Well I am 51, and I met you when I just finished my level 6 doctors degree when I was 42. When I was 42 you were 53 so-

SIMON
(impatiently) 62. 62 Cullen. (brings up a virtual mirror with the use of a hologram by drawing a large rectangle in the air) Look at us Cullen. You can’t see one wrinkle on my face. (swipes mirror away) 62 and still working. When I am awake, I work. When I am asleep, I work. I haven’t stopped working since I was 21. I think 41 years is enough. I have everything but myself. I don’t see the point anymore. I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. I pretty much know everything that is going on in the world and with my heightened dreams, I have lived every movie and practically every experience that I have ever dreamt of in my youth. I think it is safe to say that I have seen it all, there is nothing more for me.

CULLEN
Stop that! The future is always unknown. Maybe, someday we’ll discover something totally new! Maybe a new planet, or maybe, we could finally discover intelligent alien life instead of those reoccurring amoebas.

SIMON
There is nothing else to discover on earth. With our multi x-ray technology we pretty much scanned the earth for every fossil, archaeological find, relic, you name it. There is nothing new here anymore. We’re just ants waiting for some force to smash our anthill so we can just build it back up again. (depressingly) Cullen, I am tired of life. That is why...I am going to end it. Now you have been a very close friend to me-

CULLEN
Simon stop it-

SIMON
And that is why -

CULLEN
Stop!

SIMON
I will give my possessions and money to you.

CULLEN
Shut up! Keep your money, you’re not doing this!

SIMON
(eyes are thinned and brow is creased) Who the hell do you think you are? You think you can just dictate my choices and tell me how I should live my life? I have done quite well without you for 12 years I think I can go a little longer, (exhale) maybe eternity.

CULLEN
(sorrowfully) ...Don’t do this.

SIMON
It is the most logical decision. I have already planned everything out. If you would just take the money I can leave peacefully. I won’t even feel it if I choose not to. Look. (makes a swiping motion on his chest slowly) Hit me here. Where I just swiped.

CULLEN
I am not going to hit you.

SIMON
Oh shut up and do it farm boy.

CULLEN
(raised eyebrows) Farm boy?  (punches him in the chest)

SIMON
(pause) You see?! Nothing! Now do it again. (swipes his chest again in the opposite direction slowly)

CULLEN
(punches him)

SIMON
(falls off chair) Ah! Shit! (coughs) What the hell do you do at the barn man? Lift...lift frigging cows or something?

CULLEN
(Pulls up his sleeve and reveals his mechanical arm)

SIMON
(gives a little smirk and a small exhale of laughter) Son of a bitch. When did you get that?

CULLEN
Well it is the 23rd century.

SIMON
(sits back up) How did you even afford-

CULLEN
I couldn’t. little ol’ farmer like me, you kidding me? The government doesn’t need us farmers anymore. I feed myself and my wife now, and sometimes sell my products to earn a bit of cash. That’s how I bought this arm. It was in the summer. I was stripping cow skins with the industrial shaver. You know, the one with the huge blade that clamps onto the skin and drags back the fat? Well I was holding the skin from the other end with one hand but I leaned in too far and the blade just snipped my arm right off. Sort of miss the darn thing too.

SIMON
(gets up and exclaims with sorrow) Then you know what it feels like! You lost your arm Cullen. There is no way to get it back. You are now a fraction of yourself. This technology isn’t perfect, there are still somethings that we wish it could do. How does it make you feel knowing that you could only feel your wife's cheek with one hand as you hold her face in both hands? I do not feel human. I am not human. I have lived out my life, there is nothing more to live for.

CULLEN
(gets up) (desperately) Simon listen. We are human because we have the ability to say so. The fact that we are even able to question our humanity differs us from other animals. We are freakin’ smart man. Top of the food chain! We give the universe consciousness. That is what differs us from anything else!

SIMON
(sorrowfully) Then why do I feel so secluded? A man is not made with fibers and sinew. He isn’t created by the layering of strength or even intelligence. A man is made from heart, from virtues! Something I do not have Cullen. I traded it all off for intellect and heightened cognitive thinking. Logic and knowledge! All my decisions are heartless and blind towards whatever goal I choose. Just leave me be. (yells) Let me go!

CULLEN
(yells back) No!

SIMON
Why not? Listen to me. Why is it when someone feels suicidal, everyone is so up in arms to change their mind? Why is there always a firetruck, trampoline, or a sheet to catch the one that finally jumps? I’ll tell you why. It’s so they can forget. Forget how shitty life really is. It’s so when they save that suicidal maniac, they don’t have to be reminded about how meaningless life really is. (mockingly) “No Simon, don’t jump. Come and stay with us, let us serve you milk and cookies while you make yourself cozy in our cage”.

CULLEN
No, no it’s not like tha-

SIMON
(loudly) Yes it is, don’t argue with me! Why do you work so earnestly to pay for things you can’t afford? You work to live, and you live to work. Such a vicious cycle. It’s like, whenever someone succeeds in committing suicide, society goes “Darn. He got away”. That is why I am done here Cullen. I don’t even have a half a brain and my body is probably on some table ready to be dissected by college kids. (Puts finger to temple) Nope. Never mind, it’s in the trash. So you see? I have nothing else to live for. Do you know what happens when you shut off a computer in mid download?

CULLEN
(pauses to think. eyes open wide in realization) No, you won’t-

SIMON
(loudly and interrupting) When you shut off a computer in mid download files are lost. That’s how it always is. Now. Things have this habit of becoming more fragile the more complex it is. And seeing how complex the computing of my mind is. (Walks backwards and raises arm to cord at the back of the neck)

CULLEN
(yells) What the hell...(runs fingers through hair in frustration) what the hell is wrong with you!

SIMON
Goodbye Cullen. This is the best way for me. (takes a bow)

CULLEN
No. (Puts robotic hand around own neck)

SIMON
(raises head) What are you doing?

CULLEN
(choked up) Suicide. Because this arm is not a part of me, my will to survive cannot stop the decision I have given this arm to do. The arm is simply acting out its instruction.

SIMON
(positions himself upright, waves his arm and yells) You don’t have the balls! You have your whole life ahead of you. (stammers) Your wife...someone to love. Family! You have family don’t you? Listen, it’s a win, win situation. I go and you inherit my money. I have no family Cullen. Just let me do this!

CULLEN
(shakes his head. Still choking himself) (voice is held back)  This isn’t about money Cullen! You are my friend, I can’t live with a dead friend’s money! You expect me to live lavishly when I have the image of your dimmed eyes in the back of my mind? I want you to live and to be happy with life. You think you no longer have a purpose but the beauty about life is that it is pliable. You can shape it to however you want it to be. You give your life purpose not the other way around. And even if you don’t agree with me, if you leave, afterlife or not, I am coming with you. (squeezes tighter) (coughs)

SIMON
(Hesitates then let’s go of cord) Fine! You win! You...(under his breath) freak.

CULLEN
(releases grip) (inhales deeply and falls knees from exhaustion)  Simon...

SIMON
(frustrated tone) How do you do it? When you think there is nothing else you always push forward. Why do people do it? Why do ants do it? Why do we do it? How are they so sure all this is real? How am I sure all this is real when I don’t even feel real myself? All this could be an illusion. All this could be fake. What is existence when we don’t know that anything exists? What is the point if we don’t know if there really is one? (turns back).

CULLEN
(gets up and takes out a book) “I have convinced myself that there is nothing in the world — no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Doesn’t it follow that I don’t exist? No, surely I must exist if it’s me who is convinced of something...

SIMON
(turns around to face Cullen) But there is a deceiver, supremely powerful and cunning whose aim is to see that I am always deceived. But surely I exist, if I am deceived. Let him deceive me all he can, he will never make it the case that I am nothing while I think that I am something...

CULLEN
Thus having fully weighed every consideration, I must finally conclude that the statement ‘I am, I exist’ must be true whenever I state it or mentally consider it.”

SIMON
Descartes, Meditation II: On the Nature of the Human Mind, Which Is Better Known Than the Body. (chuckles) Yeah...I know.

CULLEN
“I think...

SIMON
Therefore, I am.”
A play I wrote for high school.
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