THE 37TH DAY (Prelude to Lohengrin)

A three-act play

CAST:

Dad (Adam) 

Daughter (Adam’s daughter)

Roomie (Robert) 

Act 1

SET: It’s a half-lit underground basement-shelter. In the centre, near the stage there is a round table with a simple radio, fuzzy wick burning oil-lamp, some books, papers, glasses and a thermos jug. Two men are sitting around the table, thoughtfully looking down. In the background there is a cupboard, a food sideboard and a bed on which a sleeping body can be seen. There is a landscape with green and lightful grove, sun and mountains on the wall.

ROBERT – (under breath) – Shall we try one more time?

ADAM (whispering) – It’s all in vain. 

ROBERT – Who knows?

ADAM – Ok. But rather softly. My daughter’s sleeping. (Casts a look at the bed by the wall).

Robert carefully turns on the radio and slowly rotates the transmitter. Only white noise can be heard from the radio.

ROBERT (angrily turning off the radio). It’s been 21 days now and no meaningful sound at all. Not from any channel. One can get crazy.

ADAM – And you don’t get crazy. Read a book or just think.

ROBERT – I’m getting sick of thinking. Nor do I care about reading a book. One can think now I’m only missing “Gelsomino nel paese dei bugiardi” and “Le Petit Prince”. Couldn’t you bring some good books to the basement? Or just a collection of crossroads.

ADAM (ironically) – Next time.

ROBERT (with a calm smile)– Next time! Let’s digest this one, for the next time we’ll think on. Can’t even imagine what’s going on outside. What do you think is going on?

ADAM (after a short silence) – Probably already nothing.

ROBERT – Speak clearly. You’re a scientist – physicist, aren’t you? When can we get out of this damn basement?

ADAM (looking into the speaker’s face)– By the way, this damn basement saved my daughter’s, your and my lives.

ROBERT – Of course, sorry, roomie. But do understand me…

ADAM – I see. And what do you suggest? What should we do?

ROBERT – Try to get outside. Trying to catch a help. Nobody will find us here. If only there was a communication…

ADAM – So, you can get out. I won’t keep you. But shut the door firmly behind you. 

ROBERT – I’ll run to the nearest hospital and bring some aid.

ADAM (ironically smiling) – Run… Well, give a try. Of course, if you could even get the hospital’s ruins…

ROBERT – You think everything is so serious?

ADAM – And you think you’re dreaming? Will get out of this door and this inexorable dream will vanish like a comet? Will see such landscapes outside? (Points out to the landscape hanging on the wall). Wake up, Robert! There’s no hospital. No town. Hardly any help. Don’t know whether it was our luck or the fate of fortune that I decided to take my daughter to the countryside that Saturday. This country house and this basement kept us alive. I remember the terrible blast on the horizon in the direction of the city. It was as if thousands of suns came together in the sky. I barely managed to hug my daughter and get down here. We are lucky enough that my ancestors had built such a thick-stoned basement and every day were ready for wars or suchlike disasters. Otherwise, neither would we have the reserves of water nor other goodies.

ROBERT – Yeah…

ADAM – I was a child when my grandpa showed this great mystery to me. He’d seen a lot in his life – three wars and other disasters. A very cautious person he was. He’d dug a basement under another basement, slipped through the potato pit and removed soil, expanding the area. Only my grandma knew about this. And me. For ten years he’d been digging. For ten years…Then he’d dug the adjoining room where you’re sleeping now. It might have been more difficult, as he came across a stone. Then he dug a kind of well, installed this sewage disposal and ventilation systems, put shelves, set chairs and a table. And my grandma, in her turn, had brought some candles, matches, black soap, oil, an oil-lamp, salt, flour and suchlike things here. Even she hadn’t forgotten about arsenic powder and some mouse traps. In summer and autumn she canned some food and brought down here, replacing the old ones. Maybe they’d predicted something bad. A few years ago grandpa asked me to bring a powerful electric accumulator. I brought it. In a dry condition. Some solutions in separate bottles. Just for his request I got anti-gas and protective equipment for chemical warfare. I also bought a two-sided walkie-talkie from the hunter’s shop. Later my grandpa saw a solar battery on TV and spoke to me about it. I didn’t manage to make it. That’s a pity, of course… But a lot of things have been done. Many would call him crazy, but he was steadfast and imbued with his faith like Noah. He wasn’t talkative. He’s the last to trust patriarchal morals, probably it would sound weird, but he didn’t care about everyone’s opinions. The supreme authority for him was he himself and his truth. Belief works its magic, Robert.

ROBERT – It’s interesting…

ADAM – Before he passed away he called me. He might have been feeling himself passing away. His presented me with his old sward and gun, which he’d had since war. And in the end asked his wife to go out and put the basement key into my hand. He had always had it with him. Anyway, all of this was for our luck. 

ROBERT – Sure. And I’d been lucky enough to come and ask for a mouse trap…

ADAM (smiling). Actually mice saved your life.

ROBERT – I’ve always considered mice as wise animals.

ADAM (ironically) – And very tasty.

ROBERT (disgustingly) – Now I’ll burp up.

ADAM (with a calm smile) – In China and some other countries people adore fired rats.

ROBERT – Please, no other word about them… I’m disgusted by them.

ADAM – OK, OK, but don’t make a noise. My daughter will wake up. It’s better for her to sleep. Time passes easier this way. And finally, wake up, Robert! Disgusted or not, they are our main source of nourishment now. And remember to tell my daughter it is a rabbit.

ROBERT – Rabbit meat …

ADAM- Yeah, rabbit meat. And I’ll tell you one more time – modern nuclear weapons aren’t the ones fired on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They’re thousand times more powerful. This I tell you as a physicist. 

ROBERT – And how long does it take for that toxic cloud to disperse?

ADAM – The toxic cloud you mean has dispersed long ago. The wind does its work. But now everything is a source of death. Every stone. Every bush and flower. Even every corpse is a secondary source of radioactive radiation. Even soil and water. Even rain and snow. Everything.

ROBERT – I see… But how many days have passed?

ADAM – 35.

ROBERT (giving in to thoughts). 35 days.. But so far as I’m concerned, over time the radiation decreases and weakens.

ADAM – Yeah, for some materials the period of half-life is 30 years, for others- 400, for some – thousands of years.

ROBERT – Oh my God… 400 years…

ADAM – Even if it were 30, I see no difference at all.

ROBERT – So what?

ADAM- So, be content with what you have and don’t complain.

ROBERT – But what should we do? Don’t you think we should stink here for 30 years. We’ll run out of food and water, won’t we?

ADAM – Yeah, we’ll run out of them and candles should be carefully used. And the batteries for radio. Everything. 

ROBERT – What if we try to get outside and walk to the place where there’s no radiation or it’s weaker? Maybe we can get a car.

ADAM – We can’t get a car. All the cars are out of order. So are the roads. Everything. And we can’t go far away on foot. Very soon we’ll fall down and literally we’ll die. Radiation is not a joke. Do you remember what the radio said last time?

ROBERT – I do…Everything is completely destroyed at the radius of at least two thousand kilometers. Nuclear winter has landed on the Earth. If there’re still survivals, then they might be in the farthest Siberia, Latin America and Australia.

ADAM (ironically) – So, let’s walk to the Siberia or Australia, shall we?

Both of them simultaneously stop talking.

ROBERT – Have you heard from your folks?

ADAM – How can I have? You are naive. My wife was in town at the blast, and my son was in the army. Still before the blast I’d had no news from him. No, it’s in vain….

ROBERT (after a short sad silence) – You know, roomie, for the first time I’m glad I’m single.

ADAM – Sure, there’re advantages in it. One can’t lose what he doesn’t have.

ROBERT – You’re dwelling on… I’m sure help will come. I have an inner hope. The rescuers will make out that there’re survivals in the villages. They are sure to come.

ADAM – I don’t know. Rescuers need help themselves. You’re under the influence of feature flicks. The National Guard’s coming to save everybody and taking to a wonderful place.

ROBERT – Well, I’m not that naive. But I think some authorities with bright minds are alive and understand that each survival is an essential part of the human genome. They’ll eventually gather all the healthy survivals in a safe place for the humanity to continue its existence.

ADAM – What’s your occupation, Robert?

ROBERT – I’m a free thinker and independent philosopher.

ADAM – I see… Now I understand where your optimism comes from.

ROBERT – I’m not an optimist, I’m a realist.

ADAM – My dear realist, probably you don’t imagine clearly what has happened. Even if there’re non-radiated areas (which I doubt a lot), it’s all the same, the world is radiated, the world ocean, the whole environment (in case it exists) is radiated. Millions of tones of dust and soil have covered the sky. Ozone layer has definitely abolished. Thousands of years are necessary for a good recovery. And without it solar lays will destroy everything. No food. Even if there was some food anywhere there’d be wars for it. Besides, food and water are not everything. Human beings need solar light, under artificial lighting they won’t last long. 

ROBERT – You describe everything in darkest colors.

ADAM – (lowering his voice, but still angry). Now, let’s think, how can we live or prosper in such conditions? Is it possible? One more thing. Man is a social phenomenon. Of course, there’re hermits who isolate themselves and live with their prayers or ideas.

ROBERT – To reach Nirvana.

ADAM – Let they reach it. I am happy for them. But do you know what saves them?

ROBERT – What?

ADAM – The idea that the human civilization is not that far away from them. Otherwise their martyrdom and nirvana would make no sense. Well or badly that society keeps itself. Though it consists of individuals (and it is good), it acts as a whole unity. Compare it with an anthill. Ants may not know about each other, but they are united by the power of invisible social ties, centrifugal ideas, and spiritual energy of unity. 

ROBERT – That’s really interesting but why are you telling it?

ADAM – Cause now modern public relations are gone. Human herd values will dominate in case the herd is preserved. Instinctual expectations and demands – eating, drinking, being defended will remain… Perhaps also genome reproduction…

ROBERT – Why do you ignore the last one? Reproducing is among primary instincts. In addition only this way mankind can multiply and fill the free space of the planet. Alike in the old times.

ADAM – You’re right, but you know that in order to multiply close blood relationship must be excluded; otherwise their offspring will be sick and barren. In the old times people brought brides from remote villages. Later big cities appeared gathering unrelated individuals. Now there can’t be such a kind of situation. Savvy? The number of people left alive and gathered in one place is not enough for reproduction, even if we ignore the matter of love and affection, which are also important for giving healthy generation.

ROBERT – You’re making very logical judgments. But…

ADAM – But what?

ROBERT – Logically you’re right. But I believe in miracles. God won’t leave us.

ADAM – God! Have you put your hope in God?

ROBERT – In God and our intelligence. You were telling me about the wonderful combination of these two forces.

ADAM – Yeah, I was telling and now can repeat it but more and more I come to the conclusion that all this is God’s punishment. The first time through water, the second time through fire. This is fire. It’s God’s will, Robert. One can’t escape it. I more than anyone else would like it to be as you say. I’ve already got used to the idea that my wife and son are not alive, but I’ve a daughter. A cheerful creature looking forward to the good days of future. Wouldn’t I like your mentioned rescuers to come and save at least my daughter? But 35 days have already passed. Eternity… What kind of hopes can I cherish? Sound judgment tells me that the end is near.

ROBERT – Don’t lose your hope, roomie. For the sake of your daughter…

ADAM – You’re touching my heart strings. Yeah, my daughter… She gives me hope, and I’m living to keep and protect her… With hope and fairy-tales.

ADAM – Hope is the last thing to die. Life would be meaningless without hope.

Both stop talking. Adam looks at the picture on the wall, Robert at the sleeping girl.

ROBERT – Look here, roomie, tell me about your daughter.

ADAM – What should I tell? Haven’t you learnt everything during those days?

ROBERT – Well, I learnt only about obvious things, tell me about what is not said aloud. No idea what it’s. My sister had children but I haven’t seen them for a while.

ADAM – (looking at the sleeping daughter, then at Robert and still lowering his voice). Well, once my daughter saved my life.

ROBERT (with shining eyes). Tell me, please.

ADAM – Don’t know… It’s so personal… Later will tell.

ROBERT – What’re you losing? Tell me…

ADAM – Ok. But don’t ask questions and don’t make any remarks.

ROBERT – Promise.

ADAM (after a short silence) – Life isn’t as simple as it seems at childhood and adolescence. There’re times when you want to forget both your past, present and future…When Sundays become endless and the only thing you’re dreaming of is to wake up late and kill the time until Monday, when you can forget about your past, present and future in your daily routines and work chores… On such a Sunday I took my daughter to the children’s park. Next to the bridge where there’re also sports fields and fountains.

ROBERT – Yeah, I know, there’re also roses there. Once I was dated there with a beauty. 

ADAM – Yeah, there are, or rather there were… Anyway. My daughter and I went for a walk. While she’s playing and running with other children, my whole life passed in my memories. My eyes were constantly on the bridge. Don’t know how I got up and walked towards the bridge. Even couldn’t understand what I was doing. My steps were just leading me. In the hope of forgetting everything and putting an end to my endless mental sufferings… I might have gone quite far, when my daughter’s voice stopped me: ‘’ Daddy, where’re you going? I stopped and got astonished. Couldn’t move. My daughter’s voice was calling me back, whereas my eyes were taking me to the bridge-savior. At that time she reached me, held my hand and, literally, brought me back to life. On the way back I was constantly looking at the bridge, but love of life appeared to be more powerful. That’s all…

Robert looks silently at Adam, then at the sleeping child, and again at his roomie.

ADAM – Other things also have taken place but I can’t tell you about now.

ROBERT – Sure, sure, no need to tell…

Both stop talking and look at the radio.

ROBERT- Well, I’ll go to bed. It might be too late.

ADAM (thoughtfully)- Yeah, it’s very late…

ROBERT – Don’t you want to sleep, roomie? So time’s running faster and hunger doesn’t bother much.

ADAM (staring at the radio). Nope, don’t want to sleep. I’ll stay up.

ROBERT- What are you going to do?

ADAM- Try to forget my past, present and future.

ROBERT –You need sleeping pills.

ADAM – Nope, in order to forget one’s past, one needs a good memory.

ROBERT – It isn’t easy.

ADAM – I dare say it’s the most difficult thing to do. Go to the adjoining basement. Your snoring won’t disturb my daughter, and you’ll check the traps.

ROBERT – Please, explain to me one thing. How did it happen that after the blast only rats kept alive?

ADAM – Eventually rats get everything. Such is law of life.

ROBERT – And if you keep your philosophy aside?

 ADAM – They live deep under the ground and are more protected. And their biological needs aren’t big: just eating, breeding and sharpening their fangs.

ROBERT –As well becoming food for us… Again I got sick… Well, I’m going. I’ll take the radio with me in case I might hear something.

ADAM – Save the batteries. Good night, roomie. Have good dreams.

ROBERT (leaving the basement) – Good night.

Adam blows out the candle. Everything falls into darkness, only there’s an obscure dim light on the landscape on the wall.

CurtainAct 2

SET: It’s the same half-lit underground basement-shelter. Adam stands still, looking the landscape on the wall. At that time the blanket on the bed under the wall moves. Adam looks over the bed.

DAUGHTER – Morning, daddy!

ADAM (smilingly approaching the bed) – Morning, darling!

DAUGHTER – Is it already daylight?

ADAM (looking at his watch) – Yeah, sure it’s daylight.

DAUGHTER(sitting on the bed). – Daddy, I’ve seen a wonderful dream! Would you like to hear?

ADAM – Sure, I want to. Tell me.

DAUGHTER – It was a fine warm day. You, mom, bro and I had gone to a wonderful place, probably to the sea, but it wasn’t visible. I was hurrying to change my clothes and run to the sea. Then I appeared in a very beautiful grove. I was walking down the path. The sun was shining between the tree leaves. I was sure that path was leading me to the sea. I was running at full speed but heading on very slowly! Suddenly I noticed you’re following me. You were also running but couldn’t catch up with me. And suddenly I smelled the sea and heard the sea waves…

The daughter stops speaking.

ADAM – What happened then? Did you see the sea?

DAUGHTER – Nope, daddy, didn’t see, only could hear the sea waves…You know why I didn’t see? 

ADAM – Why?

DAUGHTER – Cause I have never seen the sea in my real life. Don’t know how it looks like. I know it only from your stories. 

ADAM – A wonderful dream, darling! Now come to the table to have breakfast.

Adam takes something from the sideboard, sitting down at the table and turning up the oil-lamp light.

DAUGHTER – Daddy, what’s this?

ADAM – Juice. From fruit and sweet sugar.

DAUGHTER – How tasty it is! Remember. When I was ill once, mom’s giving me such kind of thing to get well soon.

ADAM – Yeah, and I’ll pour some tea for me.

Adam pours some tea from the thermos jug.

DAUGHTER – Very tasty…I got already fed up with that rabbit meat.

ADAM – Rabbit meat is also very tasty and very useful. I told you, right? There’s a lot of protein in meat. They make us strong.

DAUGHTER (indifferently) – Daddy, where’s the radio?

ADAM – Robert took it with him to try to hear something.

DAUGHTER – I wish he heard some good news… I’m very much missing mom and bro. And our home.

ADAM – Hope, he’ll hear and tell us.

DAUGHTER (eating eagerly). Daddy, I want to you tell me about the sea.

ADAM – Again? Yesterday I told you.

DAUGHTER – I want to… I like the sea very much.

ADAM – You haven’t seen the sea, have you? How can you like it?

DAUGHTER – It’s much same. I want to.

ADAM – Ok. I’ve seen the sea in a remote country where I was on a business trip. First I heard the sea sound, then felt its smell like in your dream. Then I made some steps and saw… It’s like a miracle, almost an indescribable happiness. I’d decided to undress immediately and jump into the sea but some inward reverence didn’t allow me to do that. I took off my shoes, socks, lifted my pants and wetted my feet in sea water.

DAUGHTER (excited)- Oops…

ADAM – And so I was walking barefoot along the shore sand. The waves are covering my feet and even moistening my pants, but I was so happy…Sea is a great happiness…

DAUGHTER – Like family and home?

ADAM – Yeah, like family and home.

DAUGHTER – Tell me some more.

ADAM – Then I sat on a sand dune and was enchantingly looking at the sea. Even didn’t notice how it’s getting dark. The sun’s setting like an enormous orange sinking deeply into the sea. The sea sounds are merging with the birds twittering. At that moment the feeling of boundless happiness surrounds you. All daily issues become miserable and fleeting… At that moment you understand you’re a part of the nature. This is happiness… I only regretted for one thing…

DAUGHTER – That you didn’t swim?

ADAM (smiling) – Nope… That you weren’t with me.

DAUGHTER – Daddy, but I wasn’t born yet.

ADAM – You’re right. Haven’t thought about that.

DAUGHTER – But we’ll go together to see the sea, right? 

ADAM – Sure, we’ll definitely go.

DAUGHTER – But when? I can’t wait any more.

ADAM (stroking the daughter’s head) – We’ll definitely go. 

DAUGHTER – But when?

ADAM – I’ve already told you – when the toxic cloud disperses.

DAUGHTER – Now you’ll say, you should study physics and maths to understand it.

ADAM (smiling and picking up some paper and pencil from the table heap). You’re quite right. If you’ve drunk your juice and you’re fed up, we’ll study a bit.

DAUGHTER – I want to draw. We’ll study later. You told me that drawing is also important for becoming an educated person.

ADAM – Yeah, it’s very important.

DAUGHTER – Then, I’ll draw a little…

ADAM – Draw, but what?

DAUGHTER – Guess, you’ve three chances.

ADAM(rubbing his forehead) – Our house?

DAUGHTER – Didn’t guess. Try again.

ADAM – Playing ground and children?

DAUGHTER (a bit disappointingly). Try your last chance.

ADAM – Perhaps, our family. Am I right?

DAUGHTER – Closer, closer…

ADAM – Hmm… don’t know. I give up!

DAUGHTER – Daddy, it’s so simple.

ADAM – You say.

DAUGHTER – Our family on the seashore.

ADAM – Really, how couldn’t I guess?..

DAUGHTER – I’ll draw now.

The daughter puts the paper in front of her and starts to draw. Adam looks at her admiringly.

DAUGHTER –(drawing and rotating her tongue). This is the sea. Look, how beautiful the waves are! These are dolphins and this is the sand beach. Is the sand white?

ADAM – It’s whitish.

DAUGHTER – This is me, this is mom. And this boy with messy hair is bro. Aha, and this is the sun. And in the far is a sailboat with pirates.

ADAM – Pirates? Where did you take them from? I haven’t told you about them.

DAUGHTER – I’ve read in a book that there should be pirates in the sea. Some of them are kind, the others are cruel.

ADAM – Well, and these spots in the air and on the waves. What are they? Flies?

DAUGHTER (regretfully) – Daddy, how do you not understand? It’s the smell of the sea. You were just telling me about…

ADAM (heartily smiling). Aha, sure. I’ve forgotten. Yeah, yeah… How can a sea be without a sea smell!

DAUGHTER – Here, I’ve finished.

ADAM – Remember to write your name and put the date.

DAUGHTER (impatiently) – I know, I know… Hundred times you’ve said this. In order to look at it to remember later.

ADAM – Yeah, in order to look at it and remember later.

DAUGHTER – Daddy, what day is it today?

ADAM (getting serious) – 36th, daughter, 36th

DAUGHTER – Shall I write 36th day?

ADAM – Nope…Better put the date. Here, copy it from my watch.

DAUGHTER – What about the year?

ADAM – You know the year.

DAUGHTER (writing) – Know, know…Here, I wrote it. Look!

ADAM (examining the drawing) –Wonderful, my daughter! A wonderful picture!

DAUGHTER – When mom and bro come, we’ll show them.

ADAM (immediately getting serious) – Yeah, we’ll definitely show them.

DAUGHTER – Daddy, do you know what I remembered?

ADAM – What?

DAUGHTER – Remember, you used to live separately, as you would finish your work late. I missed you so much… So much I wanted to see your house. And one day you picked me up from my school and we together went to your house. Remember?

ADAM – Yeah, remember. It was a fine day.

DAUGHTER – One of my happiest days. We had Italian coffee together and swore not tell mom about it. You’d brought a very funny cup from a remote country. Remember? There’s a burnt out cigarette in the cup not a real one, but… eh, forgot this word…

ADAM – Ceramic.

DAUGHTER – Aha! Graphical. Then we played many games, chatted, even a new game invented.

ADAM (sighing almost unnoticing) – Yeah, it’s a nice day…

DAUGHTER – Then you took me home…

ADAM –And you’re firmly holding my hand. 

DAUGHTER – Very firmly! I didn’t want to leave you so much. It’s so good with you… I had been worrying about you, where you’re living, what you’re eating, where sleeping…But when I saw, I got relaxed.

ADAM – Yeah, it’s a fine day…Warm and snuggly.

DAUGHTER – Yep, you know, dad, when we came in this basement I got very happy.

ADAM – Got happy?

DAUGHTER – Yeah, because we are going to be together again. Only that’s a pity there’s no Italian coffee and that cup. And I wish mom and bro were together with us.

ADAM – Probably, one day.

DAUGHTER – Why are you saying probably?

ADAM – You see, my daughter, a big bomb has been exploded…

DAUGHTER – I know that, you hugged me and we ran here. A terrible sound came and the walls were shaking. I was so scared. I was holding your hand so firmly that my fingers were aching.

ADAM (trying to smile) – Even my fingers were aching. 

DAUGHTER – Daddy, but if we hadn’t come to the village that day, we would be all together, right? You, mom and me. Bro should have come for a vacation from the army.

ADAM – Probably we’d be together…

DAUGHTER – Again you’re saying probably. We’d definitely be together.

ADAM (sadly smiling) – We’d definitely be together.

DAUGHTER – How great it would be!

ADAM – Very great it would be…

DAUGHTER – Well, daddy we’ll still be together. Robert told me that rescuers would come and take us all out of here to a good place where the poisonous cloud hadn’t arrived.

Adam stares at her daughter.

DAUGHTER – There might be sea as well there…

ADAM – Maybe… Who knows?

DAUGHTER – Then my picture will get alive.

ADAM – Yeah, will get alive.

DAUGHTER – Like Bananito’s pictures?

ADAM – Who’s Bananito? I don’t know…

DAUGHTER – Daddy, you’re a physicist-mathematician but don’t know the most important things. Bananito’s Gelsomino’s friend.

ADAM – Gelsomino’s?

DAUGHTER – Yeah, Gelsomino’s, who was in the world of cheaters.

ADAM – This book’s here, right?

DAUGHTER – Sure, also ‘’Le Petit Prince’’. Do you know what Bananito had got? He had got magic pencils. What he draw, came true.(dreamingly). I wish I had got such pencils. I’d draw mom and bro, and the sea… And all these would come true…

ADAM – Don’t you want to read?

DAUGHTER – Now I know it by heart, dad.

ADAM – We don’t only read to learn new things. We often read to enjoy nice feelings again. Both of these books are full of such fun moments. You read, meanwhile I’ll nod a bit. I didn’t sleep at night.

DAUGHTER – Why didn’t you sleep, dad?

ADAM – I was thinking…

DAUGHTER – About what?

ADAM – Different things, my daughter.

DAUGHTER – Don’t worry. Everything will be all right. I know you’re worrying about mom and bro, but we’ll definitely find them, when we go out of here. Or they’ll come to us and knock on the door. Can you imagine what happiness it would be? How firmly I would hug them…

ADAM – Yeah, sure.

DAUGHTER – When I grow older, shall I get married?

ADAM – Of course, you will.

DAUGHTER – To whom?

ADAM – Whom you’ll love and want to live together, have babies.

DAUGHTER – Separately from you, mom and bro?

ADAM – Sure. You can’t live with us, can you?

DAUGHTER – But I’ll miss you much… I don’t want to live away from you.

ADAM – When you grow older and love a boy, you’d wish to live away from us.

DAUGHTER (frowning) – Won’t wish. I love you.

ADAM – And we love you very much, but there comes a time in everybody’s life when they’re separated from their family and make their own ones.

 DAUGHTER (in sad thoughts). – Ok, ok… But not very far from you, so that I can see you every day and we can play together.

ADAM (smiling) – I think you won’t like to play at that age. Or you’ll play with your husband, kids.

DAUGHTER- But we’ll often see each other, right?

ADAM – Yeah, sure. At every possible occasion.

DAUGHTER – Ok, I got it. Now lie and have a rest. And I’ll read about Le Petit Prince. Nope, about Gelsomino… Or, about Le Petit Prince.

ADAM – Make up your mind.

DAUGHTER- I’ve already made my choice. I’ll read about Gelsomino. Or, nope, about Le Petit Prince…

ADAM (smiling) – Both are good. Read both of them.

DAUGHTER- Do you remember the conversation between Le Petit Prince and the fox?

ADAM – Remind me…

DAUGHTER- When they become friends, the fox says:’’ A man is eternally responsible for those he has trained’’.

Adam silently looks at his daughter and can’t find words to answer back.

DAUGHTER – Well, sleep, daddy! And don’t think much. Imagine the sea and you’ll sleep quickly. Or count lambs.

ADAM – I know those lambs name by name, all of them…Well, I’ll lie and have a rest. You read.

Adam casts another look at the landscape on the wall and lies on the bed. The girl takes the book in her hand, opens a page and begins to read in immersive way.

Curtain

Act 3

SET: It’s the same half-lit underground basement-shelter. Adam is at the table, looking at the landscape on the wall. There’s a book on the table and a juice glass. The girl as asleep in the bed under the wall. A light door crunch is heard and Robert comes in. He puts the radio and a white bottle on the table.

ROBERT – Morning, roomie!

ADAM- Speak low, my daughter’s sleeping. Morning, though it’s still midnight. Why aren’t you sleeping?

ROBERT – Is your daughter really sleeping?

ADAM- Yeah, why are you asking?

ROBERT – Missed her, would like to chat and play with her. She’s so cute. A very bright kid.

ADAM (peering into Robert’s eyes) – Tell me what’s on your mind. 

ROBERT (showing the white bottle). – I’ve brought the arsenic powder back. There’s no time for that.

ADAM- Then what were you busy with?

ROBERT (lowering his voice) – The radio made an announcement. At last I caught a small message on the short waves.

ADAM(restless) – Say, I’m short of patience.

ROBERT – It was an official message. They read it several times.

ADAM – Speak up to the point immediately.

ROBERT – They said, everything on the earth’s completely destroyed. There’re no safe areas left anywhere. As much as it’s been possible to find out in recent days. Can’t even remember how many days have passed.

ADAM- 36.Today’s the 37th day. What else did they say?

 ROBERT – They said one needn’t expect any help. Those who are alive and are in shelters should try to remain where they are, as there’s no place to go.

ADAM (ironically smiling) – And don’t the National Guard and rescuers rush to help?

ROBERT (looking down)– There will be no help.

ADAM- Good news, nothing to say.

Both stop speaking and look down.

ROBERT – You know what I want?

ADAM- What? Salmon cooked in a pineapple sauce with cauliflower and asparagus garnish?

ROBERT – Are you laughing at me?

ADAM- Not at all. German beer’s in the fridge. Bring one for me, too.

ROBERT – With pleasure.

Again both stop speaking and look at the table.

ROBERT – I want to smoke…

ADAM- Forget about it. The air is hardly enough.

ROBERT – I know… I just said. 

ADAM- Ah, Robert, Robert… You’re a strange man. Day by day you’re getting younger and younger in your wishes just like Benjamin Button. We should find a good woman and marry you. Perhaps that’ll bring you to your senses. 

ROBERT – Maybe. But we won’t find a good woman any more.

ADAM- I think we can’t find any woman at all. Good or bad.

ROBERT – I won’t marry a bad one. I can’t. It isn’t a goal in itself, is it? 

ADAM – Nope. But for the sake of human genome conservation.

ROBERT – Please…

ADAM- What? Savvy?

ROBERT – Got it!

ADAM- Don’t you want to go out and join the survivals anymore?

ROBERT – Don’t kid me that way please. I had got such a hope. Is it bad to live with hopes?

ADAM – A wonderful thing. Actually all people live with hopes and dreams. For some people they don’t go beyond fried meat and beer, for others even universe’s small. Fortunately, these people are a few.

ROBERT – I’m hungry…

ADAM- You can have some fried rabbit. Don’t touch the juice, it’s for my daughter.

ROBERT – Rabbit meat….I’m fed up with the rats.

ADAM – Speak low.

ROBERT – Isn’t there tomato left? Or rice?

ADAM- We are running out of everything, Robert.

ROBERT – I see…Well. Eventually “Man shall not live on bread alone”.

ADAM- That’s right. One can also live with memories and dreams.

ROBERT – Memories that are gone forever and dreams that will never come true.

ADAM- And if it’s not a secret, what’s your dream? Let alone salmon, beer and tobacco, of course.

ROBERT – Don’t know… Some very simple things. I want to go in for skiing (I adore speed), want to see the Himalayas and Tibet. Mysterious Shambala. Have you heard about it ?

ADAM- Yeah.

ROBERT – If by any miracle you, your daughter and I could reach there… I’m almost certain that life’s going on there, as it’s in a high place. I’ve read that there’s some microclimate there and that small land doesn’t have much in common with this big world. Even snowman or Yetis, as Sherpas call them, live there. Maybe we could survive there like human beings.

ADAM- Even if there’s such kind of land and it’s preserved, anyway, we can’t get there.

ROBERT – I’ve one more wish.

ADAM – Say, I’m listening to you.

ROBERT – I want to have such a daughter like yours.

Adam looks surprisingly at Robert.

ADAM- For that at least you should get married. (lowering his voice). Though, just between us, it’s possible even without getting married.

ROBERT – Again you’re kidding me. But I’m quite serious. Can’t forget what you told me about your daughter.

ADAM – Robert, being a father is a great responsibility.

ROBERT – I feel that. Don’t know why, but yesterday I felt I was ready to become a father. To be honest, I’ve always avoided that responsibility. Firstly for my wife and then for my kids. But after your story a kind of confidence and even need arouse in me. I want to have a family. I want to have that kind of responsibility. It’s my astral time.

ADAM- You’ve chosen the right time and place to realize your wish. Calm down, Robert, please!

ROBERT – You’re speaking so, cause you’ve already got such a nice daughter…

ADAM (angrily)– Boneheaded! What should you tell your daughter now? About bright future? Or about Shambala?

ROBERT – I’ll tell something. It’s of no importance. I’d read a fairy-tale.

ADAM- What about tomorrow? When water and “rabbit meat” run out. What’d you say tomorrow? In five days when she cries out of hunger and thirst? What would you say about her future, your dead wife and son? Tell me, Robert. What would you tell?

They both stop speaking. Robert looks at the sleeping girl and Adam looks at the landscape on the wall.

ROBERT – I want to smoke.

ADAM- Walk out and smoke. Take your time. Manwhile you can admire the sunset and fresh air.

Again they stop talking.

ROBERT – If only there was some music. And that radio…

ADAM- We can sing.

ROBERT – Can you sing?

ADAM- I can murmur some melody. Have no talent for singing.

ROBERT – Then, murmur something.

Adam begins mumbling a melody.

ROBERT – What’s it?

ADAM – Beethoven’s ‘’ The Rat’’.

ROBERT – A good one…(smiling) – And up to the point – about the rat.

ADAM- (sings very softly) – ‘’I’m travelling from country to country, the rat’s always with me’’.

Robert listens to him very carefully.

ADAM (interrupting the song) – I’ve sung a lot for my daughter and son before they went sleeping… If it were a miracle now I’d like to listen to Wagner’s “Prelude to Lohengrin”.

ROBERT – I have never heard it.

ADAM- You might never hear it any more…

ROBERT – Can’t you sing the melody?

ADAM- It’s impossible, Robert. ‘’Lohengrin’’ is a divine music. I’m not very godly myself but deep in my heart I do believe that Gods themselves dictated Wagner those tunes. It’s got only eternal beginning, there’s no end or death. It’s constantly filling the space. No spare point is left. In the end everything’s slowly buried into silence. Into that Big silence which’s the start of every melody, the source of universe. Having heard ‘’Prelude to Lohengrin’’ no questions are left behind. It’s not that you get answers to all your questions. It’s just all the questions and answers become meaningless. It’s an eternity hung in the air, the chorus of the divine choir to a beginning-less and endless world. It’s the song of the awakening of the universe and at the same time a lullaby. The time stops during those eight-nine minutes.

ROBERT – How much I’d like to hear it…

ADAM- Me too. In this beginning-less and endless basement the life would be more bearable.

Again they stop talking.

ADAM- And why don’t you ask me, what wishes I’ve got. Aren’t you interested in your humble roomie’s humble wishes?

ROBERT – Very interested. I just thought you wouldn’t want to speak about them.

ADAM – After speaking about Wagner such kind of wish aroused in me.

ROBERT – Then, say!

ADAM– Well, but don’t ask questions or make any remarks.

ROBERT – Promise!

ADAM – I’d like to go to the sea with my daughter. A real big sea or even an ocean. Have you seen sea?

ROBERT – Nope…

ADAM- I’ve seen once…It’s a dream, a real dream. It’s all about Wagner and ‘’Lohengrin’’… The sea’s happiness. I think one can’t reach it. One can only strive for it… The sea’s like soil. 

ROBERT – Like soil?

ADAM – Yeah, like a land. It’s calling you and you are lovingly running to it. Then you water it, look after it and it gives abundant harvest, flowers and other goodies. And when you get old enough, it lovingly takes you in its arms and caresses you for you to rest in peace. Such is the sea…

ROBERT – Today you’re very philosophical, roomie.

ADAM (slightly laughing) – Maybe it’s cause of weather.

ROBERT – For sure.

ADAM – When I asked you about your wishes, naturally I asked the same question to me. And let it not sound strange, I didn’t find any answers, Robert. I’m not speaking about unreal things like rescuers, Shambala and so on. I’m speaking about real things. I might have done everything – have had kids, built a house, grown a tree. Merging with the soil is the last thing to do. Or the sea if only I can reach it.

ROBERT – Please, don’t say such things!

ADAM (as if not hearing Robert) – But another wish appeared. I’d like to hear ’’Prelude to Lohengrin’’ with my daughter, hold her hand and sink into those divine tunes.

ROBERT – We’ll find a way. Shouldn’t we stink here? We’re sure to find. You’ll go to the sea with your daughter, listen to Wagner, and I’ll find somebody who’ll give me a kid. A girl or a boy – no difference.

ADAM (smiling).- What a nice man you are, Robert! If only…

ROBERT – What?

ADAM – Nothing.

ROBERT – Well, say…

ADAM – I wish your Shambala were real and accessible.

ROBERT – Look here, rommie. You’ve told me that all roads begin with the first step.

ROBERT – Many great thinkers have told the same. I’ve just repeated it.

ADAM- Anyway. Now you are going to help me to put on the anti-gas, that special outfit and go out and scout around. We’ll keep in touch through the walkie-talkie. If nothing succeeds I’ll come back. Will you take me back?

ADAM – That’s an obvious death, Robert. How can I allow you? Take it out of your mind!

ROBERT – You are smarter and more experienced but I’ve got one big advantage.

ADAM – And which one?

ROBERT – I’m young. Only youngsters are apt to madness. And in unstable situations only madness can save…

ADAM – Even have no idea what to say.

ROBERT – Even if there’s one chance out of million, I must use it. Otherwise I’ll never forgive me if I die here, in this basement from hunger and thirst.
ADAM – Robert, you’re hot-tempered, but I think it’s better to wait.

ROBERT – Wait for what? You’re saying it’s childish to expect any help. I’ll give a go and try whatever happens. Help me, please.

Robert takes the outfit out of the sideboard, and Adam helps him to put it on. In the end each takes the walkie-talkie and Adam opens the iron door to the adjoining basement.

ADAM – Shut the door firmly behind you! When you come back, knock on the door with a stone or wood. I’ll hear and open it. And don’t forget to inform me regularly. Now it is daylight, something should be visible.

Robert nods his head, turns around and walks out of the door. Adam carefully shuts the door and wearingly takes a sit. Casts a look at the sleeping daughter and turns down the oil-lamp light. Shortly after Robert’s mournful voice can be heard from the walkie-talkie.

ROBERT – Adam, roomie, can you hear me?

ADAM (restless)- Yeah, I hear you, Robert, speak on!

ROBERT – Everything isn’t that terrible. A dust cloud is everywhere… There’s hardly any light… Corpses are all around… No buildings… Everything’s burnt down… Abundant rats… Enormous rats… Can you hear me?

ADAM –Yep, talk to me!

ROBERT – Adam, I’m not feeling well… I am feeling dizzy, it’s getting dark in my eyes… Adam… As if I’m dragging heavy stones … Can’t walk… Adam, help me… I can’t…

 ADAM- Robert, walk back to the door right away! Immediately! I’m coming up. I’ll give you a hand… Don’t give up!

ROBERT (in a slow and fading voice). Adam, I can’t… Rats are attacking me… Forgive me…Please… One last request…

ADAM- Say, Robert…

ROBERT – Tell your daughter about the sea and Wagner… Promise me?

ADAM – I do promise. But you try at least to crawl to the door… Robert, speak, Robert… Say at least a single word… Robert…

Silence. No sound from Robert. Adam puts the walkie-talkie down and drops his head… He stays in this position for some time, and then softly sings.

ADAM – ‘’I’m travelling from country to country, my rat’s always with me …’’

Again he stops talking, looks at the white bottle on the table. Then he stands up, approaches his daughter, bends, strokes her hair and kisses her head.

ADAM – ‘’I’m travelling from country to country, my rat’s always with me…’’

Again he approaches the table, takes the white bottle, opens it, pours half the bottle into the daughter’s juice and carefully mixes it with a spoon. Then he quickly swallows the rest of the liquid. Turns down the oil-lamp light, murmuring the song, approaches his bed, lies on it and covers himself with a carpet. He stares at the landscape on the wall on which there’s some obscure light.

Wagner’s ‘’ Prelude to Lohengrin’’ starts to sound softly. The sound gets higher and higher and the darkness gradually covers the stage.

Curtain

END