When Deus Met Machina (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 14)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every second Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘When Deus Met Machina’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on an airship hanging over the stage. A motorized backdrop provides the illusion of a passing sky. Little John as the Antichristmas Beast paces the gondola, giving the vessel the once-over. At the ship’s wheel stand Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED. Acting as the ship’s aviatrix, Annabelle wears a damsel gown accented with a cool leather corset, the veil hanging back over her curls held in place with some sweet goggles, while Wilbur’s in his usual knightly ensemble supplemented with a smart bowler hat.]

Little John/Beast: The Sheriff of Steampunk Nottingham, hmm?

Annabelle: Yup! I think you’ll like it here. Thanks to Robin Hood ‘n’ ‘em, you’ll still get to harass a team of heroes, but there’s plenty of room for you to make the story your own. Plus, we’ve got an airship! Boo-ya!

Sir Wilbur: How much farther to Nottingham castle?

Annabelle: Not far at all, once we’ve cleared Sherwood Forest. After that, Beastie, I’ll leave you to write your own adventure. Wilbur and I need to get back to the Genre-nauts.

Little John/Beast: Return to my enemy? Why would I allow you to do that?

Annabelle [frowning ]: Um, because we made a deal?

Little John/Beast: A deal to show you out of the Labyrinth in exchange for my story. You’re out, and I’m here. I owe you nothing more. And if I let you go, who’s to say you won’t team up with Jack Snow to defeat me?

Annabelle: I could say I won’t. Wilbur could corroborate it. And what with him being a man of his word, and me being a smith of mine, that ought to be enough to set your mind at ease.

Little John/Beast: Killing you would be simpler.

Sir Wilbur [placing himself between Annabelle and Little John, hand on the hilt of his sword ]: Would it indeed?

Little John/Beast [drawing a pistol from beneath his cloak ]: We’ll find out shortly.

Annabelle: WHOA! No shooting people! I will turn this ship around, bucko!

[Sir Wilbur spins around and knocks Annabelle to the gondola floor a split second before a bullet whizzes through the air. Rolling up into a crouch, he then lunges at Little John’s knees, taking him down, while another shot flies wild. They’re on the verge of a serious grappling match when Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki in jester’s motley appears on the ship’s rail.]

Lute/Loki: I say! What’s all the hullaballoo?

Little John/Beast [looking up with a snarl from where he and Wilbur are locked in some wrestler’s hold ]: Who are you, and why are you on my ship?

Lute/Loki [with a bow ]: Loki the Trickster, milord Sherriff – your personal fool, courtesy of the author.

Annabelle [looking in confusion at the audience ]: I never wrote that. Pfft, characters with minds of their own, am I right?

Little John/Beast: A fool, hmm? Well, we’ll discuss how you can entertain me after I’ve done away with the girl and her knight.

Lute/Loki [cheerfully ]: That may be a discussion a long time coming, your lordship. There’s the small matter of the crash to get through, first. [picking up the fallen pistol, he raises it over his head and shoots the ship’s gas bag; with a jolt, the vessel tips steeply downward, wind machines from below creating the effect of a speedy fall ] We seem to be losing altitude fast.

Sir Wilbur: Annabelle, the wheel! You’ve got to guide our descent!

Annabelle [panicking ]: How the heck am I supposed to do that?!

Little John/Beast: Come on, don’t say you don’t know how! You were flying this thing just a minute ago!

Annabelle: Flying is easy! Landing is hard – especially when we’re losing all our gas through a bullet hole!

Lute/Loki [laughing ]: Looks like you were right, Antichristmas: Killing is simple!

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Chelsea de la Cruz and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘hullaballoo’ and ‘flying is easy, landing is hard’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

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