“The Union” by Sky O’Brien

Today, Lise and Kevin explore “The Union” by Sky O’Brien, submitted to Zoetic Press for NonBinary Review #19: Dante’s Inferno

The Union            EP. XXIX            10/24/18
ACT TWO
FADE IN:

INT. NBC STUDIO – DAY / NIGHT 

HOST is standing in front of THE AUDIENCE, looking into camera, recovering from a joke. He beams, lets dimples out, shows teeth. THE AUDIENCE, a unified sigh of giggling, tittering chortlers, claps and cheers and claps.

                         HOST
Last week The New Yorker flew two writers to Hell.

Laughter.
                          HOST
 “They’ll go anywhere for the truth,” they said.

Applause. 
       
                          HOST
Thank God Hell is in New York City.

Laughter.

                          HOST
In a tower.

Cheers.

                          HOST
Seven blocks away.

Laughter, some nervous.

HOST steps back. To his left a crew finishes assembling the set of a high-rise office. There’s a view of Manhattan, sky, clouds. On set a desk, chairs, paintings. THE PRESIDENT is seated behind the desk, turned away, looking outside. The audience moans in delight as two more actors walk onstage. THE WRITER weeps. VIRGIL looks at his watch.

                          THE WRITER
This is Hell.

Laughter.

                          VIRGIL
We break only for commercials.

Laughter.

                          VIRGIL
I briefed you: the place is big.

THE WRITER and VIRGIL step closer to the desk.

                        THE WRITER
So presidential of you. “Big.”

                          VIRGIL
Tremendous. Gigantic. Capacious?

Chuckles.

                          THE WRITER
Careful. We need to be understood.

                          VIRGIL
I have the best words.

Laughter.

THE PRESIDENT makes a slow pirouette in his chair and looks at THE WRITER and VIRGIL standing before him. Visible on THE PRESIDENT’s hands, face, and neck are scabs, rashes, and spots. He scrapes his nails over his skin. THE PRESIDENT, it seems, is part-human, part-chair, his movements confined to seated spins and twirls.

                          THE WRITER
Mr. President?

                          THE PRESIDENT
God Bless America!

Laughter.

THE PRESIDENT orbits in his chair, as his chair. THE WRITER and VIRGIL look at each other.

                          THE PRESIDENT
Who are you?

                          THE WRITER
We’re from FOX.

                          THE PRESIDENT
Oh, thank God!

Laughter.

                          THE PRESIDENT
What kept you?

THE WRITER and VIRGIL look at each other. VIRGIL addresses THE PRESIDENT. His tone is earnest and serious.
            
                          VIRGIL
Tall building. Many floors. Big. Huge. Bad.

                          THE PRESIDENT
I’m glad you think so.

Chuckles.

                          VIRGIL
We have some questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT looks suspicious. He circles in his chair.

                          THE PRESIDENT
What for?

                          THE WRITER
The truth?

HOST appears stage left. His hands are trembling. He jiggles his head. He covers his ears. Something is amiss.

                          THE PRESIDENT
I’m sorry?

Cheers.

                          THE WRITER
Why are you here?

More cheers.

VIRGIL sees the HOST, looks to THE WRITER. THE WRITER sits on the desk in front of THE PRESIDENT. THE AUDIENCE looks from HOST to THE WRITER to VIRGIL to THE PRESIDENT.

                          THE PRESIDENT
I have the best people.

HOST runs on stage.

                          HOST
End scene! End scene!

THE WRITER ignores HOST. THE AUDIENCE screams. VIRGIL falls to the ground. THE WRITER retrieves a pen from her pocket.

Shrieks. Gasps.

                          WRITER
Why are you here?

                          THE PRESIDENT
Scratch me!

Chokes. Wails.

                          HOST
Cut. Cut. Cut.

Groans.

THE AUDIENCE roars but it cannot move from its seat. The studio is warm. Corrupt flesh charges the air.

                          HOST
I’m sorry. We’ve lost—.

A crew crawls on stage and wheels the set away. In homes around the country people watch THE WRITER scrape a pen over THE PRESIDENT before the studio disappears into a car salesman in a showroom.