On the Summoning of Demons (A Play in 3 Acts)

by Joanna Hart (hart1j@nectech.co.uk)

Act 1.

* A darkened cellar is lit by a bare bulb and 5 tall beeswax candles in rusting iron holders. A table is loaded with assorted cheap occult paraphenalia, a full block of (cheap) kitchen knives and some empty crisp packets. A tacky tapestry of the Kabalistic tree of life, drawn in garish colours, is pinned to one wall. The carpet is rolled back almost to one wall and a large and oddly detailed circle has been drawn on the floor in a brownish liquid (actually a mixture of blood, correcting fluid and tomato juice). Dave, a skinny kid in his late teens with an acne problem, is wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt and faded jeans. Jenny is about the same age with long greasy hair and identical clothes, she is dissecting something on the table with relish. Another male figure is standing in a dark corner and watching, a wide-brimmed hat obscures its face.*

Dave: *pacing round* Damn, we're so close, so close. You done with that thing yet, Jenn?

Jenny: This is so cute; I think it was pregnant! Wanna see? Yeah OK, OK, I know. No rest for the wicked. Ahh gotcha, my pretty. I think we have your little heart right... here. Oh shit.

Dave: *spins nervously* What?!

Jenny: S'OK, it just splashed my glasses. You'd never have thought something as small as a cat would have that much blood in it. I wish I'd put it into the ink mixture now.

Dark Figure: *velvet-voiced, like a chocolate commercial* Generally with these pursuits, its the thought that counts, Jenny dear.

Dave: Right. OK. This is it. Let me just get my head together. This is so crazy, we're just such a bunch of crazy dudes. *he catches something small and wet that Jenny tosses across the circle to him and flicks on the radio -- on cue, Elton John starts playing 'Candle in the Wind'*

*Dave & Jenny start chanting along to the same tune, but different words. Audience can make out some demonic names they recognise. Lights flicker atmospherically, cue dry ice. Circle begins to glow, as does the heart that Dave is holding. Something begins to materialise in the circle and the cats heart glitters and pulsates.*

Demon (inside circle): *sounds most ruffled* What the hell?

Dark Figure: It's a song by Elton John, you must be the only person in creation who hasn't heard it yet.

Dave: Yes! We did it! Right you scum, you're not getting out of there until we've come to a few arrangements. Demon Prince of... whatever it was, indeed. This sorcery stuff is just too easy.

Demon: *studies circle from the inside with some interest. As it materialises it takes the form of a hideous serpent* Dost thou realise that this is completely impossible, and unfortunately for you I think you will now find that the rest of your short and useless lives will be pointless, miserable and not worth living. Believe me, whatever you thought you would get is not worth the effort.

Jenny: *whispers, impressed* Shit, will you look at that thing?

Dark Figure: *prompting Jenny* 'Come not in that form'

Jenny: Err.. come not in that form!

Demon: This... is impossible. My true names woven into the circle. *it shimmers and resolves into Sean Connery from 'Name of the Rose'. It is Kronos.* Who would have that power? Who would have that knowledge? How can I not have seen....?

Jenny: Cool. You were right, Meths, this is a doddle. Now, Prince of Fate, about a few things you're gonna do for us. *she pulls a loooong list out of a pocket*

Kronos: *with dignity* Children, the fate of the universe lies in the balance. Twixt light and darkness, heaven and hell. Your words have no power save that we please to give them, and thus you have no such power over me. This is no game, these steps you have taken lead to a winding path down which I can be your guardian, protector and guide. Come to me and aught which you would ask shall be answered, for we can also be forgiving and rewarding of initiative.

Dave: *impressed, he stands very close to the edge of the circle and looks the Balseraph in the eye* Thats more like it. So... what can we get out of this?

Dark Figure: *murmurs* Don't break the circle, David.

Kronos: *smiles like a lizard in a lounge suit* Whatever your mortal heart desires, I swear it shall be so, but whilst I am encompassed here, that which I can accomplish is limited.

Dave: Ohhh.. Hmm.. yeah. Admittedly most of the things I want aren't in this cellar. Jenn, let's grab some supper and talk about this. He ain't going anywhere.

*Jenny tosses her list to the Dark Figure and leaves the room with Dave, wiping her hands on her T-shirt*

Kronos: I know your voice.

Dark Figure: *reads aloud, like a gameshow host announcing the prize-list* One night with Helen of Troy, a perfect red heifer, tickets for the 'Spice Girls', a working nuclear arsenal, immortality, total world domination, a bottomless bank account... and the list goes on; you're going to have fun with these.

Kronos: I /know/ this voice. What idiocy is this, Kobal? Canst thou not feel hell's forces tremble whilst I am held here as the balance shifts and moves?

Kobal (for it is he): True. Were you planning on impersonating Helen of Troy yourself?

Kronos: *soft* Traitor, thou art true to none and by this same mark hast sealed thine own doom. Every voice in hell will denounce and every eye will watch your paltry dissolution and everyone will see the Fate to which you have led yourself.

Kobal: Really? But my friend, you are currently blind. You can't see anything outside that bijou little circle if I'm not mistaken -- you can't see my fate. In fact you never could, could you?

Kronos: No. But they also serve who only stand and wait.

Kobal: Good job really, as unless you can sort that attitude out it looks as though you have a lot of standing and waiting to do. *walks over to the table and sorts through the junk on it* Oh look, an unopened packet. Would you like some crisps?

*Kobal tosses the packet of crisps onto the floor, just outside the circle. Kronos looks at them, with a burning eye that indicates he knows that if the packet had even touched the circle he would be free.*

Kobal: *smirk* I guess salt and vinegar isn't your favourite.

Kronos: *still softly* You've had your joke. Enough.

Kobal: Oh no, not by a long chalk. *he laughs and leaves the room which falls into darkness*

Act 2 of 3

** The same cellar, but some time has passed since Act 1, as can be seen from the fact that the pile of crisp packets on the table has grown into a small mountain. Kronos is alone, a small amount of natural light filters in through a grate somewhere, casting shadows of bars across him. He sits cross-legged in the centre of the circle, fingers steepled together and head bowed as if in prayer. He is wearing thin handcuffs (made of silver foil) with some writing on them. **

KRONOS: *intones* Nyx, Niobe, Morrigan, Lilit, Mistress of Night, Mother of Hordes, Dark Lady, Guardian of... * he pauses and looks up as the doorhandle rattles, he looks very tired *

JENNY: *walks in and slams the door. She is wearing a power suit.* OK, where is he?

KRONOS: Jennifer, as thou art well aware, I am in no position to answer such questions at present. Who dost thou seek?

JENNY: Dave's been down here again, hasn't he? I bet he's nicked the bankbook and done a runner. Well, he isn't going to get away with it this time! *electricity crackles along her fingertips* Hes been totally useless since that Helen of Troy crap -- I knew it was a stupid idea but no... Men!!

KRONOS: *winces perceptibly at the Helen reference* Child, he has left with your cohort 'Meths' -- you have been abandoned here to face alone the doom to which your soul is irrevocably turned.

JENNY: *sarcastic* Doom, gloom and an eternity of Spice Girls videos. You demon guys certainly do bring the party with you.

* a gust of fresh air knocks over a stack of lager cans and the door opens again. Ruby Wax enters -- she is wearing hot pink lipstick and a track-suit*

LILITH: *sniffs and cocks an eyebrow at Kronos* My gawd, when was the last time anyone hoovered in here?

JENNY & LILITH (to each other): Who the hell are you?

KRONOS: *stands and tucks his hands inside the cuffs of the opposite sleeves* Madame, it were as well we finished this nonsense directly.

LILITH: Who am I? *gestures dramatically to herself* Sister, have you got some serious (and I do mean serious) apologising to do...?!

JENNY: Like hell! *starts to look worried* Another demon, I'm so stuffed...

KRONOS: *clears his throat* There is a war on, in case thou hadst failed to notice.

LILITH: Don't worry honey, we've got time. No-one has seen Yves for a few days either, so theres no real harm done.

KRONOS: *colour drains from his face* No... let it not be so. Those idiots could be out doing anything! Lilith, I acknowledge my debt and now willst thou GET ME OUT OF HERE, Princess of so-called Freedom??!!

LILITH: Temper, temper. Patience is a virtue, you know. *she notices the crisp packets* Neat, do you have any salt and vinegar?

JENNY: *mimicing her voice as she tosses Lilith a bag of crisps* Sure, do you have any manners?

LILITH: Well aren't you just the cutest thing? *turns to Kronos* Throw her in as part of the deal, I think I'll keep her. I heard about the Helen thing incidentally, you old devil...

KRONOS: *winces again at the name* Very well. She is already doomed to a life of 'if only's and 'too late's.

*Lilith nods and tosses a coin in the air. It spins slowly before landing on the floor and rolls across the room. Finally it skids just into the chalk circle ... a wind sweeps through the room as Kronos steps outside*

KRONOS: *pulls his robes about him* I cannot tell as to what thou hast heard about the trojan beauty, except that it is a lie, and now if you'll excuse me, I have a debt to pay back.

LILITH: *smirks as he vanishes* Nice try, sweets, but Jean already gave me a copy of the video.

*room fades to black*

* An office. The decor is pure 70s sitcom and the furnishings include faux leather armchairs and a lava lamp. A TV plays quietly in a corner and a set of French Windows lead outside to a verandah. Kobal is lounging in a swivel chair with his feet kicked up onto a cluttered desk, his face is hidden behind the newspaper he is reading; two Lilim are artistically arranged on the soft furnishings -- one is wearing a bikini and the other an oversized man's shirt (they both look like Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction except one is blonde and both are green).*

LIL1: *opens a box-file and pulls out a paper* OK, Boss, you said you wanted to go through the results of the suggestions scheme about improving ecological efficiency in the office for the ISO-9000 stuff [1]?

KOBAL: *looks and sounds as bored as hell* Go on then.

LIL1: Right.. *reads from the suggestions form* 'Throw out the shredders and get in a couple of gerbils instead'

LIL2: Sweetie, with a cat like you around who needs shredders?

LIL1: Mee-ouw.

KOBAL: *utterly withering* Kizzy, what have I told you about bitchy remarks?

LIL2: *sigh* It may have been marginally funny the first time but...

EVERYONE: ... it gets a bit tired after the first thousand repetitions.

KOBAL: What happened to the old gerbils?

*The Lilim look at each other and flush*

LIL1: We had gerbils?

KOBAL: Oh never mind. I suppose I'd better bite the bullet and deal with the uninvited guest.

* The TV blares out the theme of the 10 o'clock news. The first headline is about a crisis in the world economy following a collapse of the Hong Kong stock exchange *

KOBAL: Now /that/ was funny. *he leaves through the French Windows*

LIL1: So.. do you think that was a thumbs up to the rodents idea?

LIL2: *shrugs* Who knows. Theres no reasoning with a man who's lost his gerbils..

*the Lilim giggle at this dire joke and the room fades to black*

** Outside on the Verandah. A wide paved area that seems to lead off to infinity in all directions. It is pouring with rain. Kobal walks away from the mansion and in the distance we can see a small yellow speck. As he gets nearer it resolves into a huge beach umbrella sheltering a table and chairs. A genial silver-haired man dressed in cricketing whites with the England badge on his blazer [2] is sipping a brightly coloured cocktail. There are 2 more empty glasses on the table. **

YVES: My dear boy, I was wondering where you'd got to. Would you like another drink?

KOBAL: I suppose it was too much to hope you'd have got bored and left. *cutting* I'm glad to see that you're getting some use from my drinks cabinet. Make yourself at home, why don't you?

YVES: Why thank you, don't mind if I do. *he pours himself another drink*

KOBAL: Aren't you supposed to have better things to do than inflicting yourself on unsuspecting demons? We're fighting a war, as I'm frequently told!

YVES: Ah but 'what is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?' -- really it's been most relaxing. I should take time off more often. *he ponders the third glass as if he hadn't noticed it before and smiles* Besides which, it seemed a shame not to take advantage of the fact that Kronos has been temporarily trapped on earth.

KOBAL: *does a double take* What? By whom?

YVES: By you, dear boy.

KOBAL: Oh no, you don't get me that way. There's no way. It's got to be a set-up.

YVES: Really you should try to see the funny side. Would I lie to you?

KOBAL: Well it couldn't have happened to a nicer Balseraph. So if he's there and you are here.. I could have been out setting up... *he jumps to his feet*

YVES: Too late, old chap. He's about to be freed even as we speak, so really I should be going as well. Its been an uncommon pleasure.

* Yves downs the contents of his glass, and disappears enigmatically, together with the garden furnishings and umbrella. Kobal is left holding a half-empty bottle of Pimms and getting rained on. He slumps at the shoulders and walks back towards the house.*

[1] ISO-9000, a Quality Standard. [back]
[2] It is a well known fact that God bats for England. [back]

Act 3

** The office, immediately after the last scene. Kobal is in his shirt sleeves drying off his hair with a towel, and the two Lilim are peering at a glossy copy of 'Young Hamster Lovers Quarterly'. The rain is driving hard against the French windows and the sky outside looks tempestuous. In the distance, there is an audible #BOOM# **

KOBAL: Now what?

* A damned soul enters at a trot, wearing a smart morning suit. It turns away from the audience towards the demons and gesticulates back the way it came with white gloved hands, desperately trying to mime that something significant is happening *

LIL1: It's a book? No.. a film!

LIL2: *wide yawn* It's 'The Good, the Bad and The Ugly.' I swear it's the only one he knows. Looks as though he's picking you out as ugly again, darling.

KOBAL: *gives Lilim2 a pointed glance*

LIL2: OK, OK, I'm sorry. Jeez, some people...

KOBAL: *to the butler* Well speak up then.

BUTLER: [mmmph euuugh mmmph] * beads of sweat on its brow -- frantic hand waving *

** as it turns into the light we see that it has been gagged with barbed wire. Every time it tries to speak it re-opens old and bleeding wounds. Its eyes are wide with pain. **

KOBAL: *very deliberately* I said speak up, I can't hear you.


KOBAL: (aside) Now, shall I do that again for comic effect or not...?

LIL1: I think he's trying to say that the front door just exploded, Boss.

BUTLER: * points to its nose and then to Lilim1 triumphantly *

KOBAL: *pained* Again? Oh very well, go and see who it is and show them in.

** The butler bows and dashes out. There is a sound of heavy footsteps and a few minutes later the butler returns, accompanied by a Calabite which is dressed as an imperial stormtrooper **

CALABITE: *stands at attention* I bear a message for His Highness Kobal, Prince of Dark Humour, Lord of Misrule, Duke of Derision and Master of this Realm.

KOBAL: Speak.

CALABITE: My liege the Prince of The Game requests and requires that you attend upon him at your soonest convenience, my Lord.

** the Lilim look at each other with some concern and then to their boss **

KOBAL: Mmm.. I see. Would Kronos be with him by any chance?

CALABITE: I believe so, my Lord. I have been asked to wait upon your answer.

KOBAL: *sighs* I never could get the hang of Tuesdays. *he nods to the Calabite* Alright, tell him I'm on my way. Truly there is nowhere I would rather be than basking in the bright rays of his presence.

CALABITE: *bows and departs*

KOBAL: Wish me luck, girls. *takes a long swig from the bottle of Pimms and replaces it on the table* Well /laugh/ dammit! It isn't going to kill you. *he runs a comb through his hair and pulls on a coat, tight-lipped*

** the Lilim attempt weak smiles but can't manage to raise a chuckle between them. They watch Kobal leave silently.. and the lights dim to the sound of pouring rain outside **

** Wide-angle view of Asmodeus's fortress in Hell. The building is a perfect copy of Senate House [1], the administrative HQ of the University of London (or vice versa). It looms up through the rain with great stone geometric precision. **

** An inner chamber. The walls and floor are stone and the ceiling is very high. A wide oak desk is angled across one corner, such that the occupant has a clear view of the door. There are 2 clusters of spotlights on the ceiling and one wall is lined with anonymous grey filing cabinets. A couple of chairs made of wrought-iron are placed so as to form an equilateral triangle with the desk. Kronos is seated on one of them with his hood pulled forwards, hiding his face. Asmodeus, bearing a striking resemblence to Al Pacino in Godfather III, leans back behind the desk, sitting in the only comfortable chair in the room. He is wearing mirror-shades. **

ASM: *musing idly* Every time this happens I wonder to myself, 'Will this be the last time?' It would be nice if it were the last time, don't you think?

KRONOS: What is, is what must be. I rarely squander time on such wonderings.

ASM: *smiles discomfortingly* No, I don't suppose you do.

KRONOS: It is clear that this foolishness must stop, however. He is a loose cannon, and if he cannot be controlled then needs must we step in and...

ASM: *nods and cuts him off with a brief gesture* Yes, I'm well aware of that. Someone needs to jerk his chain and point out that there are a few rules of engagement that can't be bent. *he drums the table lightly with his fingertips* And also... there is Kobal. You don't think perhaps you are letting... ahh... factors of personal involvement colour your thinking, hmm?

KRONOS: *stares at Asmodeus coldly, and silence falls across the room*

ASM: *loosens his collar; on the inside of his shirt we can see a lipstick mark. It is the exact same colour as the one Lilith was wearing in Act 2* Just something a little bird told me.

KRONOS: *another long pause*

** Kobal enters, accompanied by another Calabite in Storm Trooper uniform. The Calabite takes up a guard position inside the door **

KOBAL: Gentlemen. *he nods politely to both of the DPs and tosses his coat across the back of the spare chair*

ASM: So glad you could join us. *he indicates the chair* Sit. Words cannot express how it pains me to hear disappointing reports of you.

KOBAL: I can imagine. *smirks at Kronos* So... I hear you were walking the earth like Kane. Find enlightenment?

KRONOS: Thus are we shown that there is no force in the world which can separate a fool from his folly. *stares at Kobal* Thou makest light of activities which have the potential to overturn our entire efforts.

ASM: *lazily, to Kobal* You know, for someone who is reputed to be quite bright you say remarkably stupid things sometimes.

KOBAL: What am I supposed to say? It wasn't anything to do with me. Comprendez? I wish it had been... but it wasn't.

ASM: *dryly* Not a very inventive excuse, I'm sure you'll be the first to agree.

KOBAL: *shrugs in agreement*

ASM: All right. This won't be happening again. It really boils down to whether or not you can be trusted to leave the room, my friend. I'd so hate to have to decide that you couldn't. *he flips open a flat box of cigars on his desk and extracts one* Does anyone have a light?

** Kronos sits unmoving and Kobal shrugs, his smile has also dissipated. The Calabite flicks a lighter, producing a tall yellow flame, and steps forwards to light Asmodeus' cigar. As he does so, Kobal does a double take and gawps at him (he is that bit sharper than the others). The lights dim and spotlights pick out Kobal and the man in the storm trooper costume. Everyone else freezes in place. The storm trooper takes his helmet off. **


LUCIFER (for it is he): *flicks off the lighter* Who else?

KOBAL: *sinking back into his seat* I... see. Well, it was nice of you to come to my funeral, my Lord. I'm sure there won't be a dry eye in the house.

LUCIFER: How very very overdramatic. Anyone else would have thought it might relieve the boredom. You could show a little more appreciation, you know.

KOBAL: *weakly* Thank you.

LUCIFER: *nods graciously*

KOBAL: *sighs* It was you, wasn't it? The third glass. You distracted Kronos on Earth so that you could rendezvous secretly with Yves at my place, and now I'm about to take the rap for it.

LUCIFER: *gently* Of course. And now all you have to do is decide whether you are going to tell them...

** Kobal and Lucifer hold a gaze for a long moment, then the lights come up and everyone else unfreezes. **

ASM: *cocks an eyebrow at the 'Calabite'* Why, dread lord Lucifer. How very thoughtful of you to drop in unannounced. *faint sarcasm* Cigars? Port? Shall we get on with business perhaps?

LUCIFER: *murmurs* Please don't let me disturb you. Do carry on.

KRONOS: *dips his head to Lucifer in a formal acknowledgement, but is otherwise silent*

ASM: As you wish. *turns to Kobal* Do you have anything to say in your defence before I ignore it and pass sentence on you anyway?

** Kobal starts to say something, and then stops. Finally he begins to laugh, awkwardly at first, and then with more genuine humour, his shoulders shaking with the effort. The lighting softens and the laughter seems infectious. Lucifer grins and even Asmodeus allows an amused smile. Outside, we can hear the rain stop and a bright shaft of sunshine darts through a window. **

LUCIFER: *to Kobal, gently chiding* You should laugh more often. I like it when you laugh. *he turns to Asmodeus* I think perhaps we could let this one drop.

ASM: *spreads his hands* I understand where you are coming from and I'd love to oblige but.. unfortunately we have the paperwork to worry about. *he waves towards a box file* Rules are rules, as I'm sure you'll agree.

LUCIFER: Of course. Shall we look through the paperwork?

KOBAL: *subsides into silent giggles and tries to get a grip*

** Asmodeus reaches across and flips the file open. Whatever was in there before is completely shredded, but there is a glimpse of a small brown furry form... **

LUCIFER: *tuts* Dave! You /bad/ gerbil. However did you get in there?

KRONOS: *undertone* I wonder.

ASM: *stands* Well I suppose that just about wraps it up. *he turns to Kobal and indicates the hapless rodent* And whilst you're about it, get that -thing- out of my office!

** Asmodeus walks out and as the door slams behind him the room fades to black **


[1] Senate House is a front-runner for 'world's most intimidating building' (apparently there is a library in it somewhere but nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out). :)

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