DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

PAUL, A SCHOOL TEACHER
A CLASS OF THIRD GRADERS
DR. LILY VEIDT, EDUCATION DIRECTOR FOR THE MUSEUM

SCENE: A DINOSAUR EXHIBIT AT THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

It is pitch black and cold. The mists of time swirl about us, a voice reverberates through the contours of space:

LILI:
The Universe unfolds leisurely and on schedule.
Neat unfurlings form pre-histories, in the firm smoothings, tucks and nips we uncover eons and ages, all in seamless flux.

And then, rather unexpectedly,
an asteroid collides into the planet Earth, rocking her to her very foundations; causing her to alter her orbit and
leaving her offspring; those giant beasts that roam her wide rolling plains,
vulnerable.
The Mammoth halts in her tracks.
Triceratops frozen in a head rush of surprise;
Tyrannosaurus Rex unable to make that first swipe at his apparent lunch; his apparent lunch unable to flee, petrified by something grander than the mere King of Predators. The Plesiosaur’s playful splash whittles into a last-ditch-dive…
A dust cloud encircles the globe
Sunlight screens out, shunned by myriad particles
The Earth is silent.
All activities cease.
And time stands still, as does the Earth.
And in the stillness a pitch black,
In the pitch black, a glacial cold.
And as cold turns to ice, iciness invades space. And this Dark cold reigns over the surface of the Earth
For eons.

Silence save for the winds howling,

LILI:
Millions of years later, oil drillers in Alaska discover a leftover from the Ice Age:
Ladies and Gentlemen, the worlds first frozen dinosaur. Caught mid-snacking when the catastrophe occurred. So after all the hullabaloo and scientific verification of every kind, this ancient beast has found it’s home here in our reputable institution, The Museum of Natural History.
Yes. Of all places.
Has it occurred to no one the dangers inherent in frozen dinosaurs? No one has stopped to think about the effects of radiation. Does it not stand to reason that these asteroid rays petrified in the ice at the time of the event— well, doesn’t it strike you as likely that they would trigger a similar chain of events?

The voice filters out into the general ambience. In the darkness we hear the echo and patter of voices and footsteps approaching the Great Hall. One voice becomes more distinct over the others—who are children:

PAUL:
Alright kids, almost there, let’s keep it all in a straight line. Very good thank you—
Ah, here we are. The Great Hall—

There is a collective gasp as the lights slowly appear. What is revealed, eventually, is an awe-inspiring life-like dinosaur. It appears to be swerving it’s neck and holds a bouquet of uneaten vegetation in it’s mouth.
The kids are a-flutter with amazement

PAUL:
Ladies and Gentlemen, the world’s first frozen dinosaur—

KID #1:
It is A-L-I-V-E!

PAUL:
No Kylie, it’s frozen, will you quit playing joker for a minute—

KID #2:
It’s really big! How’d it get that way?

KID #3:
It’s scary Mr. Smith, look at its teeth! So big—

KID #1:
All the better to bite you Sarah!

PAUL:
That’s enough Kylie. No need to be alarmed kids. It’s frozen, it’s not going anywhere. Would you like to know how it got frozen?

KIDS (in unison):
Yes Mr. Smith, how’d it get that way—

LILI appears from behind the exhibit

LILI:
Perhaps I can be of help—

The kids all yell and scuttle behind PAUL

KID #2:
Yikes!

PAUL:
Kids, kids. Please, pipe down—

LILI:
Sorry to alarm your class, Mr. Smith— I am Lili Veidt, Educational Curator for the Museum—

PAUL:
Yes of course! We spoke on the phone.
Children, Dr. Veidt is the lady in charge here, she made this trip possible. What do we say to Dr. Veidt?

KIDS:
Thank you Mrs. Veidt

LILI:
It’s Doctor, children, Dr. Veidt—

The children shuffle their feet uncomfortably not looking at her

PAUL:
I’m sorry, sometimes the children get stuck in preconceived notions of gender—

LILI:
Quite alright. I’ll be happy to field any questions they have about “Levi” over here—

PAUL:
Levi?

LILI:
Short for Leviathan. We tend to resort to the mythological around here for our own amusement.
So children, what would you like to know about this dinosaur—

The class stares at the floor and says nothing.

LILI:
Very well, let me know if you need anything Mr. Smith, I’ll be in my office.

PAUL:
Thank you Dr. Veidt,

LILI:
Call me Lili.

PAUL:
Thank you Lili.

The class waits for LILI to leave and then:

KID #1:
Freaky lady put the snakes on you Mr. Smith!

Pandemonium commences:

PAUL:
Quiet Please! Everyone!

The noise tones down.

PAUL:
Now how many of you know about the Ice Age? Do you know what the Ice Age was?

KIDS:
No—

PAUL:
Well, millions and millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth—

KID #3:
Is that a long long time ago?

PAUL:
Yes Robbie, a very very long time ago…

KID #2:
Longer than when lunch time was?

PAUL:
You’ll get lunch soon enough Jane. Millions of years ago, the earth was hit by a giant asteroid. Do you know what an asteroid is?

KID #3:
Yes! Yes!

PAUL:
Really Cole? Would you like to tell the rest of the class?

KID #3:
(crazily) Yes! Yes! Yes!! Let me Mr. Smith, Let me!

PAUL:
Calm down Cole, tell us what you know,

The child lets out an ecstatic wail to PAUL’S surprise—

KID #3:
How thou art fallen from Heaven, Son of the Morning!

PAUL:
Cole! Are you ok?

Another child lets out a similar wail.

PAUL:
Timothy! What’s going on?

KID #1:
What’s the Ice Age Mr. Smith, is it when old people turn into popsicles?

The whole class giggles.

KID #1:
Get it? Pops-i-cles!

PAUL:
Cole, are you feeling well?

KIDS:
Popsicle! Popsicle! Popsicle! Popsicle! Popsicle!!

They become extremely noisy once more. Suddenly a hush overcomes them. PAUL looks round to find LILI has entered the room.

LILI:
Having problems Mr. Smith?

PAUL:
Please call me Paul,

LILI:
Alright, Paul, what seems to be the problem?

PAUL:
I apologize for the noise. The kids are acting a little strange—

LILI:
Uncharacteristic behavior?

PAUL:
It’s one thing for them to be noisy or unruly—but I could have sworn that young Cole over there was quoting the bible—

LILI:
Really?
Wilt thou draw out the Leviathan with the hook
And press down his tongue with a cord?

PAUL:
Excuse me?

LILI:
Who can open the doors of his face?
Round about his teeth is terror.
Upon the Earth there is not his like, who made without fear
He beholds all high things
He is king over all the proud beasts.
It’s scripture, the book of Job, recognize it?

PAUL:
Oh. Actually, I don’t know too much about the bible—it’s never been an area of specialty—

LILI:
Yet you recognized it as being quoted by the children—

PAUL:
Well it struck me as biblical, I can’t imagine what else—

LILI:
It’s an interesting thing, an oversight, if you ask me.

PAUL:
What is?

LILI:
I mean you would have to wonder what the impact of the radiation would be on the human organism—

PAUL:
Radiation? You mean from the frozen dinosaur?

LILI:
After all, all the atoms are intact—the same radiation that destroyed life as we know it eons ago, lay dormant preserved in ice awaiting activation today—

PAUL:
Funny, I never thought of it that way, but do you really think—

LILI:
You and I must have this discussion at some later date, Paul. But now I must attend to matters.
Good luck with the children, I’ll be in my office if you need anything.

She leaves and the children become noisy once more—

PAUL:
Alright kids, let’s get it under control.
So where were we—yes the Ice Age. An asteroid is a piece of cosmic debris—that means garbage kids. And in outer-space there’s a lot of trash floating around and guess what!

KIDS:
What?!

PAUL:
Most of the time it gets pulled into orbit by bigger bodies like planets or stars. But sometimes its moving so fast that it’s on a collision course. Who knows what a shooting star is?

KIDS:
Me! Me ! ME!

PAUL:
Alright, so we all know what a shooting star is, but who has actually seen one?

KID #1:
I saw the ancient serpent cast out from heaven. With his tail he dragged a third of the stars from sky down to the earth—

KID #2:
And there was war in Heaven—

KID #3:
How thou art fallen, Lucifer, Son of the Morning

PAUL:
What’s going on with you kids? What are you saying—

KID #1:
I saw the earth reel to and fro like a drunken woman—

KID #2:
And lo, the earth was waste and empty and the heavens—they held no light—

KID #3:
All the birds of the air were fled and the fruitful land is a wilderness. Only the beasts of the deserts lie there. The jackal haunts it and the Lilith’s night screeches fill the air—

PAUL:
ENOUGH! All of you!! Shut up!
What has gotten into you kids?

A beat of silence, then suddenly they start wailing and prophesying once more. PAUL is completely bewildered. It is pure chaos, all of a sudden, a hush.
LILI has appeared, again—

LILI:
It is my understanding that all molecules seek rest and thus strive to create the initial conditions of their inception. I would say the radioactivity is transporting us back to the moment of impact—

PAUL:
The moment of impact?

LILI:
Yes. The moment when the asteroid hits the earth,

PAUL:
Oh.

LILI:
The birth of human kind is on that journey backwards, beyond that we cease to grasp it with our minds. Our DNA unravels—

PAUL:
You’re serious.

LILI:
It is also my understanding that the impact of these rays on children is short-circuited. Their bodies are prepubescent, therefore not equipped to deal with the new information drives. Thus the entire length of the algorithm cannot be fulfilled. What you are left with is screeching, prescient hybrids. That’s what’s happening to your class, Paul—

PAUL:
Excuse me?

LILI walks off. The moment she is out of sight, the children start screeching and wailing. Now they are speaking in tongues and writhing and rolling to go with their new found glossalollia. PAUL attempts to calm them down.

PAUL:
Children please! Be quiet! Shut up!

To no avail. The strange tongues now become birdlike screeches and calls, chirps— the sounds of peacocks, ostriches and owls. When LILI appears the noise levels go down but continue to evolve as strange and sweetly bizarre bird murmurings and chirpings. The light changes, the exhibit seems to disappear, the children are heard now, but not seen. PAUL and LILI inch closer and closer to each other from opposite ends of the room. Beneath the data streams of bird language the amplified sound of a human heart beat begins to emerge—

PAUL:
You never said what the impact of the rays was—on grown men—

LILI:
Need I?

PAUL:
I feel strange, Lili—

LILI:
Call me Lilith.

PAUL:
Why? Who’s Lilith?

LILI:
The first one—

PAUL:
My head feels heavy. My thoughts are all a liquid daze. What’s happening to us?
The first one before who?

LILI:
Before Eve

PAUL:
I— I don’t know what you’re talking about. What’s happening Lili?

LILI:
Lilith.

PAUL:
Yeah, Lilith. Who is Lilith again?

LILI:
Before Eve, there was another woman.
She got fired.

PAUL:
It feels so—
Are we the only ones on the planet? It feels that way all of a sudden—

LILI:
Lilith had long glinting red hair. It coiled around like a serpent—

PAUL:
Where are we?
It’s so strange
So different…
She tried to strangle him—

LILI:
Amongst other things—

PAUL:
Are you about to strangle me?

LILI:
Only if you wish.

PAUL:
Oh God! I can hardly lift my thoughts.
She tried to strangle him
and then was banished
to the desert places,

LILI:
There she copulated with demons at night
and birthed millions of imps
in the morning—

PAUL:
Millions?

LILI:
Darling little babies, toddlers, infants…
what ever you wish to call them—

PAUL:
What happened to the children?

LILI:
I had them for lunch—

PAUL:
No, no—I’m not hearing this right!
This is a painful misunderstanding,
What’s happening to us Lili? It’s like my mind is molten ore—
And,
I never want to leave.
I want to be here with you always—

LILI:
The name is Lilith.
And this is an alternate reality.
Our minds can stay here as long as we like. Our bodies however, are unconscious, lying in the Great Hall of the Museum of Natural History.
Soon the surveillance cameras will happen upon the strange sight at the frozen dinosaur exhibit: a class of second graders, their teacher and the education curator, all splayed out on the floor, unconscious puppets. They will seal the area, quarantine the bodies and run tests on and through us. How long before our comatose bodies reveal the source of radiation. How long before it spreads and thousands are transported back to the early moments of pre-history—

PAUL:
Lilith,
a glinting red serpent
You said?

LILI:
She tried to strangle him—
When the first man was put in the garden
He had no companion
He was given a helpmeet so he wouldn’t be lonely
Her name was Lilith
She had a lengthy ropelike coil of hair
Glinty bright red, like a serpent—
A serpent who could drag a third of the stars
Down from heaven to earth
With the flick of his tail.
A tail—

PAUL:
You are strangling me?

LILI:
Only if you wish.PAUL:
I never want to leave—

LILI:
I won’t let you.

They have finally converged at the center of the stage. They fall into embrace as Twilight falls with their bodies blissfully writhing into each other. The bird noises become amorous cooings and murmuring—
A shiver of light slakes across the room,
Then darkness.

Leviathan©2004, 2013 onome ekeh