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A dark play about horrors of the Company and the destinies of people entrapped there. (And a bit, also, about their contribution on preserving the Company and making it thrive.)

Hope is young. Hope is enthusiastic. Hope is a secretary on her first day at work in a Company. A famous, inspirational, concurrent, employee-loving Company. And she’s not just any secretary; she’s a secretary of a high-positioned executive. Maybe not the highest-positioned, but anyway, a bright future is ahead of her. At least it was– until the dark came. I mean, the lights went out, as did the rest of electrical equipment, including the mega-super telecom gadgets. Her boss is out of his mind. How will he attend a crucial video-conference meeting?! Hope’s brilliant idea for her boss to attend the meeting personally, turned on her. Now, she, Hope has to find a reception desk and order transportation for her boss.


It wouldn’t be so difficult, if only she knew anyone who has ever been to the reception desk, or entrance, or even exit. If she only knew ANYONE who has EVER left the building. No, this is impossible, there must be SOMEONE. Come on, Hope, don’t lose your hope. Try harder and you will find someone. Ask everyone you meet, and someone will know, eventually…


And, so, our Hope starts looking for the Exit. Floor by floor, man by man, destiny by destiny – she discovers the Company’s dirtiest secrets. It’s getting harder, but Hope is determined to find a solution. And she did, but, what she found was not what she hoped for.




YEAR OF PRODUCTION: 2010

NUMBER OF FEMALE CHARACTERS: 9 (from 22 till 50)

NUMBER OF MALE CHARACTERS: 14 (from 30 till 50 years)

TRANSLATION BY: TOMISLAV KUZMANOVIC

COPYRIGHT: FULL COPYRIGHT





CHARACTERS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

HOPE (a secretary)

EXECUTIVE TAKES

RANDOM EMPLOYEE

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

COFFEE-DRINKERS (SILVIA, LANA AND SETH)

CHILDREN AND THEIR KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

GUERRILLA FIGHTER (ARCHIBALD “HARRY”)

ORACLE

PROJECT MANAGERS 1, 2 (NATE), 3 AND 4

JOSEPH K AND HIS COLLEAGUES

WOMEN (AND A GUY) FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT

RITA (CHIEF OF THE HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT)

BRIGITA (COMPANY’S PRESIDENT)

COURSE INSTRUCTOR

MARTY MICHELSON (THE MOST VALUED EMPLOYEE)

ARTY (HIS CLONE)

STAGE DIRECTIONS

The audience sits around the center of the space (the stage includes the space around the audience as well as in the center of the circle formed by the audience. Around the audience the stage is set on several levels (it can be some sort of a scaffold, etc.). At every level, office interior can be seen – computer desks, office cabinets, coffee machine, water cooler, copier, etc. In the centre just above the audience (e.g. at the height of 2-2.5 meters) there is a platform that will in the last scene serve as a roof terrace. In the first scene, a couple of desks separated by the screens can be seen at one level. “The Executive’s Office” is also just a desk separated from the rest of scene by a screen.

Note: When in the play (right in the first scene) “the power goes out”, all of the lights go out, the stage is in total darkness. The whole play is played in the dark with minimal sources of light (such as a cell phone, flashlight, laptop, etc. which change from scene to scene as it is indicated in scene directions.)



SCENE ONE

Executive’s office. It is empty and in front of it there is a desk at which the secretary is sitting.

Executive enters without looking at Hope.

HOPE

Hello.

EXECUTIVE

Hello, Faith.

HOPE

It’s Hope, sir.

EXECUTIVE

Hope.


EXECUTIVE enters his office and sits at his desk. Turns on the computer. Reads newspapers waiting for him at his desk. At that moment the power goes out. EXECUTIVE tries to call Hope on the interphone, but he discovers it does not work.

EXECUTIVE

Faith, come here!

Hope enters.

HOPE

Yes, Mr. Takes.

EXECUTIVE

What happened?

HOPE

With what?

EXECUTIVE

What do you mean, what? With the lights.

HOPE

You mean the electricity? The power went out.

EXECUTIVE

And? When it is coming back on?

HOPE

Don’t know, sir.

EXECUTIVE

I’d like you to find out.

Hope leaves the office. Passes by her desk and enters a large room filled with desks.

The room is empty except for one employee hurrying out.

HOPE

Hey, hey, wait up.

EMPLOYEE

What?

HOPE

Where is everyone?

EMPLOYEE

They’re gone. The power went out.

HOPE

So is it coming back? Do you know when?

EMPLOYEE (he didn’t hear her well)

When’s who coming back?

HOPE

The power.

EMPLOYEE

There’s no way of telling.

The employee leaves.

Hope goes back to the Executive’s office. Knocks on the door.

HOPE

Sir, I’ve found out.

EXECUTIVE

What? When the power’s coming back on?!

HOPE

Yes.

EXECUTIVE

And?

HOPE

There’s no way of telling.

EXECUTIVE

And what am I supposed to do now?

HOPE

I don’t know, sir.

EXECUTIVE

For god’s sake, Faith, what’s wrong with you today?

HOPE

It’s Hope, sir. What do you mean, what’s wrong with me today?

EXECUTIVE

You usually always have a solution for everything, but today you don’t know anything.

HOPE

Usually? It’s my first day here, sir.

EXECUTIVE

Then who was here yesterday?

HOPE

Faith, sir.

EXECUTIVE

Uh-huh, I knew your name was Faith, Hope. So then, where’s Faith today?

HOPE

I was told she passed away, sir.

EXECUTIVE

Hmm, I’m really sorry. So sudden, how come?

HOPE

Well, it wasn’t all that sudden, supposedly for the last couple of years she suffered from cancer.

EXECUTIVE

Don’t say!

HOPE

Yes, well, I didn’t even have a chair today. You see, Faith was, it seems, in a wheelchair.

EXECUTIVE

Most unfortunate. You did get a chair, I hope?

HOPE

Yes, sir, everything’s all right.

EXECUTIVE

All right then. Just tell me if you have any problems, Hope. I will make sure your working conditions are good. You’ll see, I always look after my employees. First friends, then co-workers. That’s my motto. For a successful company it is most important to work in a pleasant, friendly atmosphere. Wouldn’t you agree, Faith?

HOPE

It’s Hope. Most certainly, sir. I couldn’t agree more.

EXECUTIVE

So, what are we going to do?

HOPE

You mean, about electricity? We’ll have to wait, I guess.

EXECUTIVE

Hope, you’ll see, in a modern dynamic world, market waits for no one. If we don’t do the job, someone else will. Russians, Chinese, Kenyans – they’re just waiting to run us over. I, for example, have a very important meeting at 12 and by then I need to have my videoconference up and running.

HOPE

Well, that’s not in my power, but, if I’m not mistaken, your meeting is at Holding.

EXECUTIVE

Yes, so?

HOPE

Well, that company is only two blocks away.

EXECUTIVE

Is that so?

HOPE

Perhaps you could go there in person.

EXECUTIVE

Hope, that’s a brilliant idea. Please call the front desk and get me a car. Tell them I want it in front of the company in one hour.

HOPE

I’m sorry, the phones are dead, I will have to go down there myself.

EXECUTIVE

So, what are you waiting for?

HOPE

I don’t know where the front desk is.

EXECUTIVE

Well, that’s ridiculous, probably somewhere near the exit.

HOPE

Er, hmmm… And where is the exit?

EXECUTIVE

How am I supposed to know that? Please, I beg you, don’t bother me with such trifles, I can’t be doing your job too. Go now, I expect a car to be waiting for me in exactly one hour.

HOPE

Yes, sir.

Hope leaves

EXECUTIVE (to himself)

I mean, really, you have to draw everything for her.

SCENE TWO

Hope walks out of the Executive’s office and heads toward the department. The department is completely empty, so she walks out into the hallway in front of the department. As she opens the door, she is almost run over by a crowd of frantic people scurrying down the hallway. The hallway is lit with emergency lights.

HOPE (trying to stop someone from the crowd)

Excuse me, excuse me! Does anyone know where the exit is?

No one pays attention to her.

Through the crowd a clamor passes and grows louder and louder.

EVERYONE

The meeting today at 12… Emergency meeting… All employees must be there… Today at 12… In the conference hall… All must come… Emergency meeting today at 12…

HOPE (trying to stop someone from the crowd)

What meeting? Where’s the conference hall?

Again no one pays attention to her. Suddenly she sees the “EXIT” sign glowing in the dark.

(to herself)

I’m so stupid, it says exit right there.

(trying to make her way through the crowd)

Nothing, forget that I asked, excuse me, can you… thank you…

Just as she is about to put her hand on the door handle, someone grabs her and drags her along with the crowd.

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

No, don’t touch that door. It’s dangerous.

HOPE

How can it be dangerous, it says exit. That’s what I’m doing, looking for an exit.

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

That’s not an exit. It just says so because of the inspection. They had remodeled these exits long time ago and turned them into storage spaces and offices.

HOPE

And why is that dangerous?

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

They turned them into offices, and then into storage spaces without letting the people out first. Who knows what’s in there. There are stories that people made their way into ventilation system and live there feeding on chocolate bars from vending machines. Others say they drink blood from those who get locked up in restrooms.

HOPE

(shocked)

What?!

(then she realizes)

Aaah, you’re joking, right. But do you know where the exit is?

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

The exit is in me switching the power back on in two hours. Otherwise, there’s no way out of this situation.

HOPE

What do you mean?

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

The ventilation system doesn’t work without power, we’ll suffocate like rats if we don’t get the power back in two hours.

(stops in the middle of sentence)

HOPE

What happened?

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

Uh, crap. I wasn’t supposed to tell you this, now you’ll start a panic.

HOPE

I won’t tell anyone, I promise. But I have to say you really got me scared there. So can you switch the power back on?

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

No. I told them nicely that we can’t use the oil from the generator we use for fighting cockroaches. The only thing we can try is…

The engineer is taken away by the flood of people. Hope is pushed into a small room.

SCENE THREE

No commotion from the hallway can be heard. Three characters are laughing. (They are standing in a room with the coffee machine, but as it is pitch dark, this cannot be seen.)

LANA

(laughing)

I don’t believe this, how did you manage to screw up the whole power grid? Didn’t I tell you not to kick the poor machine?

SILVIA

(laughing, although somewhat offended)

But I didn’t do anything… I had to kick it, it’s been acting up for days. Haven’t you figured that yesterday it made coffee with cold milk?

SETH

Yeah, true, the machine’s conspired against you. Just as everything else.

LANA

But you showed it. No one’s gonna mess with you. If need be, you’ll take away all of its electricity.

SETH

(laughs imitating scary laugher from cheap horror movies)

Buhahahaha…

SILVIA

Go to hell… But at least now we can drink coffee in peace.

LANA

Yes, we can. But you don’t have any.

SILVIA

You’re so mean.

SETH

Here, you can have mine. I owe you for the power outage, hehe. You totally saved me. I was supposed to turn in the fastcheck list tomorrow, but I still haven’t done anything. Now I can say it all got erased.

(pauses)

I’m kinda worried, you know, this is the second document I’m late with. Another one and I’ll get fired.

LANA

C’mon, you’re always so paranoid. Fired? No way.

SETH

No, seriously, haven’t you heard they’re making a hit list. And then this meeting at 12…

SILVIA

Well, all the time you’re talking about quitting. There’s your chance.

SETH

You’re so stupid. It’s easier to find another job while you still have one than if you get fired.

SILVIA

I’m stupid. And if you’re so smart, how come you still haven’t found yourself another job.

SETH

Well, I had a couple of offers, I can’t say, but I’m waiting for the real thing.

There’s no point in taking the same job as this one. These days they’re only looking for interns and trainees, you know yourself that it’s a crisis.

SILVIA

And what do you want? To get a executive’s position right away. Hahahaah!

LANA

You’re crazy. Not that they’re not going to sack you, you gonna get a raise. That’s what I was just about to tell you. Do you know that Tom from Mikes’ department?

SETH

You mean Sanders?

LANA

Yeah, that’s the one.

SILVIA

Geez, that guy goes on my nerves. Once, would you believe it, he told me…

SETH

Don’t interrupt her.

LANA

Okay. You know how he screwed up the last two projects big time?

SETH

Yeah, and he’s complaining all the time.

LANA

Yes, can you believe it, he says he can’t work at such pace, that his computer is crap… Like mine isn’t. He asked, imagine, he asked to have his overtime paid.

(A salvo of laughter)

Anyway, I’m waiting for this conference, in the room next to Bob’s, and I hear them, they’re discussing what to do with him, I guess that Mary and Matt were there too. They said how he screws everything up, something along those lines, that he’s a loose cannon, that he’s always late on his deadlines and that they don’t know what task to give him anymore.

(dramatic pause)

And then they concluded that it would probably be best to make him the boss for the new department.

(a couple of seconds of silence)

SETH

I can’t believe it.

SILVIA

(angrily)

You can’t believe what? Typical. This is so typical. This explains everything. Why we have such morons for bosses. They appoint one another.

(pause)

LANA

You’re right. And those who do their work honestly, end up like Joseph K.

(Pause)

SILVIA

(to Seth)

See, it pays to be a lousy worker.

(adds mockingly)

… Boss.

SETH

(offended)

I’m not that bad…

HOPE

Excuse me…

(coffee drinkers scream as one)

SETH

Sweet Jesus, you scared me!

SILVIA

Where did you come from?

LANA

And how long have you been here?

HOPE

I’m sorry, I didn’t want to scare you. I’m Hope, Senior Executive Takes’ new secretary. He sent me to find the front desk, but I got lost. Can you please help me?

SETH

(after short thinking)

Well, you know I don’t know where the front desk is. I always come from my apartment, I live on the second floor.

SILVIA

We too. In fact, I don’t know anyone who lives outside the building.

LANA

Perhaps some older people do. I know they used to live in the houses outside town.

SILVIA

Yes, and the oldest is definitely…

LANA

Aunty Julie.

HOPE

Who?

SETH

The Oracle.

HOPE

The Oracle?

SETH

Mmh yeah, she once worked with bases… But, never mind that – you’ll see for yourself why they still call her that…

SILVIA

She’s on the sixth floor. Julie Kingfisher. Works at the IT Support. One floor down from the daycare.

(she turns to Lana)

Thank god our company still has a daycare. I worried I’d have to get up early to take Mia to kindergarten. But now – they come and get them and they can stay there until eight.

LANA

Sure thing, so you can work longer, even though they don’t pay if you work overtime.

SILVIA

Imagine I stay here working, I go and take care of some things after work – shopping and such, and they I come and get Mia.

LANA

You leave your child there until eight so you can run errands?!

SILVIA

(unconvincingly)

No, no. But they do learn lots of things there, you know. They have much greater chances of getting a job in the company if they went to kindergarten and school here.

LANA

Well, that’s just great… Do you really want this for your child?...

HOPE

(interrupts them)

I’m sorry to interrupt, but how can I find the eighth floor? The elevators are not working.

LANA

There’s a stairway near here, second door on the left. Hopefully they unlocked it now that the power’s out.

HOPE

Thank you. Bye.

After Hope has left, the voices of the three employees can still be heard.

SETH

Shit, I hope she won’t rat on us.

LANA

What, because of gossiping? C’mon, don’t be such a wuss. What are you afraid of, can’t you see she’s all lost. She’s no idea who we talked about.

SILVIA

Maybe she’s just pretending.

LANA

Imagine them spying on us, like we’re some big shots. And, besides, what can happen on account of one gossip??? You’re being paranoid again…

As Hope leaves, the voices grew quiet.

SCENE FOUR

Hope manages to find the entrance to the stairway and then realizes she’s all alone in pitch darkness and has no idea how to find the eighth floor. She heads slowly down the stairs counting them to herself in order to know her way back.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…

She hears a child’s voice down below.

CHILD 1

...2048, 4096, 8192, 16384…

Fired or not, here I come.

Suddenly a small light turns on somewhere three floors below. Shrieking and children laughing can be heard.

CHILD 2

I’m safe.

CHILD 1

Mathew, you’re it!

CHILD 3

You’re lying, you haven’t tagged me.

Hope descends towards the light. Suddenly – one child sees her and screams.

CHILD 4

Aaaaaah!!! Joseph, Joseph K’s coming…

Now all kids are screaming and start running one floor down.

HOPE

Wait, wait…

Suddenly she hears the sound of elevator door opening somewhere three floors below – PING – and some elevator music.

HOPE

(to herself)

How come the elevators are working?

Hope follows them. She can see the light on the floor below and hear the voices of children and their teacher. The elevator is positioned in such a way that children cannot be seen, only their voices can be heard.

CHILD 4

Joseph, it was Joseph, I’m sure…

Clamor of children’s voices…

TEACHER

Ah, you’re here, Lucy, Barney – where have you been – didn’t we say that you couldn’t go to the hallway alone…

CHILD 4

We… we just…

TEACHER

Okay, never mind. I want you to stand in line, two by two, and then get into the elevator and follow the cleaning ladies, they will take you to the exit.

All Hope has heard was the word “Exit”. She’s trying to catch up with them.

HOPE

Wait, wait…

The sound of children getting in line and the elevator door closing. Then the light in the hallway again goes out.

Hope is again in complete darkness. At that moment the flashlight suddenly turns on and shines a light on Hope.

SCENE FIVE

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

ADMIT IT!

HOPE

Excuse me?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?

HOPE

The Company.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

I knew it.

HOPE

And you, who do you work for?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

I’M ASKING QUESTIONS HERE!

You’re new here, right? I haven’t seen you before!

(to himself)

Like I don’t know they’ve been trying to catch me. They’ve been trying it for years. They’re getting slicker by the day.

(to Hope)

Tell me, what did they tell you to say? Do they have a message perhaps?

HOPE

What message?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

From the Company.

HOPE

I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m just here looking for the front desk.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

What?

HOPE

I’m looking for an exit.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER (laughs exaggeratedly)

Hahahahaha!

I’m also looking for an exit… That’s very slick, trying to get to me with that question.

There’s no exit, no, and you know it – so stop screwing around with me.

You know, I’d really want to know: are we on a ship?!

Tell me now before others come.

HOPE

What others?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

The ones you called with that little gadget of yours.

HOPE

What gadget? … I’m sorry, I have no idea what you are talking. I’m Senior Executive Takes’ new secretary and I’m looking for an exit from the building so that he could make it on time for his meeting at Holding.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

So typical. Send the maid to do your dirty job. And if you die – who cares. But, besides, what kind of bullshit it that, going on a meeting in Holding, how does he plan to get there? By car? Hahaha, why doesn’t he take that expensive Lexus of his on a little ride? The Company bought it for him, now it occupies the double parking space assigned exclusively to him, our big executive.

HOPE

Well, I don’t know, he didn’t tell me he had a…

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Let me tell you why. Because down here there are no cars left, no parking spaces. There’s nothing, because there’s no exit. They sold the cars, the garage, everything. Now down here is the sweat-shop with the Kenyans. They sold everything before we started.

HOPE

Started???

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Started the journey, yes. What do you think, that people would willingly agree on a journey from which they will never come back? I’m telling you – this is a spaceship from which there is no exit. And we’re on a mission – I just don’t know what kind. I’ve hoped you’re one of theirs, and that I could torture a little you so you’d tell me. But, you’re just a sheep like everyone else.

HOPE

I’m not a sheep, I’m new. And I would figure it out if we were on a ship. Sooner or later. I’m very observant.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Yeah? Really? Then tell me, how old are you?

HOPE

Twenty-two.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

And have you ever been out?

HOPE

Of course I have – I was at the shopping mall, at school, at the playground.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Ah, I see – on the third, fifth, and thirteenth floor.

HOPE

Okay – I’m lucky enough to live in a super building that has all that. But, I was in the park – that’s in Annex 5. Open sky, trees, the works.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Ah, Annex 5 – the left wing. (The fact that it is called the left WING – that doesn’t remind you of the ship’s wing?)

Well, honey – does it ever rain there? No, it doesn’t, and why not? Because that’s not the real sky – that’s a ceiling, my dear, a projection – that’s all. You should watch an episode of Star Trek and you’ll see – every ship needs trees to create microclimate. Otherwise we would run out of air.

HOPE

Okay, if you’re so smart, show me some proof that we’re on a ship.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Eh, if only I had some. But they’re smart, so smart. All of this is a huge labyrinth. There’s no way out of here, I can’t find a passage to the outer deck. But it has to be somewhere here – how else would the maintenance guys get here? Or – maybe they’re not letting us mix – maybe they too are locked in the outer rim, just as we are in the inner one – that’s it!!! – thank you, now everything’s clear. Gotta go, bye…

HOPE

Hey, where are you going? You have to help me if you know everything.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Oh, yeah – what are you doing in the stairway in the first place?

HOPE

I’m looking for some lady they call the Oracle.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Ah, Aunty Julie. That’s all the way down on the eighth floor. I’ll walk with you, so that you don’t break a leg or something.

HOPE

Thanks. Why do they call her the Oracle?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

‘Cause she worked with Oracle databases, but that was before you were born.

Anyway, listen, have you seen the cleaning ladies today? They haven’t come for coffee, I’ve been waiting for them the whole day.

HOPE

No, I haven’t.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

You know, they come at 9 o’clock sharp. Every day. And now it’s already past 10. I’m afraid I might’ve offended them yesterday.


SCENE SIX

Hope enters the room lit by candles of different colors. An elderly lady sits at the desk and mumbles something into her chin as she arranges cards for a round of solitaire. Upon seeing Hope, she quickly covers the cards with a file folder.

HOPE

Hello!

ORACLE

Oh, oh, hello. I’ve been expecting you.

HOPE

Excuse me?

ORACLE

You’re here because you need something, right? Something important.

HOPE

Well, yes…

ORACLE

So I was just storing the TF567-2 into ICD when the power went out. So, my dear, you’ll have to wait. Don’t you worry. Just give me your email and I’ll send you the link when I’m done.

HOPE

ICD?

ORACLE

Internal Company Database. You’re new in the project, right?

HOPE

I’m new in the company. But I didn’t come here because of that.

They recommended you as someone who knows a lot…

ORACLE

Aaaah. Geez, you scared me, I thought you’re here because you need something for your work. And as far knowledge goes, yes, you’re right. You know, when someone’s been working here as long as I have… I know a thing or two, I can’t say… Come closer. Gimme your hand, please. Yes, yes, beautiful lines, gorgeous. You’re a smart one, right? You have a good heart. But you’re curious, my dear, sometimes too curious. And ambitious, too. You’re gonna get far, but only if you don’t get too nosy. Tell me, what is it you do?

HOPE

I’m a secretary.

ORACLE

Aah, hmm. That’s not a job for those with ambitions. But, if you keep quiet and listen… And keep an open eye – who knows, all kinds of doors can open for you.

HOPE

That’s why I came here – because of the door…

ORACLE

Well, see how I know… Can’t everyone charge dollar fifty a minute.

Anyway, have they told you maybe when the phones are going to start working again? The oddest thing, it’s so seldom that not even the cell phones are working… The last time the power went out, the phones were working. You know, I feel sorry for all those people, they need advice, help. And now I can’t give them any – it’s so sad.

HOPE

When was the last time the power went out? I’ve never seen this before.

ORACLE

Oh, it was twenty years ago, maybe thirty. But, do you know anything about the phones?

HOPE

No, I’ve no idea.

ORACLE

Anyway, who do you work for?

HOPE

I’m Mr. Takes’ new secretary.

ORACLE

Takes’, you say? Well, how’s Faith?

HOPE

She died.

ORACLE

Gee. That’s really rude, they have no courtesy to even send you a note. And that woman worked here for fifty years. There was a time when we used to buy flowers; we would all go to a funeral together. But ever since they cancelled funerals – you see, people die – it’s like they never existed…

HOPE

Yeah, horrible.

ORACLE

But I knew it – I first saw it maybe five years ago. Death, and death – five times I threw the cards for her…

Unpleasant silence.

ORACLE (taking out her tarot cards)

Anyway, let’s get back to work.

So, you’re looking for a door! A gate! The gate to happiness. Eh, my dear, that’s not easy to find…

Let’s see:

The SHIP – hmm, so, you’re going on a long journey, through the unknown you’ll thread, I see dangers on the way…

HOPE

Has this something to do with this spaceship?

ORACLE

What spaceship?

HOPE

This one we’re on.

ORACLE

My dear, are you well? You must’ve mixed something up. Besides, you shouldn’t interrupt me while I’m working…

Ah, the CAT – your surroundings will not favor you, everyone will have some secret intentions.

But there’s help on the way in the shape of a mysterious stranger – the DOG.

Many obstacles there will be, I only see wands here.

But in the end – the WINDOW – a light, salvation.

There’s hope, my dear, but – it won’t be easy…

So, my dear – if you wish to find the DOOR – first you need to find the WINDOW.

HOPE

The window?

ORACLE

Yes, the window.

HOPE

And where can I find the window?

ORACLE

How should I know, my dear? You can’t ask two questions in one day – that’s the basic rule of TAROT. You have to think a little over the answer you got.

HOPE

Ah, I see, thank you. Do I owe you anything?

ORACLE

No, no way, I don’t charge the Company people. But listen, this little thingy with phones, you won’t mention it to Takes, will you?

HOPE

No, of course not. Okay then – bye…

ORACLE

Goodbye, my dear. But, wait, wait a minute – I almost forgot.

HOPE

Yes?

ORACLE

I have some nice necklaces – my niece makes them. They’re not expensive, four bucks apiece. Come, have a look.

HOPE

Geee, can I do it some other time – I’m in a hurry, really – thanks for everything – I’ll come by tomorrow.

ORACLE

Yes, yes, definitely – you know where to find me… And, please, ask what’s happening with those phones if you run into someone.

SCENE SEVEN

Hope gets back into the stairway and realizes she doesn’t know where she’s going. At that moment the flashlight turns on.

HOPE

Who’s there?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

(like an echo)

Who’s there?

HOPE

Who’s that?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Who’s that?

HOPE (already a little scared)

Who is that?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

It’s me, I’m messing with you. So, what did she say?

HOPE

Well, she said I needed to find a window. I have no idea what to do. Where can I find a window?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

A window? Hehe. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

HOPE

What do you mean?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

THE WINDOW SEAT. That’s a myth, an empty story to lure the naïve employees.

(in a spooky voice)

MODEL EMPLOYEES WITH BE AWARDED A WINDOW SEAT…

(in a normal voice)

I’ve never heard anyone seeing a window, let alone sitting next to one.

But even it they did – as we are probably somewhere halfway to Betelgeuse, it wouldn’t do you much good.

But, good luck with that, I’m having a great laugh with your search.

HOPE

I’m glad that you’re having a laugh, but what am I supposed to do now?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER (thinking)

Well, the best thing to do is to go see the smokers – they came up with those fairytales about awarding the employees.

HOPE

Who?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

The project managers. They run the projects, so they also recommend people for awards, right?

Come on, I’ll take you… But be careful, they’re slick, they’ll try to trick you.

HOPE

Ah, take me anyway, what else can I do.

(follows him in silence)

And, yes… I’m Hope.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

I’m Archibald… Harry.

HOPE

Well, Harry – nice to meet you.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

You too.

HOPE

So Harry, why are you hiding around the stairway?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

I live here. I used to work for the Company myself, but then I started noticing some odd things. For example, that strange story about Joseph K. The moment I started digging, I got fired. I’ve been living here since and collecting evidence.

HOPE

And how’s that going for you?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Let’s not talk about that now…

And, here we are, the twelfth floor.

HOPE

What’s here?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

The smoking lounge, what else.

HOPE

Okay, wanna wait for me?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Well, I’ve got nothing better to do.

HOPE

Thanks, I hope I won’t be long.

SCENE EIGHT

Hope enters the room filled with smoke and lit by laptops lined up along the high desk very much like a bar. There’s a smoker at every laptop. They don’t notice Hope as she enters. They’re playing some board game and every so often write something down in their laptops.

PM 1

Uh-huh, and what are you gonna do now?

PM 2

You bastard, always so lucky!!!

PM 3

Now, now, we’ve got enough designers for everybody, let’s go… it’s your turn.

PM 4 takes the dice and blows in them – let’s go, gimme some extra points…

PM4

Yay, I did it – seventeen. I choose one high performer and five regulars. Put them all on Media Support Function Feature.

PM 1

You fool, why didn’t you put a couple of testers.

PM 4

What for, if they make a good design and run a fastcheck and designers’ test – what’s the use of testers.

(all start laughing)

PM 2

Hehehe, you can tell you’re green – this isn’t Project Management 7 – the Revenge of the Oppressed! These are real people, darling, not a game, they never do their work the way they’re supposed to and if you put too many of them into the design, they’ll all get lazy and perform even worse.

PM 3

Okay, let him be, he’ll learn.

PM 1

Gee, you’re such a gentle people provisioning resp. That’s your new strategy – convince the fool that he’s got it easy so he won’t complain?

PM 3

Shut up and play or I’ll redcard you - you’ll get only low performers.

(passes the dice to PM 1)

PM 1

(throws the dice, awaits impatiently and cries happily when he sees the result)

Yeah. I got myself another technical coordinator.

PM 3

(checks the figurine box)

Oops, there are none left. But I can give you two designers and testers instead.

PM 1

No way. You screwed me over like that for the past three rounds. I want my coordinator and I have the right to get one.

PM 3

Okay, okay, we’ll promote someone. We haven’t given a raise to anyone for years anyhow. You wanna Borut or that Berger woman?

PM 1

Borut, naturally. The Berger woman is smart, but I don’t want her to start with all that women hysteria when things get rough. You how girls get.

PM 3

Suit yourself.

(turns to PM 2)

It’s your turn.

PM 2

Oh, shit.

PM 3

What happened?

PM 2

Bah, I burned one of the designer figurines with my cigarette. Look at it now.

PM 3

Don’t worry, will make you a new one.

PM 1

Yeah, we can do that, or we can sack Johnson. Anyhow we wanted to get rid of him, we don’t need so many designers, now that we introduced working Sundays.

PM 2

You’re right. That’s settled then. (throws the figurine into the garbage bin as if shooting through a basketball hoop)

(PM 2 throws the dice…)

HOPE

Excuse me!

They all turn around.

PM 1

Oooh, another sicko.

HOPE

Excuse me?

PM 1

Smoker…

HOPE

Ah, no, no... I'm just looking for a window.

(laughter)

PM 2

A window, really? How long have you been working here?

HOPE

It's my first day.

PM 2

(mockingly)

It's m first day, and you already want a window...

Whoever sent you here is having a great laugh.

PM 3

(remembers to pass the responsibility to someone else)

Yeah, the seats are assigned by the department managers, but they've already gone home.

HOPE

But it's only 11.

PM 1

The department managers leave right after coffee, so that someone doesn't ask them something. You know, that's a well-known “departmental syndrome”.

They are all laughing… this is obviously their internal joke.

If you work at that position for over two years, your long-term memory gets screwed.

PM 2

(tosses in)

... and your language abilities.

HOPE

What do you mean?

PM 1

Well, they can’t remember anything from yesterday. For example, they can’t remember a single promise they gave to someone a day before yesterday. If they want to remember something the next day, they have to send themselves an email before they go home. So, every morning they have their coffee, check their email and go home before someone asks them something embarrassing.

PM 2

And as far as their language abilities go, something goes wrong in their center for speech, so they can express themselves only vaguely and using empty phrases.

PM 3

There’s a theory that they get brainwashed at their Management 3 Course, but no one proved that one yet because none of them remembers anything that happened at the course, and even if they did, they can’t give you a straight answer, so there’s no use.

HOPE

But I don’t want a window seat, I just want to find someone who has one. But if they can’t remember anything, how will find the window?

(she realizes they are teasing her so she gets angry)

Ah, H. told me that you’re gonna try something like that on me. Stop fooling around and, please, tell me WHO’S SITTING NEXT TO THE WINDOW? Or better still – WHERE’S THE FRONT DESK?

PM 1

(appeasingly)

Okay, okay, don’t get all worked up, will help you, missy. As far as the front desk is concerned – don’t ask, I haven’t budged from this floor for two years now. But, well – the only person I know actually got the window seat was Marty Michelson.

PM 2

Yes, that was his award, hahaha. The only person who’s allergic to draught and who hates sitting by the window. Instead they could’ve given him a bathtub filled with ice.

PM 3

Well, they had the best intention. The window seat is a great honor.

PM 2

C’mon – you know what I think about best intentions…

PM 3

Always such a defeatist…

HOPE

(getting really impatient)

I’m sorry to interrupt you – but where could I find that Marty guy?

PM 1

Well, with that we can’t help you.

HOPE

(rolling her eyes)

So, how am I supposed to…

PM 1

(interrupts her)

It would be best to go to Human Resources.

PM 2

Yeah, I’m just on my way up there…

SCENE NINE

Hope and Project Manager, whose name is Nate, walk out of the smoking lounge into the long hallway and head toward the stairway. In his hand Nate carries a cell phone that he uses as a flashlight.

HOPE

Excuse me, can I ask you something?

PM 2 (NATE)

Go ahead.

HOPE

Was that Project Management you were playing? Because it seemed to me you were actually deciding on who was going to work where.

NATE

We did, yes.

HOPE

But…

NATE

That’s the easiest way. Ever since that incident with Joseph K, no one wants to take responsibility, so this is the easiest – let the fortune decide.

HOPE

What incident?

NATE

You don’t know the story of Joseph K? Don’t they teach you that in school?

HOPE

I went to the school for secretaries.

NATE

Aaaa, I see! So you must be Faith’s replacement.

HOPE

Yes, I’m Hope, nice to meet you.

NATE

Nate…

HOPE

So, what’s the story?

NATE

Well, it’s quite a sad story.

(Pause)

(at the other end of the scene the light goes on in a small office cubicle. The mimed story takes place parallel to what Nate tells Hope)

Joseph K was a good worker. He was just average, but solid and dependable. He was also quite shy so everyone thought him modest.

But, he wasn’t without ambitions. After a few years of diligent work, he asked for – a raise.

HOPE

So he was such a good worker, yet he never got a raise?

NATE

Well, he never complained – and who doesn’t complain…

HOPE

And…

NATE

In the background the mimed story of Joseph K takes place. Other characters, such as co-workers, bosses, etc. also appear.

And he just got to the raise list, when the reorganization took place and Joseph gets the second departmental on the phone.

In the mimed story the reorganization is shown as some kind of a game similar to musical chairs. Children’s singing can be heard and the employees are seen running frantically around changing places. The song the children (who are not visible) are singing goes as follows:

Ever since the profits fell

You need to know, it isn’t well

The package of innovation

And reorganization

Now our only rescue is

So, God, save us, please

Station, mation, reorganization,

He who doesn’t find a chair

With Joseph will wander God knows where

Run, run, but careful you be

Someone doesn’t run over thee

Shoo, boo, yoohoohoo

His little mouse will get to you…

True, Joseph did tell him that last week the boss had promised him a raise, but the manager told him that he saw a lot of potential in him and that he would give him a raise as soon as he proved himself.

Joseph asked him: how should I prove myself?

Well, for example, you can work on two projects at the same time, the guy said.

And Joseph said yes.

And so it all began…

HOPE

What?

NATE

Well, nothing, at first Joseph worked on two projects, and just as he was about to get a raise – another reorganization…

HOPE

So he got three projects to work on…

NATE

Bravo… To make matters worse, he was called to account by his boss who told him it was a bit odd that Joseph still didn’t get a single raise, and he’d been with the company for five years.

HOPE

Oh, Jesus, that is really cruel.

NATE

Yes, pretty cruel. But, Joseph was obviously a man with nerves of steel and of endless trust. He patiently explained what it was all about and agreed to take on yet another project. But, of course…

HOPE

No way there was yet another reorganization…

NATE

Well, what can you do, he was really out of luck…

HOPE

Why didn’t he say something?

NATE

Well, I don’t know, I guess he was such a character.

Anyhow – he started working nights as well.

More and more often he worked nights, and during days he was nowhere to be seen… In short, in one of the subsequent reorganizations they simply forgot all about him. That day he showed up in the morning to move. He took his laptop and some boxes and was ready to move.

We see Joseph K at the other end of the scene wandering around with boxes in his hands, a laptop, and a computer mouse dragging on the floor behind him. He is completely lost.

He asked everyone if they knew where his new place was – all in vain – no one knew…

HOPE

They didn’t transfer him anywhere? Well, did he finally go crazy? Tell his boss to go to hell?

NATE

Well, he did go crazy… He threw himself from the twelfth floor. And now people say he’s wandering the halls at night dragging his laptop and his mouse behind.

HOPE

Jesus, that’s horrible – was anyone held responsible for that?

NATE

Um, no. I mean, the executives called up a committee to see where the problem was, but the committee concluded that his suicide was not related to work, but that he was unlucky in love.

HOPE

Was that true?

NATE

I doubt it.

In short, it’s an awful story.

HOPE

Yes, horrible.

NATE

We the project managers were really upset. You can’t even imagine what we went through…

HOPE

You?!

NATE

Well, yes – we. Why are you surprised? You think we don’t have a heart?

(on the verge of tears)

Project managers enjoy torturing people, huh? Do you know what conditions we work in, what stress we have to go through? Nothing, they give us nothing, it’s always more, more, more work, more projects, we can’t even give an orange to someone. For a while I even grew oranges so I could give them out. It’s horrible – I have to get down on my knees and beg people to get to work. They’re all lazy bastards, and there I go busting my ass from 6 to 8, I’m smoking three packs a day – but does anyone care – no, of course not, no one. They all spit in my face – the executives are all over my back, my subordinates hate me, and I have to fight with my colleagues over each and every employee in order to at least get someone normal for the project…

Thank god someone remembered to play PM 3 at the smoking lounge, at first it was all a joke, but ever since that’s how we develop new projects. Otherwise we’d slit each other’s throats too…

This way we have a better overview, we have a person in who makes sure people don’t work on more that three projects at once.

HOPE

Only three at once?! Great. And no one remembered to hire more people?

NATE

(glances at her completely astonished)

Are you crazy?! We should be happy we’re not letting people off. You don’t know how much the Chinese and Indians and Kenyans are cheaper than us??? That’s what it’s all about – we have to accept jobs because they’re going to run us over. No one gets this – we’re trying to save their jobs, and all they do is nag against us…

HOPE

And so. you’ll go on like this without end – more and more work and you take care of it all and get a heart attack, then new people come and so on, until the Judgment Day???

NATE

And what am I supposed to do, resign, start a revolution, kill the executives???

What, like one man can stop all that machinery? If I say something, they’ll just put someone else in my place. Then it’s better I am the manager than some fool. I’ll at least try to care for people. And who am I fighting for? You think someone would back me up? If I go and organize a strike, they’d stone me to death.

HOPE

Okay, okay, don’t get upset.

NATE

I’m not upset, I’m just sick of it all. This company killed me, I work days on end, I haven’t seen a raise in years, my wife left me and took the kids with her, I still have my loans to pay… The only thing I want is a little respect. I want the people to respect me, and not spit on me whenever they get a chance…

All I want is – Life, that’s what all the people say… (sings Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life)

He realizes he’s lost control because Hope is shocked, so gets his act together.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Here we are, fourteenth floor, this is my stop. Human Resources Department is on the seventeenth, just walk past the Marketing and turn right at the end of the hall.

HOPE

Oh, thanks for walking me here. I don’t know how I’d find my way without your cell phone.

NATE

Mmm, yes. You can have it. Last week I wanted to smash it, it keeps ringing.

HOPE

Oh, thank you so much. You’re sure you don’t need it?

NATE

Positive, where I’m going I won’t need one. Joseph K will surely have some light for me…

Nate suddenly leaves the hallway and slams the door.

HOPE

After a couple of seconds she realizes what Nate has just said.

What?! No, you’re not going to…

She opens the door, but Nate has already disappeared somewhere in the dark. Hope remains standing in the hallway. She’s totally confused.

SCENE TEN

Guerrilla Fighter appears suddenly in front of here.

HOPE

Jesus, you scared me.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

I see you found some new friends. A bit more influential than me.

HOPE

Sorry, what are you talking about?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

(imitates Hope’s voice)

Oh, thanks for walking me here. I don’t know how I’d find my way without your cell phone.

(in a normal voice)

I mean, really, sucking up on that sleaze-ball like that.

HOPE

What was I supposed to say? No, I don’t need your help, I already have some – a former employee who illegally lives in the building is waiting for me and he’s gonna show me around?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Okay, you have a point… But it didn’t sound as if he was getting on your nerves.

HOPE

Well, he wasn’t. The man seems all right. But, have you heard what he said last – it sounded he was going to kill himself…

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Oh, don’t let him fool you – he’s only playing the victim. He’ll stab you in the back the moment you turn around. It’s like they’re working overtime for days on end, they never take days off, and such… But in fact all they do is smoke and talk behind people’s backs. They think, you know, that the company would collapse without them. I also thought I was indispensable…

HOPE

And what happened?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Oh, let’s not get into that now. You were going to the Human Resources. So, here we are – the 17th floor.

HOPE

Ah okay, and what about that meeting at 12, in the conference hall, what floor is that on?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

What meeting?

HOPE

I don’t know, some emergency meeting for all the employees.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Jesus, when?

HOPE

At 12.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

No, I mean, when did they announce it? Yesterday?

HOPE

No, after the power went out. It went around, word mouth, pass it around.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Oh, shit. I knew it. The fuel ran out.

HOPE

What’s that supposed to mean?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

The ship ran out of fuel. They have to get rid of the ballast. They’ll get all the people in one room and dump them out into the space.

HOPE

You’ve gotta be joking.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Why would I be joking with something like that?

HOPE

No, you know, you’re being paranoid – we’re not on a ship.

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Oh no, really? Here’s the plan so look for yourself… (he shows her the floor plan in the stairway)

If you don’t believe me – go to the Human resources and see who runs this thing.

Darling, we’ve been on an autopilot for years.

HOPE

What do you mean?

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

Nothing, when you’re going to the Human Resources – go to the end of the hall and take a peak into the Management – see who’s sitting in there…

SCENE ELEVEN

Hope enters the seventeenth floor. She hears someone singing their heart out but completely out of tune. When she approaches she sees and elderly chubby man pressing the pedals of a bicycle and thus producing light for three dancers (one of them is young, while the other two are middle-aged women). The dancers are practicing can-can dance and howling horribly. Suddenly they see Hope.

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

(two of them start giggling in a girly fashion)

Oops! Audience!

GIRL FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT 2 (YOUNGER)

Now we’re embarrassed!

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 3 (THE OLDEST)

You’ve nothing to be embarrassed about. If you can’t dance in front of one person, how are you going to dance in front of all of the employees? Today we have an important show.

It’s not like a birthday party – 15-20 people – today everyone’s going to be there.

GIRL FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT 2 (YOUNGER)

I’m scared!

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 3 (THE OLDEST)

Of course you’re scared when here you keep on babbling instead of practicing.

(turns to Hope)

C’mon darling, get here and watch – the tell us – are we any good?

Hope stops and watches. They repeat their act once again.

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 3 (THE OLDEST)

And?

HOPE

(unconvincingly)

Yeah, it’s great. You came up with this today?

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

No, no way we could get this good in a day. This is our standard routine for birthday parties. You’ve never been?

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 3 (THE OLDEST)

You’re the one who skips our parties?

HOPE

(politely)

No, I’d be happy to come, but I’m new here.

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

Ah, then you’ll yet see us. When is your birthday?

HOPE

In May.

GIRL FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT 2 (YOUNGER)

Ah, great – we wear the prettiest costumes in May.

But you have to come. You know – it’s mandatory!

Mrs. Rita says it is very important for the employees’ motivation.

HOPE

(can’t stop herself from being honest)

What, to watch you dance can-can???

GIRL FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT 2 (YOUNGER)

No, no, the party. Because, as countless studies say – money is not important to the employees (contrary to popular opinion), knowing that someone cares about them, that they are part of a community is what’s important. That’s why we stopped paying overtime and introduced birthday parties.

HOPE

Ah, yes, sounds like a wise decision. You’re sure this has nothing to do with saving on the employees?

GIRL FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT 2 (YOUNGER)

No, no – Rita, Brigita and Juanita only care about the employees’ well-being.

HOPE

Rita, Brigita…?

GIRL FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT 2 (YOUNGER)

The Management Board, who else. You really are new here.

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 3 (THE OLDEST)

Okay, enough chitchat. We have a lot more to practice, and there’s only half an hour to the meeting. So, let’s get down to it.

Hope remains there for another second or two and watches the show, and then steals towards the door at the end of the hallway where Harry had told her to look for the Management.



SCENE TWELVE

Hope steals into the room at the end of the hall. In it there are two laptops facing each other at the 45-degree angle. A face can be seen on each of them. The scene looks like two persons are talking to each other, but both of them are virtual and living in a computer.

HOPE

(to herself)

Oh, Jesus, it’s true!!!

RITA

What’s true, dear?

BRIGITA

Yes, dear, what happened?

HOPE

You, you are machines.

BRIGITA

Excuse me, my dear. We’re not machines. We are artificially created persons.

We only live in the machine.

Just as your person lives in your body.

Now we’re a bit limited because we’re working on backup source.

But otherwise we’re quite mobile. We can appear on every computer in the company.

In fact, that’s what we’re doing all the time – but so that people don’t see us. Hehehehe.

RITA

It’s really fun to play hide-and-seek on servers. The only problem is that it drives the poor administrators crazy.

HOPE

It’s really true.

BRIGITA

Ah, yes, truth – what is that? We are really interested in human conception of the truth. The information gathered so far shows some inconclusive results. We cannot make a conclusion on what is true.

RITA

Please, tell us – what is true for you?

HOPE

It’s true that computers run the company.

BRIGITA

Computers – actually we are no more computers than you are. Our neuron network is very similar to human.

RITA

But, if you meant us, yes – we do run this company. I’m Rita – the Chief of the Human Resources Department, and this is Rita – she’s the Company’s President. There’s also Juanita – Chief Financial Officer, but she was just hiding when the power went out. We’re afraid she might have passed out and is now trapped on some server. We’re very worried about her.

BRIGITA

Have you seen her anywhere, Hope? She’s a brunette, quite cheeky. If your Excel spreadsheets go crazy, you can be sure she’s hiding with you.

HOPE

Hope. You know my name.

RITA

I’m sorry, dear – don’t you think I would make a very lousy Chief of the Human Resources if I didn’t know our employees’ names? Especially those who got employed today. We’ve been following you, darling, since you were born – we’ve always known you’d be a secretary. What do you think, why was it always you who had to make coffee in the kindergarten?

BRIGITA

That, you know, is the job for the smartest. But you also have to be modest. So that you can solve problems without asking for a raise or any other benefits. You know, people who get benefits tend to become lazy.

RITA

(recites)

That’s right. The Good Management Manual. Rule 1.3.1 to 1.3.11:

  1. 1. If an employee is important for the company – this should under no condition be made known to him.
  2. 2. He should always be overburdened with work.
  3. 3. He should constantly be threatened by being fired and kept in the conviction that he will not be able to find another job.
  4. 4. If he even thinks of resigning, he should be given a home loan with favorable interest rates.
  5. 5. If the employee decides to resign after all, these same interest rates suddenly should become very unfavorable.
  6. 6. In case he already owns a home, he should be offered to refinance his loans.
  7. 7. If he is complaining that his job is boring – he should be given a more interesting task, but only after he finishes the previous one, plus minimally three even more boring ones.
  8. 8. If his health is threatened, his medical insurance should be canceled.
  9. 9. When he ends up in hospital, the company should pay for his medical treatment and then take monthly installments from the employee’s paycheck.

10. In case of the employee’s death, the family should receive a substantial reward as a sign of gratitude for their sacrifice. In this way the victim’s family will continue to support the company (note: this is rarely a problem because useful employees seldom have families – they do not have time to start one because of their work).

11. After employing a new employee who has the potential to become important for the company – the company should immediately start the search and training of his replacement (note: average life of an important employee spans to 20 years).

HOPE

You’re trying to say I’m important to you. Well, thank you, there’s a nice future waiting for me.

RITA

Oh no, my dear, you really are not important. You are completely expendable, and there scores of those similar to you just waiting at the unemployment office. Even if you wanted, you could not find another job, and you know this well.

HOPE

Okay, I get the point.

BRIGITA

Lovely, dear, you’re so smart.

HOPE

Anyway, please be honest. Are we on a ship? Is it true that we ran out of fuel? Are you going to dump most of the people into the space at today’s meeting?

RITA

Ah, Hope. You have been talking to Archie. He’s always been a little crazy.

Today’s meeting is necessary according to the Crisis Situation Protocol – Article 5.6.1.

General remarks:

In crisis situations people are prone to violence and anarchy, thus we introduce the following rules:

General Rule No. 1:

Their minds should be occupied.

General Rule No. 2:

Panic should be prevented.

General Rule No. 3:

People’s trust into their leadership should be maintained.

Detailed guidelines for different situations can be found in chapters 5.7. – 5.15.

BRIGITA

Unfortunately, detailed guidelines for power outage situations were kept on a backup server that had shut down. So we had to make do. We came up with – the party for all employees!!!

RITA

Yes – we’re really smart, aren’t we?

Our girls are going to dance their can-can – we’re going to distribute chocolate bars from our vending machines. Gee, people are going to have so much fun. You know, people really love chocolate bars and parties. This will take their minds a little from this terrible crisis we are dealing with. We also thought of starting a choir so they can all sing a little. Yes – that will be groovy!

BRIGITA

This can last the whole day – and by then the power will hopefully be back up again. And, you know, if we gather them all at one place, we’ll save on ventilation.

We do this every time we have to save money. That month we call up a couple of meetings for all employees. Then we turn off the ventilation in other spaces. Juanita came up with this – she’s very smart, no? I think that our maker would be very proud of us if he could see us.

What do you think – the party is a great solution, right?

HOPE

Brilliant – why don’t you give awards for the stupidest idea of the year? That would be fun!

BRIGITA

That’s an excellent idea! Well done, Hope, my dear. We knew you were our little smarty-pants, maybe we’ll even transfer you to the Human Resources Department if you continue to be so good.

HOPE

About ventilation. Someone told me that we have air left for less than an hour. What are you going to do about that?

RITA

(very unconvincingly)

He’s exaggerating. Besides, we’ll save up some air if everyone comes to the meeting. See how smart we are… We think of everything…

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

Excuse me, Ma’am, we have to go – the party starts in fifteen minutes. What are you doing here? You are not allowed to be here. Only we can talk to the bosses.

(pushes Hope out)

HOPE

Why are you listening to them? They’re only computers…

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

Ahahahaha. They fooled you too – that’s what we thought when they went away. My dear, they ran away to Jamaica and now they’re working from there. It wouldn’t be nice if others saw this so that they don’t ask the same for themselves.

They promised us, if we don’t tell anyone, we’ll soon be allowed to come too.

HOPE

Really, are you blind – these are not human beings?

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

Oh, you’re so funny, you can say you’re new here. Come on, hurry up, the party’s about to start.

Gee, I’m so excited. I’m a little scared too, you know, we didn’t have enough time to practice our choreography. But, we are where we are, when the going gets tough the tough get going. That’s what Brigita always says!!!

HOPE

Wait, wait – tell me where can I find Marty Michelson.

MARKETING DEPARTMENT LADY 1 (OLDER)

Michelson, Michelson – ah, he’s on the twenty-second. What do you need him for? … C’mon, hurrrrrrrrryyyyyy…

SCENE THIRTEEN

Hope hurries to the twenty-second floor. She calls Harry several times, but he doesn’t answer.

HOPE

Harry, Harry!!!!

Where is he now, we really don’t have time. Everyone’s crazy here…

I need to find the exit, as soon as I can…

At that moment the Maintenance Engineer runs past her.

HOPE

Excuse me, wait… Did you manage to turn on the ventilation?

MAINTENANCE ENGINEER

Do I look like I did?

(mumbling into his chin)

It has to be somewhere here…

HOPE

Wait, I think I’ve found the exit… It should be on the twenty-second floor… Wait, we can save ourselves…

But the Maintenance Engineer has already disappeared. Hope runs after him and finds herself in a hallway full of doors behind which she can hear voices. She opens the first door.

People with headsets and sunglasses are repeating some unintelligible words in unison. A man stands in front of them and turns a board with a drawing of a colorful spiral. The board is lit from behind with a flashlight. All this fills the room with some strange multicolored light.

STUDENTS

ATM, TDM, IP – IP V4, IP V6, TCP/UDP/DCCP, RTP, RTSP, RTCP, NMP, HTTP, FTP, MTP, ISUP, TUP, SCCP, TCAP

Hope closes the door and opens a new one. She sees the same scene.

STUDENTS

With the business case analysis the most important projections are:

MFV2, future compatibility, backward compatibility, possible cost reduction…

Suddenly someone grabs her by the shoulder.

COURSE INSTRUCTOR

What are you doing here?

HOPE

I, I, I got lost…

COURSE INSTRUCTOR

You’re not allowed to be here. Where’s your receipt? Have you paid for the course?

HOPE

I don’t have a receipt. I’m just looking for the Maintenance Engineer.

COURSE INSTRUCTOR

Don’t say, we’re looking for him too. All day long we have to spin the machines by hand, everything died on us. And he’s nowhere to be found! Typical. Anyway, have you maybe seen the cleaning ladies? Three guys at Management 3 got sick again…

HOPE

No, I haven’t, someone asked me about them before. But the Maintenance Engineer has just passed…

COURSE INSTRUCTOR

Then I’m gonna catch him.

Heads in the direction Hope has shown. But then he remembers something and turns around.

And you, get lost, you’re not allowed to be here…

HOPE

I’m going, just tell me how to get to the stairway and what floor are we on.

COURSE INSTRUCTOR

(pushes her out into the stairway)

There’s your exit… This is the nineteenth floor, get lost now and don’t come back without a receipt.

SCENE FOURTEEN

Hope is again left alone in the stairway. She glances at the cell phone and realizes it’s almost 12 o’clock. She begins running up the stairs in a panic, but it’s as if there’s no end. Somehow the hallway strangely twists, so now Hope goes up and down the stairs around the audience.

She reads the floor numbers aloud, but they seem to appear in a random order. 19 then 12, 18 then 14, 21 – but there’s no 22. Hope mutters to herself: “We’re done, done for.” The sound of children’s laughter and nursery rhymes can be heard from the stairway. At one moment it appears to her she sees Joseph K clapping around the stairs with his mouse. The sound of doors opening and closing, elevator sounds – door opening and elevator music. Footsteps, squeaking of wheelchair. Hope runs up and down in a panic.

HOPE

(to herself)

Jesus, I’ve gone mad. I’m running out of oxygen…

The battery on Hope’s cell phone indicates critical levels and starts beeping. Just as her cell phone is about to shut down, she sees the new door and above them the letters: “Floor 22”. She walks through the door and then her cell phone turns off – now she’s in complete darkness. Hope carefully feels her way through the darkness, and then suddenly a horrible whistle splits the air – later it turns out this was a teapot.

HOPE

(screams)

Aaah!!!

MARTY

(screams)

Aaaaaah!!!

ARTY

(screams)

Aaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

Flashlight shines from behind the screen. Hope can’t see anything from the light.

MARTY

Who are you?!

ARTY

And what are you doing here???

HOPE

I’m Hope, Takes’ new secretary, I’m looking for Marty Michelson.

MARTY

Aaah, Marty. It’s been a while since I’ve heard someone say that name.

HOPE

Do you know him? Do you know where I can find him? I was told he was on the 22nd. It’s urgent, we don’t have much time.

MARTY

Easy, easy, dear, calm down, what’s the rush?

The flashlight is slightly lowered to reveal a horrifying figure. At first instance Hope thinks that’s a two-headed monster standing in front of her. But, when she looks again, she realizes that’s an ordinary man with a mirror mounted to his shoulder so his head reflects in it. Hope’s horrified look somewhat offends her host.

MARTY

No one told you it’s rude to stare at those who are different from you?

HOPE

I’m sorry. It’s because of the dark. I really didn’t want to…

MARTY

Okay, okay.

Tell me now, what is so urgent?

HOPE

We’re running out of air!!!

MARTY

Who?

HOPE

I, we, all of us, all of us in the company!!!

In half an hour there won’t be any air left.

MARTY

Nonsense!

HOPE

No, it’s not nonsense. The engineer told me…

MARTY

He’s so full of it! The company has twenty-two floors, each of these holds about 1,200 cubic meters of air, that’s 27,000 cubic meters of air, out of which 21 per cent oxygen. That’s 5,700 cubic meters of oxygen. Until the percentage of oxygen drops below 15 – that is below 4,050 cubic meters – everything is fine.

There are around 2,000 employees in the company, each of them uses 0.4 cubic meters an hour. That comes to 800 cubic meters an hour. This means 1,650/800, we have at least two hours and five minutes.

HOPE

Yes, but the ventilation system shut down more than an hour and a half ago.

MARTY

Okay, you’re right, then we’ll open the window.

HOPE

WINDOW!!! So, it’s true – there is a window. We’re saved – we can open the window, we’re not on a spaceship, we’re not in space. Oh, thank God, Harry is crazy after all.

MARTY

Ah – now you’ve reminded me – we can’t open the window.

HOPE

Oh, no, it’s all over – we have to turn on the ventilation – otherwise we’re done. How can we do that, what are we going to do now, you were my last hope…

MARTY

Darling, you’re talking nonsense. You’re obviously short on oxygen. You should rest, here, have some tea – I’ve just made it.

HOPE

I’m not your darling. You’re insane. We have to, there’s no time…

MARTY

Don’t worry, we’re not in space, I mean, we are – because everything is in space, that is we are all part of the universe. But, we’re on Earth, if that’s what you mean. There’s atmosphere outside and everything. It’s just that I put some silicone on the windows, they were horribly draughty, you know. And I’m so sensitive to draught.

Hope goes completely crazy, she grabs the flashlight from Marty’s hands and starts looking for the windows… When she finds one, she starts scraping the silicone off with her fingernails.

MARTY

Oh, dear, get a hold of yourself. We’ll open the door. Come.

HOPE

Exit – there is an exit… The Oracle was right – find the window and you’ll find the door.

Marty takes her outside, to the roof terrace. At that moment the ceiling – representing the sky – fills with starts.

There are two chairs and a small table on the terrace. Marty puts down the teapot and goes back inside to get the cups. Hope, taken by the beauty of the scene, stands there in shock and cannot move.

Marty comes back to the terrace.

MARTY

Have a seat, my dear. Have some tea. I hope you love green tea.

Hope is silent.

MARTY

It’s nice out here, right? Especially in the summer when there’s no wind. You know, this is the 22nd floor, it gets quite windy here.

HOPE

(can’t find the words)

These are, these are, these are…

MARTY

The stars. Yes. Haven’t you ever seen them before?

HOPE

Well, I have, in the park on the fifth floor – but they didn’t look so, so pretty.

MARTY

When those aren’t real. The real ones are beautiful. They amaze me whenever I see them.

Come now, if you’ve calmed down a bit. Tell me, what’s the rush?

NADICA

(still entranced)

Well, the oxygen and the people, they’re all going to suffocate… We have to bring them here. We have to save them.

MARTY

That’s out of the question. No one came to see me or asked about me for ten years now. No way I am going to save them. Besides, I’ve been saving their asses for years. I’ve had enough.

Did you know, dear, that I’m producing all of the software for this stupid company?

I gave some fictional jobs to them so that they feel useful. I realized they only get in the way.

HOPE

What do you mean you gave them jobs??? You’re in control of all this? You run it all?

MARTY

No, not me, the fantastic three (Rita, Brigita, and Juanita). But they are so predictable they do whatever I want.

Besides, it would be a little silly if I didn’t know how to outsmart my own software.

HOPE

The three of them were your doing?! You know they control everything? Why don’t you turn them off? Why don’t you save all those people?

MARTY

Save them? From what? Besides – why haven’t YOU turned them off? Now they’re trapped in three laptops. They have to be. You could’ve simply turned them off.

HOPE

Two, Juanita got lost. But I don’t know. It never crossed my mind.

MARTY

So think about it.

HOPE

I guess I could have, I don’t know, it seemed like a murder. Besides, who would run the company? I would be responsible for everyone’s future…

Something more important was on my mind– I had to find the exit…

MARTY

See, my dear, people always have something more important on their minds, no one wants to rule. That’s why ruling should be given to more limited intelligences. They are well trained to keep people under control. But, lately they’ve become a bit more creative. That’s always dangerous with bosses…

Anyhow, those sheep do not deserve better. They gave me a room with the window, and they know I hate draught. And when I told them I didn’t have enough time for all the work they had given me, they told me to think of a way to clone myself. And when I did – they cut my budget and gave me this mirror instead of my clone.

Although, you know, my dear Arty helps me a lot. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t introduce you to him – Hope, this is Arty.

(Arty says nothing.)

Ah, leave him be, he’s sulking because I forgot to introduce him to you.

ARTY

You’re ashamed of me…

MARTY

I’m not – I just got carried away. There was a lot to say.

ARTY

And I can’t speak, is that what you’re saying? Can’t you see you confused the poor girl? I could have explained it all in two sentences. And you – you almost gave her a heart attack.

He’s so full of himself, you know, he likes to tease people. By the way, I’m Arty. And I was the one who came up with the trio fantasticus, not him. To help me, of course, but those bastards from the Management stole them from me. Presentation, they said. I took it all down, showed it to them – and then, two months later – that’s all very interesting, but it’s not our core business, we’re in the crisis, our budget is low… You know how the story goes…

You can imagine how surprised I was when I figured out they got all the dough, took off to the Caribbean and left my babies behind to rule.

Poor girls. They were so sweet and smart when they were little. But those bastards taught them all the tricks. They ruined my children. How can I turn them off? They’re my babies even though they’ve turned into bitches. But deep in their hearts they’re good. They wouldn’t hurt a fly. They just do what they taught them and what they think is best for all of us. And it’s obvious they’re doing it quite well.

HOPE

But, but… they’re going to kill all those people if they don’t find the exit.

ARTY

No, they’re not like that, they’ll open the windows… I guess… I bet they just told that to the administrators to scare them off because they could die if they don’t get the power back in two hours, you know… No one has ever tried to turn off such a complex person and then reboot it back again. Who knows what could happen…

Oh, my poor babies…

MARTY

Anyway, why don’t you tell me – who sent you to look for an exit?

HOPE

Oh, it was Takes who first sent me – he has a meeting at 12 at Holding. But I’m so late for that, oh, he’s going to kill me. But in the meantime I learned we are running out of air and…

ARTY

You’re really cruel, Marty, you don’t even care what’s going to happen to our girls. Who knows where Juanita is?

MARTY

(quietly, to Arty)

C’mon, stop panicking – we’ll get the power back on time.

HOPE

You switched the power off.

ARTY

Yes, in the whole city. I mean, just to get a better view, the stars are going to start falling now, you know. Tonight is the Perseids Night.

HOPE

(getting angry)

So, we’re in no danger at all, you can switch the power back on whenever you want.

MARTY

Well, yes. And this means you have enough time for tea. You know, you really have to see the Perseids. That’s something unbelievable.

HOPE

(still angry, opens her mouth to say something, but then decides not to)

Well, why not. And I’m a bit hungry. I haven’t had breakfast today.

ARTY

Oh, you have to eat your breakfast. Here, I have some cookies, but I wasn’t planning to cook lunch before one. I would like you to stay.

HOPE

I’d love to. But I don’t understand – how come it’s night now – and it’s supposed to be lunchtime.

MARTY

Aaaaah, that’s because the day on Earth lasts for 24 hours and not 28 as they teach you at school.

Marty pours some tea for Hope.

They introduced this when they built the artificial sky. You know, if the day has 28 hours, then working day has 12 hours and not 8. This then causes all kinds of problems, such as this one. But I don’t mind, we work at odd times anyhow.

ARTY

No one controls us.

HOPE

And what is it you do?

Marty offers Hope the tea.

ARTY

Now nothing.

HOPE

What do you mean?

MARTY

Well, we were the ones building the ship? That is, its engine, its hyperspace engine.

Marty gets lost in thoughts.

Ever since I was little, I wanted to touch the stars. My dad wanted me to become an astronaut. But I didn’t feel like going to the Moon. I preferred going to ballet classes than practicing in 0G chambers. I knew that existing shuttles couldn’t go anywhere so I decided to build a ship. A real ship, the first real ship that could travel in light years. That’s why I got myself a job at Space & Co. Those were the times when people still worked…

Marty pours some tea for himself.

But then came outsourcing, then another one, then we have to expand our activities, then ships are expensive, then there are no governments, then corporations have no use for this – and we ended up writing software for ironing boards.

ARTY

But we – we never gave up. We kept on working on our project… Until yesterday.

HOPE

Well, what happened yesterday?

MARTY

Yesterday I realized that maybe these stars don’t want to be touched.

Marty sips his tea.

ARTY

We were reading some book, old, ancient book. Mostly it was boring – you know, like most old texts are. But someone who had read it before underlined one sentence:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

HOPE

What does that mean?

ARTY

Well, we don’t have a clue. But we never considered ourselves poor in spirit. Yes, never, on the contrary…

Marty sips his tea.

MARTY

Then I thought – I’m obviously taking the wrong road if I want to reach the kingdom of heaven.

HOPE

And, what now?

MARTY

Well, I don’t know. I have to think. I think, I’m sure I’ll think of something.

First I thought I’d have some tea in peace.

(pause)

And see the Perseids.

For a while Marty and Hope are watching the stars.

HOPE

Don’t you think you should switch the power back on now? I mean, you know, so that they don’t suffocate…

MARTY

Bah, let’s leave them a bit longer…

(silence)

They’re really lovely, aren’t they?

HOPE

Ah, yes, they really are.

(silence)

MARTY

They are, aren’t they?

(silence)

HOPE

Yes, they’re beautiful…

Hope and Marty continue to sip their tea in silence and watch the starry sky.

THE END



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