Writer

Aspen Gray

United States

I was born in Chile, raised in Utah, and I hope to someday write something worth reading. Be kind, seize the day, and love fearlessly.

Message to Readers

I want to know how you reacted as a reader, and what you judged as a writer. Any feedback is appreciated and possibly begged for. Thank you. (And I almost always review in return).

Game of Cards (stageplay)

May 11, 2015

FREE WRITING

0

(The room is dark. The only light flickers from a cluster of tall candlesticks balanced on the low, long oval table. Around the table, five distinct figures sit on high-backed chairs. At the head of the table, HERMES, a sly-looking young man, holds a deck of cards. He deals them out to the other four: ATHENA, a stone-faced young woman, ZEUS, a spirited male, HADES, a restless, bipolar man, and POSEIDON, with his charismatic personality. Hermes slaps the final card down on the table.)

 

HERMES

Well, there are the hands. I hope Fortuna’s joined us this evening, eh? Before we get this game rolling, I just wanted to thank you for joining me tonight...

 

HADES

Get to the point!

 

HERMES

(Pretending to be offended.) Patience, uncle Hades. All good things in their time. Which brings me to the next order of business.

 

ATHENA

Explain yourself, Hermes.

 

HERMES

I’ll do that, preferably without any more interruptions, if you...DEAR relatives wouldn’t mind too much.

 

POSEIDON

(Disguising his words as a cough.) I’d mind.

 

HERMES

(Pointedly.) I’m sorry. Did you say something?

 

POSEIDON

Nope. Nothing at all.

 

(Poseidon grins innocently. Hermes stares at him for a few seconds before shaking his head and continuing.)

 

HERMES

Anyone else?

 

(No one speaks. Zeus has zoned out completely, and is now playing with the candlesticks.)

 

HERMES (CONT’D)

Good. Now, as I was saying, I wanted to throw a little something into the game to make it more...interesting.

 

(He pauses for effect.)

 

HERMES (CONT’D)

I was thinkin’ that each person in the tournament bets his or her item of power. Winner takes all.

 

(There’s a moment of complete silence. Then, suddenly, each person jumps to their feet and begins to argue and protest, besides Hermes who continues to sit, a smug smirk playing across his face. Finally...)

 

ZEUS

SILENCE!!!

 

(The voices die as quickly as they rose.)

 

ZEUS

(Quietly.) Are there any here who are in favor of Hermes’s suggestion?

 

HADES

...Why not?

 

ATHENA

I suppose the reward is worth the risk.

 

(Poseidon looks around, and nods hesitantly. He throws his trident to the floor a few feet away from the table. Hades removes his helm, following Poseidon’s lead. Zeus does the same, setting his master lightning bolt carefully down. Athena is last, but finally the temptation is too great. She takes off her helmet and lets it fall to the table’s surface. Hermes’s smile spreads to a wicked grin as he puts his staff into the pile.)

 

HERMES

So, just to make it clear, you’re all wagering your very essence of power. Whoever wins will have control over the skies, the seas, the earth and all its riches, the dead, wisdom itself, and my own little powers of medicine. Unless you speak out now, let your fear persuade you to back out, you will all be bound by your lives to follow through with the terms. Anyone?

 

(No one speaks.)

 

HERMES (CONT’D)

Let’s play.

 

(There’s a flutter of cards as each god and goddess pick their cards up, occasionally lifting their gaze to glance at one another. Each of their personalities manifest themselves. Zeus and Athena could have been carved from marble. Hades’s face twitches, his eyes continually surveying the others. Poseidon is chuckling to himself, shuffling his cards. Hermes seems fully relaxed. Athena, to the left of him, begins. As each person speaks, a card is tossed down.)

 

ATHENA

Three.

 

POSEIDON

Four.

 

HADES

Jack. (Smiling slightly.)

 

ZEUS

...Pass.

 

HERMES

(Happily.) Oh, I pass! You take this round, Uncle!

 

(Hades frowns at Hermes and sweeps the pile to his side.)

 

HADES

My call. Pair of fives.

 

ZEUS

Sixes.

 

HERMES

Eights.

 

ATHENA

...Nines.

 

POSEIDON

...(Shouting) AARGH! You cheated, HADES! You knew I wouldn’t be able to play on this!

 

(Hades rises out of his seat, barely containing his fury. Poseidon shoots up to meet him, withdrawing a sword and aims it directly at Hades’s throat. Hades is unperturbed.)

 

HADES

You dare accuse me of lying? I should have you thrown to Tarturus for that, brother -

 

POSEIDON

Ha! You couldn’t capture a minotaur if it stabbed you in the -

 

(Quickly, Hermes cuts him off and gets between the two.)

 

HERMES

Ladies, ladies. You’re both pretty. Sit down.

 

(Reluctantly, the two gods sit, too angry at each other to pay much attention to Hermes.)

 

HERMES

Poseidon, I believe it’s your turn.

 

POSEIDON

(Growling) Pass.

 

HERMES

(To Athena.) It’s yours, then.

 

ATHENA

...Double six.

 

(Meanwhile, Poseidon is conversing under his breath with Zeus.)

 

POSEIDON

It can’t be a coincidence. Think about it: Hades cheats, Hades wins, Hades becomes Supreme Ruler!

 

ZEUS

Come to think of it...

 

HERMES

Poseidon? Hello? P-man, it’s your hand.

 

POSEIDON

Oh, yes. Right. I, um, I’ll put two sevens.

 

ZEUS

I pass. (To Poseidon, whispering) You know, I think you might be right. But consider this...

 

HERMES

Two eights.

 

ZEUS (CONT’D)

It was Athena who played the nines, and Athena who just put down two more doubles, causing me not to play. What if they’re working together?

 

(Athena whirls toward them, having overheard the entire conversation.)

 

ATHENA

I am incapable of deceit! Never have I heard such an outrageous accusation!

 

(Her voice rises with each word. She points at Zeus.)

 

ATHENA (CONT’D)

And you! Turning Poseidon against me. It was you who first voted for Hermes’s plan. Why, (laughing) I’m almost disappointed. Coming from Poseidon, I might expect such a lowly attempt as this to seize power. But the mighty Zeus? Shame on you.

 

POSEIDON

(Insulted) What do you mean, coming from Poseidon -

 

ZEUS

I wasn’t the first to vote. That was Hades. Your ego needs a trim, Athena. Remember whom you’re speaking to -

 

         (Unnoticed, Hermes slinks away from the table.)

 

HADES

I didn’t have anything to do with Hermes’s plan! Don’t you bring me into this -

 

ATHENA

(Ignoring Hades, to Zeus) You were king only because of your lighting bolt. By the time this game is over, it will be mine, and ‘King’ will no longer suit you.

 

POSEIDON

You see? She admits to conspiracy!

 

HADES

Athena’s right! Any other person would be TEN times the ruler you were.

 

(Zeus has had enough. He turns back to where their items of power were placed in a pile and freezes in place, shock striking him motionless. The other three turn and stop, each with the same stunned expression as Zeus.)

 

HADES

What the me...

 

(The pile is gone. And so is Hermes.)

 

ATHENA

...(With distaste.) Hermes, master of medicine, traveling...

 

ZEUS

(Nodding.) And thieves.

 

(Suddenly they hear clapping, but can’t see the source.)

 

HERMES O.S.

Bravo! Oh, simply bravo! You all played splendidly.

 

(He walks back into the room, grinning like a schoolboy.)

    

HERMES (CONT’D)

It is I, however, who wins the final round. Please, sit down.

 

(Hermes snaps, and as if tugged by some invisible force, each person slams down on his or her seat, muffled words trapped inside their closed mouths. They struggle, but it’s useless. As Hermes talks, he saunters toward the table, walking around it and gesturing his arms widely. He’s wearing Hades’s helmet. Athena’s pendant glimmers from his neck. In his left hand he hefts Poseidon’s trident, and in his right hand he clenches Zeus’s lightning bolt. Hermes’s own staff is nowhere to be seen. The captured gods struggle in place.)

 

HERMES (CONT’D)

As you can see, your combined powers are more than enough to render you helpless. Honestly, I expected more of a fight. What’s that saying people use? Ah, yes. Easy as stealing candy from a baby. Victory is sweet.

 

(He lays the weapons down on the table, within their arms’ reach. Not that they can make any move to take them. Hands free, Hermes snaps. Suddenly, their mouths are free to move.)

 

POSEIDON

If you say one more pun, I’m going to throw up.

 

(Hermes doesn’t reply. He picks up Zeus’s bolt again and prods Poseidon's chin up with the tip.)

 

HERMES

That’s not a very strategic thing to say in your position. (Looking at Athena.) Wouldn’t you agree?

 

ATHENA

You’ll fail.

 

HERMES

How? None of you can do anything. With the four most powerful people out of commission, there’s no one left to stop me.

 

ATHENA

You don’t know anything about strategy. This was a very, very stupid move.

 

(Hermes lowers the bolt and starts toward Athena, annoyed.)

 

HADES

If you don’t surrender this instant - !

 

(Hermes waves a hand at him. Hades’s voice leaves him.)

 

HERMES

Shut up, the rest of you. What, exactly, is the flaw in all this?

 

ATHENA

(Calmly.) You’ve neglected to take into account one factor in this plan of yours.

 

(Hermes’s smile is gone. Frowning now, he’s standing directly in front of Athena.)

 

HERMES

You’re stalling.

 

ATHENA

On the contrary. You are using my necklace to control us. The necklace itself utilizes the strength of the user’s mind to bend the victim’s will. But what if the victim’s mind...

 

(In a flash, Athena grabs the discarded trident from the table and has it aimed at Hermes’s throat.)

 

ATHENA (CONT’D)

Is smarter than the user's?

 

HERMES

(Sputtering in surprise) ...B-b-but you were trapped! I trapped you!

 

(Athena lunges at Hermes, who, at the last moment, manages to bat the trident away with the bolt.)

 

ATHENA

There is such a thing as pretending, you know.

 

(She smiles. Hermes pales. They begin to fight, staff against staff, Hermes retreating with every blow.)

 

HERMES

Now, let’s talk about this –

 

(Athena ducks under his faltering guard and wrenches the necklace from his neck. Hades, Poseidon and Zeus all rise from their seats, eyes narrowed, fixed on Hermes. He tries for one last smile.)

 

HERMES

(Smiling fearfully) I was just testing you, you see. Good job, all of you. Well, guess I’ll see ya tomorrow at Olympus? Yeah? Good night, everybody –

 

(He tries to run, but Athena slips her necklace back on. Stiffly, Hermes is forced to stop and turn back around.)

 

HADES

Can I feed him to Ceberus?

 

POSEIDON

Or tie him to an anchor and leave him in the Pacific?

 

ZEUS

He would make a nice lightning rod, don’t you think?

 

(Hermes starts shaking his head fiercely, making a pleading motion to Athena. She studies him for a moment.)

 

ATHENA

Hmm. He’s not worth my time. The three of you can decide how to settle this...perhaps over a game of cards?

 

THE END

 

Okay, so I found this recently. It's something I wrote a couple years ago, so forgive the juvenile sound of it, but I'd love to revamp it. So, what works? What doesn't? Ideas? Reactions? Anything would be more than great, so seriously, please comment. Thanks so much! You're the best!*

 

*unless you don't comment, in which case there is **room for improvement.

**Just kidding. You're the best anyway. :)

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