[Scene opens with physicist Isaac lying across three seats of the front row inside a lecture theatre. He is in a semi-conscious state when Thomas, the theologian, descends casually along the isle and plonks himself on a seat right beside him.]
Thomas: Hey Isaac!
Isaac: (Shuddering) Damn, you scared me!
Thomas: I didn’t mean to. Did you fall asleep?
Thomas: Bit tired there I see. Have you been working overtime again?
Isaac: I have to work hard for my faith Thomas.
Thomas: Same here. You have no idea how uncomfortable it is walking around in the sweltering summer heat with this thing on. (Tugging on collar) I can’t stop sweating.
Isaac: At least your problem isn’t a cerebral riddle.
Thomas: (Confused look on face) What?
Isaac: Never mind. What brings you here anyway? Weren’t you supposed to be running errands today?
Thomas: There was a message left on my machine to meet you guys here.
Isaac: Who exactly?
Thomas: The entire committee–Carl, Sophie, Aafia, Rachel, and yourself.
Isaac: The Board of Representatives you mean?
Thomas: Yeah all six apparently.
[Neuroscientist Aafia walks into the lecture theatre.]
Aafia: What are you guys doing in this darkness? Turn some lights on.
Thomas: My my, don’t we look snazzy today. A tie? Since when did you wear a tie?
Aafia: Since we started mapping the neural correlates of unconscious memories, intentions, expectations, and whatever else may constitute unconscious aspects of mental activity. My team is on the brink of a great discovery. Freud’s theory of an unconscious may soon be decreed fact!
Isaac: No doubt a joint venture with some other great names which you probably won’t even acknowledge. Being the conceited and envious individual that you are, I’m pretty sure you’ll see nothing wrong in stealing the limelight and taking all the kudos for it.
Aafia: Fuck off Isaac.
Isaac: (Glancing at Thomas) I’d say that’s pretty normal.
Thomas: Intensity’s gone up a notch.
Aafia: You guys are hilarious; maybe you should apply for supporting vocal roles on ‘The Simpsons’. Should I turn the lights on or not?
Thomas: (Checking time on watch) There’s no point. The audiovisual’s going to start in about five minutes.
Isaac: Yes and the others still haven’t arrived yet. Do you know where they might be Aafia?
Aafia: (Grimacing) Who am I supposed to be their guardian? I have no idea, but if I were to take a random stab I’d say that Carl and Sophie are in the library talking about noetic science and esoteric claptrap while Rachel’s in the restroom bawling her eyes out for an Arctic seal that was mauled to death by a killer whale.
Isaac: Are there any pharmaceuticals available yet that alter neural correlates of the foul-tongued and unpleasant to make them more socially desirable?
Aafia: Isaac, why don’t you do us all a favour by building that time machine you always speak about and fucking off to another dimension?
Thomas: Okay folks that’s enough for today.
Aafia: Who died and appointed you our superconscious?
Thomas: I take that upon myself when you turn yourselves into squabbling children.
Aafia: Thomas I actually like you more when you’re engaged in fundraising activities for sick children and the elderly instead of playing the role of divine intercessor between two scientists. How about you stick to that huh?
[Biologist Rachel, psychologist Carl, and mystic Sophie all stumble into the theatre.]
Carl: (Gasping for breath) We’re here! We made it just in time!
Aafia: Tell someone who cares.
Sophie: It costs nothing to be nice to someone Aafia. Remember that words full of venom leave fang marks on the heart that never quite heal. Depotentiate your words of venom and ensure their intent is void of evil. Above all, do no harm!
Aafia: I’m not a GP.
Sophie: (Smiling) It’s not exclusive to medicine sweetie.
Aafia: (Gives Sophie the finger)
Carl: Not well today Aafia?
Isaac: When is she ever well?
Carl: What’s the problem?
Isaac: Trust me, you don’t need to be a psychologist to figure that one out. (Looking at Aafia) When was the last time you got some?
Aafia: Said the black pot to his mate the kettle.
Isaac: At least the pot knows he’s black. The black rusty kettle on the other hand thinks she’s Snow White.
Carl: From experience Isaac most of life is anything but black or white. In actual fact, the vast majority of individuals happen to be a nexus of differing shades of grey.
Thomas: Some shades are more enigmatic than others.
Carl: I agree.
Thomas: And may I ask what enigmatic event has the three of you huffing and puffing?
Carl: Oh, this guy overheard Sophie talking about the conscious control of blood flow which she’d learnt from a Buddhist monk in Tibet.
Carl: It’s not magic Thomas.
Thomas: No, it’s ‘sensationalism’ carried out to an extreme degree. Why do people feel they need to impress another by shamelessly showing off tricks they’ve learned from magicians and fakirs?
Aafia: Let’s see Thomas, maybe for the same reason that priests of organized religions sell the Word of God to the hopeful by shoving spontaneously-igniting flames and so-called miracles down their throats. And what’s worse is that they fail to suspend disbelief; they’re so tragic they make Dorothy’s trip to the Emerald City sounds believable.
Thomas: You’re such a bitch sometimes.
Aafia: Sorry I don’t do doggy-style.
Carl: Anyway, this guy draws a five-inch needle from his bag and dares Sophie to pass it through her hand. You should have seen his jaw drop when she passed the needle through a few folds of skin atop her hand without flinching or bleeding.
Sophie: (Winking at Carl) Mind over matter folks!
Rachel: It’s true I saw it!
Aafia: (Assuming a whiny voice) Did you faint?
Aafia: Because you weren’t really looking anyway, where you? You were thinking about which Japanese ship you’re going to terrorize next with your mates.
Rachel: Who do you mean?
Aafia: The Greenie hoodlums you hang with.
Carl: Take your vitamins and relax Aafia. So who actually planned this? What’s the occasion?
Isaac: I didn’t even know there was one.
Thomas: I had a voice message left on my phone. What about you Aafia?
Aafia: This girl stuck her head through the door of the laundrette where I was washing my clothes this morning and told me there was an urgent meeting at midday for the Council of Representatives.
Thomas: Did she say what her name was?
Aafia: Yeah Sara; she said she was a friend of yours.
Thomas: I don’t know any Sara.
Aafia: (Pivoting to face Carl and Sophie who are sitting in the row behind her) What about you two?
Carl: We only found out recently.
Thomas: How recently?
Carl: Like ten minutes ago.
Thomas: Who told you?
Carl: The same guy who posed a challenge at the table.
Isaac: Sounds as though his passing-by wasn’t a random event.
Carl: What do you mean?
Isaac: Overhearing your conversation and challenging Sophie offered the best possible means of dropping his missionary statement in a way that wouldn’t arouse your suspicion. His abettors may have known that you’re cluey when it comes to smelling out conspiracies. They may have warned him to be extra careful when approaching you.
Carl: If they did it worked, didn’t it?
Aafia: You guys are making it seem as though we’re being set up. (Shifting her visual trajectory to Rachel who is sitting directly behind Carl and Sophie) What about you?
Rachel: Well, when I got up this morning I decided to go outside and…
Aafia: Not your whole life story honey. How did you find out about the gathering?
Rachel: There was a letter in the mail.
Aafia: Didn’t you just say you were with Carl and Sophie?
Rachel: Yes but I already knew about the meeting.
Sophie: Perhaps it’s someone that’s extremely shy and doesn’t want to confront any one of us in person.
Rachel: Someone that wants to share something important with the Council of Representatives.
Isaac: Or something perceived as being important.
Aafia: Like what?
Sophie: Some kind of higher purpose maybe?
Aafia: You and your higher causes Sophie.
Isaac: Aafia’s right Sophie. The odds are stacked against higher causes by a mile.
Carl: Do you two honestly believe that we’re all just here by chance? Fat chance. What are the chances that that the six of us would all get a message telling us to meet inside this lecture theatre at 12.00 noon on the dot on a Monday? And let’s not forget that it’s a public holiday today!
Sophia: (Turning to face Thomas) Was there anything peculiar about the phone message Thomas?
Thomas: Not really, except if you consider a child’s voice peculiar.
Sophia: That’s strange.
Rachel: Do you know what else is strange?
Rachel: The letter in the mail. The articulate expression and rich vocabulary is enough to convince one that it was written by an adult but the handwriting belongs to a child. I don’t know any adults who write like that.
Sophie: Why does it have to be an adult? Why couldn’t it be a child with the intellect of an adult?
Rachel: You make a good point!
Aafia: Now that I think of it Sara resembled a child too. She was very cherubic.
Carl: You mean baby-faced?
Aafia: Yes and there was an inconsistency between her voice and her physicality. She sounded so… juvenile.
Sophia: The guy at the table looked a bit like a cherub too, didn’t he Carl?
Carl: Yes delicate features and very soft-spoken; childish mannerisms too.
Aafia: (Standing up) I don’t like where this is going. Something doesn’t feel right…
[The door of the lecture theatre slams shut and the stage lights turn on.]
Child’s Voice: It’s nice that you’re here this afternoon. I didn’t think that everybody would come! (Giggling) You six are my Chosen Ones. You have been chosen to view a short video that will make you think. I know how you all like to think long and hard about stuff (Giggling). At the end I want you to take turns at explaining what you’ve seen.
[The projector screen at the back of the theatre lights up and begins playing a black and white motion picture film with no sound. Two ten-year old children have separated a three-year old toddler from his parents and are leading him away. Another scene flashes up showing the children tormenting the youngster by kicking, scratching, biting, and throwing him against the train tracks. The distress is clearly etched on the dishevelled face of the toddler; tears stream down his eyes, blood down his temples, and his little mouth yawns open to issue a bloodcurdling scream. There is an abrupt cut to a consequent scene showing the two older children placing the body of the toddler vertically along the train tracks, and then to one of a train severing the lifeless carcass in two. After a transitory view of the bloody carnage the projector screen goes blank and the lights dim until they pinch out completely.]
Thomas: (Loosening shirt) Who’s going first?
Isaac: Easy. (Turning to face the others behind him) The whole thing is explainable in terms of quanta.
Aafia: Oh no, not quanta again. It’s not…
Isaac: Wait your turn Aafia (Sighs). Anyway, there are infinite possibilities of arrangement available to the three bodies, those of the older children and the toddler, in the spatiotemporal field at any one time.
[Rachel begins waving her hands from the back of the lecture theatre.]
Isaac: What is it Rachel?
Rachel: Sorry to interrupt but don’t you think that the reason for what we just saw is better attributed to the respiration process?
Isaac: How so?
Rachel: Well respiration oxygenates the blood and carries it to the parts of the children’s’ bodies that need it most.
Isaac: Which are?
Rachel: That would be the arm and leg muscles! (Laughs nervously)
Aafia: Your argument is flawed.
Aafia: To explain causes associated with humans you need to look at their crown.
Rachel: Which is?
Aafia: The brain of course. The stream of higher order consciousness that enables the two older children to premeditate and successfully carry out their diabolical operation require the millisecond integration of distributed functional clusters of neurons in the brain. What’s more is that these integrations are dependent upon re-entrant interactions in the thalamocortical system. Without these underlying neural activities there would be no way that higher order consciousness could be maintained long enough for events such as the one’s we’ve just witnessed to transpire.
Rachel: Hmm… (Nodding) I see your point.
Isaac: There’s a much simpler way of explaining it.
Carl: Hardly. If you ask me her explanation is reductionist, simple even.
Aafia: Simple? What do you mean by simple? (Looking very annoyed) How is it simple?
Carl: It doesn’t take into account mind as an ontological level in its own right. Personally, I’d like to think that it’s an unusual case of homicidal ideation where the circumstances just happened to be ideal for phenomenal expression. The case is obviously unusual in that it involves underage children, although the fact that the children are able to plays roles is a clear indication that they’ve already transitioned to the level of the mental ego. I’d also say that their thinking and consequent actions indicate something atypical stirring on an unconscious level; something’s not quite right! Oh, and a most remarkable feature impossible to overlook is that it involves two juvenile perpetrators with an abnormally high IQ.
Sophie: I really like Carl’s explanation but it leaves one important fact.
Carl: I’m all ears.
Sophie: The two older children may have become estranged from their source of emanation in the sefirot.
Aafia: What the hell’s that? It sounds like a motor neuron disease.
Sophie: It enfolds all moral and spiritual law. Their actions are a clear indication that the Light has been withheld from illuminating their souls. I’d cite poor mothering or lack of guidance in their formative years of life as the most likely reasons. Do we see this?
Thomas: We do Sophie but that’s not the most important fact here. I’m actually quite surprised that what I have in mind hasn’t come up yet.
Sophie: Time to bring it out of mind then.
Thomas: Nobody’s spared a thought for the toddler, the actual victim of this human tragedy. The two older children who committed this atrocity against him are the essence of pure evil. They are disciples of Satan. They are beyond salvation. There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that makes haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. These two children are all that and more!
Carl: Evil doesn’t exist.
Thomas: Those kids knew what they were doing Carl. I’m sorry, but there’s no psychological theory that can account for the existence of such devious and diabolical juveniles.
Carl: Even if that were so it would not authenticate the existence of evil in any objective sense.
Sophie: I concur.
Aafia: You concur with everything Carls says Sophie.
Sophie: He speaks the truth.
Aafia: More like the truth of complexifying everything. Trust me, it’s a lot simpler than what you think.
Thomas: Says who?
Aafia: Says me Thomas. Ever heard of Occam’s razor?
Thomas: What’s that?
Aafia: A principle stating that the presiding feature of authentic explanations…
Isaac: Is minimalism.
Thomas: The ‘nothing but’ of materialistic monism? Pfft…
Aafia: It’s much more believable than the ‘magical thinking’ of transcendental monism.
Isaac: Yeah Thomas.
Sophie: (Standing up) Hey look at the projector.
Aafia: Are you seeing auras again?
Sophie: There’s an elliptical shape twinkling on the screen.
[Sophie dashes up to the screen and begins inspecting the shape.]
Aafia: What is it?
Isaac: Can you see something?
Carl: What is it?
Rachel: Yeah, what is it Sophie?
Thomas: Tell us for Christ’s sake.
Sophie: Um, I don’t think anyone here is going to believe this. I don’t even believe it.
[Aafia, Rachel, Isaac, Carl, and Thomas mutter their subsequent line in unison.]
Aafia: Is there a camera recording?
Rachel: What can you see?
Isaac: Are we being watched?
Carl: Are there people there?
Thomas: What have you found?
Sophie: Don’t overthink what I’m about to say, but if what I’m seeing is real then we’re most certainly unreal.
[They all dash to the projector screen. In peering through the elliptical orb, the trajectories of their subjective visual fields merge into a first-person perspective of a chuckling boy running along a set of train tracks with fresh blood splattered over his small hands.]