[SCENE I. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. SARAH is at the computer, reading something about various sea creatures. MELISSA is lying on the couch, asleep.]
SARAH: We should go exploring islands!
(MELISSA opens her eyes and glares at SARAH.)
MELISSA: Why would we want to do that?
SARAH: One last, lazy hurrah before classes start again! Something we’ve never done before!
MELISSA: I was asleep, Sarah. Having a very interesting dream that I don’t recall. Why can’t you let me sleep?
SARAH: You have a bed! By being in the same room as Sarah Ames you are consenting to a world of fun and adventure.
SARAH: This is non-negotiable.
(MELISSA groans and sits upright.)
MELISSA: Fine. What islands are you talking about?
SARAH: Well, there’s some islands off the coast. Easy to get to from Portland! Let’s see. There’s Death Island, Murder Island, The Isle of Despair, and Useless Island.
MELISSA: Let’s go to Useless Island. It sounds less like it is going to kill us messily.
SARAH: You’re no fun. Fine, Useless Island it is. I’ll look up boat rental places, shall I?
MELISSA: My parents have a boat. We actually used to go boating a lot. And camping. I’m sure they’d let us borrow it for an ill-advised weekend on Useless Island.
SARAH: (Excited.) You did? You never told me you were a bona fide sailor! I bet you know all about yard-arms and things. And camping. Can you build a fire? We have to have a fire.
MELISSA: (Sarcastic.) If the ability to light fires is so exciting, why not invite Nicholas instead? He’s an Eagle Scout.
SARAH: Oh, that’s a great idea!
MELISSA: What? No, that’s a terrible idea. That was a joke.
SARAH: I’ll call him right now. He doesn’t do anything besides sit at home and pine for you, does he?
MELISSA: I hate you so much.
(SARAH calls NICHOLAS on her cell phone.)
SARAH: Nick! Cancel your plans this weekend, you’re going camping with me and Melissa.
NICHOLAS: Uh, all right. Where?
SARAH: Great! We’re going to Useless Island. We’ll pick you up bright and early Friday. See you then!
(She hangs up.)
SARAH: This is so exciting!
[SCENE II. A motorboat. SARAH is navigating and MELISSA is driving. MELISSA has a navy blue bikini top and a blue-and-white striped skirt, and large sunglasses. SARAH has adopted a green halter top one-piece, jean shorts, and a little sailor hat. NICHOLAS, in the back, is trying to avoid looking at either of them. He has black swim shorts and a grey t-shirt.]
SARAH: I think I see it up ahead!
MELISSA: You mean that big, ominous-looking rock rising out of the ocean like a vengeful god?
MELISSA: Was it named by Vikings or something?
NICHOLAS: Actually, the British explorer who found it lost nearly all of his expedition trying to explore it. It’s named because he said it was useless to try to explore any further.
SARAH: Maybe we’ll find skeletons! Thanks, Eagle Scout!
(MELISSA sighs and boats on. Scene.)
[SCENE III. MELISSA has found a harbor of sorts on Useless Island, and is setting about tying the boat up so it doesn’t drift away and leave them stranded. Meanwhile, NICHOLAS is tossing their supplies to SARAH, who is on shore. There is an ominous shape in the water in the background, but none of our intrepid explorers seem to notice.
The island is quite large, rocky and vertical. It seems likely that exploration will involve a lot of climbing on slippery, pointy rocks. There may also be caves to provide shelter.]
NICHOLAS: I think that’s the last of it.
SARAH: Okay! Do you want to make camp here or find somewhere else?
MELISSA: (Finishing up with the ropes.) Let’s find somewhere else. Tides and all that.
SARAH: Oh right, tides. Sounds good! Lead the way, Eagle Scout!
NICHOLAS: Stop calling me that.
(NICHOLAS jumps ashore and helps MELISSA do the same. Each of them shoulders some of their supplies and carries it up the island.)
[SCENE IV. The mouth of a cave, some distance up the island. A pile of driftwood marks what will eventually be a campfire; several camping chairs are set up around it. The actual sleeping bags, et cetera appear to have been set up inside the cave. This spot has an admirable view of the ocean.
MELISSA is lounging in one of the camping chairs. SARAH and NICHOLAS are gathering driftwood.]
NICHOLAS: Well, this doesn’t seem so bad. Maybe this isn’t the Useless Island I read about.
MELISSA: (Removing her shades to glare at NICHOLAS.) Christ, Nick. You had to say that, didn’t you? We’re fucked now. Doomed to a grisly fate. Two beautiful corpses and one ugly one.
NICHOLAS: Are you always this superstitious?
SARAH: No, she’s right. Don’t tempt fate like that. (Beat.) I’m one of the pretty corpses, right?
MELISSA: Of course. (She puts her sunglasses back on.)
NICHOLAS: Whatever. I’m going to explore this cave. See how far back it goes.
(SARAH tosses him a flashlight.)
MELISSA: Holler if you get eaten by hell demons.
SARAH: Or sea monsters!
MELISSA: Or violent cannibals descended from the original expedition that was “lost” on the island.
SARAH: Or a kraken! Or does that count as a sea monster?
MELISSA: I think the kraken is the archetypical sea monster, actually.
(While this back-and-forth is going on, NICHOLAS disappears into the cave.)
SARAH: I only said it because I remembered I brought a bottle of Kraken rum.
MELISSA: Kraken rum! I take back all the mean things I said about you this week.
SARAH: Yeah, I thought it was appropriate. Since we’re going to be eaten by sea monsters and all. (She produces the bottle and takes a swig before handing it to MELISSA. Scene.)
[SCENE V. The campsite, a few hours later. The sun is setting. MELISSA and SARAH are drinking in front of a fire; NICHOLAS has not returned.]
MELISSA: Hey, is it just me or did Nicholas leave like a million hours ago?
SARAH: Maybe it’s a really deep cave.
MELISSA: I bet he’s waiting in ambush. We’ll crawl into bed and then he jumps out of the shadows all ‘oooo I am the Curse of Useless Island!’
SARAH: Ha. (A long silence follows.) Seriously though, should we go check on him?
MELISSA: We could. Or we could bask in the sunset a little longer. It’s your call.
SARAH: Hm. (Beat.) Sunset.
(Another silence follows, followed by a monstrous sound from the depths of the cave.)
MELISSA: Or we could see what sort of hellbeast has eaten our friend. (They get up, a little unsteadily, and arm themselves with flashlights to make their way into the cave.)
[SCENE VI. The depths of the cave. NICHOLAS, bearing a few scrapes from his travels, is still exploring–apparently the cave goes quite deep. He is sitting down to eat some granola bars opposite a skeleton dressed like a 19th century sailor when there is a monstrous roar through the cave.]
NICHOLAS: I’d better see what that was. (He plunges deeper into the cave.)
(Not long after, the beams of two flashlights are visible, followed by MELISSA and SARAH.)
SARAH: Oh, look, a skeleton!
MELISSA: (Bending for a closer look.) And he’s got a diary, look!
SARAH: I’m sure it’s a journal. He was probably very manly in life.
MELISSA: (Taking the book and flipping open at random.) ‘Hard tack and grog again today.’ Boring. (Flips to the last entry.) ‘Mark ye well, whoe’er finds this missive: eat not the flesh of the kraken.’ That’s the last thing he wrote.
SARAH: Don’t eat the kraken why? Does it taste that bad? Worse than hard tack and grog?
MELISSA: I’m mostly worried at how completely not ominous at all that sounds.
(They continue further down the cave. The monstrous sound happens again.)
SARAH: Do krakens live in caves?
MELISSA: Only the kraken we’ve been drinking, Sarah. Maybe he was warning us not to drink rum.
SARAH: A bit late for that.
MELISSA: I guess there are worse ways to go.
(They continue further, and find various other skeletons in contorted positions, as if they died in some pain. There is no sign of struggle, however. Eventually they come upon a chamber in the bottom of the island, which is full of salty water and probably leads all the way out to the ocean. The eye is immediately drawn to NICHOLAS, who still has his flashlight lit, though it is on the ground next to him. Then we notice that the water is full of squidlike monsters, most of which are small compared to a giant legendary sea monster, and a few of whom are about man-sized. One of the man-sized krakens makes the monstrous noise we have been hearing, though much quieter now.)
NICHOLAS: Oh, hey. I think the cave has been amplifying the noise.
MELISSA: Oh my God, are those–
SARAH: Baby krakens! They’re so cute! (She runs to the waterfront to get a closer look. MELISSA follows at a more leisurely pace.)
MELISSA: This must be their breeding grounds. No wonder Portland never made it as a port city. We’re a few miles from the birthplace of the kraken!
SARAH: It’s nice to know there’s a reason you failed. Hello, baby krakens! Are you going to eat ships and be the bane of honest sailors? Who’s a good sea monster? Yes you are! Yes you are! (She strokes one of the nearby krakens on the tentacles. It makes a frankly unsettling purring noise.)
MELISSA: Aw, he likes you!
NICHOLAS: You’re both insane. Look at these things! This could be the scientific find of a lifetime! Think of what we could do with them!
(The krakens seem to get angry as he talks about this.)
MELISSA: Sounds like someone wants to get eaten by angry sea monsters. Come on, Nicholas. We’ve started the fire and there are marshmallows to be roasted.
NICHOLAS: You’re not just going to walk away?
NICHOLAS: Fine. Let’s go.
SARAH: Aw, are we leaving? (Sadly.) Good-bye, krakens! I won’t forget you! (They head back for the surface.)
[SCENE VII. The campsite. The fire has burned low and the trio are settling down into their sleeping bags inside the cave.]
NICHOLAS: One thing still bothers me, though. Apart from you two hating science.
MELISSA: (Irritably.) What’s that, Eagle Scout?
NICHOLAS: I thought the kraken was supposed to be huge. Those weren’t shipping lane-wrecking huge.
SARAH: I’m sure mommy kraken is out looking for a nice juicy cruise-liner to feed to her babies. She’ll be home soon enough.
NICHOLAS: That’s what I’m worried about.
SARAH: You worry too much.
(They settle in to sleep. Scene.)
[SCENE VIII. The campsite, morning. MELISSA opens one eye, then reluctantly gets up and walks outside, rubbing her eyes sleepily. Then she freezes, eyes wide, and turns to run back to the others.]
MELISSA: Guys, guys, wake up, we have to go.
SARAH: But I just got here.
MELISSA: No, I’m serious, we have to go right now.
(SARAH gets up and also looks out at the ocean. A giant, kraken-like shape can be seen approaching, not rapidly, but inexorably. Meanwhile, NICHOLAS is not stirring. MELISSA kicks him in the ribs, not too gently.)
MELISSA: You were right about momma kraken, Nicholas. Get up.
(NICHOLAS finally gets up and looks out.)
(They pack in a hurry, leaving a few nonessential items behind, and run for the boat. When they are all in the boat, Melissa cuts the rope and guns it for the nearest land–which is not too far away. The kraken is quicker than the boat, however, and catches up to them just as they get close. It drags the boat into the briny deep, and ignores the three swimmers who eject and swim for shore.
Eventually all three have washed up on the beach, and lie there motionless for a while. They have only what they are wearing–everything else is sunk. Meanwhile the sun is rising and it’s promising to be a hot, sunny day. Eventually they stir and get up.)
NICHOLAS: Well, I think it’s about ten miles’ walk to get back to Portland. With no food or breakfast.
MELISSA: And then I have to explain to my parents that a legendary sea monster ate their motorboat.
SARAH: Ten miles in flip-flops and bikini tops. Whose idea was that?
MELISSA: Yours, I think.
SARAH: Well, it was not a good one.
NICHOLAS: I am never going camping with you again.
(They begin to trudge along the beach, which seems to stretch out forever in front of them.)