Life and Death in the Jungle
A whacked-out play by Thorin N. Tatge


KAWDEN the pouncy ground feeder
VIONADA the ancient giraffe
NAOMI the spider

SHIROU: ShirOU!  ShirOU!  (Looks the other way.)  ShirOU!  (Looks toward audience.)  ShirOU!
Enter KAWPIN, in a crouch.
KAWPIN: Hey, whatís all that noise?  It must be like six in the morning!
KAWPIN: Shut up, chickadee!  Iím trying to squat for worms and I canít hear a thing with you yelling like that!
SHIROU: Oh!  Sorry, I didnít realize.  Iíll go call somewhere else.
KAWPIN: Why do you need to make that racket at all?  Why not just keep your beak shut and help me listen for worms?
SHIROU: Well, I want to find a mate, of course.
KAWPIN: Is that how you do it?  You just keep yelling ďShirouĒ until some female of your species answers?
SHIROU: Well, of course!  How else would I find a mate?  Shirou!
KAWPIN: Come on, you could just hold a lek.  That way everyone gets to meet everyone else at once and you get it over with without bothering the other animals.
SHIROU: A lek?  I heard those things are really boring.  They go on for hours and hours, nobody ever brings food, they donít even have televisionÖ
KAWPIN: Well, it keeps the ground feeders like me from ripping your throat out.  I swear, if you say ďShirou!Ē one more time, Iíll rip you to shreds.
SHIROU: You canít threaten me!  Iíll report you to the council of peace!
KAWPIN: Oh Gaea, not that stupid council again.  You mean to say thereís another council of peace in session?  I thought they tried that a hundred thousand years ago and it failed miserably.  (Grabs insect and eats it.)
SHIROU: Well, they were naïve back then.  Now we know how to reconcile every animalís needs!  Thereís no need for anyone on this planet to kill anyone else ever again!  Shirou, Shirou!!
KAWPIN: All right, thatís it!
KAWPIN pounces aggressively and starts to throttle SHIROU.
SHIROU: Help, help!  Iím being murdered!
Enter GAFF.
GAFF: You put that poor bird down this instant!
SHIROU: Yay, itís Gaff the magical elephant!
KAWPIN: Ah, come on!  He was bugging the heck out of me!  And heckling the bugs out of me, too!
GAFF: Then youíll just have to find a peaceful way to settle your differences.
KAWPIN: What, like hitting each other with big puffy things?
GAFF: I was thinking more like switching bodies.
SHIROU: Hooray!  I get to be a pouncy groundfeeder!
KAWPIN: Youíre not getting your stubby wings on my body!  (More throttling.)
GAFF: Stop it!
GAFF reaches out with its trunk and whacks KAWPIN.  KAWPIN falls to the floor.
GAFF: Yeah, you two definitely need to switch bodies.  That way youíll understand each otherís needs and both of you will grow in spirit.
SHIROU: Hooray!  Shirou!
KAWDIN: You wouldnít dare, elephant!
GAFF: Donít worry, itís for the best.
GAFF puts one hand on KAWDIN and one hand on SHIROU.  Then he goes:
GAFF: KeerrrrrrrrróPOP!  There you go, all switched.
KAWDIN: Oh God, Iím a chickadee.
SHIROU: Yay!  Wow, my back legs are really strong!  I bet I can hop really far.
SHIROU crouches and hops a few times.
KAWDIN: I canít believe this.  Iím gray and ugly.
GAFF: Well, my work here is done.  Iíll be back in a week to change you back, unless I donít feel like it or thereís a game on.
Exit GAFF.
SHIROU: I admire magical elephants so MUCH!
KAWDIN: Shut up, birdbrain.
SHIROU: So whatís all this about listening for worms?  Is that what you like to eat?  Worms?
KAWDIN: It used to be.
SHIROU: Cool, so what do they sound like?
KAWDIN: They sound likeÖworms.  I donít know how to describe it.
SHIROU: I like eating insects, myself.  Say, how do I fly with this body?  Feels a little bottom-heavy.
SHIROU: Well you donít need to be mean about it!
SHIROU bounces around while KAWDIN pecks at the ground.
KAWDIN: Look, Iím sorry, honest I am.  Here!  I found some worms for you to eat!
SHIROU: Really!?  I wonder what they taste like.  I bet they taste like worms.
KAWDIN: They do!  Have some!
SHIROU bounces over to where KAWDIN is and east some worms from off the ground. However, it turns out that they are really not worms at all, but pebbles!
SHIROU: Ack!  These are pebbles!  You tricked me and now Iím going to die of indigestion!  Shirou!
KAWDIN: You asked for it.
SHIROU falls over and dies.
KAWDIN: Well, there goes any chance of getting my body back.  I guess Iím a chickadee now.  This has been a really rough day so far.
Enter VIONADA, swaying slowly back and forth.
VIONADA: Good morning, small songbird.  How fare you this day?
KAWDIN: Vionada!  Am I glad to see you!  Itís me, Kawdin!
VIONADA: Goodness!  Youíve lost so much weight I didnít recognize you!
KAWDIN: I got transformed into a chickadee by a magical elephant.  Look, I donít want to talk about it.
VIONADA: I understand.  Why donítícha come on over to my spaceship and Iíll treat you to a Mikeís hard lemonade.  What do you say?
KAWDEN: Aw, heck, that sounds good.  KAWDEN runs out and VIONADA sways and lurches after.  Enter GAFF, who spots the dead SHIROU.
GAFF: What a tragedy.  This poor creatureís life was ended far too soon.  Now weíll never find a pouncy ground feeder with the soul of a chickadee to compete in the regional Triathalon.  Shame, shame.
Exit GAFF and SHIROU.  Enter VIONADA and KAWDEN, using their tongues to lick hard lemonade out of gourds.
KAWDEN: Thanks again for the drinks, Vionada.  So I guess the next step is to figure out how to fly.
VIONADA: Indeed.  Well, I have no wings, so I cannot advise you directly.  I see three routes we could take.
VIONADA: Either we must travel to the summit of a mountain so high that the land for leagues around is spread before us as a carpet, and fling you into the air so that your instincts take overÖ
KAWDEN: I donít like that idea.
VIONADA: Well, another choice would be to send away for the home aviation training course by mail orderÖ
KAWDEN: And pay their outrageous shipping and handling fees?  Whatís the third choice?
VIONADA: We could travel in this spaceship to the planet of my ancestors, who had illustrious and beautiful wings, and ask them for advice.
KAWDEN: Hmm.  Nah, letís just do the throwing me off a mountain one.
VIONADA: Okay, fine.  Iíll go fly the spaceship to a mountain.
Exit VIONADA. Six hours laterÖEnter VIONADA.
KAWDEN: Are we there yet?
VIONADA: Yes!  Weíre on top of a mountain!  The portal is open!  Jump, my feathered friend, and fly!
KAWDEN jumps off the stage and plummets like a stone.
VIONADA: Well, that was very stupid.  I guess Kawden is dead, then.
KAWDEN: Iím not dead!
VIONADA: What?  How is it possible?
KAWDEN: I was caught in a huge spiderís web!
Enter NAOMI on the floor in front of the stage.
NAOMI: Heya!  Howís it going up there!  Nice spaceship, girl!
VIONADA: Thank you, miss Spider.  I see that youíve caught my friend the chickadee.
NAOMI: Yeah, I did.  Pretty cool, huh?  Should I eat him?
VIONADA: What are you asking me for?  Heís the one you should ask.
NAOMI: Oh, yeah.  Hiya, little birdie!  Mind if I take a drink of your blood?
KAWDEN: Iím warning you, Iím loaded with hard lemonade.
NAOMI: Aw, that sucks.  Whatcha doing in my web, anyway?
KAWDEN: Just trying to learn how to fly, thatís all.
NAOMI: Aw!  You poor birdÖ you must be four years old by the look of you and you never learned how to fly?  Thatís so sad.
KAWDEN: I didnít use to be a damn bird.  I used to be a pouncy ground feeder.
NAOMI: Oh!  So I guess you just got transformed for the big Triathalon, huh?  Boy, they outlaw steroids and people just go and start transforming themselves instead.  What happened to a little honest competition, I ask you?
VIONADA: I value honest competition!  I invite you up to my spaceship for a game of Strip Uno!
NAOMI: Sounds fun to me.  Itís kind of boring being a high altitude spider, anyway.
NAOMI and KAWDEN climb onto the upper stage and the three creatures start playing Uno.  Twenty minutes laterÖ
VIONADA: Iím out!
NAOMI: Damn!  Now Iím down to five legs.  (Rips off one of her legs.)
KAWDEN: And if I lose any more primary feathers on this stupid game there wonít be any point in my learning how to fly!  Letís go fly to your ancestorsí planet and get some tips already.
VIONADA: Fine, well, there are actually forty-eight planets of my ancestors.  Weíre a very long lived species, you know.
NAOMI: I thought you were a giraffe.
VIONADA: Millions of years ago, we were known as giraffes, but we have evolved quite a bit since then.  The first thing we did was learn how to live a long time.
NAOMI: Howíd you do that?
VIONADA: We just outlawed having children until reaching a certain age.  The longer our species existed, the older that age became, until eventually we got to the point where we live dozens of millions of years.  So there became so many of us we had to colonize all the planets on all the nearby stars.  We should go to Ancestria thirty-one.  Thatís where the people who were born back when we had wings are living.
KAWDEN: Why donít you have wings anymore?
VIONADA: Oh, they went out of fashion.  They outlawed flying and got lazy for a few eras and for a while our front limbs evolved into drink holders.  But then they dug a huge underground complex to live in and they became shovel limbs, and then after they invented quilting they became arms for a while.  I was born just a little too soon for that.  Thatís why I walk upright but I canít use my front legs for much of anything.
NAOMI: Except playing Uno.
VIONADA: Except playing Uno.  Ah, look!  Weíre here!
SHIROU: Hiya, Vionada!  Howís it hanging!
VIONADA: Iím composed and contented, as always.  Allow me to introduce you to my new friends.  Great Ancestor Rebin, Great Predator Allolli, this is Kawden the snippety chickadee and Naomi the high-altitude spider.  Rebin is my great grandfather of sixty-thousand generations back.
NAOMI: Pleasure to meet you.
ALLOLLI: What brings you here?
VIONADA: We were hoping to teach Kawden here how to fly!
KAWDEN: If you feel up to it, that is.  What happened to your wings?
REBIN: Oh, my wife here ripped them off last week.  Sheís quite the monster in bed, arenít you, darling?
ALLOLLI (growling): Nothing I like better than a little carnage, dear.
REBIN: One of these days sheíll eat me completely.  But until then, we have a fascinating sex life.
KAWDEN: Oh, God.
NAOMI: MustÖnotÖhurl.  MustÖrememberÖthat itís No Shame Night.
VIONADA: Anyway, could you recommend a good flight teacher for us?
REBIN: Certainly!  You should go see the leaders of the acrobatics guild!  They should be just across that raging river swarming with deadly alligators over there.
NAOMI: How do we get across?
ALLOLLI: Oh, Iím sure youíll work something out.  Be careful thoughÖ they look hungry.  Hmm, come here, dearÖ
ALLOLLI snaps at REBINís thigh.  REBIN falls to the ground.
REBIN: Ow!  Iím going to miss that leg.  Youíre such a beast!
ALLOLLI: Well, run!  Run while you still can!
REBIN: Iím running!
REBIN crawls offstage, followed by ALLOLLI.
VIONADA: I hate being a prey species.  Anyway, what are we going to do about those alligators?
NAOMI: Letís make that bridge when we come to it.
They all walk a little way.  Enter ALLIGATORS.
ALLIGATOR 1: Fine prizes, yes!  Fine creatures to devour!
ALLIGATOR 2: More blood for our riverbed, more red for our paintings, more meat for our larders!
NAOMI: Now hold your horses.  Weíre just passing through.
ALLIGATOR 1: Youíll pass through very quickly when we're done with you!
ALLIGATOR 2: Oh yes, very deliciously too!
VIONADA: I donít suppose youíll carry us over on your backs, then.
KAWDEN: I wouldnít trust them if they said yes.
ALLIGATOR 2: Then weíll say yes!
ALLIGATOR 2: Yes, yes!  On our backs!  First let us eat one of you, in exchange for letting the others pass!
ALLIGATOR 1: We will swear on the Life Mother herself!
ALLIGATOR 2: Tasty Life Mother!
VIONADA: Okay, fine.  Letís draw straws or something to see who they get to eat.
NAOMI: Okay.
The three draw straws, and poor Kawden gets the short straw.
KAWDEN: Aw, come on!  Iím the whole reason weíre here!
VIONADA: You have a point.  So I guess we can afford to just relax and watch the acrobat show instead of hassling them.
NAOMI: I donít know.  I heard they have a new method of wingless flying thatís catching on.  We could take a seminar!
VIONADA: Anyway, time to get eaten, Kawden.  Been nice knowing you.
KAWDEN: Yeah, you too, freak.
ALLIGATORS leap on KAWDEN and tear him to bits.  VIONADA and NAOMI head out past them.
ALLIGATOR 1: Come back this way after youíve seen the show!
ALLIGATOR 2: Yes, come this way again!  Only eat one of you, we will!
ALLIGATOR 1: Only one of you!  We will wait patientlyÖ oh, who are we kidding?  Letís just eat each other.
ALLIGATOR 2: Rrraaarrrr!!!
The ALLIGATORS playfully tumble upon each other and tear each other to bits.
The End.