Human Experiment by Lucy Sydel

Grace and Sam are sitting and waiting for the bus. Grace walks up to Sam, who is trying to ignore her by reading his newspaper. Grace's lines should be read earnestly and naively while Sam's lines should be read sarcastically and with dull expression.

GRACE: Hello! Today is my first day in the real world.

SAM: Good for you.

GRACE: Okay. I am guessing that today is not your first day in the real world.

SAM: Bingo!

GRACE: Bingo?

SAM: Bingo.

GRACE: So. How many days?

SAM: How many days what?

GRACE: How many days have you been in the real world?

SAM: Oh. A few.

GRACE: Oh. You must really know your way around here, huh.

SAM: Um yeah sure.

GRACE: I really do not know my way around. I'm learning, though. To live in the real world. It seems really quite interesting.

SAM: Yeah, I guess so.

(A long pause. Grace studies Sam for any clues about his character. Sam is not a particularly interesting man -- he is middle-aged, bald, and his face is almost always in an apathetic expression. However, Grace is fascinated by him.)

GRACE: Your hands shake when you hold the newspaper. Why? Are you ignoring me? Why are you ignoring me? I do not like to be ignored. Wow. My first ever real world person is ignoring me. Is this how every real world person is? If so, I do not like the real world right now. (Pause) I want to have lots of friends in the real world. Do you have lots of friends?

SAM: Well, not exactly.

GRACE: You don’t have exact numbers of friends?

SAM: What?

GRACE: You said ‘not exactly.’

SAM: No. I just meant that I … how do I …

GRACE: You don’t have any friends, do you?

SAM: No.

(SAM is reading a newspaper. GRACE notices the back of SAM's newspaper.)

GRACE: (pointing) That's me.

SAM: What's you?

GRACE: What's me?

SAM: What?

GRACE: Oh. That's me. (points) On the back of your newspaper. See?

(GRACE grabs the newspaper out of SAM's hands and holds up the article with the picture of her next to her face. It is clear that GRACE is in the newspaper.)

SAM: ... Yeah. What the hell. (SAM grabs the newspaper out of GRACE's hands.) Why are you in the newspaper?

GRACE: Oh, I escaped.

SAM: You what?

GRACE: I escaped.

SAM: Um, okay. (SAM fumbles with the newspaper, dropping it on the floor. He has to bend over to pick it back up and this takes a lot of energy because SAM is older and has a bad back. Finally, SAM sits back up.)

GRACE: Well. What does it say?

SAM: What does what say?

GRACE: The newspaper, silly.

SAM: Oh. Well. Let's see... It says, "Twelve Year Old Experiment Escapes from Lab in Seattle."

GRACE: Oh. What else does it say?

SAM: (Clears his throat) Grace Greenwood is a 'human experiment' who has escaped from the YSCP Lab in Seattle. Researchers have been keeping her in captivity for twelve years in order to evaluate her growth and mental maturation without contact from the outside world. Grace and many others like her were all scheduled for release at the age of 35 in order to assess their social intelligence against that of the average citizen in Seattle. Grace has allegedly murdered four guards, who were all found lying on the ground with stab wounds. Grace was last seen wearing a dark red coat and black pants.

SAM: (pause) Well, shit.

GRACE: That's me!

SAM: I'm sorry. Is this some kind of a joke or something?

GRACE: No.

SAM: Okay. (SAM tries to fold the newspaper and put it in his bag calmly but it is obvious that his hands are shaking and that he is in a rush. He stands up and turns to leave.)

GRACE: Oh.

SAM: What?

GRACE: Are you leaving?

SAM: No, no, I just, uh, (checks his watch) I just better be going.

GRACE: Oh no! You can't go.

SAM: Why not?

(GRACE pulls out a butter knife).

SAM: Oh. (SAM sits back down. They sit in silence for ten seconds.)

SAM: You know, knives don't work on people from the real world.

GRACE: Oh. Why?

SAM: Um. Well it's simple really. It's just, um, our skin is just a lot stronger so you can't really hurt us.

GRACE: Oh. Are you sure?

SAM: Yeah.

GRACE: I'm not sure I believe you.

SAM: I'm pretty sure you believe me.

GRACE: No, I don't think I believe you.

SAM: Grace?

GRACE: Yeah.

SAM: Why are you doing this?

GRACE: Why am I doing what?

SAM: Why did you run away? What are you doing here? Why are you talking to me -- I'm the least interesting person you could talk to. Why the hell did you choose me?

GRACE: Well. I know why I'm talking to you. Why are you talking to me?

SAM: Because you have a butter knife.

GRACE: Oh. Right.

SAM: Yeah.

(Another ten second pause. It is clear that SAM is strategizing. SAM lunges for the knife and wrestles it out of GRACE's hands. SAM sits facing GRACE with the knife.)

GRACE: Wow. What are you going to do with that?

SAM: I really don't know.

GRACE: Will you give that back to me please?

SAM: Why?

(GRACE takes out a cloth napkin from her coat pocket and lays it out next to her on the bench. She unfolds it to reveal a slice of bread. Next, she takes out a jar of strawberry jam from her other pocket and puts it next to the bread. GRACE opens the jar of jam, looks up at SAM, and slowly takes the knife out of his hands. SAM lets her take the knife with a puzzled expression on his face. GRACE plunges the knife into the jam, and spreads it onto the slice of bread. She cuts the bread in half. She slowly looks up and holds out one half of the bread to SAM. SAM hesitates, and without lowering his gaze, slowly takes the slice of bread. They both take a bite out of the bread.)

 

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