MIDVINTERBLOT

                                                                        by Richard Nathan

 

A room in the Intensive Care unit of a hospital.  DR. LEIBER observes his patient INGA.  As the play begins, Inga is stressed out and Leiber is reassuring.  As the play progresses, Inga gets calmer and Leiber becomes very stressed out.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    What….?

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Shhh.  Relax.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I…  This…  I’m alive.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Yes.  Relax.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I should be dead.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    No.  You’re all right.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I should be dead!

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    You had a heart attack.  But you’re all right. 
                                    You’re in the hospital.  We’re looking after
                                    you.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    My heart stopped.  I was dead.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Why don’t you leave the diagnosis to me?

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I know my heart stopped!  Are you trying to
                                    tell me it didn’t? 

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Well…  All right.  Yes, it did stop.  But we
                                    started it again.  I have to leave now, and
                                    visit some other patients.  But don’t worry. 
                                    The monitor shows you have a strong, steady
                                    heartbeat.  Merry Christmas.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I’m not a Christian.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Oh.  Well,  actually…neither am I. 
                                    I‘m just a scientist.  Happy
                                    December 25th. 

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I’m a pagan.  Blessed be.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    That’s fine too.  We don’t discriminate. 
                                    I have to leave now.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    I should be dead!

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    You’ve been through a great deal.  It’s to be  
                                    expected that you should feel stress.  
                                   

                                                            INGA
                                    I shouldn’t feel stress.  I shouldn’t feel
                                    anything!  I should be dead!

                                   

                                                            LEIBER
                                    I can give you a mild sedative.  Then I
                                    have to go.  I have so many other patients...

 

                                                            INGA
                                    Doctor, have you ever heard of Midvinterblot? 

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    No.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    In ancient Sweden, the priests would
                                    perform human sacrifices at the time
                                    of the winter solstice, so that the
                                    elder gods would bring back the light.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    People did lots of terrible things before
                                    they knew better.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    It’s not terrible.  The way of the world is
                                    that people die.  Especially old people.  The
                                    old die, and babies are born, and that’s how
                                    the world is renewed.  You’re a doctor.  You
                                    know that.

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    But that’s not human sacrifice.  That’s just
                                    bodies running down .  Look, I’m sorry.  I
                                    really have to go.  I can send in a nurse to
                                    talk to you… or give you a sedative.   You’d
                                    be amazed at how many patients….

 

                                                            INGA
                                    Sometimes it‘s bodies running down. 
                                    Sometimes it‘s something else.

 

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    People don’t commit human sacrifice anymore!

 

                                                            INGA
                                    We do.  Those of my creed.  At this time of year. 
                                    But we don’t use daggers.  We are not savages. 
                                    We use spells.

 

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    I don’t have time….  Let me get a nurse.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    Over the course of my life, I have used
                                    spells to take the lives of over a hundred
                                    people.  People who were old and ready. 
                                    Now I am old.  I’m ready.  It’s time for
                                    me to give up my life, for the renewal of the
                                    light.  So I cast the spell on myself.

 

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    That’s nonsense!  It isn’t even the
                                    solstice!  That was three or four days ago! 

 

                                                            INGA
                                    This is the day for the celebration of
                                    the coming of the light.

 

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    You mean Christmas?

 

                                                            INGA
                                    That’s what the Christians call it.  We
                                    call it Midvinterblot.

 

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    I absolutely have to go.  The hospital is filled
                                    with people who need my help.

 

                                                            INGA
                                    Why?  Why do so many elderly people die 
                                    on December 25th ?

 

                                                            DOCTOR
                                    I don’t know!  Maybe it just seems that way!

                                    Or, … I don’t know… there’s a lot of excitement
                                    … stress on this day.  People overeat…

 

                                                            INGA
                                    They die to appease the elder gods, to
                                    bring back the light.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    That makes no sense!  The change in the
                                    length of daylight is caused by the tilt of 
                                    the earth as it goes around the sun.  When 
                                    the days are short in the northern hemisphere,
                                    they are long in the southern hemisphere. 
                                    That’s the way it’s always been and the way
                                    it will always be!

 

                                                            INGA
                                    As long as the old continue to die. 
                                    That is the way of the world.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    No!!!  That’s…  I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t get so 
                                    emotional.  But what you are saying is
                                    against everything I believe in! 
                                   

                                                            INGA
                                    The elder gods need another death.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Well, it won’t be you!  You’re hooked up
                                    to monitors!  At any sign of an irregular
                                    heart beat…

 

                                                            INGA
                                    There is a specific number that must die 
                                    today! 

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    It doesn’t work that way!

 

                                                            INGA
                                    How can you be so sure?

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    I’ve been practicing medicine for
                                    forty-five years!

 

                                                            INGA
                                    That long?

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Yes!  And in all that time…

 

                                                            INGA
                                    You don’t look that old.

 

                                                            LEIBER
                                    Thank you.  As I said, I’ve been
                                    practicing medicine for forty-five
                                    years, and in all that time, I have
                                    never seen….

 

She stares at him. He feels a sudden horrible pain in his chest, as if a great weight were crushing him.  His knees bed.  He has a heart attack and dies.



                                                            INGA
                                    Blessed be.

 

 BLACKOUT!

THE END

 

© 2005 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

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