I hadn't realised it had been about four years since I lasted posted here, how time flies when you're doing a BA Honours in English Literature.
Anyway, while I had a bit of spare time I returned to this, I wrote it a while back and thought I'd do some re-writing / re-editing.
Thanks in advance for any and all feedback.
THE SHORTEST DAY
CRAIG THOMPSON, DANIELLEís boyfriend, aged late twenties, early thirties.
DANIELLE MATTHEWS, CRAIGís girlfriend, aged late twenties, early thirties.
EMMA MORGAN, a news reporter, mid-thirties.
It is early morning within a wooden lodge furnished with a sofa, a table and a pair of matching chairs. Outside it is dark and moonlight is shining through a window.
CRAIG and DANIELLE enter dressed for cold weather. They are carrying suitcases and hand luggage which they set down upon entering before removing their coats. As they do so DANIELLE takes in surroundings with an air of annoyance.
DANIELLE: So this is where Iím going to be stuck for the next fortnight.
CRAIG: I know that this sort of thing isnít really your cup of tea.
DANIELLE: [Cutting him off] When I said surprise me, dragging me out into a mass of snow covered mountains in the middle of nowhere wasnít quite what I had in mind. I should have known something was up when you booked the holiday while I was at work.
CRAIG: Are you going to keep this up all day? This place didnít exactly come cheap.
DANIELLE: I should hope not what with this being our first holiday in over a year.
CRAIG: I hadnít forgotten. For now letís just say I have a surprise or two up my sleeve.
DANIELLE: [Sarcastically] This should be good.
CRAIG: [With irritation] Is it really so hard for you to give things a chance?
[He moves over to a window and looks outside]
At least come and check out the view.
DANIELLE: [Moves alongside him] You can barely see a thing in this light. Who would want to come here when you can go somewhere like Venice that actually has a sense of romance?
CRAIG: Venice nowadays is full to the brim of tourists queuing up for a ride on a gondola. Why would you want to join one of those when you can come here and enjoy the great outdoors?
DANIELLE: Youíre right, who in their right mind would want to sit and bask in the warmth of a glorious sunset as it shines out over a majestic river while enjoying a glass of chilled white wine?
CRAIG: There are plenty of scenic views here that you can enjoy over dinner. [He opens up hand luggage and retrieves a brochure which he hands to her] All thatís needed is a sense of adventure.
DANIELLE: [She browses through brochure, once again speaks sarcastically] All I see here is an almost endless array of snowy mountains, I suppose I could almost fall when weíre halfway up one and break a leg or something. That would make this holiday just about perfect.
CRAIG: [Exhales audibly] Iím not even going to bother while youíre in this kind of mood. [He moves over to the sofa].
DANIELLE: What are you doing?
CRAIG: As Iíve been up half the night Iím getting some sleep. You can do whatever you want.
[He partially undresses, lies down on sofa and pulls a nearby blanket over himself. DANIELLE hesitates for a few moments before quietly setting brochure down on a table. She picks up her luggage and exits].
A few hours later, outside the sun has risen. CRAIG is still asleep on the sofa as DANIELLE re-enters. She looks at him for a moment with an expression of guilt and starts to make her way over before her attention is attracted by something and she moves over to the window.
DANIELLE: [With enthusiasm] I donít believe it.
CRAIG: [Waking up] Whatís the matter?
DANIELLE: The view outside. It was too dark to see it before but now that itís brightened up.
CRAIG: [Stands up and gets dressed] You certainly seem to have changed your tune.
DANIELLE: [BEAT] I suppose you were right. We both needed to get some sleep and you know how I can be when Iím tired.
CRAIG: Say no more about it. [Joins her at window] What do you think now?
DANIELLE: I might have preferred somewhere warmer but think this might grow on me.
CRAIG: [With feigned shock] Surely you jest, that is a picture worthy of inspiration for Tolkien. I can almost read his words now. The red glow of the sun spread across both the clouds and the tree flanked river that they overlooked. A white frost covered the grass on both river banks for as far as the eye could see, a spectacle mirrored only by the glorious silence that hung over them.
DANIELLE: [Suppresses a laugh] What exactly does it say in that brochure you brought.
CRAIG: [Moves over to table and picks it up] Thereís not much about this part of Norway it doesnít say. Throw in what Iíve learned off internet sites like Lonely Planet and I think Iíve got a fairly good handle on the places to go and see.
DANIELLE: I suppose youíll want to do some of your climbing?
CRAIG: Only if you donít mind. Itís your holiday as well as mine.
DANIELLE: I suppose you brought some of your equipment with you?
CRAIG: Actually I didnít but I found out thereís a place somewhere around here you can rent it from.
DANIELLE: [Smiles] Who needs Venice anyway? I bet half the rivers there are full of pollution.
CRAIG: Exactly. [Checks his watch] Fancy a late breakfast?
DANIELLE: Iíd love one.
CRAIG: Then letís both get changed and go find somewhere to eat.
CRAIG and DANIELLE exit, EMMA enters. The lighting on stage dims so she is highlighted at front of stage.
EMMA: This is Emma Morgan coming to you live from the resort of Cherelline which, with its picturesque mountains and exceptional view of the Aurora Borealis, has for the last few years been one of Norwayís most popular tourist attractions.
Only yesterday the resort was engulfed by an avalanche which officials are calling one of the worst in history with as many an unknown number of people at this time unaccounted for. As soon as news of this tragic event became known a rescue effort began and there are currently several dozen people current recuperating at local hospitals.
For those of you at home requiring further information an emergency telephone number has been established which can now be seen passing across the bottom of the screen.
Iím now being informed that with the darkness closing in that rescue efforts are being called off until tomorrow morning. In light of the fact that there are still people missing we offer up our prayers at this time. [She exits].
The following morning, the scene changes to that of a darkened room unfurnished apart from a pair of backpacks. CRAIG and DANIELLE are lying down on the floor next to each other wearing winter clothing. CRAIG wakes first and starts to rise, DANIELLE is in turn woken by this.
DANIELLE: Whatís the time?
CRAIG: [Checks watch] Just gone seven in the morning. Sleep well?
DANIELLE: [Indicates discomfort in her back as she rises] Not really, you?
CRAIG: I must admit Iíve slept better.
DANIELLE: [Shivers] Certainly hasnít got any warmer.
CRAIG: Iíll see what food and drink weíve got. [He moves across to the backpacks and rummages through them, removing certain items as he lists them]. A few sandwiches, a couple of chocolate bars, two bottles of water and two flasks of hot chocolate.
DANIELLE: How many sandwiches?
CRAIG: [Removes from backpack and opens up packaging] Two each, I was only expecting us to be out for a few hours.
DANIELLE: Thank god we were so close to this building. [Glances upwards] How long do you think itíll take them to get to us?
CRAIG: [Smiles reassuringly] I bet by now the area is crawling with rescuers.
DANIELLE: Letís hope theyíre looking in the right places.
CRAIG: Itíll be okay, there was a natural barrier of trees down in the valley to restrict the avalancheís momentum. My guess is the rescuers will be starting at both ends and meeting in the middle.
DANIELLE: If thatís true we could try and dig ourselves out?
CRAIG: Best of leaving that to the experts, the last thing we need is to bring a whole load of snow down on our heads.
DANIELLE: Are you sure that wonít happen anyway?
CRAIG: Certain of it. My Dad was in the building trade for years and if Iím any judge these walls are load bearing. I guess whoever built them wanted to make sure they were built to endure.
DANIELLE: Thatís good to know. If youíll excuse me for a moment, off to spend a penny.
CRAIG: Why are you leaving? There isnít anything I havenít seen before.
DANIELLE: True but if these rescuers are as close as you say they might be youíll never know who might be watching.
DANIELLE exits, once sheís gone CRAIG re-examines the items he listed in a concerned fashion. He becomes so pre-occupied he doesnít notice DANIELLE return unnoticed.
DANIELLE: I covered it with snow in case you want to go later. What are you doing?
CRAIG: [He hesitates and strokes the back of his ear before answering]. I was just checking to see if Iíd missed anything.
DANIELLE: Thatís not what you were doing. Itís your tell when you rub your ear like that.
CRAIG: [BEAT] I didnít want to worry you.
DANIELLE: About what?
CRAIG: Before we left I went to reception and told them we were off to do some hiking round Jotunheimen National Park as we originally planned. Theyíre not expecting us back for another two days.
DANIELLE: You mean thereís a chance no-one could be looking for us?
CRAIG: [Quietly] Itís possible.
DANIELLE: [Growing angry] Thatís why you were double-checking the food wasnít it. You knew bloody well that weíd need to make it last.
CRAIG: I was only trying to.
DANIELLE: [Interrupts] I donít want to hear it. In fact I think Iíll be sleeping in the other room tonight.
CRAIG: Donít be stupid. You know how cold itís going to get.
DANIELLE: I donít care.
CRAIG: Look I know I should have mentioned this before.
DANIELLE: Youíre damn right you should have. Iím not some little girl that needs protecting.
DANIELLE turns and exits with CRAIG following closely behind. EMMA enters, the lighting on stage dims so she is highlighted at front of stage.
EMMA: This is Emma Morgan reporting to you live from the resort of Cherelline in Norway. It is thanks to the great efforts of the rescue teams that nearly all of those thought to have been caught up in the avalanche having now been accounted for.
For those who have not had the fortune to be located our thoughts go out to their families as it is our understanding that rescue efforts are steadily being scaled down.
Initial investigations are also now beginning as to what brought such a tragedy to this resort and already early speculation from a number of sources point the finger toward the very nature of its popularity might very well have brought about its downfall. That is to say the ongoing deforestation of the very mountains which have attracted tourism may also have served as a detriment to its natural defences but whatever the cause these are unquestionably questions for another time. For now it is our profound hope that lessons can be learned and such a tragedy never happens again. [She exits]
CRAIG and DANIELLE enter and sit down on the floor, both are exhibiting effects of exposure to the cold.
DANIELLE: How long have we been here?
CRAIG: A couple of days perhaps.
DANIELLE: How much food and water is left?
CRAIG: Two sandwiches and some chocolate. Thereís a bottle of water left but most of it is frozen.
DANIELLE: Iíve seen documentaries about avalanches at mountains like Everest. They say if people arenít found after a certain amount of time they arenít going to be. [She trails off and begins to become upset].
CRAIG: [Consoles her] Itíll be okay, once they realise weíre overdue returning from Jotunheimen theyíll realise whatís happened.
DANIELLE: We could be there now if it wasnít for me.
CRAIG: What do you mean?
DANIELLE: I knew how much you wanted to go there. You spent most of the first day here looking at pictures of it. [BEAT] It was me who kept on at you to do something different.
CRAIG: That wasnít for very long, a half hour at the most.
DANIELLE: It was all that it took though wasnít it?
CRAIG: Thereís no way of telling things would have been any different if weíd gone straight there. For all we know we might have walked directly into its path.
DANIELLE: [Forces a smile] This is turning out to be a great holiday isnít it?
CRAIG: Next year Iíll book somewhere where thereís no snow for at least a hundred miles.
[He reaches into backpack and produces bottle of water].
Can I offer you some of this? Itís not champagne and you might need to bite extra hard down on it before chewing but itís the best I can do on short notice.
[They take it in turns to take a sip from the bottle. He then stands up]. Iíll be back in a minute.
[He exits, after a few moments from off-stage there is the sound of a loud crash and he cries out in pain. She exits and returns a few moments later helping him to walk, she then sits him down on the floor, he is shown to be bleeding heavily from a leg].
DANIELLE: [Examines leg] It doesnít look like anything is broken but I need to do something about that bleeding.
CRAIG: Looks like I was only half-right about those load-bearing walls.
DANIELLE: [Rummages through rucksack and produces a small first aid kit, removes roll of bandaging, tape and a pair of scissors].
In a perfect world Iíd have anaesthetic. You might want to bite down on your sleeve.
[She unrolls and cuts of a length of bandaging].
CRAIG: Do I get a lollipop afterwards?
DANIELLE: [Leans in and kisses him. Unseen she loops the bandage round the top of his leg].
Of course, now if youíll just count backwards from three for me. [He begins to count. When he reaches two she tightens the length of bandage. As best she can she holds the bandage tight while he reacts with pain and eventually tapes into in place].
Sorry but that should stop the bleeding.
CRAIG: [Shows signs of beginning to go into shock]. Thanks.
DANIELLE: [Looks at him with concern] Iíll just go and see how much damage was done. [She exits].
[EMMA enters, the lighting on stage dims so she is highlighted at front of stage].
EMMA: This is Emma Morgan coming to you live from the resort of Cherelline in Norway. With night closing in upon us a new development has arisen as two other people are now known to be among the missing. Both from the town of Brighton, England their names have been released as Craig Tompkins and Danielle Matthews.
Initially believed to have been hiking in the vicinity of Jotunheimen National Park it is now thought they were caught somewhere within the path of the avalanche. In light of this it is our understanding that the focus of a fresh search will commence tomorrow morning centred around where certain items of their belongings were discovered.
As before it only remains only for me to say our thoughts go out to both them and their families. [She exits].
CRAIG and DANIELLE enter. CRAIG lies down on the floor while DANIELLE kneels over him. Both are exhibiting signs of exposure to the cold.
DANIELLE: [She leans across him with a bottle of water and helps him to drink. After heís had a couple of gulps she pulls it away].
Thatís enough for now.
CRAIG: [Weakly] Have you had any yourself?
DANIELLE: I had some earlier. [She moves over to backpack and removes a brochure before returning to his side].
I gave this a read and can see why you found Jotunheimen to be such an attraction.
[She opens it up and begins to read].
With its high peaks and deep valleys the landscape of Jotunheimen National Park offers some of Northern Europeís most beautiful vistas and dramatic walks. If Jotunheimen is the heart of Norway, thousands of kilometres of tracks are its veins. With trails that take you as high as the two thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine feet of the GaldhÝpiggen peak and treat you to panoramic of majestic mountains and brightly coloured alpine lakes it is evident to see how Jotunheimen earned its Nordic name of Home of the Giants.
CRAIG: Sounds nice.
DANIELLE: Maybe we could go there after theyíve found us?
CRAIG: Maybe we could.
DANIELLE: If Iím not mistaken today is the shortest day. If Iím not mistaken when the sun goes down itíll be one of the best times of the year to catch sight of the Aurora Borealis.
[She notes his lack of response and checks his pulse. Standing up she moves away and turns her back. After taking a few moments to compose herself she returns to him].
Can you remember the way you described the sunrise to me on our first day here? You said it was a scene worthy of inspiration for Tolkien.
[She looks at him in silence for a few moments before eventually taking off her coat and placing it over him. She then lies down next to him].
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