Act 1, Scene 2: O Fortuna!

Opening titles

Dear Tacitus,

As you requested of me, I write to you this letter regarding the death of my Uncle, Gaius Plinius Secundus, so that he may always be remembered.

He was at Misenum in his capacity as commander of the fleet, when on the 24th of August 79 between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, a cloud of unusual size and shape began to rise from Vesuvius - white, with dark patches of dirt and ash, and shaped a bit like a pine tree.

The sight of it made the scientist in my uncle determined to see it from closer at hand. He ordered a boat made ready, and embarked himself directly toward the danger! Ash was raining onto the ships, darker and denser the closer they went, then fell bits of pumice, and finally rocks that were blackened and burned by fire.

At the onset of dusk, my uncle decided to turn to Stabiae and take refuge with his friend Pompeianus. Broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; ever so vivid against the darkness of the night. With a pretence of cheerfulness, to allay the fears of his friends, my Uncle dined, and retired to rest.

The next morning, the ground outside had risen with ash and stones so that he could barely open the door. It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but here the darkness was darker and thicker than any night. You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one final unending night for the world.

There was a strong smell of sulphur, announcing the approach of flames. My uncle tried to stand up and flee with the others, but his breathing was obstructed by the dust-laden air, and he collapsed - and died. The daylight did not come back until 2 days later, and the sight that met our still-terrified eyes was a changed world - buried in ash as if it were snow.

Main Dialogue

%AMB% 0201 - Underground

%FOG% start hazing

%HND% Curtain - open

%LIG% no lights / Keylight from over the ladder on the statue

%ACT% Marcus stands to the left in [3], Vinnie to the right of the statue in [5], lighting it up with their flashlights

Marcus: "Wow. That's the last thing I would have expected down here. Unbelievable."

Vinnie: "I told you she was beautiful! Who is she?"

Marcus: "I'm not sure. The Ancient Romans worshiped many gods. It could be Venus. Or Isis. Or maybe Fortuna. They were all very popular in Pompeii. But this one doesn't have any of the typical symbols, so it's hard to pin it down. This is definitely not a cistern, but also not a regular temple - if it were, there'd be more inscriptions, decorations and the like - but there's none that I can see. Very peculiar."

Vinnie: "Sounds like we just made one hell of a discovery, didn't we?"

Marcus: "Yes, but without any funding there's not much we can do right now - so let's get out of here before we get buried alive."

Vinnie: "Wait a moment, this is the coolest thing discovered here in a century, and you don't want to check it out properly?"

Marcus: "Well, look at the damage we've already done - and we don't have the tools with us to do it justice. We need to get out of here and seal this place shut as good as we can. And besides ... something feels very wrong. I don't think we should be here."

Vinnie: "Marcus, seriously ... what's wrong with you? Have you completely forgotten what fun is? This should be everything you'd ever dreamed of!"

Marcus: (defiantly snooty) "Yes it is! But I prefer to remain... pragmatic about it."

Vinnie: "That doesn't sound very convincing."

Marcus: "What? Am I on trial now, Vinnie?"

Vinnie: "God, you've become such a bitter person, you're even managing to drag me down, and that really means something! Come on, here's Miss Pompeii AD79, and who found her? You did! And you don't feel anything? Nothing in the slightest? Come on!"

Marcus: "Look, Vinnie - the ruins of Pompeii are like a snapshot of ancient history, frozen in time, preserved under the ashes of Mount Vesuvius. I love this place. It is like a book waiting to be read, page by page. And the more I learn, the more I feel connected to this city and the people who lived here. If I could go back in time, and be it just for one day, I would give up everything for that. This statue is like the headline of a new, exciting chapter - but it's only the beginning. It asks more questions than it gives answers, and I know that the people up there don't give a damn about us right now. Maybe someday there will be funding, and maybe someday someone will get to answer the questions. But it won't be now, and it won't be us. And that really doesn't make me happy."

Vinnie: "Yeah, fine. You need to get drunk. Or laid. Or both. Whatever makes you cheer the fuck up."

%ACT% Marcus chuckles

Marcus: "Sounds like a plan."

Vinnie: "Can we at least take a photo before we leave?"

Marcus: "Well, I guess some basic documentation couldn't do any harm."

Vinnie: "Yay! I'm going to be a star on facebook! Hang on ... hmm ... now what's the best pose ..."

%MUS% 0202 - Freeze Frame

%ATT% (We need to figure out funny poses once we know how this statue actually looks like)
%ATT% (It does not matter if the on-stage poses don't match)

%ACT% Marcus gets out his camera to take the pictures

%ACT% funny pose 1

%SND% 0203 - Camera Click
%VID% 0203 - Photo 1

%ACT% funny pose 2

%SND% 0204 - Camera Click
%VID% 0204 - Photo 2

%ACT% funny pose 3

%SND% 0205 - Camera Click
%VID% 0205 - Photo 3

%ACT% Vinnie puts the mars bar into Fortuna's hand.


Vinnie: "Oh mighty Fortuna, please accept this humble Mars bar! May Marcus get rat-arsed, shagged, and let his wildest dreams come true!"

%ACT% Marcus snaps the final picture and laughs

%SND% 0206 - Camera Click
%VID% 0206 - Photo 4

Marcus: "*laughs* Oh come on, now you're getting ridiculous."

Vinnie: "*chuckles* All right, all right! I guess it's time to get going."

Marcus: "Don't forget your Mars bar."

Vinnie: "But it's a sacrifice!"

Marcus (turns around): "Hah! Why would... Never mind, why am I even arguing ..."

%ACT% Marcus walks towards the ladder

%ACT% Vinnie moves to follow him

%SND% 0207 - Short, deep rumbling, cracking, small rocks falling.

%HND% The statue and the ladder shake a little

Vinnie: "Uh oh ..."

Marcus: "Shit! I told you this place isn't stable! Out of here, now, now!"

%SND% 0207 (cont.) - Louder, increasing rumbling,

%ACT% Marcus and Vinnie RUN for the ladder, and start climbing it

%ATT% Wait for sound effect!

%SND% 0208 - Great Collapse
%MUS% 0209 - Suspense Music
%SND% 0207 FADE

%HND% The rope ladder comes loose and falls down, including Marcus and Vinnie.

Vinnue, Marcus: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!"

%LIG% Lights out - pitch black.

Vinnie: "Marcus? Marcus! Where are you?"

%SND% 0210 - Rising from a pile of rubble

Marcus: "(coughs) I'm here. Now look what you've gone and done."

Vinnie: "I didn't do anything! It sounded more like ... like an earthquake or something."

%SND% 0211 - Earthquake rumble, crumbling stones falling from ceiling

Vinnie: "Oh no, not again!"

%SND% 0211 (cont.) - Rumbling subsides

Marcus: "Oh great. I can't find my torch. Have you still got yours?"

Vinnie: "No."

%MUS% 0212 - Suspension Silence

Marcus: "Shit. Now we're in trouble. This was supposed to be our last day at work. It's going to be a while until somebody will miss us. I told you it was dangerous to stay any longer than necessary."

%SND% 0213 - Nearing footsteps
%MUS% 0213 (cont.) - Suspension Rising

Vinnie: "Sssshh! Do you hear that?"

Marcus: "Another tremor?"

Vinnie: "No ... it sounds more like ... footsteps."

Marcus: "Yeah, right."

Vinnie: "No, seriously. Just listen."

Marcus: "Impossible."

%SND% 0213 (cont.) - Door Opens
%MUS% 0213 (cont.) - Drama Music

%LIG% A door (off stage) opens, and murky light shines into the (still foggy) room from section [1]

%ACT% Two Roman Soldiers carrying (wooden) torches enter the room.

%LIG% Lights go up to 5%

Marcus, Vinnie: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

%ACT% Marcus and Vinnie hug each other

%ACT% The soldiers draws their spears/sword, pointing them at Vinnie and Marcus

Soldier2: "A HA!"

Soldier1: "See, Lucius, I told you I heard someone talking!"

Soldier2: "What are you doing here? Who are you? You do not have permission to be here!"

%ACT% Soldier 2 walks around Marcus and Vinnie to [7]

Marcus: "I ... we .... I mean ... I ...."

Soldier1: "Those are funny clothes you are wearing - are you part of the big show tonight?"

Soldier2: "Yeah, you're right! They must be Quintus' slaves! We'd better get them back where they belong!"

Vinnie: "What the hell is going on here?"

Soldier1: "Silence, slave! One more word, and I shall slit your throat!"

Soldier2: "Seems like you're not in favour with Fortuna today ... hehehehe ... now, come with us - wouldn't it be a shame for your death to happen down here where nobody can see it? Hehehehe..."

%ACT% Both soldiers laugh.

%ACT% They leave.

%AMB% 0201 FADE
%MUS% 0213 FADE
%MUS% 0214 - End Music

%LIG% Lights out, haze out

%HND% Curtain - close