when I die I will rot and nothing of me will survive

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It is the slave-fighting pits of the future. Scorched red sand, tyres, broken buildings. Cobweb enters (possibly on roller-blades). Cobweb is a slave gladiator.

cobweb O my lords and ladies of the Crab Empire – and especially to the Emperor’s concubine and chief assassin, Lady Reason, who has chosen to join us here in the slave-fighting pits tonight – I am Cobweb, highest among the Emperor’s enslaved gladiators, and tonight I fight my 115th duel – with my blessed electrified knife Sugarblade!

Cobweb holds aloft his knife. It crackles with electricity and charisma.

cobweb Who will be my foe tonight? A murderer, a debtor, a man guilty of sex crimes…?

Cobweb reads the printout.

cobweb ‘Name: Capital Dagoton. Crime: Heresy.’ All right then, Dagoton, let’s see what you-

Suddenly Cobweb is tackled from behind by an invisible foe. He barely escapes with his life.

cobweb So! Well, Dagoton, you stinking heretic, you’ll need more surprises than that to defeat me!

Cobweb duels with an invisible foe.

cobweb So then – guilty of heresy? I hope your god was worth it. What is his name?

Cobweb dodges and deflects missile attacks.

cobweb Does your god not have a name? Well then it will be easier to forget about him when you die and come face to face with my god – the man from Nazareth – the executed resurrected one – Jesus the Christ! With God on my side, I – ow!

Cobweb is stabbed in the foot.

cobweb Craven dog! What kind of scavenging pigeon stabs a man in his fo-

Cobweb is kicked in the face. (NOTE: by kicked in the face I mean kicked in the face really hard.)

cobweb God, he’s good. He’s… better than me. Can this be the end?

Jesus appears in a throb of spiritual holiness.

cobweb Oh blessed Prince of Mercy! My lord, my lord Jesus, you have hearkened to my prayers! Oh sweet The Christ, have you come to gather me into your arms?
jesus No, my son, my blessed Cobweb. It is not yet time for you to receive my embrace. Rather I have come to aid you, to lend you my strength and wisdom in your battle with this unworthy soul.
cobweb Oh lord, I fear this Capital Dagoton is too much for me – he is too quick, too clever and too strong. The day has come, as I always knew it would – I am ready to die, my Lord, I am ready to travel unto the fields of glory – to the last resting place of the true soldiers of God.
jesus Why, Cobweb, you have fought more than 20 battles here in the slave pits –
cobweb 115.
jesus – 115 battles with your blessed weapon, Tony –
cobweb Sugarblade.
jesus – and in every one of those battles you and Sugarblade have emerged triumphant, to further demonstrate the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why now do you falter? Why do you not strike him down?
cobweb His god – uh!

cobweb barely dodges the attacks of the invisible foe.

cobweb …his god is a potent force indeed – perhaps nearly as potent as you.

jesus reads the print-out.

jesus Says here he’s an atheist.
cobweb What kind of a theist is an a-theist?
jesus Not one at all. Atheists do not believe in the concept of theism in any guise.
cobweb So sort of like an non-theist. Or an anti-theist.
jesus Maybe an a-theist…?
cobweb But how can he have no god? Look at him there, circling closer and closer. He looks like an ordinary man. He has hair, legs, a skeleton of some sort… how then can he have no god?
jesus Look in his eyes. Stop backing away. Look in his eyes.
cobweb His… eyes…
jesus What do you see?
cobweb A pair of eyes.
jesus What’s behind that?
cobweb His brain.
jesus What’s behind that?
cobweb The back of his skull.
jesus What’s behind that?
cobweb His ponytail.
jesus Nothing!
cobweb I don’t get you.
jesus Stop backing away, Cobweb, he’s forcing you into a corner. Listen, you know what he has behind him? He has nothing behind him!
cobweb Then where does his strength come from? Himself? (to the invisible foe) Well, Capital Dagoton, I have nowhere left to retreat. Stab me if you will, stab me 41 times with the sharp edge of a dinner-plate – those stabs will be sweeter than the finest coconut, for each stab will bring me closer to heaven-
jesus Cobweb, you’re not surrendering.
cobweb But he’s pinned me.
jesus Wait. What’s behind you?
cobweb The spider pit.
jesus Me. You have the one true god on your team, which is me. This poor toss doesn’t even have a magical pixie to pray to. He literally doesn’t believe in anything.
cobweb He’s fast.
jesus He’s fast, you’re fucking superhuman! Do you dig me? He’s tough, you’re like a goddamn tank. Normally, this chump could probably kick your arse, but when you add a little bit of JC to the recipe, it’s like multiplying your power by a million infinities.
cobweb Then you will lend me the strength to defeat him!
jesus I will, I… potentially…
cobweb I understand, my lord, you desire repayment. I will pray to you, six hours a day, until you are satisfied. No? More? Ten hours a day. No? What will it take to satisfy you?
jesus You can’t. Ever. I want you praying more than all the time. I want you reminding yourself over and over that I’m better than you, smarter than you, tougher than you, nicer than you. There’s no limit to how much praise I can take, but you can start with all the time. Deal?
cobweb And in return for continually exalting you and abasing myself in my mind, you will help me win this battle?
jesus Not just this battle. All the other things I do for you. Think about all the things I do for you.
cobweb …?
jesus Self-confidence. I’m like that feather that elephant carried in his trunk that made him able to fly.
cobweb What does Dagoton have to do for his god?
jesus Atheists don’t have gods. Watch your side, he’s trying a lobster-twist!

Cobweb dodges and flees, desperately trying to avoid a murdering.

jesus So do we have a deal or not? Cobweb?
cobweb It is too much for me, Jesus. I do not have the energy to dedicate myself so selflessly. It is time for me to die, and pass beyond the silvery veil into the pineapple plantations amongst the stars.

The invisible foe disarms Cobweb of Sugarblade. Cobweb sinks to his knees.

cobweb Very well, Dagoton, I am at your mercy. Strike me down if you will, and feed my body to the tiger-sheep. You see I am not afraid, for by killing me, you only hasten my ascension to Paradise, where I will cradled forever in the warm sweaty arms of my Lord.
jesus Maybe.
cobweb Maybe? I’m going to heaven, aren’t I?
jesus I don’t know. Probably. When you’re dead, I’ll weigh up all your sins and shit, and we’ll see. I can’t decide before you’re actually dead.
cobweb Why wouldn’t I go to Heaven?
jesus Maybe because you shit me off, or you… covet… something. Heaps of reasons.
cobweb Well then, Dagoton. My going to heaven is not as completely guaranteed as I thought, but nevertheless, I am not afraid. Strike me down and feed my body to the beef-lizards if you will. By killing me, you simply guarantee yourself a table at the Eternal Restaurant of Pain!
jesus …probably.
cobweb You’re going to send him to Hell, aren’t you?
jesus I don’t know. Don’t pre-empt me, I’ll make up my mind when the time comes.
cobweb Well then, Dagoton, God’s not entirely sure that you’re going to Hell when you die, but killing me here probably won’t count too much in your favour, so…
jesus No, I do know, don’t accuse me of not knowing. I know everything that there is to know. I’m just… I don’t want to spoil…
cobweb You don’t know where you’re going after you die, Dagoton. Not even the one true god knows what’s going to happen to you.
jesus I do fucking know!
cobweb No afterlife at all? Just dead?
jesus Oh good, he’s getting a run up for the final stab. I can’t believe you, Cobweb. I come down from heaven – I mean I’m everywhere in the universe at the same time, but I manifest to help you –
cobweb No judgment…
jesus …offer you the deal of your wanking life, and you’d rather kneel there and get your throat cut like a damn salmon-hawk. Oh, god, here it comes.

The invisible foe charges at Cobweb. At the last minute Cobweb rolls to one side, grabs Sugarblade and gets to his feet.

cobweb All right, Jesus, it’s a deal! All the time you’re better than me! More than all the time! Nicer! Nicer than me! I have to win this fight, I don’t want to die. Speed me up, please!
jesus Well now who are you grateful to?
cobweb Jesus the Christ! I owe him for this fight and all the other fights I’ve won…
jesus And everything else. Everything, the air you breathe and the earth you walk on and the feet you walk on it with –
cobweb Yes, yes! Everything he does is great, but please, my muscles are too slow! I need your god-given speed!
jesus It’s not your muscles that’s the problem, doofus, it’s your brain. Focus and slow down. Concentrate! Here we go, feel that Jesus mojo.

Jesus massages and caresses Cobweb. Cobweb slows down and starts moving in slow motion. He begins to parry and fence his invisible enemy with grace and precision.

jesus That’s better. Your reflexes are speeding up, you’re starting to see his moves before he makes them. Feel my hands here? I’m giving you good Jesus power in your slashing arm.
cobweb That feels nice.
jesus No sweat, little dude. All right, can I count it off? A-one two three four –

Cobweb starts bringing in kicks, punches, body-rolls, potentially breakdancing…

jesus Now you’re cooking. Go on – yeah, bitch! Again!
cobweb You have nowhere left to retreat to, Dagoton! I can easily reach through the gap and slash you! Prepare to face your judgment!
jesus That’s my baby, Cobweb, when you kill heretics you glow for your Jesus.
cobweb With the power of the one true lord, Jesus the Christ, I drive you back! Hah! Heretic dog, you were foolish to deny the power of the Man from Nazareth! Now at last you learn the truth – as I slash you into tatters!
jesus That’s it! Stab him in the balls! In his balls!

Cobweb manoeuvres the invisible foe so he is facing the crowd.

cobweb There now, Dagoton, you are at my mercy. Why don’t you tell us all before you die: do you truly now doubt that God is real?
jesus Kick him in his mouth!
cobweb Of course I’m certain. I hear his voice in my head, I feel his healing hands on my – at night his lips brush my –
jesus Don’t talk to him, Cobweb, stamp on his frigging throat!
cobweb No, not just in my head! Everywhere. He’s everywhere in the whole universe all at the same time.
jesus Yes, that’s lovely, Cobweb, but if you could just –
cobweb Magical stuff! I don’t know. Power, I guess… Jesus, what are you made of?
jesus I’m going to be made out of your arse in a second, you snotty little punk.
cobweb Because he made the whole universe, he can do what he wants. There was nothing, and then God made the whole universe, and now he’s everywhere all at the same time and he knows everything and he can do whatever he wants.
jesus Cobweb, are you trying to convert this pussy? It’s too late, I don’t want him in the gang. I’ve made up my mind, he’s going to hell. Now finish him off.
cobweb I don’t know who made god. Maybe a bigger god.
jesus No! No bigger god! Listen to me, you fucking chimps! It’s simple: there was nothing, I made everything out of it, and I’ve always been here even when there was nothing. Now are you going to knife this douche or shall I sign you up for swimming lessons in the eternal lake of fire?
cobweb Yes, yes I… All right, heretic, down on your shiny leg bones! In honour of the merciful lord Jesus the Christ, I shall now stab the heretic in the top of his head!

Cobweb readies himself for the execution blow. He considers.

cobweb Jesus, when I die I want to go where Dagoton’s going. No afterlife, just dead.
jesus Everyone gets the afterlife, Cobweb, one of the two.
cobweb How come one person’s opinion gets to decide our eternal fate forever?
jesus Not ‘one person’, I’m the son of god. Actually, I am god. There’s three of us, but it’s all me, kind of-
cobweb What gives you the right to judge anyone but yourself?
jesus Because I died for everyone’s sins!
cobweb What does that actually mean? Actually, seriously, what is that supposed to mean? No, don’t even start. I’m signing up to Dagoton’s god.
jesus He doesn’t have a god.
cobweb Then neither do I!

Cobweb spins around and stabs Jesus.

cobweb Jesus of Nazareth, I don’t believe in you.
jesus You don’t believe in me? Well how are you going to stab a man THAT DOESN’T EXIST?

Jesus is unwounded. He laughs and backs away. The invisible foe stabs Cobweb.

jesus And now you’ve been stabbed. Well done, chump.

Cobweb puts up his hands, drops Sugarblade.

cobweb I yield! Ah, my lungs…

Cobweb is stabbed again. He falls to the ground.

cobweb Go on, Capital Dagoton. You’ve earned this victory, you don’t have to give the credit to any invisible monkey on your back… ah, and it’s cold… it’s very cold…

Cobweb dies. Cobweb wakes up.

cobweb Where am I? Why am I anywhere? I died. I’m dead…

Jesus strolls on.

jesus Well, well, well. Guess who’s in a lot of trouble…



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