* * *
When Stubb returned home that night, there was a tapping on his door. He wasnâ€™t expecting anyone so he was quite disturbed. No one ever visited him in the terrible little attic room, it seemed. He took out his knife.
â€œEnter,â€ he said.
The door opened and Highgate stood there blinking.
â€œHi gate,â€ Stubb quipped.
The other man didnâ€™t laugh.
â€œWeâ€™re in too deep,â€ Highgate said.
â€œI know,â€ Stubb said.
â€œHe tried to change it,â€ Highgate went on. â€œRont tried to change the play. The play doesnâ€™t like it. The play is alive.â€
â€œI know,â€ Stubb said.
â€œIt wants to be told, but if it is, something terrible will happen. But if we try to stop it, something terrible will happen to us.â€
â€œSo, something terrible will happen to the world or to us?â€
â€œYes. Weâ€™re in it now. Our only hope is to ride it out and hope to survive. And Machel. Heâ€™ll be up there in the best seat in the house, just watching. He planned all of this.â€
â€œIs he the Sea Witch?â€
â€œJust do the show!â€
â€œDonâ€™t try to change things. Youâ€™ll just make it worse.â€
â€œSo, youâ€™re saying that â€¦ basically â€¦ the worldâ€™s going to Hell or weâ€™re going to Hell.â€
â€œIf we can survive this, we survive it.â€
Highgate opened the door again. He pointed at Stubb.
â€œIâ€™m not going to be happy if anybody else besides me dies,â€ Stubb said.
â€œItâ€™ll be fine!â€ Highgate said.
He closed the door and Stubb heard him stomp down the stairs.
* * *
On Friday, July 27, 1600, it was somewhat overcast and gloomy. There was a good breeze, however. The flag erected over the globe was a pirate flag to represent the play. A black flag was also flown to indicate a tragedy was being shown at the playhouse.
They had a short rehearsal of The Pirates of Candle Cove before the show that afternoon. Stubb found Hawksworth and Massingberd and told them of his meeting with Highgate. Hawksworth didnâ€™t want to hear it.
â€œWait, so youâ€™re saying either weâ€™re gonna die or a lot of people are gonna die?â€ Massingberd asked.
â€œWhy does anyone have to die?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œAll of us or something worse,â€ Stubb said. â€œWorse than death.â€
â€œWhat could be worse than death?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œLiving deaths,â€ Stubb said.
â€œBoys, canâ€™t we just â€¦ canâ€™t we just â€¦ what were you saying?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œDonâ€™t we have the responsibility to do what it takes so that everybody doesnâ€™t die?â€ Massingberd asked.
â€œThatâ€™s what I think,â€ Stubb said.
â€œWell, what do we do?â€ Massingberd asked.
â€œLook, the playâ€™s already bad enough,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œIf we do it wrong, theyâ€™ll die from boredom!â€
â€œWell maybe thatâ€™s whatâ€™s going on!â€ Massingberd said. â€œEither weâ€™re going to die from boredom while we do it, or theyâ€™re going to die from boredom â€¦ wait.â€
â€œReally?â€ Stubb said. â€œYou think thatâ€™s what this is about?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Massingberd said. â€œIâ€™m lost. Iâ€™m completely â€¦ I donâ€™t even know who I am.â€
â€œHe said the playâ€™s alive, the playâ€™s haunted,â€ Stubb said.
â€œThatâ€™s not even a thing!â€
â€œIs it not? Are walking puppets a thing? Are puppets that are destroyed and just evaporate back together?â€
â€œYou canâ€™t touch it! You canâ€™t pick up a play!â€
â€œYou canâ€™t pick up pieces of a puppetâ”€â€
â€œYes, you can!â€
â€œâ”€that are smashed together.â€
â€œWith your hands!â€
Hawksworth muttered something and walked away. Stubb followed him and continued to badger him about doing something. Hawksworth told him to stop but he insisted if he did, the world would end. Hawksworth realized changing the play could improve it, if it could be done subtly during the show.
â€œIâ€™ve worked so hard â€¦ on my lines,â€ he said.
â€œI know,â€ Massingberd said. â€œItâ€™s brilliant work that youâ€™ve been doing.â€
â€œShut up,â€ Stubb said.
â€œp*** off!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œItâ€™s really an inspiration to all of us,â€ Massingberd said. â€œThatâ€™s my reservation. If we donâ€™t do the play, Hawksworth â€¦ he doesnâ€™t get to act! He did all this work for nothing!â€
â€œActingâ€™s all I do!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œHave you gone back a week in your brain where nothingâ€™s happened since then!?!â€ Stubb said.
â€œWhat brain?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œExactly!â€ Stubb said.
â€œI just say, letâ€™s just do the play, all right?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œWeâ€™re all going to die!â€ Stubb muttered. â€œEveryoneâ€™s going to die. Thereâ€™s going to be demons released on the Earth. Itâ€™s going to be your fault.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve been talking to a drunkard!â€ Hawksworth said. â€œHighgateâ€™s been drunk for weeks!â€
â€œWhy are you all acting like youâ€™ve never seen the puppets!?!â€ Stubb said.
â€œI donâ€™t want to talk about the puppets!â€ Hawksworth said. â€œI just donâ€™t! I want to do the play!â€
â€œWhat if we throw the puppets away right now?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œI donâ€™t want to hear it!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œTheyâ€™ll be back in 10 minutes,â€ Stubb said.
â€œWell yeah ...â€ Massingberd said. â€œI got â€¦ I got at least one break every 10 minutes or so. Iâ€™ll keep the puppets outta here! Every time I see the puppets show back up, Iâ€™ll get rid of them. They wonâ€™t be in the way, and everybody will be fine.â€
â€œUnless itâ€™s angry,â€ Stubb said. â€œYou saw what happened to George and the play hadnâ€™t even happened yet.â€
â€œBut â€¦â€ Massingberd said.
â€œWhat if the puppets kill you?â€ Stubb said. â€œInstead of you killing them?â€
â€œIâ€™ve had enough of the puppet talk for today,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œI have to go.â€
â€œIf the last thing I see is Hawksworthâ€™s brilliant work â€¦ Iâ€™ve a good life,â€ Massingberd said.
â€œTalking about his front work or his back work?â€ Stubb said.
â€œTheyâ€™re the same,â€ Massingberd said. â€œEqually fantastic.â€
The two men looked at each other.
â€œLook, Stubbs, have you ever really watched him?â€ Massingberd finally asked.
â€œNo, because I donâ€™t look at that kind of stuff!â€ Stubb said.
â€œHe â€¦ transforms the stage,â€ Massingberd said.
â€œWeâ€™re not talking about acting!â€ Stubb shouted.
â€œI bet â€¦â€ Massingberd went on.
â€œWhy is this so hard?â€ Stubb moaned. â€œI donâ€™t understand why!â€
The rehearsals went normally that morning and the theatre filled up with people for the show that afternoon, meaning there were around 2,000 people in the building. The pit was filled, the audience standing nearly shoulder to shoulder.
As soon as the first line of the play was read, the smell of ozone seemed to fill the air. During the first few minutes of the play, the smell of the sea came and went oddly. Then the play got underway as normal. In the first act, Isaac was a lad in London who worked as a carpenterâ€™s apprentice. He was press-ganged into joining a naval ship under Lord Captain Candle. By the end of the act, Lord Captain Candleâ€™s ship was attacked by the pirate ship Laughingstock and Isaac escaped to the pirate ship.
During the battle near the end of the act, some of the spear-carriers and minor actors got a little rowdy. The audience loved it. Stubb was injured during the melee when Hugh Gray hit him with his wooden sword in the arm and bloodied the man. Hawksworth felt like he was fighting for his life. During the same scene, he felt like he was actually on the deck of a ship at sea. The blood was real, as were some of the deaths, and the sky was not a natural color, but more purplish than blue. It only lasted a moment.
Act II started after only a minute or two.
â€œItâ€™s so surreal out there!â€ Hawksworth said. â€œItâ€™s like Iâ€™m really on a pirate ship.â€
â€œYeah, everybodyâ€™s a little too involved,â€ Stubb said.
â€œWhat happened to you?â€ Hawksworth said, noticing the blood on Stubbâ€™s arm.
â€œYeah,â€ Stubb muttered.
â€œHawksworth, youâ€™re not hurt, are you?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œNo, of course not,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œNo one would hurt the main actor.â€
â€œIâ€™m going to die today,â€ Stubb said.
â€œWho did that?â€ Massingberd asked him.
â€œOne of themâ€™s that â€¦ somethingâ€™s in their heads,â€ Stubb said. â€œDemons in their head.â€
â€œWho?â€ Hawksworth said. â€œI want to know who hit you!â€
â€œYou make sure they donâ€™t lay a finger â€¦ on Hawksworth!â€ Massingberd said.
Stubb just glared at him.
â€œI will box your ears,â€ he finally said.
He spotted Hugh Gray.
â€œGive it up, will ya!?!â€ he said to the man.
â€œOh, Iâ€™m sorry,â€ Gray said. â€œIâ€™m so sorry.â€
â€œCalm down,â€ Stubb said. â€œDonâ€™t let your head get wrapped up in it. Tell everyone to not listen to their heads if it gets weird.â€
â€œSorry,â€ Gray said. â€œSorry Barnaby. Sorry.â€
â€œWe got to listen to our heads,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œAt least wait until Act III before you go crazy man. At least.â€
Gray fetched a bandage for Stubb and told him it looked great.
â€œIt looks real,â€ Hawksworth told him.
â€œIt is real!â€ Stubb said.
â€œHawksworth, youâ€™ve got a great eye,â€ Massingberd said.
â€œI think â€¦ honestly â€¦ I think that somethingâ€™s messing with our heads,â€ Stubb said. â€œAnd theyâ€™re getting too involved and itâ€™s trying to be real or something.â€
â€œItâ€™s like a real pirate ship!â€ Hawksworth said. â€œNo one else felt it?â€
â€œPlaces!â€ someone said. â€œPlaces!â€
â€œFelt what?â€ Stubb said.
â€œIâ€™ll tell you later,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œYou know what Hawksworth, it was probably my music,â€ Massingberd said. â€œIt took you away.â€
Act II began. The Laughingstock set course for England to return Isaac but became lost in a storm and found themselves near the island of the Sea Witch in the island of Candle Cove. They were trying to decide whether or not to talk to the witch.
Massingberd left his seat in the tiny orchestra and went to the spot where the megaphone was sitting. He was supposed to be the voice of the ghost of the Laughingstock for the scene. But he couldnâ€™t find the device. It was nowhere. The cue for the line came but Massingberd was still unable to find the megaphone. The actors on stage started to cover for the mistake by continuing their debate about seeing the Sea Witch. Massingberd finally found it.
â€œYou have â€¦ to go â€¦ inside â€¦â€ an eerie voice came from the curtained area where they had found the door one of the first days of rehearsal.
Massingberd crept to the niche as the actors on stage continued with the play. He peeked inside but it was completely empty. There was no way someone could have gotten out of the spot without him seeing but no one was there.
Captain Percival decided to ask the Sea Witch for advice. However, when the Sea Witch entered for his scene. Titus Ufford, playing the part, looked more terrifying than they had ever seen him look before. The makeup was terribly realistic and he looked like nothing so much as a dead mermaid that was rotten. He stunk as well and Stubb frowned.
â€œThatâ€™s not Titus!â€ he muttered to the actors around him.
One of the actors fainted dead away. Both Hawksworth and Stubb began to babble incoherently.
â€œHawksworth, whatâ€™s happening!?!â€ Massingberd said.
He and Stubb continued to babble incoherently for about a minute, merely staring at the terrible thing. While they blathered, she told them the way to England from their present location, but demanded a price: all of Captain Percivalâ€™s treasure or one of his crew. He was about to hand over the treasure when Joseph Threelegs suggested giving her Isaac, Stubb having finally stopped gibbering. The crew agreed, but in song, Captain Percival changed their mines and they decided to leave Joseph Threelegs instead.
â€œThatâ€™s the power of music, boys,â€ Hawksworth said of the song.
It was one of the lines he had added to the show.
The Sea Witch suddenly moved on Stubb, tentacles twitching and mouth opening and closing nastily.
â€œIâ€™m gonna die,â€ Stubb muttered. â€œHelp me.â€
Both Hawksworth and Massingberd noticed, as Stubb started to scream when the Sea Witch grabbed him, that he looked a lot like George Ront in the light.
â€œHighgate!â€ Stubb screamed.
The Sea Witch dragged the screaming Stubb from the stage. After he was dragged offstage, the screams sounded real. The other actors left the other side of the stage to end the Act.
â€œI â€¦ mumbled for a bit,â€ Hawksworth said to Massingberd backstage as they prepared for Act III.
â€œYou did,â€ Massingberd said. â€œThat was â€¦ strange. Whereâ€™s Stubbs? Whereâ€™s Stubbs? Was this supposed to happen?â€
â€œI â€¦ uh â€¦ I â€¦ uh â€¦â€ Hawksworth said. â€œUm â€¦ stage left â€¦â€
â€œAre you all right?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œYou go â€¦â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œAre you sure youâ€™re all right?â€ Massingberd said. â€œYou want a beer?â€
â€œNo,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œYou want my axe?â€ Massingberd said.
He had brought the tool with him to the show that night and left it under his chair.
â€œI canâ€™t,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œWill you find Stubbs?â€
â€œIâ€™ll be right back!â€ Massingberd said. â€œDonâ€™t let anything happen to you.â€
â€œUnless the scene starts,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œThen I gotta go.â€
Massingberd went in search of Stubb. He found the man backstage on the left side with Ufford, sitting with their backs against a wall. Both of them stared blankly at the wall in front of them.
â€œOi, Stubbs,â€ Massingberd said. â€œYou all right?â€
Neither of the men responded.
â€œStubbs?â€ Massingberd said. â€œStubbs?â€
He shook Stubb and the man finally noticed him.
â€œStubbs?â€ Massingberd said.
The man stared at him. He didnâ€™t remember anything after the Sea Witch dragged him away.
â€œWhat happened?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œIs it over?â€ Stubb asked.
â€œWhat?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œThe play,â€ Stubb said.
â€œThe play? No. Weâ€™re at Act III.â€
â€œItâ€™s been like a year â€¦â€
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
â€œIt â€¦ uh â€¦ Titus, are you all right?â€
â€œWhat?â€ Ufford muttered.
â€œI donâ€™t smell it anymore â€¦â€ Stubb said.
â€œWhat just happened?â€ Ufford said.
â€œDid you smell it?â€ Stubb said.
â€œSmell what?â€ Ufford replied.
â€œExactly,â€ Stubb said.
â€œYou two were just on stage,â€ Massingberd said.
â€œDid we do our scene?â€ Ufford asked.
â€œYeah!â€ Massingberd said. â€œIt was good. That was really good, Stubbs.â€
â€œDonâ€™t you start following me, now,â€ Stubb said.
â€œI probably will,â€ Massingberd confessed.
â€œWait, we did our scene?â€ Ufford said.
â€œYeah,â€ Massingberd said.
â€œWhere are we?â€ Ufford said. â€œWhere are we?â€
â€œYou did not look like you,â€ Stubb said to Ufford. â€œIs all I remember. And you stank like you stuck your head in a bucket of fish heads.â€
â€œStubbs, that was the weird thing,â€ Massingberd said. â€œYou looked like George.â€
â€œI donâ€™t remember,â€ Ufford said.
â€œGeorge is dead,â€ Stubb said. â€œMaybe Iâ€™m dead. Am I dead?â€
â€œWell â€¦ uh â€¦ no,â€ Massingberd said. â€œYouâ€™re talking.â€
Ufford pinched Stubb in the shoulder and Stubb let out a cry.
â€œShush!â€ Ufford said. â€œWeâ€™re backstage.â€
â€œHere, let me get you both a beer,â€ Massingberd said.
â€œBeer!â€ Ufford cried. â€œItâ€™s not a dream.â€
â€œSomething is wrong,â€ Stubb said as Massingberd went to get them both a mug of beer. â€œThis playâ€™s possessed, it is.â€
â€œIâ€™ve got to get changed,â€ Ufford said, stumbling to his feet. â€œIf weâ€™re in Act III, Iâ€™ve gotta get changed.â€
He walked away as Massingberd returned with the beer.
â€œWell, this is weird,â€ he said. â€œYou got any more parts, Stubbs?â€
â€œYeah â€¦ all of â€˜em,â€ Stubb said.
â€œYou got â€˜em all?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œIâ€™ve got all my other parts,â€ Stubb replied. â€œI think my soulâ€™s slippinâ€™ away.â€
â€œStubbs, itâ€™s almost over!â€
â€œI think my soulâ€™s â€¦â€
â€œThank you. I feel like Iâ€™ve been screaming for a year.â€
He took the beer Massingberd handed him and drank it down.
Hawksworth, meanwhile, was not drinking beer any more. He would swish it around in his mouth to wet his whistle and then spit it out.
Act III began with Lord Captain Candle brining in the notorious pirate-hunter, a Spaniard named the Skin-Taker, to pursue the Laughingstock. With him came his imp and when it was first introduced it was terrible to behold, especially when Lord Captain Candle asked why its jaws moved the way they did and it intoned â€œTo grind your skin!â€ The voice was hideous and seemed to be coming from the marionetteâ€™s mouth. With the Skin-Taker came his French first mate Horace, who also had a pact with the devil and an imp that resembled him.
Meanwhile, the Laughingstock stopped at several islands in Candle Cove, meeting several fantastic creatures such as mermaids, ash people, shadowlings, and giant penguins. Most of the creatures they met were dealt with via shadow or tricks of the light, though the creatures were very odd. The mermaids were sinister with nearly white eyes and terrible teeth. The ash people were described as dogs with the heads of demons and terrible horns. The giant penguins were massive creatures the size of a house that preyed on human flesh.
When they spoke of the Shadowlings, the shadows of the stage seemed to glow darker, as if a cloud had blown over the sun. Then the darkness seemed to move of its own accord and what appeared to be two shadowlings actually appeared on one side of the stage. The shadows themselves moved! It was as if, against all rhyme or reason, they were alive. Then, horror of horrors, they pulled themselves away from the walls and stood. They were the size and shape of men, but their heads blurred into their bodies as if they were hooded or they had no necks. Their heads had no mouths or noses, but two spots on the front, an area divest of shadow, indicated where they thought their eyes must be.
One of the audience in the pit fainted dead away at the sight of them.
â€œShould I go kill Machel, whoâ€™s in the audience?â€ Stubb whispered to Hawksworth.
â€œWhut?â€ Hawksworth muttered. â€œWhut? You know what happened to George.â€
â€œIâ€™m not quittinâ€™ the play, Iâ€™m justâ”€â€ Stubb said.
â€œYouâ€™d be dithering from the play,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œYouâ€™d be doing something different. Like George did.â€
They both realized, however, George was trying to change the play from outside. He wasnâ€™t trying to subtly manipulate the play but change it completely. They wondered if they might be able to change the play from within.
â€œIâ€™m sorry Stubbs,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œIâ€™m startinâ€™ tâ€™ see it all now.â€
â€œWe act out a good ending,â€ Stubb said. â€œInstead of everybody dying. What if we make it a comedy or something?â€
â€œOr if I act out of turn ... oh! I donâ€™t want to,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œIâ€™ve never done bad in a play.â€
â€œThis is different,â€ Stubb said.
â€œThere are demons possessing the audience!â€
â€œOh â€¦ all right â€¦ Iâ€™ll â€¦ Iâ€™ll change my lines.â€
â€œAnd nobody dies in the end?â€
â€œYou help me improvise, all right? Just go with whatever I do.â€
They discussed what they might be able to change in the next act. Hawksworth said they should make sure the character of Milos didnâ€™t die in Act IV. Milos was played by Roland Jay who was a fairly good actor. The character was supposed to be killed by Percival, played by Alfred Kent, when the Skin-Takerâ€™s crew caught up with the Laughingstock. Hawksworth suggested they smuggle Milos off stage so he wouldnâ€™t die for the audience.
â€œIâ€™ll stop Kent,â€ he said. â€œYou get Jay. Iâ€™ll stop Kent. You get Jay.â€
â€œHow do I stop â€¦ oh no, youâ€™re stopping Kent,â€ Stubb said.
â€œIâ€™m stopping Kent,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œPercival and Isaac are supposed to be friends, but Iâ€™m gonna duel him!â€
â€œIâ€™ll take him to safety in a rowboat to shore,â€ Stubb said.
â€œSay that when you take him offstage,â€ Hawksworth said.
Stubb made his way to where Massingberd was sitting and told him not to play the score the way he had learned it. When Massingberd asked what he would play, Stubb told him something nicer.
â€œThat wonâ€™t be hard,â€ Massingberd said.
Stubb also told Massingberd their plan. When Massingberd told the other musicians they were changing the music, one of them said â€œOh, thank God!â€
Hawksworth found Stubb.
â€œPeople change when theyâ€™re on that stage,â€ he told him. â€œYou tell Jay that this is the new change, sent down from above - Machel. Tell him Machel told us to change it. You have to tell him before he gets on the stage because everybodyâ€™s heads get swimmy.â€
â€œOkay,â€ Stubb said.
â€œIâ€™m not telling Kent through,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œIâ€™m gonna duel him!â€
â€œDonâ€™t stab him,â€ Stubb said.
He found Jay.
â€œJay!â€ he said.
â€œYes, wha?â€ Jay said.
The actor tended to talk through his nose. He was also Welsh and not always easy to understand. He wasnâ€™t a great actor but he had a handsome face so he was often on stage.
â€œLast minute change,â€ Stubb told him. â€œJust follow my lead on the stage. I donâ€™t know why heâ€™s doinâ€™ it this late.â€
â€œThese rich folks,â€ Jay said. â€œWe never had â€˜em in Wales.â€
â€œYouâ€™re not going to die this scene,â€ Stubb said. â€œYouâ€™re gonna escape.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Jay said.
â€œDo oi get a speech?â€
â€œDo you want a speech?â€
â€œWell, I donâ€™t want it if I donâ€™t get it.â€
â€œWill the prompters give it to me?â€
â€œYou wonâ€™t have to worry about it.â€
â€œItâ€™s the sameâ”€â€
â€œAll right â€¦ I never get a speech.â€
Hawksworth found Stubb again. He told Stubb just as Milos was going to die, Stubb would take him offstage and escape.
â€œOnce you get Milos offstage, Iâ€™ll reveal that I was working for the Skin-Taker all along,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œBut weâ€™re supposed to do subtle changes!â€ Stubb said.
â€œAnd Iâ€™m not going to England!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œSubtle changes!â€ Stubb said again. â€œJust say you donâ€™t believe in such violence and you challenge him to a duel.â€
Act IV opened with the Skin-Takerâ€™s unnamed ship finding the Laughingstock and attacking it. Massingberd had changed the music to something less grating. The pirate hunters attacked, boarding the Laughingstock amidst explosions offstage of the cannon of the unnamed ship. A pitched battle followed, Milos leading the way.
The two imp marionettes also charged across the stage. They were not upstage under the gallery and there was no sign of the marionettists. The marionettes were literally running out onto the stage without strings or wires attached to them at all. The voice of the Skin-Takerâ€™s Imp shrieked about grinding their skin. The Horace Imp merely laughed maniacally.
The puppets killed the marionettists, Stubb thought.
Kent, playing Percival, suddenly screamed in rage, drew his sword, and rushed Jay, who was playing Milos.
â€œMilos â€¦ my son â€¦ youâ€™re still alive,â€ Stubb yelled nervously, trying to remember the plan.
He rushed to get between the two. Hawksworth ran to block Kent from Jay as well but Kent knocked him down. Kent swung away at Jay, apparently trying to take off his head, but struck the man in the shoulder and drew blood. Jay looked very surprised at actually being injured. He made his way to the edge of the stage. Hawksworth got up and tried to stop Kent without success and Stubb tried to escort Jay offstage but found himself blocked by other actors.
Across the stage, Massingberd watched Hawksworth carefully. The second he thought his actor friend was in trouble, he planned to leap into action.
â€œPercival! Stop this violence!â€ Hawksworth yelled.
Kent shoved the boy off and stomped towards Milos. Stubb stood between the two men and drew his sword, trying to block Kentâ€™s blow.
â€œNot my son!â€ he cried.
He was not effective with blocking Kentâ€™s blow with his sword. Kent struggled to strike Jay but only swung his sword wildly at the man.
â€œGet to the lifeboat son!â€ Stubb called.
Hawksworth tried to block Kent, who again shoved him aside. Then Stubb shoved Jay offstage.
The action on the stage suddenly stopped and the actors looked around, confused. The act was ending but Milos had gotten offstage alive. Then Stubb ran back onstage.
â€œIsaac, come with us!â€ he said. â€œThank you for helping us.â€
Hawksworth looked at the man.
â€œI donâ€™t want to go to England,â€ he said.
â€œCome away from this violent life,â€ Stubb said.
â€œI want to be a pirate,â€ Hawksworth said.
He looked uncomfortable.
â€œThis vile life!â€ Stubb said.
â€œWe will have to still go,â€ Kent said, recovering. â€œWe must still go!â€
â€œIâ€™m not going!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œWeâ€™ll discuss this later!â€ Kent said.
â€œIâ€™m not going!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œWeâ€™ll discuss this later!â€ Kent said again.
â€œNot going!â€ Hawksworth said.
Kent grabbed him by the arm and dragged the boy offstage as the rest of the actors exited.
As they changed for Act V, Hawksworth found Stubb and Massingberd.
â€œHeâ€™s going to try to take me to England â€¦ but Iâ€™m not going,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œI want to be a pirate.â€
He thought a moment.
â€œDo you think you could hold off the other actors while I go on stage alone?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œTo do what alone?â€ Stubb said.
â€œTo be a pirate?â€ Massingberd said.
â€œTo do a monologue,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œYeah,â€ Massingberd said. â€œWe can do that.â€
Hawksworth decided he would go on stage before the act was supposed to start.
â€œYou all just make sure nobody tries to stop me before Iâ€™m done,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œAll right,â€ both Stubb and Massingberd said together.
â€œMachel wants a meeting, right now before the fifth act, câ€™mon!â€ Stubb said.
â€œRight now!â€ Massingberd said. â€œRight now!â€
None of the actors seemed to care. It was the middle of the show and the actors were too busy to deal with anything but the play.
â€œThe puppets are alive!â€ Stubb said. â€œCome and look at it.â€
â€œSomeone dropped 30 pounds backstage!â€ Massingberd called.
People started telling them to shut up. Stubb started dancing and most of the actors ignored him, noting that Stubb had gone mad. Massingberd convinced a few of them that they were going to add the dance to the play.
Hawksworth, in the confusion, walked out onto the stage. The audience quieted themselves as he took center stage. His sword was still in his hand.
â€œThese past few days Iâ€™ve seen a lot that I never thought I would have,â€ he said, making up the monologue as he went. â€œWith Percival, the Skin-Taker, Joseph Threelegs, and those evil demon puppets. Iâ€™ve seen too much violence and too much hatred and I just canâ€™t take it anymore. Iâ€™m not going to England! I just canâ€™t do it anymore!â€
He could see Highgate in one of the hidden spots for prompters looking desperately through a script. Then he looked upwards fearfully as if he thought lightning would strike him. Then Hawksworth ran himself through with his fake sword, shoving it under one of his arms. Unfortunately, it wasnâ€™t a very good death scene and the audience didnâ€™t seem too convinced by his speech.
Massingberd had watched the monologue from backstage.
It was beautiful, he thought.
Thatâ€™s when the rest of the actors ran out onto the stage, flustered by the change of events.
â€œIsaac!â€ Kent said. â€œIsaac! No! He canâ€™t be dead! Weâ€™ve got to go to England! Weâ€™ve got to get you to England!â€
Other actors tried to get their lines spoken but not necessarily in order. Kent tried to rally but had a tough time and finally he stated they would take Isaacâ€™s body to England, calling him the â€œson he never had.â€ He used the speech he was supposed to recite when Isaac actually put ashore.
â€œHe would only be honored if he had a burial at sea!â€ Stubb said.
He tried to roll the prone Hawksworth away but Kent stopped him.
â€œNo!â€ he said, grabbing Isaac. â€œStop! Stop there crewman! We will take his body back to England. Yes! We will take his body back to England!â€
He looked offstage desperately and there were finally explosions offstage, the sound of cannon fire.
â€œItâ€™s the Skin-Takerâ€™s ship!â€ Kent cried. â€œItâ€™s caught us again!â€
â€œItâ€™s up to you now,â€ Hawksworth whispered to Stubb.
â€œYou have â€¦ to go â€¦ inside â€¦â€ reverberated across the stage.
Massingberd looked over to where the megaphone sat offstage. No one was near it.
â€œYou see!â€ Stubbs cried. â€œHe has to go inside the sea!â€
He tried to grab Isaac again but Kent still had Hawksworth tight in his grip. Then the stage felt like it was moving under their feet. They could all hear the sea and actually feel the salt spray. It got darker overhead and rain suddenly started to fall as thunder and lightning played across the sky.
Hawksworth suddenly started crying uncontrollably.
â€œHeâ€™s alive!â€ Kent called. â€œGet a physician!â€
â€œIâ€™m a doctor!â€ Stubbs said.
â€œI didnâ€™t die for this,â€ Hawksworth said, sobbing.
â€œHis spirit is saddened because he knows you want to take him to England!â€ Stubb called. â€œYou must give him his proper burial at sea!â€
â€œWhatâ€™s the matter with Hawksworth!?!â€ Massingberd cried.
The stage looked like it was actually being torn apart with cannonballs as the explosions continued offstage.
â€œPlease throw him overboard right now!â€ Stubb cried.
Then the Skin-Taker and his crew of pirate hunters ran onto the stage.
â€œNo, he canâ€™t be dead!â€ Kent said.
â€œHis spirit is weeping!â€ Stubb cried. â€œLet him go! Look, the pirates are here to join forces with us so we can sail the seven seas together!â€
â€œYouâ€™re wrong!â€ Dennis Thornburgh, playing the Skin-Taker, shouted. â€œWeâ€™re here to kill you, Percival!â€
The marionettes ran onto the stage as well. Again, they were not tied to any wires or strings and moved of their own accord.
â€œTo grind you skin!â€ the Skin-Takerâ€™s Imp shrieked. â€œTo grind your skin!â€
He rushed Stubb.
â€œIâ€™m gonna grind your skin!â€ Stubb screamed at him.
Massingberd had been creeping towards Hawksworth as a free-for-all began between the pirates and the pirate hunters. He took advantage of the confusion to run at the Skin-Takerâ€™s imp with his axe. Kent put Hawksworth down and drew his wooden sword for his final battle with the Skin-Taker. The last scene was supposed to be a massacre, with everyone dying but the Skin-Taker and his horrible imp.
The Skin-Taker marionette rushed Stubb with a sickening cry and scratched Stubb in the face, going for his eyes. At the same moment, Massingberd tried to take off the terrible thingâ€™s head but swung too high and merely knocked the leather hat from the terrible marionetteâ€™s head. Stubb tried to kick the marionette but the blow was merely glancing and didnâ€™t harm the terrible puppet.
Hawksworth was on the floor between Percival and the Skin-Taker. He started to roll towards the front of the stage.
â€œHis water burial!â€ Stubb called.
Hawksworth rolled off the end of the stage into the audience. Both Percival and the Skin-Taker stopped in mid swing to watch. Right after Hawksworth rolled off the stage, there was a loud splash from that part of the stage. For a moment, Hawksworth couldnâ€™t breathe.
â€œWhere did he go!?!â€ a man in the audience screamed.
Percival and the Skin-Taker just looked downstage, both of them very confused.
Massingberd swung at the marionette with his axe again. He clipped the thing in the head but it was only a glancing blow and didnâ€™t seem to hurt the thing or damage it. The imp turned to him and launched at Massingberd, who screamed. The thing latched onto Massingberd with his terrible, grinding teeth but only managed to maul the manâ€™s shirt and jacket, ripping them before falling to the ground again.
â€œYou have â€¦ to go â€¦ inside â€¦â€ reverberated through the theater.
Stubb rushed between Percival and the Skin-Taker, pushing them both apart.
â€œLet us not let Hell overtake us and our souls!â€ he said. â€œLet us end this in peace and go on and sail the ocean in its mighty glory.â€
The audience roared with approval for the speech.
â€œLet us have our dear Isaacâ€™s death be a lesson!â€ Stubb went on, getting caught up in the moment. â€œLet us not be like the Capulets and the Montagues and use this death to realize that life is too important to squabble over and let us just take a moment to remember Isaac as he was fallen into his watery grave.â€
He gestured downstage.
Massingberd dropped his axe and pulled the flute out of his pocket, playing a sad, mournful tune.
* * *
After he fell off the stage, Hawksworth was convinced, for several moments, that he was somehow drowning under water. He realized he was laying on the ground in front of the bunting in front of the stage, his breath having been knocked out of him. He rolled under the bunting and disappeared under the stage.
* * *
The house seemed to love the ending Stubb was trying to make out of the play. Kent and Thornburgh glared at each other at first, but the cheering of the audience didnâ€™t stop. They looked at the audience and then Kent got a look in his eye.
â€œIndeed!â€ he cried. â€œIndeed!â€
He launched into a long monologue about life and death and Isaac and how the world could be changed for the better. They recognized it as a speech from another play, but it worked in the context they had created. Then Thornburgh made a speech as the Skin-Taker, noting since his brother was saved, he must find a different path in his life.
A few people in the audience had fainted during the combat and others had screamed and fled the theater. However, by the end of the play, the audience was eating up every word despite the improvisation the actors were doing.
The play ended and the actors took their bows. The marionettes had fallen to the ground at the end of the play and didnâ€™t move. During bows, Stubb looked for Machel but saw the chair heâ€™d been sitting in was vacant.
The play was a relative success. No one asked for their money back and no one had thrown fruit or rotten vegetables.
Over the next week, Machel contacted the playhouse, demanding the money heâ€™d invested in it back. The man claimed the play a failure and threatened the Globe with a lawsuit. As the play was considered a success, he didnâ€™t have a leg to stand on.
Stubb had found every copy of the script that he could, collected them all, and burned them. He also destroyed the two marionettes.