An Investigation Into the Practices of Dr. Theodore Buck and the Daybreak Treatment Facility, Transcribed from Recordings of Treatment Sessions Between Two Full Moons. A One-Act Verse Drama Test Subjects Darryl, 31: Bitten in a bar fight. Ellie, 12: Bitten in the woods while camping with her parents. Louis, 43: Bitten by his father as an initiation rite. Thomas, 54: Unclear when bitten. Petra, 19: Bitten by Louis. Does not know this. Scene The Daybreak Werewolf Treatment Facility. Time The interval between two summer full moons. Scene 1 SETTING: The sparse office of Dr. Theodore Buck on July 25th. He writes a memo that he reads aloud. DR. BUCK Today we begin our ‘mad’ exploration of the Self, and whether or not the Soul can be saved. The papers call us ‘mad’. They also sing from their op-eds of Wolf, the ‘Harmless Wolf’, as though to exist gives one the right to live. To destroy. We start with six so infected: werewolves. From a little girl to a middle-aged man, all would gnaw on your meaty flesh three days from the full gut of the moon. Today I know we can train them, save them. Today we begin to reclaim what’s human. (BLACKOUT) Scene 2 SETTING: A supernaturally bright, round white room where five strangers are chained up in plastic chairs. A man with a clipboard, DR. BUCK, takes occasional notes on the lack of need for notes.Some of the FIVE, dazed and drug-eyed, begin to wake. They try to break free of their chains. DR. BUCK No use to strain against your chains. They’re silver—you can’t so much as bend them, such as you all are. We’ve brought you here to recover from the dreadful hangover of being out of yourselves, and to curb any residual hunger you harbour for the taste of human blood. Shocked? Yes. Your victims were, too. But you have come here to Daybreak, where we know how to help you. It’s like a hospital, but kinder; like a spa, but cleaner. Rehab for beating down your baser instincts. Here you will re-learn to be whole and human. But you look confused— is it possible you don’t know how you got here? What’s the last thing you remember, from your human life? DARRYL What do you mean by ‘human’ life? (He spits these words at Dr. Buck.) DR. BUCK I see, I see. So you’ve already forgotten. DARRYL Forgotten what? What is this place? DR. BUCK What’s the last thing you remember, Darryl? DARRYL I was out at the bar, like any Monday. Me and the bartender fought over this girl... She shone like a pilot light on the old stove of my life, but he loved her, too. And worse, she’d been his before. Next thing I know I’m chained up here. Why? Why won’t you tell us what the hell’s going on?! DR. BUCK Petra, what do you remember? (Petra fidgets in her constricted seat.) PETRA I was in my dorm room putting sticky notes all over my copy of As You Like It. That’s how I start to write each paper, but this one was different. Rosalind, Orlando, pretending to be something you’re not. I felt like that every damn day of my degree. My soaked-hair roommate came back from the shower, asked to borrow my detangling brush… and then I was here in this white pill of a room. What is this place? Treatment for what? Who am I supposed to be now? LOUIS You’re one of us. All of you. There’s no life better! I know for sure what I am, but not because I remember. No. My father bit me when I turned sixteen, as his father bit him and his father bit him as far back as we can all tell. We live our lives as wolf-men, not men. To be a wolf is our sacred birthright, to forget each full moon a state of grace. DR. BUCK We’ll see if we can’t change your mind, Louis. Ellie, dear, what do you remember? ELLIE Girl Guides camp! I’ve wanted to go for, like, forever, but mom wouldn’t let me because of that time I almost got mauled by a bear. But this time she let me! Mackenzie was there. She’d just got her braces, so around the campfire her metal mouth glowed all weird like a safety flare. I remember the campfire, singing, marshmallows...and then here. Is Mackenzie here, too? Brown Owl? DR. BUCK There are no owls at this treatment facility. Anyone else care to share their last memory? THOMAS I know what I am. I keep to myself. I was looking over the accounting books for one of my clients, thought I had the door locked so I could spend the three wild days cooped up in my office. My usual plan. I had just checked over the totals for May when I heard the locked door click terribly open… DR. BUCK And you bit your intern. We found you drenched in her blood. So some of you know. Or guess. But most—is it possible?—really don’t know what afflicts you, why the last few days are so hazy? Third day from the full moon and you’ve returned to yourselves. Third day out and you’ve all come here, to a place where we give people like you rest. Of course, in the strictest sense, you are not people. But this is Daybreak, a rebirth. The start of your new human lives. Darryl, We found you fur-backed and dog- fanged in an alley, suckling blood from the bartender’s flesh. And you, sweet Ellie? Church-goer, Girl Guide? The camp you terrorized Tuesday won’t want you back with bites like those. Petra, your roommate...We found all of you in similar states. A tranq dart deep in your flank, we saved you from your wolfish wants and brought you here. So no, you are no people. You are lycanthropes—werewolves— cursed by a biological virus to to turn wolf-formed and hunt for 3 nights each full moon. You are monsters whose goal is to make us all be monsters...or make all be a monster’s meal. But our controversial position at Daybreak is: we can treat you—heal you. Give us 4 weeks and we’ll evict the wolf-half that’s hijacked your minds, some of you for decades. Left untreated, who knows who you’ll turn, or who you’ll snack upon—a father, a friend? But treated by Daybreak, the werewolf life ends. Now, who wants the treatment? Who wants life? (BLACKOUT) Scene 3 SETTING: A small room where a private session between Ellie and Dr. Buck is taking place, July 27th. ELLIE When are Mama and Daddy coming? DR. BUCK Soon, Ellie, soon. But while we’re here waiting, why don’t we get to know each other better? Where did you grow up? ELLIE In a big, oak-y suburb just east of the City. We only moved right into the City this year. I still see some friends from my old school, karate, ballet. I’m still in the same old Girl Guide troupe. DR. BUCK With cookies? Oh, fun! ELLIE I’ve had the most cookie sales three years running. DR. BUCK Good, good. And you never feel— ELLIE Yes? DR. BUCK You know by now that you’re a lycanthrope—a werewolf. ELLIE I know you say I am. DR. BUCK Well, some of the kids I’ve met in your… um.. condition, they feel this gathering darkness inside them once every month. Have you felt anything like that? ELLIE Sure. Mama says it’s my PMS starting up. She said it must be. (She looks disappointed.) Mama and Daddy aren’t coming here, are they? DR. BUCK No. We must keep them safe. Do you know when the darkness months might have started? ELLIE Um...last summer. We went camping at a State Park, and I nearly got mauled by a bear. (beat) I guess it wasn’t a bear, after all. I guess it’s not PMS, either. I’m not a person. I’m a—a thing. DR. BUCK I’m here to help you with all of that, Ellie. Just put your trust in me. (BLACKOUT) Scene 4 SETTING: Dr. Buck’s office again, July 29th. He dictates a memo we hear. DR. BUCK The worst step of bettering is always admitting you’re worse. Great progress being made on that count, particularly by our more pipsqueak patients. What troubles me most is the wolf- man, who seems to relish and revel in his subhuman state. New tactics must be tried for him, new tonics. But I’m confident we will save him yet. I’m confident we can, in time, learn to save them all. (BLACKOUT) Scene 5 SETTING: The unnaturally clean, circular-logic room again. Werewolves, untied, sit in plastic chairs. Treatment, Week 2. DR. BUCK So we’ve acknowledged the source of our most base desires, not to mention mysterious memory lapses. The first step, as the old saw goes,is admitting...something. So now that we’ve all had a week to “come to terms” with ourselves, I thought we might pair up for an exercise. (LOUIS raises his hand) DR. BUCK Yes, Louis? LOUIS I venerate the pelts of my forefathers and foremothers. To be part wolf is a grand thing, an honour. DR. BUCK Try holding that notion post-today, Louis. Partners for this exercise will be… Thomas with me, Darryl and Petra, and...Louis, I’m going to put you with Ellie. Don’t be frightened, dear Ellie, he can’t hurt you in here. (He points sentimentally at his chest.) Now that we’re paired off, I thought we’d start with a warm-up based on empathy and trust. Imagine your partner is a victim of yours, one you maimed but didn’t kill. What kind of apology should you extend to this person? What kind of grace can they bestow upon you? Ladies, start. (PETRA and ELLIE talk over each other. The others hear snippets of what they say.) PETRA I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Not my roomie! I didn’t yet know what I was, or why. ELLIE I’m sorry. Do you think the other Girl Guides will be all right? PETRA I’m sorry we’re all here, in this position. DR. BUCK Okay, very good. And now, the others? (Jumbled voices reverberate around the bleach-white room.) THOMAS I’m sorry about the accounting intern. I should have bought better locks. Or nooses. LOUIS To be a wolf is to be blissfully free... DARRYL I’m sorry to all the lives I’ve altered like some fucked-up cut-and-paste collage. DR. BUCK Language, Darryl. ELLIE It’s okay, Dr. Buck. It’s all fucked up. LOUIS Who should we listen to—the healer, who wants to strip us of our specialness, or the “disease”— when the “disease” feels more natural than our own blood pumping? THOMAS I’m sorry for the pain I’ve schlepped around—from me, to them, and back again. DR. BUCK Okay, okay, very good. Now engage your partner in a deep conversation, about what you like most about your human self. Anyone may talk at any time. PETRA I’m a good listener. DARRYL I’ve noticed! I guess I… make great banana bread? ELLIE I’m kind and thoughtful. My parents always tell me. DR. BUCK This exercise is not meant to be a calculus exam! THOMAS I’m great at my job… for most of the month. LOUIS Being human is great because you can become the Wolf. DR. BUCK Okay! Um...that was really...well, awful, but it’s a running start. Would you mind telling your partner when you were bitten? And how long since you’ve been making people— makers of great banana bread, moms— your victims, to be gnawed on or bitten for your vile delectation? (ELLIE raises her hand.) DR. BUCK Yes, Ellie? ELLIE What’s delectation? DR. BUCK It means you like it. ELLIE ...oh. I don’t know about that, but I got bit about a year ago, camping with my parents. I thought it was a bear. I guess I’ve had victims, or near-victims, since. LOUIS I was bitten by my father, Ellie! As his father bit him and his father before, all the way up the line as far as we know. I was sixteen, and I’ve feasted on flesh ever since, three days out from the sated gut of the moon. Our family’s bite is a brand, unique, two bites overlaid at 90 degrees from each other. This bite is a gift we give. (DR. BUCK laughs nervously.) DR. BUCK Petra, Darryl, would you care to share—Petra, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve just been ill. (Petra pulls her infinity scarf higher up her neck.) PETRA It’s—it’s nothing. DARRYL I was bitten in a barfight. Must’ve been—it’s the one time I’ve ever been bit. Unless you count sex— DR. BUCK There’s a child here, Darryl! DARRYL Right. Sorry, Ellie. PETRA I don’t know...I don’t know where… THOMAS It’s okay, Petra. Neither do I. DR. BUCK You’ve all been so brave, sharing all these truths. Let’s all break now, for cookies and juice. (SMOOTH TRANSITION TO THE NEXT SCENE) Scene 6 SETTING: Cookies and juice in the infinite white room. DARRYL It’s okay, you know. Not to remember when you were bitten. PETRA I know. (She uncomfortably nibbles on a stale gingersnap.) PETRA Could use some of that banana bread, now. DARRYL What’s on your mind? You seem unsettled. PETRA I don’t—I can’t—not with everyone here. DARRYL Let’s move, then. The lukewarm Hawaiian Punch can wait. (They move back to the squadron of chairs.) DARRYL These cookies suck. So what’s up? PETRA I know—I mean, I think I know— DARRYL I know I’m never getting in a bar fight again. What is it that you know? PETRA Wh—who bit me. DARRYL ...how? (PETRA lowers her infinity scarf. Darryl gasps.) DARRYL Two bites overlaid at 90 degrees. Which means… PETRA Louis. He bit me. Louis made me a wolf. They each nibble a stale cookie in overwhelmed silence. The others paw at a fruit plate, foam cups. (BLACKOUT) Scene 7 SETTING: The round white room. Everyone sleepy, drooling. Werewolf treatment, Week 3. DR. BUCK Thank you all for joining me today. You’ve made great progress these last weeks here, as the nurses’ nightly notes can attest. I see some of you have even formed friendships here—Petra, Darryl, I’m delighted to see it. There is nothing more human than to trust one another. And Ellie, I just knew you’d be a good influence on Louis! He’s almost stopped babbling about the werewolf apocalypse. Almost. The medications you’ve been getting are our own one-of-a-kind blend of colloidal silver (the chains are all within you, now!) and various sedatives, so I hope you’ve all been relaxed and calm. I know you’ve been thinking more human thoughts, not snuffling-and-howling-in-the-woods delusions. Those ones are Unhelpful Thinking Thoughts, false and holding you all back from yourselves. There won’t be any exercise this meeting. This week it’s all introspection. The “within”. Reflect on the things you do well, like last week, but also think deeply about the ways you fall short. I think the one thing more human than trust is the desperate jolt of inadequacy that shocks us. The wolf feels no pain, no shame, no fear. So as we near the end of our treatment, think hard and for a long time: what are you worst at? What scandal shames you? How can we let that noble shame nestle near your heart? (BLACKOUT) Scene 8 SETTING: The small, private room, where a session’s underway between Dr. Buck and Thomas. DR. BUCK Thomas, what have you learned in your time here at Daybreak? THOMAS That it’s best to be my full and authentic self. DR. BUCK Good. And? THOMAS That the way I’ve been going about things is all wrong. DR. BUCK So you recognize now that you aren’t that monster! You are kind Thomas, the quiet accountant. Not as dramatic a transformation as some, but still: a success! THOMAS I don’t think I can ever do what I did before. Holing myself up in my office like that, alone and a loner. I’ve met such wonderful people here. I don’t want to be alone anymore. DR. BUCK The lone wolf recants! This is welcome news. The nursing staff will be delighted. Are you willing to share your testimony with the others? THOMAS I would be willing to share anything with them. They are all like me. DR. BUCK The colloidal silver must be working! I’ll assemble everyone later today, but I have another one-on-one meeting first. Go now, Thomas: you have been rescued. (BLACKOUT) Scene 9 SETTING: The one-on-one room again. Dr. Buck faces off against Louis. DR. BUCK You’ve been a difficult case for us, Louis. All these Unhelpful Thinking Thoughts in you, and spewing them like upchucked bile at the others— you’ve been a pernicious threat to our treatment regime from the start. But I have a plan, now— LOUIS You will have no more difficulty from me. DR. BUCK You see—what? (Dr. Buck looks unseated.) LOUIS I see very clearly what I must become. What I have always been destined to be. DR. BUCK It...it worked? LOUIS Better than you could know. Ellie and I were good for each other. You were right to buddy us up. DR. BUCK I...yes...well, I thought it would be good. So you’re abandoning your wolf clan, that blood-smeared history? LOUIS I’m becoming who I was always destined to be. I can feel it. I can feel the blood start to change in my veins, as my heart thrum-thrums and then it changes, too… DR. BUCK ...we are blessed with an astonishing gift today! Another wolf, the most ferocious wolf… saved. But how—? LOUIS We have Ellie to thank, Dr. Buck, for so much. I had the tinderbox in me already. She came and struck the match for the blaze. (BLACKOUT) Scene 10 SETTING: The dizzyingly round white main room, sans Dr. Buck. The werewolves hold their stomachs and moan. ELLIE While we wait for Louis and Dr. Buck to have their way with each other, I’ve got something I’d like to say. DARRYL Say it fast, Ellie. I’ve been queasy all day. ELLIE So have we all. The full moon’s crept up behind us, and here we are unprepared and near-undone. I always used to get sick before the change. THOMAS I...I guess I did, too. But didn’t Dr. Buck say he’d cure us, fix us? ELLIE You can’t fix a thing that was whole from the start. Don’t you see? To be a wolf is freedom, pure freedom, something our governments don’t seem to care about. The treatment was always doomed to fail, because there was no treatment that would ever work on us. PETRA So it was a scam? ELLIE I think the good doctor believed it. But listen… our ears become more wolf- like already. I can almost hear the sweet song of the moon. But, a question: will you join me and Louis in bliss, or side with the delusional doctor who tried to make you something you’re not? You can feel in yourselfthat the wolf’s re- emerging, dull teeth sharpening, sparse hair growing out and reforming itself as fur. Time’s moving fast, and our full moon creeps nearer. So will you be the delusional sheep? Or will you live out your lives as wolves? (DR. BUCK enters. BLACKOUT.) Scene 11 Night, and the patients’ slumbering skin cracks and peels to reveal wide-awake monsters within. They grow fur where before the skin was smooth, and great claws where the nails were once bitten to quick. They yelp and scratch the bedsheets, each other. They howl at the plentiful victory of the moon. Scene 12 SETTING: Dr. Buck’s office, late night, on August 19th. He dictates a memo to be written down in daylight. DR. BUCK I can confidently call the Daybreak treatment an unbridled success. We have made people out of basest creatures. It’s true that the patients won’t be unbridled: they’ll still turn wolf, but the doses we’ve given them will render them docile until the three days’ end. Tomorrow’s the full moon, our great fulfillment, and the start of a new dawn for the afflicted few. After this moon, werewolves can choose to be meek, not monsters. But I’m most proud of Louis. He started out spitting vitriol about his family wolf cult, his biting ‘style’, as though each bite is a classy accessory. But we’ve reformed the wolf. Tomorrow we prove it. Tomorrow comes the day of the jubilant human, once more. (BLACKOUT) Scene 13 SETTING: The round white room. They are all wolves, now, though pumped full of silver and other toxins Dr. Buck believes are enough to save him. Werewolves sit loose and relaxed in their chairs,no chains to bind them (without or within).They are stripped of every human constraint save speech. DR. BUCK So you see? You’ve been rendered docile by our treatments. There will be newspaper headlines recording this history, and in three days you’ll return to your normal lives, safe and whole as if nothing happened. ALPHA WOLF But Doctor...everything has happened. I can see and smell things I never...you wouldn’t understand. To become the wolf is to be forever changed. DR. BUCK Of course it is! I wouldn’t suggest otherwise. Only that you will be harmless to others, this time. And you can still carry out your normal lives. A SECOND WOLF What normal lives? We shall never have them. DR. BUCK I assure you: with this treatment, you can and will. A THIRD WOLF And as for being harmless… (He licks his lips.) DR. BUCK You have all proved a great capacity for empathy, even love. These test results show clearly that… (The alpha wolf strides forth, knocks off Dr. Buck’s glasses, and holds him suspended in midair by his labcoat. He whimpers.) I...I don’t understand… A FOURTH WOLF The test results you squeezed from us are garbage numbers for a garbage enterprise. Your “Unhelpful Thinking Thoughts” didn’t help you at all; all you’ve done is breed a more defiant wolf. A FIFTH WOLF Now we are whole. Now we hunger! (The five other wolves dance ravenously around the alpha wolf, who still holds Dr. Buck aloft. Their jaws snap longingly at his heels. DR. BUCK shrieks.) DR. BUCK Please! I only wanted to help you… THIRD WOLF Please, Alpha Wolf, we’re all so hungry… ALPHA WOLF Wait, my loves. Does he say he’s sorry? DR. BUCK If you could let me go back to the labs and recalibrate, we could try again! It could work this time… ALPHA WOLF (to Dr. Buck) But we don’t want it to work. (To the other wolves) Friends, we were gathered together here by a medical mistake. We learned much about each other, ourselves. The time has come to embrace our true path. We are werewolves, will always be werewolves. And a medical accident must be cleaned from the world… FEAST! (He drops Dr. Buck among the snarling werewolves. They hide him from view with their strong, hairy bodies as they lovingly rip his life apart.) (BLACKOUT) THE END.