The Dinner Party

SCENE: A FANCY RESTAURANT. REJECTIONIST is seated at a table with two ERUDITE PERSONAGES.

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: ...of course you've heard of the untouched volcanic crater discovered in Papua New Guinea, which scientists found with Google Earth? It's a pristine crater, filled with species never before recorded, that have evolved in total isolation since the volcano last erupted--

REJECTIONIST: (Excitedly) Haven't they heard of The Lost World?

(Awkward silence)

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #2: Why, that reminds me about the story I just saw, where xenophyophores--

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: Ah yes, the giant amoebas!

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: Yes, the giant amoebas--longer than four inches! can you imagine!--discovered in the depths of the Mariana Trench, 6.6 miles below the ocean's surface--scientists say they're astonishingly well-adapted to life of darkness and low temperatures--

REJECTIONIST: (Excitedly) Haven't they seen The Abyss?

(Awkward silence)

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: Well, er, that reminds me of the Lake Vostok travesty, where those Russian scientists have been trying to drill through the Antarctic ice sheet--

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #2: And filled their borehole with kerosene to keep it from freezing when they had to abandon the site for the Antarctic winter!

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #!: Yes, it's simply horrifying. And just the sheer arrogance of thinking one can simply bore a hole into a subglacial lake that's been isolated from the rest of the world for at least five million years--

REJECTIONIST: (Excitedly) Haven't they seen that X-Files episode, where the Alaskan scientists unleash a parasitic alien ice worm by taking core samples of subarctic ice, and everyone shoots everyone else?

(Awkward silence)

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: Er, well, I don't think so--

REJECTIONIST: (Pointing to bread basket) Are you going to eat that?

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: (Grimaces, passes REJECTIONIST bread basket)

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #2: (Coughs delicately) Hmmm, well. Ahem. I saw a fascinating article on the research being done at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale's Laboratory of Intelligence Systems--do you know, scientists there have found a way to make autonomous flying robots that swarm and flock?

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: Indeed--why, haven't they simulated up to a hundred flocking robots that act independently and communicate with one another wirelessly?

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #2: Absolutely--the behavior stems from a three-dimensional algorithm developed by mathematicians--

REJECTIONIST: (Excitedly, chewing loudly) Haven't they seen Terminator?

(Awkward silence. WAITER enters)

WAITER: Have we decided?

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: I do believe I shall have the foie gras.

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #2: And I, the duck confit--

REJECTIONIST: (Banging fork on table) A STEAK A STEAK A STEAK

WAITER: And how would you like that cooked, madame?

REJECTIONIST: STILL CRYING FOR ITS MOTHER

(Awkward silence)

WAITER: Er, very good, madame. (WAITER exits.)

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #1: (Faintly) If you don't mind, I must retire to the powder room for a moment.

ERUDITE PERSONAGE #2: Yes, yes, why don't I accompany you.

(ERUDITE PERSONAGES depart hurriedly, exchanging horrified glances. REJECTIONIST picks up her fork again and looks about her expectantly. REJECTIONIST reaches for the bread basket. The lights dim.)

FIN