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Coal Dust

by Dracula

This is a random play I wrote, it's pretty weird. I just wanted to point out that I say the characters 'turned black'. I don't mean this in a racist way. The black coal dust represents pollution and smoke and all that yucky stuff. Please don't take it the wrong way.


Setting: Bedroom. Dark lighting, bed in middle of room, large window behind it showing sky with moon blocked by cloud of black smoke. Husband and wife in bed, woman on left side closest to door.

Enter a man of the same height and build as the husband, but with his skin and clothes covered in a cloak is coal-dust ash. He looks as if the wind could sweep him away like dust.

The man kneels beside the woman, who opens her eyes and screams. The husband bolts upright in bed and switches on the lamp beside him. The woman grabs onto his arm, but he pulls away from her and climbs out of bed, walking around the bed to the coal man, who has knelt perfectly still the whole time, just watching with his mouth open.

The husband grabs the coal man and pulls him to the front of the stage, the woman sits at the end of the bed, shocked.

Woman: He’s a demon! A demon, in my house!”

The husband pins the man to the ground, and his right coal black hands disconnects from his arm and lands on the floor. A ring of keys clatter jingle from the hand.

Husband: A demon doesn’t steal keys! And a fake hand? What are you playing at? Is this a robbery, a prank?

Man: Please, I mean nothing but good. I need you to listen to me.

Husband: You break into my house for a chat? No, honey, call the police.

The woman gets out of bed, on the right side and begins walking towards her husband.

Man: I didn’t break in.

The husband guffaws and stands up, the coal man not moving from the ground. The woman stands behind her husband, not wanting to walk around the coal man to the door.

Husband: You’ve got an attitude. What’re you then, the landowner? Got your own house burnt down so you thought you’d take ours?

A radio turns on out of nowhere. The characters all look to the front right corner of the stage, focussing on the announcer’s voice.

Announcer: A mysterious virus has taken hundreds of lives in the past hour. The CDC has asked everyone to stay inside to avoid spreading the virus.

The radio voice dies away and the characters’ attention is turned to the bedside table, where the husband’s phone has beeped. The woman grabs it and reads a message.

Woman: All employees are to report to the Space Travel Office immediately.

Man: No, the air- please, just listen to me for a minute.

Husband: Didn’t you hear? Immediately! I’m taking you outside.

Man: No. Look at your hands, don’t go outside.

The husband looks at his hands, which are covered in coal dust like the man.

Husband: I’d rather turn up dirty to work then get fired. Honey, get the car started.

The husband grabs the coal man by his underarms and heaves him up, the woman walks around them and goes out the door. The husband and coal man follow, the keys left on the floor.

Setting: A small section of the stage sectioned off as an entryway. All lights focussed on characters, and illuminated is the same set of keys hanging by the door. The characters walk past the keys (the woman taking them) and outside.

Lights turn to the rest of the stage, a grassy area with a cardboard car at the other end of the stage. The moon is large in the sky and still clouded by dust. The wife seats herself in the car. The husband lets the coal man fall onto the ground, the husbands arms are now coal-black.

Man: No, the air, take me inside, please. Honey-

Unable to finish his sentence, bits of black paper fall onto the stage in front of him. (Actor runs off stage). The man dissolves into a pile of coal dust.

Husband: What the bloody-

Woman honks the horn. Her head is out the window, mouth opened wide.

Woman: It's a prank... it must be! Come on, we'll be late.

The husband scratches his head, getting coal dust on his hair.

Husband: I’m going bloody mad.

He gets into the car and they drive off.

Setting: NASA headquarters, desks and computers to one side, a large bright portal on the other. A scientist is standing by the portal in a state of panic. His face is covered in coal dust.

The husband and wife enter and the scientist hurries to them, they meet in the middle of the stage.

Scientist: By golly, it’s all gone wrong! We had no idea…

Husband: No idea of what?

Scientist: It’s happened to you too. Your arms, your hair, soon it will spread to your whole body.

Woman: Tell us what has happened. Why were we called here?

Scientist: Our space travel experiments went all wrong. Chemicals were brought back, new chemicals not discovered yet. They mixed with our atmosphere and-

Scientist begins crying and the woman puts her arm around him, handing her husband the keys which he puts in his pocket. The husband stands by the portal.

Husband: And a virus was created?

Scientist: Yes, yes. It’s our fault- we never imagined this would happen- we didn’t think- we were too excited- it’s our fault.

Woman: What do you mean by ‘ours’? Where is everyone?

Coal dust has formed on the woman’s arm. The scientist walks next to the husband and waves at the portal.

Scientist: They’ve all gone back, to stop us beginning this whole thing. Oh, if only we’d known.

Husband: I suppose that’s why we’re here?

Scientist: Yes, but the problem is that we’ve only ever gone into the future. I don’t know how past travel works, if it works… you could come out anywhere, or not at all.

Woman: Can we not find a cure? Surely the CDC-

Scientist: The CDC knows there’s nothing they can do. We’ve done it this time- there’s no cure.

Husband: But to stop it from ever happening in the first place. There was a man in our house, I thought I must have imagined it but… he was this colour (holds up his arm) and when I took him outside he disintegrated.

Scientist: That is what happens, when the virus takes you completely and mixes with the fresh air.

The woman has been silently sobbing, noticing that her hand is now black as well.

Husband: I suppose we better stop it then. Mankind’s existence threatened by mankind… the bloody universe and its games.

Woman: But it wasn’t the universe, it wasn’t fate. We did it. The warnings were right in front of us but we didn’t listen, we never listen.

Husband: Hush, I’ll go back and destroy this damn portal.

Scientist: But I don’t know where you’ll come out, that’s why so many went. You could come out a century ago, a year ago, an hour ago-

Woman: Oh god.

The woman collapses on the ground crying. The husband walks towards her, grabs her hand and kisses it.

Husband: Don’t you cry, we’ll sort this all out and then none of this would ever have happened. I promise.

Scientist: Hold your right hand over the plate, that activates the portal. Good luck, sir.

The husband activates the portal with his right hand. His entire body has now turned coal black, he steps through the portal.

Woman: Oh god.

Scientist: Don’t worry, if he makes it, we won’t remember this. If he doesn’t make it… we won’t live to know it

The scientist breaks down and runs off the stage. The woman stands up, speaking to the audience. The lighting turns grey and black smoke is blown onto the stage.

Woman: I should have listened. The warnings were there but... we didn't listen! Now it’s too late. He killed himself. We’ve killed ourselves.

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User avatar
25 Reviews

Points: 270
Reviews: 25

Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:36 am
ThatAndalite says...

Oh my gosh, this was amazing! I'd hope to see it on Broadway one day, if they somehow stop doing Cats and Oklahoma!.

Dracula says...

Haha thank you!

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79 Reviews

Points: 3416
Reviews: 79

Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:18 pm
Lael wrote a review...


"Enter a man of the same height and build as the husband, but with his skin and clothes covered in a cloak is coal-dust ash." Do you mean "a cloak *of* coal-dust ash"?

I think for this, "his right coal black hands disconnects" you meant "his coal black right hand disconnects" right?

The coal guy from the beginning was the husband when he went back in time, right? If so, that means he didn't make it...

Great job! I think that this would become popular, if it were ever publicly performed. :)

User avatar
9 Reviews

Points: 467
Reviews: 9

Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:03 am
jamesberry837 says...

I love your play! It is darkley great and fun. I hope it becomes a play soon. What I like about this was dramatising and entertaing. I like the demon part at the begging. One thing you can work on on the places were people mught think it's racist. Other than that, I hope I see it on the stage!

Dracula says...


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15 Reviews

Points: 905
Reviews: 15

Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:23 am
RosalieNoble wrote a review...

Interesting, very interesting. Being a student of theatre myself, I can really appreciate this piece.
My review, because it is an art, will be mostly the pros and cons of the scene. I think you know what you're doing.

It is short.
While that is not inherently bad, it will end up being a whirlwind of a show. I am sure this is a short one act, so it shouldn't be a problem, and the stage direction should lengthen the time a bit.

-I understood completely, without prompting, what the coal dust symbolized and thought it was quite clever.
-I also found your idea for the scene fresh. Many high school students will write about death, drugs, or sex -- which is all fine and good, if you like that sort of thing, but it needs variety. You are the variety.
-You set up your scene quite nicely, I knew where we were the whole time. My only question, and maybe I just missed it, is why they looked at the door when the radio went off. Specifically the door. Are they on a base and the radio coming over the speakers or are they at home, like I had originally thought, and just needed somewhere to look when the radio came on?

Other notes:
-There was at least one slip up I saw in grammar, I would go back with a fine toothed comb (have someone proof read it) and make sure to fix those up. The one I found was when the radio turned on, "...character all looked at the door..." (You are just missing an 's')

-Also, last thing, are you Canadian or from the UK? I noticed you had said, "...he was this colour..." not 'color'. If you are, then you're fine. If you're not, then people will laugh and point it out every time. Trust me, I know. I spell it colour, even if my professors tell me I am wrong.

It was a nice piece, I would show it to my old theatre teacher. She might have had the first or second year students preform it.

Good job!

Dracula says...

Thanks! I'm not at all sure about the door and radio thing. I want the radio announcement to come from no place in particular, but I also want to show that the characters are focussing on it. Thoughts?

RosalieNoble says...

I think most people, when they aren't sure where a noise is coming from, will look up and around to try and find it. In your character's case, it doesn't seem like they are looking for the source, but more that they are familiar with their surroundings and goings on and are simply listening to what they know to be there. Maybe for them it would be better to have them look up at an angle and just stare, like dogs do when they are 'listening' to us talk to them.
Does that make sense? Almost as if they were thinking. They tilt their heads and look up, doesn't matter which way, doesn't matter if they look in opposite directions as long as it is above them.

Dracula says...

Thanks! That's very helpful. :D

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
— Ann Landers