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[ They mosey along the meadow, the thr-- the 2 playing cards, the 2 of ♠ and the 3 of... and the 3 of ♠. They look 4 something. Or nothing? Or anything! ]

♠ Is something off? Is someone gone?

♠ Gone off? Someone? We'd see if it was, we'd see if they were, wouldn't we? ♠

♠ We'd see! We'd see, and if we don't see, then we really don't want to see, it's good that we can't see what isn't there, that we don't know what hasn't been-- ♠

♠ Correct! Thank you! They can't see us if we can't see them! What we don't know won't hurt us! ♠

♠ Correct! Hooray! ♠

♠ Don't look! Hooray! ♠

♠ Don't stop! Hooray! ♠

♠ Just run! Hooray! ♠

♠ Away! Hooray! ♠

♠ Hooray! ♠

♠ Hooray! ♠
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[ The cards stand in the dining hall, two tables apart. The cards stand on two tables in the dining hall, worlds apart. The 4 of ♣ and the 2 of ♠ stand together, on one. The 3 of ♦ stands on the other, alone. They jump and wave, and call out to each other. ]

♠ Let's go, let's go, let's just go across! ♠

[ The 4 of ♣ listens, he climbs down from the table, his foot-- The 3 of ♦ screams, before his foot touches the ground. ]

♦ Wait, the floor is lava! The floor is lava! ♦

[ The other two cards frown. ]

♣ Your imagination can't hurt you! ...Or can it?

[ The 3 of ♦ shakes his head. A paint brush hangs on his belt. (He has a belt). He takes the brush, and lets it fall. The floor looks unchanged. The paint brush catches fire, and turns to ash. The other cards gasp, and turn against each other in outrage. ]

♠ This is your fault, now what do we do? ♠

♣ This is your fault, now how do we find a way? ♣

[ They push, they shove, they holler, they almost fall, oh no! Only the 3 of ♦ intervenes from the other table. ]

♦ Wait! Stop! Don't fight! What if you made a way? What if you were the way? ♦

[ The two cards look at each other. The 4 of ♣ understands. He steps all the way to the edge of the first table, and stretches himself tall. He tilts, and falls, and only just reaches the second table with his fingers. He hangs there, from table to table, like a bridge. The 2 of ♠ gasps in awe. ]

♠ You did it, you did it 4 me! ♠

[ The 2 of ♠ walks across his fellow card's back carefully, slowly, slowly, slooooowly, sl-- ]

♣ Oh no... ♣

♠ Oh no? ♠

[ The 4 of ♣ shivers, and turns into a Rottweiler dog. Yes, the 4 of ♣ turns into a Rottweiler dog, right then and there! It drops, it yelps, it takes the 2 of ♠ down with its fall. ]

Oh no!

♠ Fire, fire, such terrible fire everywhere! ♠

[ The 2 of ♠ dramatically waves a red-orange paper flag. The card dog plays dead. ]

♦ What an inconvenient time 2 discover such a personal thing about him... ♦
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[ The 2 of ♠ and the 4 of ♣ and the 3 of ♦ wander the checkerboard hills, their fa4ite hills, with light steps and whistles of cheer on their lips, and shovels in their hands. Skip, skip, skip over the hills and heave and ho, and down into the dirt they start 2 dig! ]

♦ There in the depths of the earth they dwelled-- ♦

♠ Only good things, I hope! ♠

♦ Only the best things! Precious things, treasured things, golden things! ♦

♠ Golden things! ♠

[ The 2 of ♠ and the 3 of ♦ plunge their shovels in2 the hill excitedly, excitedly and again and again, and the 4 of ♣ shovels with them, 2, but slowly, and slower, and stops. He scratches his head. ]

♣ Golden things in the earth? ♣

♦ Well, it was golden once! ♦

♣ What, the earth? ♣

♦ No, the other thing! Don't think, dig! Dig for the other things, the precious things, the treasured things, the golden things! ♦

[ Now the 2 of ♠ stops 2, and looks at the tunnel they made, look at the dark tunnel they made already! Such cards sure shovel swiftly, oh! ]

♠ If they were in the earth for so long, are they still golden? ♠

♣ Are they still golden? ♣

♦ Are they still golden? ♦

[ This gives the 3 of ♦ pause. ]

♣ If they were in the earth for so long, how will they look when they come out? ♣

[ This gives the 3 of ♦ creases and wrinkles and a little, little bit of worry. The 3 of ♦ steps away from their ditch.

The 2 of ♠ steps away from their ditch.

The 4 of ♣ steps away from their ditch.

♦ Maybe we... stop digging for precious things, for treasured things, for golden things. ♦

♠ There are perfectly decent things, perfectly nice things up here. ♠

♣ And we know what 2 expect! ♣

♦ And we know what 2 expect... ♦
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[ Comes the 2 of ♠ tumbling down in2 the checkerboard ditch, happy as can be! 4 of ♣, he goes next, quick steps down the slope. The 3 of ♦ comes last, graciously gliding card body with frantically flailing people limbs, fluttering down in2 the ditch where they huddle together.

Where they smile, smile, s m i l e, whyever shouldn't they smile strained, shhhhh, no, not strained, be quiet, as quiet as they are cheerful, so very VERY CHEERFUL!?

♠ Concern? What concern? What could we have 2 worry about? ♠

♦ We love variety! Everybody loves variety! Nobody likes the hum-- ♦

♣ Or the drum! ♣

♦ ...Nobody likes the same old, same old humdrum view, day in--♦

♠ --day out! But it's aaaaaaaall fine! All good! Isn't it, 3? Isn't it, 4? Isn't it, one, 2, 3, 4! ♠

[♫ Music! Song! ♫ ]

♠ All fine! ♠

♣ All good! ♣

♦ All fine and all wonderful, Wonderlandishly wonderful and so very much fine and so good as it should! ♦

[ Somersaults and cartwheels carry them them up the inverted hills, carry their song 2 the vendors, between the trees where the merchants nest, where everything is as fine and wonderful as it is everywhere else, and little card soldier hands and little card gardener hands, and little card courtier hands point up in2 the trees where nothing is truly out of order at all! ]

♠ A little tweak here! ♠

♣ A little tweak there! A-- ♣

Tweaking and creaking and 4boding leaking and sneaking and shrieking--♦


[ 3♦ smiles nervously. How silly of him! 2♠ and 4♣ smile all the brighter and more cheerful for it, all 3 entwining arms as they skip down 2 the beach, their ♫ next verse ♫ all the louder 4 the silly and unfounded mistake from be4. ]

♣ So fine! ♣

♦ So good! ♦

♠ So fine and so wonderful and so very much fine and so good as it-- ♠

[ C R A C K ! ! ! ! ]

[ A... sound? A fine sound, like a whip cracking in the air, a good sound like paper tearing, a wonderful (wonderful) sight at the beach, a shimmer (a glow?), a crack -- a tear! a rip! a nothing at all to be concerned about! -- in the sky above the sand, bright and glowing and no longer than a person's finger.

A tear in the air in the fabric of the world, bright and glowing and no longer than a person's finger, no smaller than that (but no bigger either).

The cards stare at it in awe.

(It is awe, it is decidedly awe and decidedly not at all terror or fear or any sense of impending doom whatsoever.)

( ♫ The next verse ♫ will prove it! )

♣ ....Let's run! ♣

♠ Away! ♠

♦ Let's run away very fast even though all is well nothing at all is in any way not as it should be 2day! ♦

[ Hooray! ♥ ]

♣ ♠ G o o d b y e ! ♠ ♣

[ The cards -- the cheerful 4♣, the happy 3♦, and the upbeat 2♠ -- all link arms, and leave jauntily in the direction of the forest.

( Very very very very fast, coincidentally. )


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