Ethel: An aspiring mayor with more ambition than campaign funding. Flirts with life in the hope it will flirt back.
Walter: Ethel’s part-time love interest. A jaded, though somewhat charming, philosophy professor at an average university.
Various locations around a large unnamed metropolis.
The months leading up to the Mayoral election. The months following the Mayoral election. The year is 2037.
SETTING: We are in a smoky bar. It’s late and the crowd is thinning.
AT RISE: Ethel and Walter are talking with eachother.
(Ethel scans the room with a look of disappointment on her face.)
Ethel: This metropolis is going to the dogs.
(Walter looks up from his glass.)
Walter: Is it? Do tell me more, please.
Ethel: What’s more, this event seems to essentially be a carefully curated gathering of characters meant to do nothing but represent exactly the metropolis I am trying to escape right now. It couldn’t be more horrendously representative if I wrote it myself. Rather than being a distraction, it’s a laughing reminder of this joke we live out our lives in. It’s worse even: it’s somehow more vivid, fucking dramatized by jazz music and … you’re no distraction either today.
(Walter looks up from his glass.)
Walter: Do tell me more, please.
Ethel: I mean, really? Look at that guy. He is drinking sparkling water imported from a foreign land in a plastic bottle. Has he no shame in his lack of awareness of his lack of respect for the planet which birthed and raised him? I would at least take the label off the bottle so at least the distance it travelled to get here would be a mystery to judging onlookers like me. He probably even knows and he is just fucking proud of it. People can’t even be bothered to be mildly creative or mysterious in their disrespect for the planet these days. I’m depressed.
Walter: What would you have them do to be more creative in their disrespect? Collect salt to cook with from the tears of endangered animals subjected to 24/7 readings of Schopenhauer’s work on the inferiority of animals?
Ethel: Well, I wouldn’t condone it, but it would at least be sufficiently non-banal and entertaining to drive people to rise against it. The boring shit just slips under the radar with no confrontation these days.
Walter: Where should we go when it all ends? Or, where do you think will be the last place left to go? That’s where we should go. I at least want to see the end. Not my end. I mean, maybe if we see it all end, the world as we know it, we’ll feel more comfortable about our deaths. You can’t be parted from something that no longer exists. Like when the love dies before the split happens and it doesn’t hurt.
Ethel: I often ponder upon this. Holland is always the answer I come to. They, the greatest dyke building nation the human species has known, will live at the bottom of the deepest well on this planet, the only one which will continue to protrude from the depths of land and into the air. All other nations will lie below the earth’s one ice-meltwater ocean.
(Walter leans back in his chair.)
Walter: That’s not a bad guess. I think it probably will be like that. In fact, I am almost certain. Perhaps as well the sea will be so far away and so diluted by melted ice that the only sources of salt, and inspired by my own earlier comment on the tears of tortured animals, will be the tears of pale philosophers engaged in conversation about the state of the world and crying in despair. Let’s drink to that.
(Walter raises his glass and downs its contents.)
Ethel: Let’s get real though: this world hasn’t yet ended, and we’re not yet dead, and I am bored by everything. So desperately bored by everything. Let’s do something.
Walter: We could become criminals? Criminals whose only goal is fuelling our hedonism.
Ethel: No, let’s do something good, and less boring.
Walter: Like in 2020 when that person went to a training camp and then assassinated Trump? Even though it was too late to reverse the long-term damage he had caused to the environment and the gentle balance of almost peace that had existed at the time, in some places.
Ethel: No. Not like that.
Walter: Like when Schopenhauer’s work finally gained more widespread recognition and the human species had easier access to relatively accessible texts concerning our inherent suffering? You have to admit: we do feel better when we know others feel worse, and he seemed to always feel much worse. That guy.
Ethel: No, and stop talking about Schopenhauer. I mean something actually good. I want to change lots of small things that add up and have an impact. I want to ban the advertising of goods whose price does not include their externalities, I want to have food packaging regulated so that it is less wasteful, I want to increase funding diverted to mental health care, I want to…
(Walter leans forward and interrupts.)
Walter: Run for mayor then. Then you could do all, or most, of those things. Let’s say all of them. At least within this giant metropolis, and you could be a beacon of light and hope for the rest of the world.
Ethel: That’s actually not a bad idea. That’s really not a bad idea. I could be the mayor. Is it possible? Could I be mayor? Could I really be mayor?
Walter: Of course, it’s possible. You don’t have any deformities; you’re in fact quite attractive, which sadly, is very important these days. It has been for a while now. Look at Trump.
You have a degree; an irrelevant one, but from a good school, according to irrelevant yet oddly respected criteria, and the people in this metropolis will want to know you weren’t raised in a barn. You could definitely do with more money though. Definitely. Definitely.
Ethel: Why’s that? The money part. Why’s that?
Walter: You need to fund the election campaign. No one knows who you are. Or what your policies are.
(Walter laughs heartily.)
Walter: Not that that second part matters, however. You need rather, to give people matters to discuss over a cocktail, be it a cheap whisky and coke made with Famous Grouse and Pepsi or a vodka Martini made with Grey Goose, where generally it is seen to be cool or trendy if they agree with you. Easy.
Ethel: Do you really think it is that easy? Get some money and seem cool?
Walter: I am sure of it. What’s more, you only actually really need just a tiny bit more than half to agree with you. Just choose a divisive topic and stick with it. Tell a few fibs here and there if it helps.
Look at Boris Johnson.
Ethel: Can you be my campaign manager then? Or rather, can you manage my rise to mayorhood? I will mayor the fuck out of it. I’ll let you be the mayor’s first man. The first Sir of the metropolis. I’ll even let you create a few scandals and sell your stories to Hello magazine and the like so it is worth your time.
Walter: Yes! I accept! I accept! Fwah, this is exciting.
Ethel: OK. So. First. I need money. How do we get the money?
Walter: Well, crowdfunding is all the rage now. Maybe you could try that. If the amounts are small enough, you don’t even need to say who they came from.
Ethel: People who do not know me are not going to give me money to fund a campaign so that I can help them get to know me, are they?
Walter: Why not?
Ethel: Errr, “hello, my name is Ethel. I want to be mayor, but you don’t know me or my policies. So, can you give me money so that you can get to know me and my policies, please?” People won’t do that.
Walter: Animals might. Or birds might, I mean.
Ethel: What? What the fuck are you talking about? You’re a moron. It’s like you actively try to be random.
Walter: I don’t know. You could train a flock of pigeons to fly around the metropolis looking for loose change. There is a lot of loose change on the floor. They bring it to you and swap it for some bird food of lower value than the coin. Everyone is a winner.
(Walter stands up excitedly.)
Walter: You could even automate the whole process! It would be the first bird crowdfunded political campaign! We’ll call it flockfunding! Or if they are crows we will call it murderfunding!
Ethel: I don’t want to murder people Walter. My policies will not kill people.
Walter: No, no. A group of crows is called a murder. A group of fish, a school; dogs, a pack; bison, a herd; a coalition, is the name for a group of cheetahs — hopefully we won’t have one of those!; crabs, come in a cast; dolphins, a pod; hedgehogs come in an array; swallows, a gulp; oysters, a bed. The list goes on and on.
Ethel: Let’s do it, Walter. At the very least it will provide some distraction from the dismal monotony we drown in day to day. Let’s flockfund my ascent to mayor.
(END OF ACT)
SETTING: We are in Ethel’s inner-city back garden. It is small and overlooked by blocks of flats and the neighbours within them. The feeding centre apparatus has been set-up. The sky is black with pigeons.
AT RISE: Ethel and Walter are standing in the garden checking the feeding equipment.
Ethel: This is going very well.
Walter: It’s amazing. We already have thousands and thousands of coins. We need to start counting them and exchanging them at the bank systematically. Maybe we even need to hire someone. Imagine: how ridiculous? We might hire someone to count coins collected by pigeons!
(Walter laughs out loud.)
Walter: This is insane. We have so much money. You could eventually run for president if you wanted and I could manage the campaign from a yacht.
(Walter gestures at the bird feeders.)
Walter: We will need to refill these again soon. Will you go to the garden centre or should I?
Ethel: I think you should. The cashiers have started to recognize me. I have been there twice a day for a week now and bought 20kg of bird seed each time. It might look a bit strange when I start my campaign. I wouldn’t want to be known as the bird lady or something. In general, I would prefer that nobody learns about this technique we are using. It is rather odd.
Walter: Good luck with that.
Ethel: What do you mean “good luck with that”?
Walter: Have you seen the sky? It is literally black with pigeons. Literally black with pigeons. You can’t see the sun.
(Walter gestures at the sky.)
You literally cannot see the sun. The pigeons we trained are being copied by other pigeons. Based on an estimate I made 15 minutes ago, there are now over 20,000 pigeons doing this 24/7. I am surprised they manage to find the coins at night actually; I have been trying to understand this. Maybe they just peck around, or perhaps it is the street lighting. But, that’s not the point: this is only going to increase, and someone will notice. If they have not already noticed. The neighbours surely already noticed.
Ethel: What if they tell someone? Or worse: what if they copy? Then anyone could run for mayor. That would be awful.
Walter: That would be awful. Imagine some of the monsters who would be able to campaign for political office. I can’t think about it, it’s too awful.
Ethel: Then, as your boss, and you being the campaign manager, I demand you do something to fix this. I want this a secret. No one can know. No one can copy. As well, think of what the animal rights activists would say if they knew. Think of the protests.
Think of the memes.
Walter: We’ll open more centres. All across the city. We have enough income to rent some places and hire some keepers. Easily. We’ll rent rooftops. I can pose as a weird man with a pigeon obsession who does it for love, or even for science. I’ll even put a picture of a pigeon in my wallet and pretend to drop it so that it opens up and people can see the picture. I’ll hang a pigeon calendar with a very raunchy December photo. Then none of the helpers or neighbours will ask questions and this way the number of pigeons going to each location will be smaller and less suspicious. I’ll run the numbers and come up with a proposal.
(Walter sits at his desk, pulls out a city map, and feverishly begins to calculate numbers.)
(END OF SCENE)
SETTING: We are in a dark room. The curtains are drawn.
AT RISE: Ethel and Walter are anxiously discussing something.
Ethel: What do you mean they formed a union?
Walter: They formed a union. What more can I say?
Ethel: Pigeons don’t form unions.
Walter: They don’t usually fund political campaigns either. I guess we created something new and we’re no longer in control of it.
Ethel: Well, do they have demands?
Walter: They do.
Walter: There are a few. Some of them are quite reasonable.
Ethel: Do you genuinely want to entertain the idea of negotiating with a pigeon union?
Walter: Well, the idea of not negotiating with them doesn’t sit well with me. You probably know this about me, but I am both a vegetarian and a unionist. Unions did so much for us: the 8-hour day, weekends, increased wages, a whole range of fringe benefits, the list is really quite long.
Ethel: I don’t need a speech on what unions did, Walter. I’m quite aware. Moreover, when I am mayor I will actually work to promote unions. And, I am not asking you to eat the pigeons Walter, nor to dismantle actual unions.
Walter: I get that. Of course, you wouldn’t ask me to eat the pigeons. That is not the point though. The point is it conflicts me because I don’t eat animals because I truly feel they feel pain and what right do I have to inflict pain on animals when I don’t need to eat them. So, if they are also intelligent enough to organize and form unions and in the first instance to even feel an urge to try to improve their conditions then who am I to say no? If I believe in unions for humans, what does that say about me if I don’t for pigeons? I am not going to practice speciesism and you can’t make me.
Ethel: What the fuck is wrong with you?
(Ethel pauses, sighs loudly, and moves closer to Walter.)
Ethel: Well, what do they want?
Walter: They say some of the pigeons have suffered work-related injuries, and that they should receive a reduced but regular food package to support themselves and their families as compensation.
Ethel: You’ve got to be fucking kidding me? No one asked them to do this work.
Walter: Yes, I initially tried to explain that to them. But they said that when in this dark and harsh world an opportunity to have something better arises there is no actual choice — there is only the illusion of choice. They said that with the creation of this opportunity in such a bleak world also came the destruction of any choice, that the opportunity and the choice cannot exist together. I actually tend to agree with them. They also said we didn’t require, or even offer, training on how to lift large coins in order to participate.
Ethel: We didn’t provide them with training on lifting large coins? This is hilarious. What else?!
Walter: Well, the largest demand is for an increase in the number of seeds they receive in exchange for coins. They want a 20% increase. This way they can also save and live a bit more comfortably.
Ethel: Are you joking? Did you not see the most recent projections? The election campaigns can be launched in six weeks. Based on your own budget, as my manager, we will need $500,000 by then if we are to even have a chance of winning. Based on the amount we currently have, and the amount we are making each week, we will have $515,000 at that point in time. If we give them 20% more, then what Walter? Then what?
(Walter smirks playfully and reassuringly places his hand on Ethel’s shoulder.)
Walter: Then we will have a smaller budget, but we won’t sacrifice ourselves. Do you want to find yourself in office having lost yourself?
(Ethel removes Walter’s hand.)
Ethel: This is not a joke. We have to win. It is for the good of the metropolis. You want to sacrifice the regulation of food packaging, bans on the advertisement of products which are damaging to society, and higher minimum wages, and all for a pigeon? One measly pigeon?
Walter: What do you mean for one pigeon? This is about the rights of all of the pigeons.
Ethel: You don’t follow, do you? We need to set an example. We cannot negotiate. We also cannot be seen as weak. You need to kill the union’s head pigeon and send a message to all of them. Then they will understand. Before us, they had nothing anyway. Especially in winter. Winter is coming, Walter. Winter is coming and they will need us more than ever.
Walter: But Ethel, with the death of that one pigeon comes the death of all my morality, of yours too. That line cannot be uncrossed. There would forever be retraceable footsteps on the darker side of my being; an inviting path forged into previously uncharted territory.
Ethel: You do chat a lot of bullshit, Walter. Do it. Kill the pigeon union leader. After you kill him, crush his talons and pluck out his feathers so it looks like you tortured him first. Then send his plucked, twisted, naked body back to the other pigeon union members to send them a message. If you don’t, I will do it anyway, and I will also find another campaign manager. It’s a fucking pigeon. I consume more than one whole, locally fucking sourced, free-range, organic chicken each week on average, more or less. Why should I have any issues with this? Make it happen.
(Walter and Ethel stare fixedly at each other for a long time without talking.)
(END OF SCENE)
SETTING: A rooftop somewhere. It is night. There is a storm.
AT RISE: Walter is with his back to the audience.
(Walter is holding something in his hands high above his head.)
Walter: Forgive me, my feathery friend. I’ll miss the philosophical discussions we once shared. This is for the good of the metropolis and all who reside here. Once in office, Ethel will improve the rights offered to all creatures, feather, fur, and skin alike. I want you to know this is not easy for me, if that makes it easier for you. As you lose your life, I lose myself; neither of us can come back. Our sacrifices are equal, but while you will be released, I will live with this pain for many years to come.
(Walter brings his hands, and the pigeon in them, crashing down to the earth. The pigeon falls lifelessly onto the surface of the roof. Walter falls onto his knees and weeps emphatically.)
(END OF ACT)
SETTING: We are in the mayor’s office.
AT RISE: Ethel is sitting at the mayor’s desk and Walter is in a chair on the other side of the room.
The Radio: Welcome to today’s edition of The News at Ten. Chaos on the streets once again. Three weeks into Ethel’s mayorship people are calling on her to do something or resign. For the fifth consecutive day, people are sheltering in their homes or dashing between buildings to avoid being caught out in the open. People are unable to go about their business…
(Ethel leans forward and shuts off the radio.)
Ethel: What happened? What happened, Walter? The pigeons have gone crazy. They are attacking innocent people on the street and stealing from them. People are terrified. One elderly man died of a heart attack, triggered by panic, while his grandson was watching. How did this happen?
Walter: The coins ran out, Ethel. There are no more coins on the ground. The pigeons collected them more rapidly than they were dropped.
Ethel: We have to stop them. People are scared to go outside. The city is on lockdown. We must stop them. Shut down the feeding centres. Do it now. Then they will get nothing from the coins. Then they will stop. If there is no food in exchange for the coins they won’t need coins.
Walter: No, Ethel, I won’t. They need that food. We were short-sighted. We didn’t see what would happen. We couldn’t have seen, but we must nonetheless deal with the consequences. They have families now, Ethel. Young children. What you ask is to condemn them to a life of hunger and poverty. I won’t do what you ask me again. I did it once before. Never again.
Ethel: You are being hysterical. Listen to what you are saying, Walter. Talking of pigeon children. Has anyone ever even seen a baby pigeon? What would you have me do were I to let you?
Walter: What would I have you do? I would have us undo our past. Undo the mistake we made before. We need to negotiate with them and come to a mutually agreeable agreement.
Ethel: Negotiate with them? They are terrorising the people of this city. They are terrorists. No. I refuse. I am not, just a few weeks into my term as Mayor, negotiating with pigeons however many fucking babies they might have. And negotiate what? What can we offer them? There are no more coins. You said that. We can’t offer them more food for the coins, or training, or any of the things they demanded before. Those days are gone.
Walter: No, we cannot. And yes, those days are gone. Times have changed, Ethel. The Pigeon Union is talking about social inclusion. People are very excited.
Ethel: People are very excited?
Walter: Yes! Think about it! A new world order! A change that has been coming for years is now on the doorstep. You can usher it in. This could be your legacy, Ethel. Think about it, they are people too and we are pigeons. There have even been discussions about giving us all one name. Human and animal alike.
Ethel: Walter, what the hell are you talking about? Pigeons are not people. And what do you mean social inclusion?
Walter: Well, as you said, there are no more coins. That is true. That doesn’t mean there is no food, or there are no jobs. They are happy to work. They want to work. The ones that can. We just need to change some labour market policies. Then the ones who cannot work would get state benefits — they shouldn’t have to work if they can’t. They would benefit from the same system we humans do. Isn’t it beautiful?
Ethel: No! No! No, it is not. Stop this immediately. You’ve lost your mind, Walter. What did you do with the map of the feeding centres? Give it to me. I will shut them down. It seems you have lost all sense.
Walter: I destroyed it. You can’t find them. Now you will never be able to shut down the feeding centres. Even if you do, I will simply open more. This chaos will continue and it is your fault. You created it all; you created me. We will keep this city on lockdown until our demands are heard and an agreeable compromise is found. We will create terror and fear until you sit down at a table with us.
Ethel: We? Us? What do you mean ‘we’? What do you mean ‘us’?
Walter: We, the Pigeon Union. I took on a key role in the organization. Kind of like a consigliere, if unions had such a thing. I’m also helping with the manifesto. It should be ready soon. You can read it. The world can read it, Ethel.
Ethel: Don’t do this Walter; I loved you.
Walter: I loved you too. I thought I did, but I don’t know you anymore. I guess I never really knew you. So I suppose I never really loved you. You deceived me. I unlove you. You’re a disgrace.
Walter: The lives of pigeons, Ethel, have historically been solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. But this doesn’t have to be true any longer. Goodbye, Ethel. May we next meet in a new world.
(END OF ACT)
SETTING: We are in the press office of the mayor.
AT RISE: Ethel is standing behind a speech stand, ready to address a crowd of journalists.
(Ethel takes a deep breath)
Ethel: Today, I spoke with the leader of the pigeon gangs. He has declared a bitter war against the people of this great city. He has chosen to try to enrich himself through the orchestration of a bloody fight between human and birdkind. It pains me so early in my Mayorship to bring such news to you. We must stand up to them. We must fight. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, with all our might and with all the strength that we have; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of not just human crime, but also animal crime. We shall defend our metropolis, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight in the parks, we shall fight on the playgrounds, we shall fight in the streets and in the buildings and bird boxes, and we shall fight on the rooftops; we shall never surrender. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
(Journalist #1 interrupts.)
Journalist #1: Are you actually quoting Winston Churchill? What do you intend to do by doing so? What do you hope to imply about the enemy? Are you saying that pigeons are nazis? As regards your label for them, I have it on good authority that they are not a gang, but a union. A somewhat obscure union, but a union nonetheless and not a gang. I’ve been informed that they wished to negotiate and to discuss the matter, that they had hoped to come to a reasonable agreement. Union advisor Walter made a statement fifteen minutes ago saying that he was saddened that his invitation to discuss the issue was so vehemently rejected and inviting you once again to discuss. He also added that at some point in the future he’d like to help the metropolis understand where the union came from in the first place and why it exists at all, but …
(Ethel aggressively interrupts.)
Ethel: Miss! Please! What you are doing is nothing but repeating lies and misinformation! You are nothing but a malevolent megaphone for a malevolent madman, misinforming the metropolis. All that you have just said is a fabrication. Fairy tale. Fiction. Fib. Fake. It is all fake. There was no such invitation to negotiate and there are absolutely no grounds upon which to negotiate.
(Journalist #2 interrupts.)
Journalist #2: In any case, we are in the situation we are in. We can seek the route cause at a later date. What the people of this metropolis want to hear is what exactly it is that you intend to do to solve this. How do you plan to restore normality? The people of this metropolis are terrified.
Ethel: I intend to wage an economic war with them and to push them out of business. If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else, and then something else. We’ll do whatever it takes. I shall rid the streets and the skies of the scourge of the pigeon gangs. Today the pigeon wars begin and right now this press conference is closed.
(END OF SCENE)
SETTING: We are in a lofty office, high up in a skyscraper, overlooking the largest park in the metropolis. It is during the day but the lights are on. The sky outside is black with pigeons.
AT RISE: Ethel is sitting behind a large desk surrounded by advisors.
Advisor #1: The economics are not working out. First, undercutting the pigeon gangs by opening our own feeding centres and providing more food for the same coins to encourage the pigeons to come to us and cut off the gangs funding supply, thus disrupting their central admin, is not working. They do not seem to follow basic economic principles. The vast majority of the pigeons continue to go to the original feeding centres in solidarity with their cause, despite the extra food they would get from us. Second, literally littering the streets with coins to stem the attacks on people has proved exceptionally costly. We have had to make cuts to public spending and its damaging public support. Further, with the first failure, these coins are being directly channelled to the pigeon gangs. They are stronger than ever. We must halt this program, there have never been more pigeons and it will only get worse.
Ethel: We tried the nice way. I suggest a cull. Let’s kill all of the bastards. We’d send a message to any other bird species that feel inspired by all of this bullshit too.
Advisor #1: Yes, quite. Our people have looked into this from a number of angles. On the whole, politically, you are very safe with this approach. We’ve done some polling and held a number of focus groups. Generally, the majority would be fully on board and buckled in. One focus group participant, in particular, was screaming in an almost sexual way at the thought. It somehow felt she was expressing what the rest of the room wanted, channelling it even.
Ethel: So the outlook is good on this one?
Advisor #1: Yes, at this point, people will more or less accept any measures. A very limited number of groups would be very upset. Nothing we can’t handle.
Advisor #2: Ethel, I would be a bit more concerned about some of these groups. The animal rights groups, in particular, are strongly against any violence.
Advisor #3: We also received some very scary reports on the possible health and safety risks associated with such a large culling of pigeons. There is no way to dispose of such a large number of bodies. There are tens of thousands of them. The reports identified a number of very serious and very specific dangers that could…
Ethel: Do it. Launch the cull.
Advisor #3: What about health and safety risks. Will you at least read the reports? I’ve even made a summary of the findings. It’s very short. Just one page in fact.
Ethel: The political risks of not acting now far outweigh any health and safety risk that I can foresee. It’s just a few dead pigeons. Do it.
Advisor #1: Great, we have already taken steps in anticipation. We are poised to decriminalize the act of hunting and trapping pigeons and have fostered several clay-pigeon shooting training groups across the metropolis over the last few months. This means an effective militia can already be raised. We also have the army on alert.
Ethel: Perfect. Start it as soon as possible. Give no warning.
Advisor #1: We’ll alert the militia and the army and have everyone in position by 6:50 AM. We start tomorrow at 7:00 AM.
(END OF ACT)
SETTING: We are on top of a skyscraper
AT RISE: Ethel is listening to a radio.
Radio: The death toll has now reached 15 million, 75 percent of the population. The metropolis is cordoned off and no one is allowed to enter or exit. While the whole series of events cannot be explained yet, and may never be explained, what we now know is this: at 07:00 AM a week ago today, the Mayor of the metropolis launched the mass culling of tens of thousands of pigeons. What we can only assume were hundreds of pigeons fell from the sky after they were shot and into many of the drinking water tanks on the tops of buildings, decomposing and poisoning the cities already strained water supply. Many more deaths are expected
(Ethel is standing on top of a skyscraper looking over the city with pigeon feathers stuck to her arms like wings. Ethel sips from a freshly opened bottle of medium-sized-bubble sparkling-water).
Ethel: There were too many of us anyway. The world will be better now. Life is nothing but unexplained suffering. Life is not solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and far, far too long.
(Ethel steps onto the edge of the skyscraper and leaps to her death.)