"Now you see me," says Guildenstern, "now you—", and vanishes. Rosencrantz is already gone into the dark, and the figures on stage are occupied entirely with their death throes. There is no-one to notice the coin spinning quicksilver out of the shadows, tinkling absurdly to a stop against the prince's foot. In a universe governed by the laws of quantum physics, this lack of observation would mean that the coin never truly falls, hovering suspended on its edge for the rest of eternity.
This is not a quantum universe. The coin falls tails.
"Do you think that death could possibly be a theatre?"
Guildenstern opens his eyes to red plush seats and Rosencrantz's worried face.
"No," he says automatically. "Death is... not. A theatre is. Ergo, death is not a theatre."
A brief pause, as they both survey the stage.
"Are you sure?" asks Rosencrantz doubtfully.
"Certain. This is probably just a... dramatic interlude."
Far below, brightly-coloured figures strut and fret. Guildenstern sighs in recognition. The body count creeps slowly higher.
"Do we have to stay?" asks Rosencrantz. "I'm not sure I want to see the end." Guildenstern, attention locked on the stage in absent horror, doesn't seem to hear.
"Strange..." he whispers. "If we're up here, then who...?"
The bodies are piling up now, a woman convulsing on the floor; one young man cradling another as he whispers his dying words. Rosencrantz tugs at his friend's arm.
"I want to see the end."
Always the curious one, Guildenstern, always the supposedly dispassionate intellectual. They are certainly not as alike as everyone takes them to be, which is why Rosencrantz is pulling at his arm again.
"Guildenstern. Please. We already know what happens."
Guildenstern shakes him off impatiently. The stage is nearly empty; only two figures remain, silhouetted against the dying light.
There's enough sheer fear in those three syllables to snap Guildenstern out of the scene below. Rosencrantz is pale and trembling, eyes deliberately averted from the stage. Slowly, he stretches out a hand, pointing to the eerie green glow of the sign marked 'EXIT'.
"Please. We already know."
Guildenstern sighs and stands up, taking Rosencrantz's arm gently. Rosencrantz smiles.
"Thank you," he says, his relief obvious, and then, irrelevantly, "It's alright. I don't think anyone will miss us much."
They turn to leave, and onstage, the final two players die silently.
They do it rather well.