Dougs in Space

DOUG, A DEPRESSINGLY BLAND, YET SOMEHOW LIKABLE-ISH MAN, SITS ATOP A TOILET.

HOST: (VOICE-OVER) Douglas Anderson, fictional character and depressed alcoholic, never left California in his thirty-seven years of existence.

DOUG BECOMES UNCOMFORTABLY AWARE OF HOST… AND US.

In his college days, Doug traveled as far north as Stockton for a one-week training seminar after accidentally acquiring a job at a car rental company.

DOUG REMINISCES.

He also visited San Diego on several occasions, though he wasn’t particularly fond of it.

DOUG: (SCOFFS)

HOST: (VOICE-OVER) When pressed for a reason why he felt this way about an entire city, Doug only ever averted his eyes and curled his lip.

DOUG: (GROWLS)

HOST: (VOICE-OVER) He even once had plans to visit Vegas.

DOUG SMILES A SAD LITTLE SMILE.

It was to be a celebration of his twenty-first birthday with a group of his closest friends. The culmination of a lifelong bond forged through the crucible of childhood and, in once case, a brief stint in juvenile hall. Unfortunately for Doug, he had the misfortune of falling ill with a mild cold mere days before.

DOUG: (GROANS)

HOST: (VOICE-OVER) And rather than risk getting anyone else sick, he took the headache and stuffy nose as a sign from the Universe to stay home. Doug would never see the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip, nor the many fliers and pamphlets for adult entertainment that line it.

DOUG HANGS HIS HEAD, SIGHS A SAD LITTLE SIGH.

That said. Try to imagine Doug’s surprise when, without warning, he found himself ripped from atop his toilet, sent crashing up and through the ceiling of the converted garage he rented in Santa Ana from a kindly old woman named Gloria for five-hundred dollars a month, and then hurled by some unseen force into orbit.

DOUG INEXPLICABLY LAUNCHES INTO SPACE.

DOUG: (YELPS)

HOST: (VOICE-OVER) Despite the arguments that invariably arise whenever the wholesale abandonment of Douglas Anderson by physics itself is brought up in conversation, Doug was neither frightened nor quick to make some sarcastic, witty remark with his final breath. Instead, he welcomed his end with open arms. And his final thought before finding himself shredded to pieces by a passing stream of space debris, located somewhere between Newport and the moon, was this: “Dreams really do come true.”

Gloria, unfortunately, passed away several months after Doug’s ejection from the planet Earth. With Doug gone, there was nobody home on Wednesday afternoons. Thus, there was nobody around to hold the chair steady for Gloria as she refilled the bird feeder in her garden. Her body was found several weeks later by her son, Tito, who had stopped by in the hopes of borrowing fifty dollars until he started his new job.

TITO ENTERS WITH TOUR GROUP.

Tito currently operates and manages daily tours of the Doug-sized hole left behind in his mother’s garage.

TITO POINTS, TOUR GROUP OOHS, AAHS, AND SNAPS PHOTOS.

IT’S OVER

Brixby

ANONYMOUS: Mr. Brixby stepped out for his nightly smoke at a little past one in the morning. Fifteen minutes later, I’m watching him get his arms plucked off behind a dumpster.

I’d been working at the El Dorado for about two, three years by that point. I was hired to cover the swing shift a few nights a week, then it just sort of took over my whole life. Eventually, they had me working mornings and graveyard so often that it felt like I lived there as much as everyone else.

Mr. Brixby was what we called a “long-term resident.” Most of our guests were. Not that there were ever many guests for much of the year. Not outside the summer tourists. It wasn’t exactly anyone’s first-choice. And the ones who stuck around weren’t exactly there by choice, if you get what I mean. Mr. Brixby was one of those. He said he was there for work, but I don’t think any of us knew what he actually did for a living. But he was a nice guy. Paid his rent on time. Loved to talk about the latest tech toy he’d picked up somewhere. This one time, he came back from wherever with this 3D camcorder. Remember those?

Anyway. When he wasn’t out doing whatever it is he did when he wasn’t there, Mr. Brixby was usually in his room. The only time he ever stepped out before morning was for his nightly smoke. In fact, he was in a smoking room. Had been the whole time he lived there. So, I never understood why he always stepped out to smoke in the parking lot, same time every night. I’d say it was for the fresh air, but…

When I worked graveyard, I’d empty out the lobby trash cans and join him. We’d just talk about his latest toy, movies. Not the most stimulating conversation, I guess. But his weed was great. And plentiful.

The night it all happened, I was working graveyard. And I saw Mr. Brixby step out that night too, same time, same way. But before I could get to all the cans and join him, this couple came stumbling in, belching and farting something about needing a room for the night. If they hadn’t been so drunk, I wouldn’t have taken so long to get out there. Or maybe I should’ve just told them to kick rocks – it wouldn’t have been the first time. And I think about that a lot, ya know. If I had just gotten out there sooner, maybe, uh, Mr. Brixby wouldn’t…

Anyway. I get out there some fifteen minutes later, and I don’t see Mr. Brixby anywhere. His car’s parked back there. Not even a whiff of smoke. Just me, a bunch of dripping garbage bags, and a dark, empty lot.

So, I go to the dumpster.

SILENCE.

Working graveyard at a motel, you see your fair share of freaks and crazy shit. I’ve seen people hiding in other people’s rooms. I’ve been threatened by people meth’d out of their mind. We even got cursed once, this family we kicked out laid out these weird, I dunno… markings? They drew markings in salt at the front entrance as they left with all their shit. But you never expect to see a man being…

(SIGHS) I know what the cops and papers said, but it wasn’t some coyote. I was there, not them. I saw them. And, look. I know it sounds how it sounds. But there were two… At first, I thought it was a couple of homeless guys digging in the dumpster. It happens. But…

One of them was holding Mr. Brixby there by the arm, twisting it, and he’s got Mr. Brixby doubled over on his knees, like this. And his eyes are screaming – I see his eyes looking at me looking at him, and I can see they’re screaming – but nothing’s coming out his mouth. And the other one is there, just off to the side, eating Mr. Brixby’s other arm. Just gnawing and tearing away at it like, uh… like one of those big turkey legs you get at the fair.

And then, I screamed.

The cops showed up not long after. One of our other guests must have heard me out there screaming and called. But by the time they got there, those two… I told the police the same thing I told the papers, and somehow they turned it into a story about a coyote attack. But I told them I saw two homeless men attacking Mr. Brixby and that they both took off running, over the fence and into the river trail.

Truth is, I don’t know what I saw that night. Or maybe I know exactly what I saw, and I can’t even admit it to myself. But whatever I saw, I guess my screaming scared them off. And I did see where they went. But they didn’t run. And they didn’t head for the river trail.

SILENCE.

My family didn’t exactly live in the best part of town when I was growing up. I still don’t, really. It was never bad, but… This is an old town. There’s a lot of the old sewer lines and drainage running beneath any given block, ya know? So even in the nicest house on the nicest street, you’re likely to find a cockroach here and there – those big ones that look like they could run off with a small dog if it tried. They crawl out of the sink, out of the bathtub. Had one climb out of our toilet once. When I screamed, those things dropped what was left of Mr. Brixby, fluttered these fleshy flaps or wings on their back, and scurried down an old storm drain. I don’t know how, but they… squeezed and slipped right down through that small hole. (SNAPS FINGERS) Just like that.

Just like that.

IT’S OVER

Mark

MARK: My wife and I used to rent a place a couple of blocks up that way. She got a new job and we moved here to cut down on the commute. That sort of thing. It’s a nice little spot, isn’t it? Quiet. Lots of sun. Plenty of trees. Parking’s a little… But we made it work.

SILENCE.

Sorry. Drifted away for a second.

Anyway. The first few nights, I slept better than I had in years. But after that… I don’t know. Maybe it was the stress from the move, sleeping in a new place with new sounds and new people making sounds, but after that first week, I’m sleeping less and less. I’d just lie there in bed for hours until I’d dozed off without even realizing it. Eventually, I’m up pacing for just as long, back and forth, back and forth, until the sun’s starting to rise and my feet beg me to stop. I don’t want to read, I don’t want to look at a screen, I don’t want to listen to music. I just want to sleep. But I can’t.

After a couple of weeks of me waking her up and keeping her up, my wife went from concerned to annoyed to leaving me a hand-rolled joint and a note that said, “If you’re going to huff and puff for several miles all night, I would prefer you do so outside.”

So, I went for a walk.

I went for a lot of walks, actually. A lot of walks on a lot of nights. And something about doing that, walking around when the rest of the world was asleep, it worked for me. I still wasn’t sleeping much, but I was sleeping.

And as I kept doing this, I developed a little routine. I’d walk up Gomer, cross to Pyle, and then back up around Howard or Fine. Just like that. I liked to watch the ships come into the harbor from the hill.

That’s where I first saw the old man.

Actually, I’m not sure when I first saw him. One night, it was like he was just there. I mean, nothing stood out about him. Not really. Aside from him being this one-hundred-year-old man walking up Pyle at two in the morning with what had to be about twenty, thirty pounds of something in this large canvas bag. I never saw him in or around a car or bus. Every store in walking distance closed hours earlier. But every night, there he was, inching his way up the hill with that heavy bag of his. Crawling in and out of the shadows and street lights.

It never even crossed my mind to offer to help the old man with that bag of his. Not once. Not until that woman did.

Can’t remember her name off the top of my head, but there was a bit about the woman in the news. I think. Right after it all happened. I didn’t know her, but I’d seen her around here before. Probably lived in one of these apartments. She was always in workout gear, always out for a jog. A lot of people run by you like you’re not even there, but she’d always look your way, give a little wave or smile or nod.

That night, I heard the woman before I saw her. They were standing right over there, on the other side of Pyle. I was standing about here, bunch of cars parked in front of me, and I heard someone say something. I don’t know what she said exactly, but with it being as quiet as it is at night around here, I still heard her say something to the old man from this far up the street. Maybe she was trying to get around him, or she turned the corner and almost ran into him. Anyway, I heard someone say something, so I looked around and saw her standing over there with him. And she pointed at his bag, clearly offering to help. But the old man shook his head and waved his free hand at her and clutched that heavy bag with the other. The way he’s acting, I figured he’s told her, “No, thanks,” and wants to be on his way. But then, she insisted. And then, he resisted. And they went back and forth like that for a minute.

Finally, the old man relented.

I remember reading something about how the woman had some kind of heart defect. That she must have just dropped dead on her jog that night, blissfully unaware that her heart was ready to stop at any second. It’s a cute story. But, uh…

(SCOFFS) Look. I know this sounds absolutely crazy. And I feel crazy for even being here, telling you all this and hearing myself say it out loud. I know I’m crazy every bit as I know that woman didn’t drop dead from a bad heart. I know there was an old man with a, uh… a bag. This plain, normal, not-crazy looking bag with, I dunno, something in it just as plain, normal, and not crazy. But when he opened the bag and she looked at whatever it was she found there, that’s when she dropped dead. She didn’t tip over. She didn’t clutch at her heart. She didn’t even try to brace herself. She just, uh… It was like she was a puppet and someone cut her strings. Whatever held her up was just… gone. And then, she… she collapsed and folded up on herself. Just right over there. Sometimes, I think I heard her ribs cracking.

And the old man, he stood there for a bit. I don’t know how long, but he stood there. He didn’t look around. Didn’t call for help. He just stood there, shaking his head.

And then, he left. Same way he always did. Walked right up Pyle, passed me like I wasn’t even there, and then over the hill.

SILENCE.

Sorry. I was just…

Anyway. That was, uh… that was years ago now. I don’t go out much after dark these days.

IT’S OVER

Eldritch Trial Separation

A PIER ALONG A SUNNY STRETCH OF CALIFORNIA SHORE. A SMALL CROWD GATHERS, LOOKS, AND POINTS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) It was a day at the beach. The sun was there. Water and sand all over the place. Cruise ships and oil rigs littering the horizon as far as the eye could weep.

MAN ON PHONE ENTERS, SITS.

And all squandered on a man sitting at the end of the pier, half-assedly pretending to listen to a very angry woman’s voice on speakerphone berate him for his part in a years-long affair that has done irreparable damage to their marriage, family, and social media following.

MAN: Look. I know I’ve been a selfish, heartless bastard who cares little for your needs, wants, hopes, and dreams. And I know I’ve consistently and utterly failed to pay my fair share of, well, anything. I get it. My bad. But, I don’t understand why you’re so upset.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) As the woman started to categorically, chronologically, and somethingly explain, more or less, precisely why she was so upset with this selfish, heartless bastard, the selfish, heartless bastard decided he didn’t care…

MAN SHRUGS, TURN TO…

CROWD GATHERS, LOOKS, AND POINTS, ONLY NOW WITH GROWING CONCERN.

…and turned his fleeting attention to a gathering crowd pointing and gathering and crowding about something along the horizon.

CROWDER: It’s gone!

LOOKER: What’s gone?

POINTER: The oil rig!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The selfish, heartless bastard looked back out across the water, and wondered how anyone would even notice one oil rig went missing.

CROWDER: (TO MAN) Because I happened to be staring right at it. It was there one moment, gone the next.

GATHERER: Bullshit.

POINTER: (PETULANT WHINE) It’s true! I saw it sink right into the water, like the bottom fell out, or somethin’!

WOMAN: (PHONE) I’m sorry. Is this conversation about our rotting corpse of a relationship too distracting?

MAN: Yeah. A little. Sorry.

WOMAN: (PHONE) No, no. It wouldn’t be time spent with you if it wasn’t wasted.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Now. Had the man been paying any attention whatsoever, what turned out to be the woman’s last known words to anyone might have stung. But it was at this moment when something breached the water and swallowed one of the many cruise ships whole.

SOMETHING BREACHES THE WATER, SWALLOWS A CRUISE SHIP WHOLE.

And it was at that moment when the crowd lost its collective shit…

CROWD PANICS.

…children flipped, dogs clothed, fish strangled. Internet search histories ineffectively deleted. A man even defecated in a flower vase and nobody so much as took a photograph. Madness. Simply madness.

EVERYTHING GOES STILL, SILENT.

And then, it monstered onto the shore.

SOMETHING MONSTERS ONTO SHORE.

Suffice it to say, it was quite the sight. It was big, of course. Very large and very something, indeed. Not quite a fish, not quite a cuttlefish. Definitely something nobody had seen until they did.

SOMETHING LAYS WASTE TO ALL BEFORE IT.

And then, it just sort of made its way up the sand, as things like it do, onward to destroy humanity, or something. I’m not sure. Didn’t think to ask, which seems like quite the oversight, now that I think about it. The damnedest thing, though. I suppose you had to be there.

PANIC, DEATH, AND DESTRUCTION CONSUMES EVERYTHING.

Anyway. I forget where I was going with any of this.

IT’S OVER

You Wyvern, You Lose Some

SOUNDSCAPE: A LOVELY SWATH OF FANTASY COUNTRYSIDE.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) In the land of Exposition, a stagecoach coaches across the Valley of Setting…

SFX: A STAGECOACH COACHES ACROSS THE STAGE.

BRADDADOCIOUS: I certainly home we didn’t waste my time coming here, Chadthony. If the President of the Land of Exposition Board of Directors himself can’t approve the plans for my new electric horse factory, I’m going to be out a lot of money.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Braddadocious Richmanson, heir to the Richmanson family orphan-blood mine fortune.

CHADTHONY: I know, Brad. I know. But I have known the President for a very long time. And while Guilty B. Association certainly may be a fool, an idiot, and a war criminal, he’s not stupid. He’ll do as he’s told.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Senator Chadthony Screwem, elected representative of the City of Pushover and collector of lost souls.

CHADTHONY: Also, I picked up this lovely thing while we were in the capital.

LOST SOUL: (INCOHERENT PAINED WAILING)

CHADTHONY: (CHUCKLES) I think the girl at the shop said this one was an erotic fruit painter, or something. (TO TIM) What did you get up to, Tim?

TIM: I watched the ladies dance.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) And Tim, local small business owner and voter against his own interest.

BRADDADOCIOUS: (TO NARRATOR) Alright, alright. I think everyone gets it – the three of us are a bunch of real bastards. No need to be such a farting pill about it.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Sorry.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Yes, well… You ought to be. People like you are always prattling on about things that matter to you and making pointed statements of the abuses you suffer at the hands of men like us. But you never stop to think that maybe we’re more than the shallow caricatures of selfishness, violence, and treachery that we make ourselves out to be, do you?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) No. No, I guess I never really–

SFX: THE STAGECOACH SCREECHES TO A HALT, ROCKS CABIN.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Genitals!

CHADTHONY: Dammit all! Do you know how much child labor it’ll take to get Lost Soul out of this?

TIM: Mr. Senator, would it help matters any if I increase my donations to your re-election fund?

CHADTHONY: (CONSIDERS THIS) No, but you probably should do that anyway.

TIM: ‘kay.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Driver, what the Hell is going on out there?

DRIVER: (OFF) Sirs, there’s a bit of a problem on the road.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Well, either go around it or run it over.

WYVERN: (ROARS)

CHADTHONY: Oh, my stars and bars…

TIM: If I double my donations and let you increase my taxes, can you make this go away?

CHADTHONY: Triple it.

TIM: Deal.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The problem, as it turns out, is a rather large, yet ill-tempered–

BRADDADOCIOUS: Dragon!

WYVERN: (SNARLS)

DRIVER: (OFF) Wyvern, actually.

BRADDADOCIOUS: I beg your pardon?

DRIVER: (OFF) Yeah, it’s a fairly common misunderstanding. Ya see, Dragon’s are much larger and typically have four legs while Wyverns are smaller, more agile, and only have–

SFX: KA-BOOM!

BRADDADOCIOUS: What can it possibly be this time?!

DRIVER: (OFF) I ain’t sure, Sir. But there was a streak of light across the sky just now, and then it–

WYVERN: (DEATH WAILS)

SFX: WYVERN DROPS DEAD.

DRIVER: (OFF) Yup. Killed that wyvern dead.

TIM: Anyone else hear a ringing?

CHADTHONY: Let me privatize your healthcare and I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

TIM: Deal!

BRADDADOCIOUS: I’ll give you fifty bucks for the rights to that dragon’s corpse.

DRIVER: (OFF) Wyvern.

BRADDADOCIOUS: (TO DRIVER) Okay, okay. (TO CHADTHONY) I’ll give you fifty bucks for the rights to that wyvern’s corpse.

CHADTHONY: Deal!

DRIVER: (OFF) Sirs, I think someone’s flying over this way!

BRADDADOCIOUS: I’m sorry, did you say “flying”?

DRIVER: (OFF) Yes, Sir.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Right, just making sure.

SFX: A PASSING WIND.

TIM: Look! It’s some kinda short, stocky woman in a crazy outfit!

SFX: WINTER LANDS WITH A GRUNT.

WYNNTER: (OFF) (EXCITED) You guys saw that crazy shot, right? That had to be at least a solid half-mile!

BRADDADOCIOUS: You there – the short, stocky woman who killed my dragon!

DRIVER: (OFF) Wyvern.

BRADDADOCIOUS: We get it!

SFX: WYNNTER APPROACHES THE STAGECOACH.

WYNNTER: This is your wyvern?

BRADDADOCIOUS: Yes, I purchased the rights to it mere moments before you carelessly shot it dead.

WYNNTER: Sorry about that. I didn’t see a collar on it.

CHADTHONY: Young lady, you saved us from that terrible lizard!

WYNNTER: Huh? But he just said–

BRADDADOCIOUS: Nevermind that. Miss, I’ll forgive your reckless destruction of my personal property in exchange for the rights to calling myself the hero of this little vignette.

WYNNTER: Hey, you’re that guy who makes whatever an electric horse is!

CHADTHONY: What’s your name, young lady?

WYNNTER: Oh. I’m Wynnter Fyre. Nice to meet ya.

CHADTHONY: The pleasure’s ours, I assure you. I’m Senator Screwem from the City of Pushover. Miss Wynnter, how can my associates and I ever thank you?

WYNNTER: (CONSIDERS THIS) I guess money’s pretty good.

BRADDADOCIOUS: (CLEARS THROAT) I’m, uh… I’m afraid we don’t have much money on us. All tied up in the stalk market, I’m afraid.

WYNNTER: Stalk?

BRADDADOCIOUS: Corn, mostly.

WYNNTER: That’s okay. I’ll just take whatever you got on ya.

BRADDADOCIOUS: You’re not very heroic, are you?

WYNNTER: Oh, that’s because I’m not.

BRADDADOCIOUS: You’re not?

WYNNTER: No, but I am robbing you.

CHADTHONY: What?

SFX: SHOTGUN COCKS.

DRIVER: Ma’am, I’m gonna have to ask you to walk away now.

WYNNTER: Are you really aiming a shotgun at a woman who just downed a wyvern with one shot from a half-mile away?

DRIVER: Yes, Ma’am.

WYNNTER: Right. Just checking.

DRIVER: Sorry, Ma’am. I don’t care much for these men…

TIM: Ouch…

DRIVER: (TO TIM) Sorry, Tim. (TO WYNNTER) But they are my customers. And I have a duty to protect them.

WYNNTER: (SIGHS) Memmer…

SFX: WOM-WOM-WOM! MAGIC HYPNO-EYE SOUNDS!

DRIVER: Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re doing with your eyes, but… (SOBS) But, uh… I really… (SNIFFS) Oh… Oh, no…

BRADDADOCIOUS: What is this? What’s going on? Why is that man showing me his feelings?

DRIVER: I remember… I, I remember that time… Why did he have to leave me? I was a good kid!

CHADTHONY: Oh, this isn’t good.

WYNNTER: Heartbreaking, really. I unlocked some of his repressed memories and emotions.

SFX: DRIVER RUNS OFF.

DRIVER: (OFF) (SOBBING) Daddy! Come back, Daddy! I’ll be better! I promise!

WYNNTER: So, Gentlemen… About that money?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Several minutes and small fortunes later…

SFX: STAGECOACH SPEEDS OFF.

WYNNTER: You’re a natural, Tim! Just be careful with all that horsepower! (A BEAT) Hey. You can get up now.

WYVERN: (STIRS AWAKE)

WYNNTER: Yeah. I think it went better than expected.

WYVERN: (GRUNTS)

WYNNTER: What? Yeah, yeah. Go ahead, I think we got everything of value from them now.

WYVERN: (GRUNTS)

WYNNTER: Uh-huh. I will. You have fun, ‘kay?

WYVERN: (GRUNTS)

SFX: WYVERN FLIES OFF.

A BEAT. THEN…

SFX: WYVERN ATTACKS IN THE DISTANCE.

WYNNTER: (SIGHS) Today was a productive day.

IT’S OVER.

Meteo’kar vs The Moonman

SFX: DING-DING! A BELL RINGS.

MUSIC: METEO’KAR: CHAMPION OF SPACE THEME. UP, UNDER.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Watch! Right over there! It’s not an Eagle! It’s not a helicopter! No, you pencil-necked geek! It’s… (ECHOES) Meteo’kar, Champion of Space!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Neglected from an early age and raised by television, John “Twin-Beds” Joblonski dreamed of owning his own bookshop and raising miniature glass figurines on a small avocado farm in the valley. But fate had other plans…

MUSIC: THEME FADES.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A LARGE, EMPTIED SPACE-ARENA ON THE MOON.

SFX: A MAN, EDWIN EUGENE “BUZZ” ALDRIN, STIRS AWAKE.

ALDRIN: (PAINED, CONFUSED) My head… What is… Where am I? Why is it so dark? (CONSIDERS THIS) Oh, no… This better not be one of those damned conspiracy conventions again!

KUR’TAHN: (PA SYSTEM) Baz Al’drin!

ALDRIN: It’s “Buzz”, you idiot! “Buzz” Aldrin! Not “Baz” and whatever else it is you said!

A SILENCE.

KUR’TAHN: (PA SYSTEM) Baz Al’drin, Champion of Earth!

ALDRIN: (SIGHS) Oh, for… Wait. “Champion of Earth”? What are you talking about?

KUR’TAHN: (PA SYSTEM) Behold, Baz Al’drin!

SFX: LARGE, HEAVY DOORS OPEN OVERHEAD.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) On July 21st, 1969, Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin became the first man to walk on Earth’s moon.

ALDRIN: Oh, no… It can’t be. Is that…?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Tonight, he does it for the second time.

KUR’TAHN: (PA SYSTEM) For decades, you have reigned undefeated as Champion of Earth. Today, that reign comes to an end where it all began, right here, in the Unicorp Cigarettes and Firearm Memorial Lunar Arena and Amphitheater! Baz Al’drin, Champion of Earth, I challenge you to a–

RING ANNOUNCER: (PA SYSTEM) –Trailer Park Trash Deathmatch!

SOUNDSCAPE: A SMALL BUSTLING CROWD IN A SMALL LEGION HALL.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Meanwhile, in a Legion Hall somewhere in Fountain Valley…

ZACH: Golly! I can’t believe Johnny accepted this match!

RONNIE: Oh, Zach! I know it’s been his dream of winning the Fountain Valley World Wrestling Championship ever since the bookstore mysteriously caught fire and he lost the avocado farm, but Johnny’s crazy for agreeing to this! Absolutely farting crazy!

ZACH: Don’t you worry, Ronnie! Johnny’s the greatest wrestler in all of Fountain Valley, and he’s gonna prove it!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Ronnie Sweetheart, grown woman and John’s best gal, sits nervously at ringside with John’s best pal and very much a grown man, Zach Supportingrole. Together, they and everyone else in that cramped, odd-smelling Legion Hall remain blissfully unaware of the danger lurking on the moon above… 

SFX: RING MUSIC. UP, UNDER.

RING ANNOUNCER: (PA SYSTEM) On his way to the ring, weighing I don’t know how many pounds, from I can’t be assed to remember, Johnny “Twin-Beds” Jablonski!

SFX: CROWD CHEERS. UP, UNDER.

SFX: JOHN ENTERS, KISSES HANDS, SHAKES BABIES.

ZACH: Knock his block off, Johnny!

JOHNNY: Can do, best pal o’ mine!

RONNIE: Extinguish the light in his eyes and watch him slip into oblivion, Johnny!

SILENCE. THEN…

JOHNNY: Wow. That’s dark, Ronnie. Way too dark…

RING ANNOUNCER: (PA SYSTEM) And his opponent… (BEAT) I’m sorry, what? He did what? Oh… Yeah. Yeah, sure. Go ahead.

SFX: MICROPHONE FEEDBACK.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Hi. This is “Medium Pete” Peterski, owner of Fountain Valley Pro Wrestling and Car Detailing Service. I’m afraid I have a bit of bad news.

SFX: CROWD UH-OHS.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) “Uh-oh,” indeed. Despite my best efforts to assure him that he would, in fact, be paid for this month’s show, our beloved Fountain Valley World Champion, Tony “Two Thumbs” Pulcini, couldn’t afford the gas to get here today.

SFX: CROWD BOOS.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Per regulations, I officially strip Tony “Two Thumbs” Pulcini of the Fountain Valley World Wrestling Championship Title, effective immediately.

SFX: CONFUSED CROWD NOISES.

RONNIE: Oh, Zach! But what about Johnny and his dream of becoming the Fountain Valley World Wrestling Champion?

ZACH: You’re right, Ronnie! (TO PETE) Hey, Medium Pete! We all came here to see Johnny win that title and live his dream!

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Wait. Really?

JOHN: I mean, it’s more of a backup plan. But, yeah. I guess so.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Huh. That’s depressing.

JOHN: (AGREEABLE GRUNT)

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Well… I guess Twin-Beds can have it, if everyone else is cool with that.

SFX: CROWD CONSIDERS THIS.

FAN: (TO CROWD) Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Okay, I’ll tell him. (TO PETE) Yeah, that’s fine with us.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Cool, cool. (TO RING ANNOUNCER) Hey, do the, uh… Do the thing, I guess.

RING ANNOUNCER: (PA SYSTEM) The what?

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) You know – the thing.

RING ANNOUNCER: (PA SYSTEM) I don’t… No, I don’t get… Oh, that. Right. No, no. I get it now. (TO CROWD) Your winner by lack of funds and new Fountain Valley World Wrestling Champion, Johnny “Twin-Beds” Jablonski!

SFX: CROWD CHEERS.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Also, no refunds.

ZACH: See, Ronnie! I told you he’d do it!

RONNIE: Oh, Johnny!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) But as Johnny, his best pal, his best gal, and the several dozen mildly entertained, yet equally disappointed fans in attendance celebrated this tragically terrible display of storytelling and craftsmanship, a strange, yet annoying light filled the Legion Hall.

SFX: A STRANGE, YET ANNOYING LIGHT SOUND.

ZACH: Jimminy, Ronnie! What’s with that crazy light?

RONNIE: I don’t know, Zach! But there’s something not quite a fish, not quite a cuttlefish coming out of it!

KUR’TAHN: (SNARLS) Where is the one they call, “Twin-Beds”?

JOHNNY: I, uh… I guess that’s me.

KUR’TAHN: While you celebrate and glorify your overabundance of sleeping apparatuses in this forsaken temple, I, Kur’tahn J’kar, have defeated this world’s true champion!

SFX: KUR’TAHN DROPS SOMETHING THAT SOUNDS SUSPICIOUSLY LIKE A DECAPITATED HEAD.

JOHNNY: My god…

ZACH: Is that what I think it is?!

RONNIE: It’s the de-bodified head of beloved astronaut and first man on the moon, Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin!

KUR’TAHN: Yes, Baz Al’drin… Imagine my surprise when I received word that another was claiming to be this world’s champion – my title, won fairly in direct combat, as–

JOHNNY: Look, Buddy! I don’t care who you are or what promotion you work for – this is my show…

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Well. It’s actually my show, but…

JOHNNY: …and this is my Fountain Valley World Wrestling Championship Title!

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Also, my belt. I paid for it.

JOHNNY: And you ain’t getting a shot at it or me until Pete over there pays me for tonight and books this place for another show once he finds the money for the deposit!

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) I’m going to be honest: by the look of tonight’s gate, it’s probably not going to be anytime soon…

KUR’TAHN: (SNARLS) Your fiscal failings and lack of marketing savvy is of no concern to me! Prepare to be pinned or possibly submit in shame!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) But as Kur’tahn’s mighty claw struck Johnny’s chest, impressively muscled for his age and level of dedication…

KUR’TAHN: (ROARS) 

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …it shattered like glass on something hard!

SFX: KUR’TAHN’S CLAW/HAND SHATTERS.

KUR’TAHN: (PAINED CRIES)

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) And Johnny, powered by the raw energy of the forty or so mostly paying audience members in attendance…

JOHNNY: (GROWLS)

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …severs Kur’tahn’s head from the rest of his body with a single punch!

SFX: THE SEVERING OF A HEAD FROM A BODY WITH A SINGLE PUNCH.

A SILENCE. THEN…

RONNIE: Huh. I didn’t see it working out that way.

ZACH: I think I’m going to be sick…

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) (TO RING ANNOUNCER) Ring it. Ring the bell.

SFX: BELL RINGS.

MEDIUM PETE: (PA SYSTEM) Your winner and new Fountain Valley Wrestling Champion of Earth, Johnny “Twin-Beds” Jablonski!

SFX: CROWD CHEERS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) But as Johnny looked on at the bloody devastation in the ring and the crowd chanted his name…

CROWD: John-ny Twin-Beds! (CLAP-CLAP-CLAP!) John-ny Twin-Beds! (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP!)

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …another strange, yet annoying light filled the legion hall!

SFX: A STRANGE, YET ANNOYING LIGHT SOUND.

SFX: CROWD GASPS!

ZACH: What in the world?!

RONNIE: Zach! Look! Johnny is…!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) And as the light faded and their sight returned, Johnny “Twin-Beds” Jablonski was gone.

MUSIC: METEO’KAR: CHAMPION OF SPACE THEME. UP, UNDER.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Where did Johnny go? Will Ronnie and Zach ever see him again? And what exactly is with alien professional wrestlers from the moon and the severing and exploding of heads? Find out next time, maybe, on the next installment of… (ECHOES) Meteo’kar, Champion of Space!

SFX: DING-DING! A BELL RINGS.

FADE OUT.

The Job: “Twin-Beds” Jablonski

A CITY SKYLINE.

TWIN-BEDS: (VOICE-OVER) It’s never easy being a champion. And it is a heavy title and responsibility that I take very, very seriously.

CUT TO:

JOHN “TWIN-BEDS” JABLONSKI STANDS IN A MOTEL PARKING LOT, HOLDING THE EL DORADO INN HOT TUB, CABLE TV, AND WI-FI CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BELT.

TWIN-BEDS: I’m John “Twin-Beds” Jablonski, and I’m the El Dorado Inn Hot Tub, Cable TV, and Wi-Fi Champion.

CUT TO:

TWIN-BEDS’ MOTEL ROOM. HE’S STILL WEARING THE BELT.

TWIN-BEDS: This is actually my third reign as El Dorado Inn Hot Tub, Cable TV, and Wi-Fi Champion.

My first run was back in 2009, lasting nine-and-a-half weeks. I was coming off a bad breakup, and the El Dorado was the only place I could afford. The previous champion, Eric “Seltzer Water” Anderson, had just been evicted that afternoon, and I was the first one who checked-in after that. I lost it when I fell asleep at the pool and some tourists took photos with me as I slept. The mom didn’t realize her foot on my chest was, by El Dorado Inn official rules and guidelines, an official pin. I tried fighting it, but was escorted off the premises shortly after by security.

Then I found myself back here in 2015, after I lost my job stealing airport luggage. I won the title again a short time later from a recently divorced father of three. Sure, maybe the guy needed the money more than I did. And sure, maybe it was a bit rude to interrupt his bi-monthly supervised visit with his kids by blinding him with some bottle of toilet cleaner I swiped from the housekeeping cart in the hallway and taking away his sole source of income and personal dignity as he lie beneath me, screaming about how he couldn’t see, and his kids crying about me hurting their daddy. But that’s the job, ya know? Don’t climb the mountain if you aren’t ready to be blinded and thrown off the top.

CUT TO:

THE MOTEL PARKING LOT. TWIN-BEDS IS PERHAPS A LITTLE TOO ATTACHED TO THE BELT.

TWIN-BEDS:  I don’t do it for the money. (BEAT) I mean, I do. But it’s not much.

CLERK: (OFF) Excuse me? Twin-Beds? Mr. Jablonski?

TWIN-BEDS: (TO CLERK) What’s up?

CLERK ENTERS, APPROACHES.

CLERK: Hi. Sorry. But, uh… Your credit card declined.

TWIN-BEDS: Did you call Debbie? Everything should’ve been sorted out Thursday with Debbie.

CLERK: She said she isn’t covering your room anymore. The manager said they’re going to need you out by eight tomorrow morning. You can leave the belt on your bed.

A SILENCE.

TWIN-BEDS: Where am I supposed to go?

CLERK: I’m sorry, Twin-Beds. But they don’t pay me enough for this shit.

CLERK EXITS.

ANOTHER SILENCE.

TWIN-BEDS: (SIGHS) Checkout isn’t even till noon…

The Council for the Disbursement of Pretty Bad News

A SPACE-STAGE WITH A SPACE-PODIUM AND A SPACE-MEDIA CIRCUS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The bad news is that the end of the world was announced sometime last Friday.

The good news, however, is that the Libertonian Council for the Disbursement of Pretty Bad News somehow booked intergalactic sexual healer and fashionista, G’lp the Turgid One, to deliver the bad news.

G’LP, A SPACE-PERSON, ENTERS, TAKES THE SPACE-PODIUM.

G’LP: Citizens of Earth. We regret to inform you that we have been informed that you have violated the terms of your lease. As per your agreement, you have thirty days to vacate the premises, at the end of which, any persons or belongings will be skinned alive, then hurled into the sun.

That said. We are aware of humanity’s hilariously limited ability to evacuate the planet in a timely manner.

So. In the spirit of appealing to our public image, we are offering two cages in the Earth Memorial Exhibit of the Schlemiel and Schlimazel Space-Safari Experience.

To enter for a chance to win, simply be one of the last two humans left alive at the end of your thirty-day eviction period. And if a winner cannot be decided by the end of your thirty-day eviction period, we will simply skin all of you alive, then hurl you into the sun anyway.

Thank you. And remember to have fun out there.

CUT TO:

A SMALL SHED CONVERTED INTO A CRAMPED OFFICE. JOHN JABOLONKSI SITS AT A TYPEWRITER AND A MICROPHONE, MAKES USE OF NEITHER.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The announcement itself was broadcast across every major television network, radio station, and wi-fi enabled toaster and lotion dispenser on Earth.

Unfortunately, John Jablonksi, amateur professional and part-time amatuer…

JOHN: (WAVES TO AUDIENCE) Hello.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …never heard this, as he was, at the time, pretending to work on his podcast in the half-converted storage shed he called his office.

JOHN: (TO AUDIENCE) Ignorance really is bliss.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Fortunately, his wife, Jillian Jablonski, did.

CUT TO:

A BATHROOM. JILLIAN JABLONSKI SITS ON THE TOILET, PHONE IN HAND, HEADPHONES ON HEAD, AND EYES SEIZED ON AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Jillian, as it turns out, happened to be sitting on the toilet, listening to a podcast about the mating rituals of serial killers or something, when a voice on her electric toothbrush told her it was the end of the world.

And as G’lp the Turgid One’s impressively heartless, yet utterly tactless speech played on an inexplicably commercial-laden loop, a million thoughts shot through Jillian’s head.

JILLIAN STARES AND BLINKS AT NOTHING IN PARTICULAR.

Would she and John survive this?

JILLIAN CONSIDERS THIS.

Where would they go?

JILLIAN PUZZLES THIS.

How many people must she kill?

JILLIAN SMILES.

A BEAT. THEN…

Anyway. At some point, Jillian reached for toilet paper…

JILLIAN REACHES FOR THE TOILET PAPER…

and found none.

JILLIAN, INDEED, FINDS NONE.

Then she reached for the spare rolls in the cabinet beneath the sink in front of her…

JILLIAN REACHES FOR SPARE ROLLS…

and found none there as well.

JILLIAN, AGAIN, FINDS NOTHING.

Finally, she recalled an especially heated argument with John this morning…

JILLIAN STARES AND BLINKS. AGAIN.

something about John’s repeated failure to restock the toilet paper and his needing to do so before he plays in his little shed.

JILLIAN SWELLS WITH SILENT, RAGING BLOODLUST.

CUT TO:

JOHN’S SHED. JOHN, BLISSFULLY IGNORANT AND UNPRODUCTIVE.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) John, meanwhile, never knew of his wife’s admittedly petty grudge and subsequent raging bloodlust until he did.

JILLIAN ENTERS, BLUDGEONS JOHN WITH HIS OWN MICROPHONE.

JILLIAN: (TO AUDIENCE) Ignorance really is bliss.

You’ve Wasted Your Life

A STAGE. DIGGLE BERRIES STANDS IN FRONT OF ONE MICROPHONE. ALAN SMITHEE, HOOKED UP TO ALL SORTS OF WIRES AND CABLES, STANDS IN FRONT OF ANOTHER.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) We now return to our regularly scheduled program, “You’ve Wasted Your Life”!

FANFARE AND CANNED APPLAUSE.

DIGGLE: Welcome back to the show, everyone. I’m your host, Diggle Berries. Our next contest this evening is an employed man from some town you’ve likely never heard of, Mr. Alan Smithee.

MORE CANNED APPLAUSE.

ALAN: Bless you.

DIGGLE: What?

ALAN: Nothing.

DIGGLE: Well, Alan. Are you ready to begin?

ALAN: (SHRUGS) Sure, I guess.

DIGGLE: That’s what we love to hear! Now, Alan. Your first question: how many marbles are in this mason jar?

DIGGLE REVEALS A LARGE JAR FULL OF MARBLES ON A TABLE BESIDE HIM.

Take your time. You’ve got three–

ALAN: (SMILES, SHAKES HEAD) No, no, no.

DIGGLE: Excuse me?

ALAN: There’s obviously more than three marbles in there.

DIGGLE LOOKS AT ALAN, TO THE JAR, BACK TO ALAN.

DIGGLE: Are you sure about that?

ALAN: (NODS) Very.

DIGGLE: Judges?

A NASTY BUZZER BUZZES.

DIGGLE: Oh! I’m so sorry, Mr. Smithee. Now, you are technically correct – there are indeed more than three marbles in this mason jar. However, our judges have determined that you are either cheating or some sort of witch. So, I’m afraid you know what that means.

ALAN: Yeah. Go ahead.

DIGGLE: Goodbye, Mr. Smithee.

ALAN: Can I tell my wife I love her?

DIGGLE: I’m sorry, but no.

ALAN: Oh, alright then. Goodbye.

DIGGLE: Don’t interrupt, Mr. Smithee.

ALAN: I’m sorry.

DIGGLE: That’s a good sport. Goodbye, Mr. Smithee.

DIGGLE THROWS A BIG SWITCH, ELECTROCUTES ALAN.

ALAN DROPS DEAD.

SILENCE. THEN…

DIGGLE POKES ALAN WITH A STICK, ALAN SMOLDERS UNRESPONSIVELY.

Yes, I think that did it…

DIGGLE NODS, GESTURES FOR…

FANFARE AND CANNED APPLAUSE.

(TO AUDIENCE) Well, that’s all we have for you tonight. Don’t bother tuning in next week, as we’ve likely committed several felonies during the production of tonight’s program. I’m Prisoner #8675309, and this has been “You’ve Wasted Your Life”! Goodbye!

A Shaded Place

A CLIFF OVERLOOKING A RAVINE.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The woman guided a one-horse medicine wagon through a lonesome stretch of canyon…

MEDICINE WAGON ENTERS. WAGON IS OLD, WORN. “DR. STEVEN WILLIAMS WORLD FAMOUS TONIC AND TINCTURES” PAINTED ON ITS SIDE WITH “DR. DEATH” PAINTED OVER THIS. THE WOMAN SITS ATOP IT. SOMEONE ELSE ROLLS AROUND INSIDE.

…to a shaded place overlooking a ravine.

WAGON STOPS.

WOMAN: (BANGS ON ROOF) Wake up. We’re here.

SHE DISEMBARKS, FORCEFULLY EJECTS…

DR. WILLIAMS, A GREASY, BEATEN, YET POMPOUS SNAKE OIL SALESMAN. HIS HANDS BOUND IN ROPE.

WILLIAMS: You can’t do this!

WOMAN: I can, and I am.

WILLIAMS: Do you have the faintest clue who I am?!

SHE CUTS HIS HANDS FREE, PUSHES HIM TOWARD THE CLIFF.

WOMAN: (GESTURES) That’s you, ain’t it? Dr. Steven Williams?

WILLIAMS: My wagon! My beautiful… (READS) “Dr. Death”?! How dare you defile my property, demean my good name and profession, and drag me to the middle of this godforsaken–!

WOMAN DRAWS, AIMS GUN AT WILLIAMS.

WOMAN: You sell that piss water of yours in a town called Roma?

WILLIAMS: (FLUSTERED) I am a humble salesman of everything that heals and soothes! I’ve traveled all across this country! I can’t possibly be expected to keep track of every miserable, urine-soaked–!

BANG! THE WOMAN SHOOTS WILLIAMS IN THE ARM.

WILLIAMS: (PAINED SCREAMS) You shot me! You miserable woman, you shot me!

WOMAN: I did.

WILLIAMS: Are you insane?!

WOMAN: Maybe. Did you sell your bottled piss to a town called Roma? Yes, or no.

WILLIAMS: I don’t have to–!

BANG! THE WOMAN SHOOTS WILLIAMS IN THE LEG.

WILLIAMS: (MORE PAINED SCREAMS) Stop shooting me!

WOMAN: Stop making me repeat myself.

WILLIAMS: Yes! Fine! (COMPOSES SELF) Yes, I may have passed through that failed experiment on my way to Santa Carla. And yes, I may have sold some of my wares to some of the locals. But that’s hardly a crime!

SHE TAKES, EXAMINES A BOTTLE FROM THE WAGON.

WOMAN: (READS) “William’s Wizard Elixir”… After I’d come back from my sister’s wedding in Missouri, I found a bottle, just like this one, in every house in Roma. (TOSSES BOTTLE TO WILLIAMS) Lots and lots of dead bodies too.

WILLIAMS: They had the blight! They needed something! I gave them hope! I gave them a choice!

WOMAN: Your poison, or the blight. I hardly call that a choice.

WILLIAMS: I didn’t create odds and chances! If you have a grievance with fortune, I suggest you take it up with God!

THE WOMAN SHOOTS THE BOTTLE OUT OF WILLIAM’S HAND.

Killing me won’t bring those people back!

WOMAN: No. No, I suppose it won’t.

WILLIAMS: What, then?

WOMAN: I’m offering you a choice.

WILLIAMS: Choice? What choice?

THE WOMAN GESTURES TO THE CLIFF WITH HER GUN.

Your gun or suicide? (SCOFFS) I hardly call that a choice!

WOMAN: It is if the fall don’t kill you.

WILLIAMS: I don’t see that as a likely outcome.

WOMAN: I didn’t create odds and chances, Doc. If you have a grievance with fortune, I suggest you take it up with God.

WILLIAMS RISES TO HIS FEET, MAKES HIS WAY TO THE CLIFF’S EDGE. IT’S HIGH. FAR TOO HIGH.

WILLIAMS: (MUTTERS) No. Oh, no, no…

WOMAN: Any last words?

WILLIAMS: Fuck–!

BANG! THE WOMAN SHOOTS WILLIAMS DEAD. HIS LIFELESS BODY DROPS BACK INTO THE RAVINE BELOW.

A SILENCE. THEN…

THE WOMAN CUTS THE HORSE LOOSE, RIDES OFF.

Premium Service

A COMIC SHOP. THE SHOP IS LITTLE MORE THAN A NEWSSTAND LOCATED IN THE CLAUSTROPHOBIC LOBBY OF A BUILDING OTHERWISE OCCUPIED BY ALL SORTS OF VERY REAL, VIABLE BUSINESSES IN IT.

A SINGLE, WHOLLY APATHETIC CLERK SITS BEHIND THE COUNTER, HARDLY PRETENDING TO WORK.

CUSTOMER ENTERS.

CUSTOMER: Hi. I called about the (INCOMPREHENSIBLE COUGH).

CLERK: Got it right here… (PULLS OUT A SMALL BOX) Feel free to take a look before you pay.

CUSTOMER CONSIDERS THIS FOR A MOMENT, OPENS THE BOX, THEN SCREAMS A LITTLE SCREAM.

CLERK: Something wrong?

CUSTOMER: Is this what I think it is?

CLERK: If not, I suppose we’ve both committed a felony for nothing.

CUSTOMER: What, a felony? I didn’t come here for this!

CLERK: You didn’t?

CUSTOMER: No, of course not.

CLERK: I’m sorry. What did you come here for?

CUSTOMER: I called about an hour ago about the (INCOMPREHENSIBLE COUGH).

CLERK: Oh, yes, the (INCOMPREHENSIBLE COUGH).

CUSTOMER: Yes, that’s right.

CLERK RETRIEVES A SIMILAR, YET WHOLLY DIFFERENT BOX FROM BENEATH THE COUNTER AND SETS IT DOWN BESIDE THE FIRST.

CLERK: Anything else?

CUSTOMER: No. No, I don’t think so.

CLERK: Would you maybe like what’s in the first–

CUSTOMER: No.

CLERK: No judgment.

CUSTOMER: No, thank you.

CLERK: (SHRUGS) Suit yourself. (MINDLESSLY RINGS UP A SALE) Can’t believe anyone would want something this stupid.

CUSTOMER: Wasting money is a guilty pleasure of mine.

CLERK: And mine to take it.

CUSTOMER: Yes. Right. Well. I was admittedly a bit upset when I heard they were going to adapt this into a live-action movie after all these years.

CLERK: Is that right?

CUSTOMER: I mean, how do you even begin to translate something like this to a movie, ya know?

CLERK: I certainly do not.

CUSTOMER: And you know they’re going to mess it all up.

CLERK: I do?

CUSTOMER: Of course. The studio is probably handing over the whole thing to some incompetent, visionless parasite who will suck the fun and color out of everything.

CLERK: The son of a bitch.

CUSTOMER: What can you do, right?

CLERK: (CONSIDERS THIS) Follow me.

CUSTOMER: Excuse me?

CLERK WALKS OVER TO A SMALL DOOR JUST A FEW FEET AWAY, PULLING OUT A SMALL RING OF KEYS.

CLERK: I think you might be interested in our premium membership.

CUSTOMER: I’m afraid I don’t live in the area, and I really only came out all this way for that. Kinda surprised anybody–

CLERK IGNORES THIS AND UNLOCKS THE DOOR ANYWAY.

CLERK: Follow me.

CUSTOMER: What? No, I just want the…

CLERK DISAPPEARS THROUGH THE DOOR WITHOUT ANOTHER WORD.

CUSTOMER EVENTUALLY FOLLOWS, BUT PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVELY COMPLAINS ABOUT IT UNDER THEIR BREATH WHILE DOING SO.

CUT TO:

A BASEMENT BENEATH THE SHOP.

A SWEATY LARGE MAN IN A TATTERED SCREENPRINT TEE AND MATCHING BLAZER IS PREOCCUPIED WITH THE VIOLENT BEATING OF AN EQUALLY SWEATY, YET MUCH SMALLER MAN IN SOME SORT OF COSTUME.

CLERK AND CUSTOMER ENTER.

CUSTOMER: What the hell is this?!

LARGE MAN STOPS WITH THE BEATING.

LARGE MAN: (TO CLERK) Hey, I’ve still got… (CHECKS HIS WATCH) …ten minutes.

CLERK: (SHAKES HEAD, GESTURES TO CUSTOMER) Potential member.

LARGE MAN: Is that right? (TO CUSTOMER) Honest opinion? The premium membership is totally worth the extra money.

SMALLER MAN: (SPITS OUT TOOTH) I’m sorry. Was this beating canceled like some hack comedian with shit opinions masquerading as attempts at humor? (SPITS OUT SEVERAL MORE TEETH…) Or are we simply out of gas, like Lucas Stevensberg after the original Celestial Border Dispute trilogy?

LARGE MAN EAGERLY RESUMES THE BEATING.

A BEAT. THEN…

CUSTOMER: (TO CLERK) Okay. We have to call the police, or something. Right?

CLERK: Nah. (GESTURES TO SMALLER MAN) He does this for a living.

CUSTOMER: You’re pulling my leg.

CLERK: No, really. Poor guy’s some kind of unemployed actor. It’s a shame, too. He’s actually very talented. Really stirs our Premium Members into a frothy rage.

SMALLER MAN: (SERIOUSLY HURT) Children’s programming isn’t for you! Superheroes have always been political! You can joke about anything so long as it’s actually funny!

CUSTOMER: Oh, he is good. But couldn’t he just get a real job – slow-roasting children, building bears, recycling blood? Anything but this

CLERK: (SHRUGS) Seems he prefers getting the shit kicked out of him for money.

CUSTOMER: (NODS) This can’t possibly be legal, though… (PUZZLES THIS) Can it?

CLERK: While we do like to keep our premium services on the down low, I assure you everything is on the up and up. In fact, every comic shop is legally required to be built over a basement for this exact purpose.

CUSTOMER: What? No. No, I’ve been to plenty of shops that weren’t…

CLERK GESTURES TO A FRAMED CERTIFICATE ON THE WALL.

CLERK: See for yourself.

CUSTOMER: (READS) “This certificate of authenticity hereby, thereby, and whereby certificates the authenticity of this comic shop, video rental store, and/or slot-car racing facility…” (TO CLERK) This has to be some sort of joke.


CLERK: A joke, is it? And I suppose the First Great Fanboy War of 1945 is a big bowl of laughter with a side of toasted hilariousness and a refreshing glass of freshly-squeezed silly.

CUSTOMER: No, I didn’t–

CLERK: No, of course you didn’t. (SCOFFS) It never even occurs to people like you that such a bloody rampage – scores dead, hundreds emotionally wounded, countless more in dire need of a shower and antiperspirant – might demand some degree of government intervention and oversight.

LARGE MAN STOPS WITH THE BEATING…

LARGE MAN: Uh-oh… (INSPECTS SMALLER MAN’S POSSIBLY LIFELESS CORPSE. He’s gone all limp…

CLERK: No refunds!

END SCENE.

Rocket Biologist

BLIFFEN SCRAGGMEISTERMAN minds his own farting business.

JEFFERNY BOWELSCRAPINGS enters.

JEFFERNY: Bliffen?

BLIFFEN: Yeah?

JEFFERNY: Got a minute?

Bliffen considers this, then checks his watch for an uncomfortable length of time.

BLIFFEN: No. Why?

JEFFERNY: I wanted to run some of my new bits by you before I hit up the open mic tonight.

BLIFFEN: The one at that dive bar in the bad part of town with all the skinheads, or the one at the perpetually empty pizza joint that smells like unwashed feet?

JEFFERNY: No, this one’s inside the unisex restroom at the cougar bar.

BLIFFEN: You’re not going to do more of that self-deprecating topical nonsense, are you?

JEFFERNY: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

BLIFFEN: You know damn well what I mean – “Have you read a newspaper?”; “What’s the deal with hair?”; “Did I mention my lackluster genitals and failed personality?”

An uncomfortable silence.

JEFFERNY: Do you want to hear it or not?

Another silence.

BLIFFEN: Come with me.

Bliffen leaves, Jefferny follows.

CUT TO:

Somewhere else. But this place has a full, possibly horse-sized SACK in it.

Bliffen and Jefferny enter.

JEFFERNY: What is this?

Bliffen hands Jefferny a stick.

BLIFFEN: Here.

JEFFERNY: What’s this for? Why is there a full, possibly horse-sized sack in here? Do you have a dead horse in there?

BLIFFEN: Don’t be ridiculous. Where would I even get a dead horse?

JEFFERNY: Then what is it?

BLIFFEN: Look. I’m not a rocket biologist. All I know is that we live in a perpetual Hell of endless news updates, instant gratification, and people’s need to masturbate in public about things they don’t even understand. (gestures) Also, I found him that way.

JEFFERNY: You could just say you don’t want to hear my bits.

BLIFFEN: Jefferny… If I didn’t want to hear your bits, I’d go down to the mic and ignore you to your face like everyone else.

JEFFERNY: Fair enough.

BLIFFEN: By the time any of us drives out to some show in an abandoned industrial park or a shiatsu laundromat that serves tree bark smoothies, millions have already pleasured themselves into a frothy rage over headlines to news stories they never read. They don’t have the energy to laugh at your reheated takes on cold, stale topics.

JEFFERNY: Uh-huh.

BLIFFEN: So, I came up with this. Whenever I feel the bubbling urge to excrete some pithy, yet witless thought on something topical, I come here and have at it for a bit. If I haven’t forgotten what I was going to say by the time I’m done, then I’ll go down to some dark, depressing place and tell a joke.

JEFFERNY: Does it work?

BLIFFEN: More so than my topical humor.

JEFFERNY: (shrugs) Worth a shot.

Jefferny hits the sack with the stick.

SACK: (pained grunt)

JEFFERNY: (yelp)

BLIFFEN: What?

JEFFERNY: It made a noise.

BLIFFEN: And?

JEFFERNY: I thought you said you didn’t have a dead horse in there.

BLIFFEN: He’s clearly not dead.

SACK: (grunts)

BLIFFEN: See?

JEFFERNY: How is this any better than topical humor?

BLIFFEN: It’s not. But at least this way I don’t have to go outside.

Last Scene w/ Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay

We now return to The Last Video Store On Earth with CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO, already in-progress. 

CINEMATICO: Welcome back to The Last Video Store on Earth. I’m Cinematico Magnifico.

Our next segment is “Last Scene w/”, in which I finally leave this godforsaken place to locate, tag, and interview the feral and semi-domesticated artists and entertainers lurking and crying in the dark corners of Southern California.

Today’s quarry is writer, director, and amateur ear-wax collector, Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay.

Enjoy.

CUT TO:

A hillside somewhere in Riverside, but not anywhere near a farting river. Cinematico joins DACOTA WITTACEE-NOTTAKAY beneath a tree.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) I found Dacota sitting in the shade of a large oak set against the weed and bramble choked hills of Riverside. A tee-shirt with only the word “fart” printed across the front and a rather snazzy pair of jeans belied a lean frame. Long hair masked dark, expressive eyes. And his beard smelled of honey and cilantro.

I first met Dacota when he was performing standup comedy in a sports bar within a bowling alley within a nice place to live. Now, I watched on as he needle-felted small figures of people he had never met, yet loved all the same.

CINEMATICO: What consumes you to transmute such magnificently bizarro creations to life?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: Fascinating.

Dacota… There’s a discussion to be had as to whether or not – as well as to the possible whys – audience are a bit hyper-sensitive to material that challenges them these days. But I also believe there’s a discussion to be had regarding those who make such material being equally quick to deny or deflect responsibility. Has there ever been a time where you’ve regretted a joke, scene, or some other moment in your work, or perhaps felt you’ve outgrown your older material?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps others can glean something from such a tragic loss of life and limbs.

Dacota… May I call you “Dacota”?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: Wonderful.

Dacota, you’re a fellow cinephile. Have you ever felt betrayed or cheated by a film, and if given the opportunity would you set fire to those involved?

Dacota reaches into a small sack, releases a hummingbird.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) But before answering my question, Dacota reached into a small sack at his side and released a hummingbird.

Cinamtico watches the bird fly off.

And as I watched the hummingbird vanish off into the otherside of the 91, the bearded man who smelled of cilantro spoke these words of wisdom:

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

Cinematico turns back around to find…

Only a note and a needle-felted figure of Cinematico where Dacota once sat.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) When I turned to thank Dacota for his time, he was gone. In his place, a needle-felted figure of me and a hand-written note. The doll resembled me, and had what appeared to be a time and date written into its pattern. The note explained the doll foretold my death and prayed I make use of the time I had left.

CINEMATICO: Shit.

CUT TO:

The Last Video Store on Earth. Again.

CINEMATICO: Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay is still at large, and is considered personable and charming.

Up next after the break, we take a look back at the 1997 seminal box-office disaster, “I’m a Middle-Aged Werewolf,” featuring John Jablonski and Maggie Sex-Pun.

Santa Carla Zoo

A depressing local zoo located beneath a freeway. DOUGLBY, an exhausted, underpaid zoo employee, leads us through the cramped, ill-fitting cages.

DOUGLBY: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Santa Carla Zoo, the only zoo located beneath a freeway, adjacent to a water treatment plant, and built atop the mass grave of local indigenous people.

I’m Douglby. And unfortunately for me, Brennifer called-out… again. Something about her uterus climbing out her throat. I’m not sure. So, I guess I’m your guide for the day.

(looks around)

Uh… This way. I think.

(waves us over)

Yeah. This is fine. It’s fine.

(gestures) This is Alex, our endangered Moronikan Sexually-Frustrated Dolphin, best known for his offensive language and history of sexual assault. (considers this) Probably has something to do with living in a tank the size of a budget, above-ground hot tub.

Anyway. On we go…

(moves on)

(gestures) This is Charlie, our Idiotican Ook-Ook. Everyone, Charlie. Charlie, Everyone. Fun Fact: Charlie weighs only ten pounds, yet operates the largest car-theft ring in all of Santa Carla.

(moves on)

(gestures) Terry and Brenda, our perky pair of Jiggly Maguppies, both of whom have become global internet sensations thanks to their podcast where they spread conspiracy theories and violent, late-night domestic disputes. (considers this) Maybe it’s better if we just keep moving.

(moves on)

(gestures) And this is Terry, our thirty-something American Male with a Masters degree in theoretical business and several-hundred thousand dollars in debt that will haunt him until the day he dies. He currently works from home, selling his body for nickels and dimes.

Now. Some of you might be wondering why Terry lives in this cramped, inhumane cage of concrete, shame, and artificial light and food. That’s because people like you can afford to go to the zoo on a work day while people like Terry have to make do on a teacher’s salary.

An alarm BEEPS.

Sorry. That’s just me. Looks like my shift is up. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go hose down my cage again because Charlie is the roommate from Hell.

Douglby leaves.

Cat Lingerie

MR. VICTIM sits on a park bench.

MR. VICTIM: You’re a little late, aren’t you?

MR. KILLER rises from behind the park bench, gun in hand.

MR. KILLER: Sorry. I got caught up in traffic.

MR. VICTIM: Uh-huh. Well. I suppose you’re here to kill me, then.

MR. KILLER: If that’s alright with you.

MR. VICTIM: I’d rather you didn’t, but I’m sure Mother has already paid you.

MR. KILLER: Actually, she talked me down to store credit.

MR. VICTIM: (scoffs) Typical. But that’s Mother for you. Can’t even be bothered to properly compensate her own son’s killer.

MR. KILLER: To be honest, I’m not even sure what I can do with two-hundred dollars in cat lingerie. I don’t even have a cat.

MR. VICTIM: Focus, please.

MR. KILLER: Right. Sorry.

Mr. Killer aims, pulls the trigger. The gun goes CLICK.

MR. KILLER: What the Hell?

MR. VICTIM: Something wrong?

Mr. Killer pulls the trigger again and again. No BANG-BANG, only CLICK-CLICK.

MR. VICTIM: You’re not very good at this, are you?

Mr. Killer inspects the gun.

MR. KILLER: This gun has no bullets.

MR. VICTIM: Pity.

MR. KILLER: Damn budget cuts.

An uncomfortable silence.

MR. VICTIM: Should I get going, then?

MR. KILLER: No, no. Give me a minute. I’ll figure something out.

MR. VICTIM: I’m sure you will.

Mr. Killer hands the gun to Mr. Victim.

MR. KILLER: Here. You do it.

MR. VICTIM: Do what?

MR. KILLER: Do it yourself.

MR. VICTIM: You want me to execute myself with an unloaded gun?

MR. KILLER: You could bludgeon yourself with it.

MR. VICTIM: Aside from that being a very stupid idea, why don’t you do it yourself?

MR. KILLER: Look. I don’t go around telling you how to do your job, so don’t go telling me how to do mine. Besides, I don’t get paid enough to work up a sweat.

MR. VICTIM: At this point, I’m wondering why they bother paying you at all.

MR. KILLER: I’m sorry?

MR. VICTIM: I mean, you’re hardly earning that two-hundred dollars of cat lingerie.

MR. KILLER: You know what? Forget it. I don’t have to take this.

MR. VICTIM: Mother won’t be happy about this.

MR. KILLER: What do you mean?

MR. THIRD-PARTY wanders in, gun in hand, misguided by his phone’s GPS.

VOICE: (phone) You have arrived at your destination.

MR. THIRD-PARTY: Mr. Killer?

MR. KILLER: You can’t be serious.

MR. THIRD-PARTY: Deadly, I’m afraid. Nothing personal, though. Strictly Business.

Mr. Third-Party aims at Mr. Killer, pulls the trigger. The gun goes CLICK.

MR. THIRD-PARTY: Son of a bitch…

Ouch! My Thumb!

NOT IMPORTANT tenderizes their hand with a hammer.

Then…

Not notices the audience, stops with the hammering.

NOT: (to audience) Oh. Hello. I’m Not Important.

People often tell me that violence is never the answer. But, what if it was?

We at “Violence Is Sometimes the Answer” are dedicated to solving the unsolvable with our unique brand of not giving a shit.

Our panel of Violence Engineers worked long hours for little pay in the pursuit of unlocking the secret of solving even the most benign issue with swift, painful, and inexpensive hammer-wielding justice. And once our engineers realized that they all had hammers and middle-management did not, they now work just as long, but marginally more flexible hours for slightly, albeit trivially more pay.

Whether it’s a discussion leading nowhere, a cold, uncaring economic system crafted and upheld by affluent slave-owners disguised as cold, uncaring bastards, or crippling arthritis left untreated due to wholly unaffordable healthcare, it turns out there really isn’t much you can’t, on occasion, solve with a bit of tender, loving violence and a good hammer.

Goodnight.

Not returns to hammering their hand.

Before the Fall

A war torn countryside. Homes and buildings reduced to smoldering rubble. People sick, dying, and generally unamused. Wholly unqualified doctors and priests stand about, pretending to look busy.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) The year is… I’m not sure. The place… Moronika, a once miserable place to live, now marginally worse on account of a bloody, costly, yet rather profitable war started for reasons no one can quite remember.

Slightly less sick and dying people, line-up by a cliffside. A COUNCILMAN sits behind a little table at the cliff edge. HUGO, an armed guard stands nearby.

And as the doctors tend to the dying and the priests pray for the dead, the living wait in line…

COUNCILMAN: Now serving number eleventy-seven.

MORONIKAN approaches.

MORONIKAN: Thank god! I thought I’d be stuck in this line forever.

COUNCILMAN: On behalf of the newly consolidated and collated Moronikan Monarchy Incorporated family, I do sincerely apologize for any wait. How may I assist you today?

MORONIKAN: (puzzles this) I’m not sure.

COUNCILMAN: Do you often stand in lines without rhyme, reason, or rhyme?

MORONIKAN: No. But a large, angry man covered in blood told a bunch of us to stand in this line.

 COUNCILMAN: Oh! So, Herman recommended you to us, then?

MORONIKAN: That’s right. I was standing in the bloody, smoldering rubble of what used to be my house and family–

COUNCILMAN: And now you’re in need of a new house and family?

MORONIKAN: That’s right. Some food would be nice, too.

COUNCILMAN: Of course. You might be a bit surprised to hear, but we’ve had a bit of a run on new houses, family, and food today.

MORONIKAN: Is that right?

COUNCILMAN: Oh, yes. It was a bit of a shock, but you know how it goes with these sorts of regime changes. All this death and destruction always motivates people to finally trade-in, move-up, sell-out, back-stab, and whatever other hyphenations they’ve put-off forever.

MORONIKAN: (nods) Of course.

Councilman hands Moronikan a pen and clipboard with several forms attached to it.

COUNCILMAN: Just fill this out for me real quick, and we’ll have you on your way.

Moronikan fills out, returns the forms.

MORONIKAN: There you go. I think I got it all right.

Councilman takes, looks over the forms.

COUNCILMAN: It does indeed. Now, if you’ll be so kind as to follow Hugo here to the edge of the cliff just over there, he’ll be happy to expedite the rest of your execution.

MORONIKAN: I’m sorry?

COUNCILMAN: Would you prefer self-checkout?

MORONIKAN: I’d rather not be executed.

Councilman double-checks the forms.

COUNCILMAN: But it says right here you voted in the last election.

MORONIKAN: Yes, but I don’t see why I should be executed for such a thing.

COUNCILMAN: Look. I’m sorry the system isn’t perfect, but it’s the only one we have.

MORONIKAN: Oh, sure. That might be all fine and good for you, Hugo, and the Moronikan board of executives–

COUNCILMAN: It really is.

MORONIKAN: Right. Well. Isn’t there any recourse for your average Moron?

COUNCILMAN: (considers this) Would you like a big, heavy rock to speed things up?

MORONIKAN: Will it cushion my fall?

COUNCILMAN: Would it help if I lied?

MORONIKAN: No.

COUNCILMAN: Exactly. Hugo?

Hugo escorts, casually throws Moronikan off the cliff.

(to Hugo) Thank you so much, Hugo. (to line) Now serving number eleventy-eight!

Sonathan

SONATHAN COMPOSES A LETTER, AS ONE DOES.

SONATHAN: Father…

RECONSIDERS THIS, BUT IT’S FINE. IT’S FINE.

It’s been nearly fifteen years since you left. Last month, I investigated the refrigerator myself. There was milk to spare. I’m starting to suspect you didn’t go to the store.

A DEPRESSINGLY PATHETIC, YET PATHETICALLY DEPRESSING BEAT.

Repressfully yours… Sonathan.

The Lonely Widow

STEVE: (to audience) My honey-baked sweets and gristle, I regret to inform you that our previously scheduled guest failed to fill out several wholly unnecessary forms of admittedly little importance. As a result, they’ve been dipped in a vat of spit and shot in a very unflattering light. But because I’m making all of this up as I go, we now return to “The Lonely Widow,” already in progress.

CUT TO:

WOMAN sits in a chair. Alone. So very and utterly alone.

WOMAN: (heavy, heart-breaking sigh) My children are all dead, too.

An uncomfortable silence. Then…

CUT TO:

A. FICTIONAL CHARACTER interviews Steve, but very much would rather be doing anything else.

A.F. CHARACTER: (to audience) I’m A. Fictional Character, and welcome back to “Something Resembling an Interview.” What we all suffered through just now was “The Lonely Widow,” the latest bit of tripe crapped out by our guest tonight, a blithering idiot. (to Steve) May I call you a blithering idiot?

STEVE: I’d rather you didn’t.

A.F. CHARACTER: Right. Well. You stupid, stupid man, what compelled you to slap us all in the collective face with this monstrosity of whatever it is you think you’re doing?

STEVE: Brain damage, mostly.

A.F. CHARACTER: How awful.

STEVE: You’re telling me! Imagine all the other flaccid, festering bits of flaccid, festering bits that I haven’t defecated in a public sense.

A.F. CHARACTER: Have you written much else?

STEVE: No, no. But imagine if I had.

A.F. CHARACTER: I’d rather not, if it’s all the same to you.

STEVE: I don’t blame you in the slightest.

A.F. CHARACTER: You mentioned earlier that you were making all of this up as you go. Do you often care so little for your chosen craft?

STEVE: (considers this) Yes.

A.F. CHARACTER: That must make your job very difficult.

STEVE: A bit.

A.F. CHARACTER: A bit?

STEVE: Well. It’s certainly a lot easier when you just make things up.

Unlocked Cars (Personally Challenged)

FINE: Podcasts. Whether you make them or listen to them, you’re still wasting your time.

I’m Fine Thankyou, and welcome to the backseat of this unlocked car.

Created in 1982 and later popularized on the Commodore 64, the podcast has evolved from an assortment of fully-produced talk shows and audio blogs to struggling comedians failing to hold their drunk friend’s attention as they blather ceaselessly into their outdated budget smartphones. Who are these people, and why do they titter on week-after-week before giving up without so much as a second thought after their seventh episode? Nobody knows. And nobody cares enough to find out.

CUT TO:

VOX POP: I wanted to challenge myself. See what I could really do, ya know? Could I come up with a minute – just one minute – of original material every night… and waste it. Every second.