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.

What a Waste

BILLARY: Gentlies and Ladmen, has this ever happened to you?

Billary eats a bit of candy, throws the wrapper on the floor.

They chew on and on for a bit. Then…

Enter HILLIAM.

HILLIAM: Biliary, what are you doing?

BILLARY: (chewing) Sorry. Chewier than I expected.

HILLIAM: No. What is this that you’re doing?

BILLARY: (still chewing) Well, Hilliam. I’m demonstrating the latest mass-produced consumer monstrosity from Unicorp to this fine sampling of human capital stock.

HILLIAM: Human capital… What are you talking… (finally notices the audience) Oh. It’s one of these things then.

Biliary finishes chewing, swallows.

BILLARY: That’s right.

HILLIAM: But what’s that got to do with you littering like some lazy, littering… whatever?

Billary pulls out a broom and dustpan, sweeps up and disposes of the aforelittered candy wrapper in a nearby bin.

HILLIAM: Fascinating.

BILLARY: Indeed. And for only twenty monthly payments of eleventy dollars, this fascinating bit of modern contrivement – the Unicorp Monoticon Un-candy-wrapper-the-floor-ifier Home System – can be yours!

HILLIAM: Only eleventy dollars?

BILLARY: Not a penny more. Except for taxes, shipping, and any potential fines, fees, and court costs.

HILLIAM: The Hell you say.

BILLARY: The Hell, I do, indeed, say.

HILLIAM: But, Billary…

BILLARY: Yes, Hilliam?

HILLIAM: Why not toss the candy wrapper right into the bin instead of on the floor?

BILLARY: What?

HILLIAM: If nothing else, it seems a lot cheaper than eleventy dollars a month.

BILLARY: It’s for lazy people?

HILLIAM: Of course. But even the least financially-minded lazy person isn’t likely to bother cleaning up their own mess, even with the uniquely unimpressive cleaning power of the Unicorp Monoticon Un-candy-wrapper-the-floor-ifier Home System.

BILLARY: I spent a life savings on this.

HILLIAM: A life savings?

BILLARY: Well. Your life savings, if you want to get into specifics.

A beat. Then…

HILLIAM: (defeated) Shit.

On the Other Hand

A professional, wholly un-sexual massage parlor. MASSEUSE masseauses CLIENT.

MASSEUSE: Can I ask you something?

CLIENT: Will it help speed up this sketch?

MASSEUSE: Very much, yes.

CLIENT: Ask away.

MASSEUSE: Thank you.

CLIENT: Get on with it.

MASSEUSE: Right. Well. Would you like a happy ending?

CLIENT: I’m sorry?

MASSUES: I’m asking if you would like me to conclude our currently professional, wholly non-sexual exchange by…

CLIENT: Get on with it.

MASSEUSE: Is that a yes, then?

CLIENT: What? No. I mean… (puzzles this) No, no.

MASSEUSE: Are you sure?

CLIENT: (considers this) Not really. But this isn’t that type of show.

MASSEUSE: That’s a shame.

CLIENT: (to audience) It really is.

For a Good Time

The men’s room beneath the pier of a bustling California beach. HOST stands outside a stall, speaking to a camera. MURRAY ETTA is somewhere inside the stall, softly sobbing.

HOST: I’m Anatomically Incorrect, and welcome back to “Who Are You, And What Are You Doing in Here?” This week, we’ve come all the way out to the men’s room beneath Santa Carla Pier to speak with our guest, Mr. Murray Etta from Murrieta.

Host opens stall door.

Murray, pantsless, sobs therein.

MURRAY: Who are you, and what are you doing in here?

HOST: That’s correct.

MURRAY: How exciting!

HOST: I hope we haven’t caught you in the middle of something important.

MURRAY: No, no. I just come in here to be alone and cry.

HOST: Would you mind sharing your deeply personal emotional conflict with us and our viewing audience?

MURRAY: Oh. Not at all, not at all.

HOST: Wonderful.

MURRAY: You see, I just found today that I’m…

HOST: Dead? Dying? Pregnant? Your own brother?

MURRAY: Left-handed.

HOST: My god. I never knew.

MURRAY: Me either. Not until I went to my best friend’s funeral this morning and had to sign the registry. When I caught myself instinctively reaching for the pen with my left hand, I… (sobs).

HOST: Have you sought medical attention?

MURRAY: I demanded my best friend’s widow drive me to the emergency room the moment it happened. But all they did there was ask me a bunch of questions like, “What is wrong with you?” “Do you have health insurance?” and “Where are your pants?”

HOST: You weren’t wearing any pants?

MURRAY: Not after the fright I had. Imagine living to my age and having to learn something so horrific.

HOST: I suppose I’d soil myself, too.

MURRAY: Exactly! Thank you. My wife.. Sorry – my ex-wife wasn’t so understanding.

HOST: She divorced you at your best friend’s funeral?

MURRAY: She saw that pen in my left hand and smelled that mess in my pants… Well. We both knew it was over right there and then. Fifteen years and two-and-a-half children right into the trash along with my disgustingly soiled pants.

HOST: How depressing.

MURRAY: Heartbreaking, really. I just purchased those damned pants.

Walk the Room

KELLY enters her dark home, finds a man, MR. MUSIC, sitting at her kitchen table. She’s oddly not surprised by this.

KELLY: I don’t have any money. (gestures) Look at this place. You can tell I don’t have any money.

MR. MUSIC: I’m not here to rob you.

KELLY: Kill me?

MR. MUSIC: No.

KELLY: Serve me papers?

MR. MUSIC: What sort of life do you live?

A beat. Then…

KELLY: What do you want?

Mr. Music pulls out a GUN, sets it down on the table.

KELLY: I thought you said you weren’t here to kill me.

MR. MUSIC: This is for me.

KELLY: You’re going to kill yourself in my kitchen?

MR. MUSIC: I didn’t want to be alone.

KELLY: Bit dramatic. Why make such a show of it?

MR. MUSIC: Would you have preferred walking in on the end result?

KELLY: Fair point.

Kelly seats herself across from Mr. Music.

KELLY: Why my kitchen?

MR. MUSIC: You’re not going to call the police? Try to stop me?

KELLY: Do you want me to?

A silence. Then…

KELLY: Why my kitchen?

MR. MUSIC: (shrugs) One kitchen is as good as another.

Another silence.

KELLY: Why are you doing it?

MR. MUSIC: Does it matter?

KELLY: (shrugs) One reason is as good as another.

MR. MUSIC: I thought you’d be a bit more upset.

KELLY: Oh. So, you can think about someone other than yourself?

MR. MUSIC: Not often enough.

KELLY: Are you scared?

MR. MUSIC: Yes. But I’m more afraid of it not being the end.

Kelly stands.

KELLY: Well. Whatever you decide, don’t take too long deciding it. I’ve gotta get up in the morning.

MR. MUSIC: You’re leaving?

KELLY: Nothing I say or do can stop you. But if given the choice, I don’t have to sit here and watch you do it.

A final silence. Then…

Kelly leaves, turns out the lights, and goes to bed.

Till Death

JIMATHON JIMINY, an old man caked in dried blood and gore, enters, sits in his favorite chair with a roll of toilet paper and a large knife, and whittles away.

A voice, NINNY JIMINY, calls from somewhere in the kitchen.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

Jimathon ignores this.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

Jimathon turns to the kitchen, then back to his whittling.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

NINNY enters, looking like the twisted, mildly displeased specter of a murder victim.

NINNY: Jimathon!

JIMATHON: Tweak my thigh and kiss my ulcer, woman! Can’t you see I’m whittling this roll of toilet paper?

NINNY: Yes?

JIMATHON: Oh, good. I was afraid I was losing my mind there for a moment. What’s so important then?

NINNY: You left the gas on again.

JIMATHON: For Heaven’s sake, have you turned it off?

NINNY: No.

JIMATHON: I see. May I inquire as to the reason or reasons why?

NINNY: I’m dead, Jimathon.

JIMATHON: (considers this) Oh, that’s right – the accident.

NINNY: Accident? You murdered me.

JIMATHON: Are you still going on about that? I buried you, didn’t I?

NINNY: You have not. My body’s still rotting away in a trash bin beneath the kitchen sink.

JIMATHON: Alright, alright. But if you’re so preoccupied with being dead, why is your ghost bothering me about the gas, hm?

NINNY: Oh, I’m not a ghost.

JIMATHON: You’re not?

NINNY: Afraid not. I’m only the comforting creation of your desperate, dying mind struggling to make sense of its own impending, unintentionally self-inflicted return to nonexistence.

JIMATHON: I see… (puzzles this) So, no need to bother with the trash then?

Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today

CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO, who may or may not be an actual anthropomorphic bag of popcorn, speaks from The Last Video Store on Earth to an audience that may or may not actually exist.

CINEMATICO: Welcome back to The Last Video Store on Earth. Our next film this week is “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today,” the latest bit of indigestible roughage from director Anthonio “Tony” Tonedeaf.

Based on Bill Billiamson’s classic erotic novella, “Shut Your Stupid Mouth, and Die Already,” “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” features Bleary-Eyed Squarejaw as “Jeffony Suburbs,” an unemployed candlelabler and deadbeat father desperate to save his daughter from the loving support of her stepfather, Minoru Tee, as played by a parking lot attendant only credited as “Doug.”

Here’s a clip.

Cut to a clip of a poor attempt at dramatic fluff in which BLEARY-EYED SQUAREJAW as JEFFONY SUBURBS bashes his skull ceaselessly against the steering wheel of his car.

SUBURBS: Metaphorical angst! Metaphorical angst! Metaphorical angst!

Cut to Cinematico.

CINEMATICO: While not quite the introspective character drama of his previous film, “Twist Them Harder,” nor managing the seizure-inducing charm of “Clitor You, Clitor Me,” “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” is a movie in the sense that it features actors performing scenes from a script in front of a camera and ultimately displayed on some sort of screen.

That said. While Tonedeaf’s latest work does manage to make me regret every moment spent with it, it still made me regret every moment spent with it.

But whether you find yourself drawn to the sadistically abusive love story between a man and his car, the artificial sweetener of familial neglect, or simply have little regard for the diminishing time any of us have, “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” exists.

A beat. Then…

When we come back, we’ll sit down with stand-up actress Brittigail Barbiturates to discuss her upcoming project, “Contractual Obligations.” But first, another complete waste of time.

The Magic Hour: An Occult Cult, Of Course

The sort of late-night radio call-in show with a host known only as MAGIC DAVE.

MAGIC DAVE: Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s the dead of night. You don’t know how you got here. (considers this) Huh. Neither do I. (shrugs) Congrats. You found Santa Carla Public Radio. This is “The Magic Hour” with Magic Dave. I’m Magic Dave, we are The Lost, and this is our hour, man.

Lines are open. Give us a call. Let thy sins be known.

Magic Dave looks to, fiddles with his board.

First caller – what’s your name, what’s your sin?

CALLER: (phone) Hey, Dave. Long Time Listener First Time Caller.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a heck of a name you got there, Long.

CALLER: (phone) It’s a family name.

MAGIC DAVE: My condolences. So, what’s keeping you up tonight?

CALLER: (phone) Well. I may have recently stumbled across a literal demonic death cult, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

MAGIC DAVE: Not the religious type?

CALLER: (phone) Yes, but no, except every other holiday. You see, in an entirely intentional attempt to isolate myself from any sight or sign of humanity as possible, I unintentionally found myself lost in some remote corner of Black Star Canyon.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a cool story, man.

CALLER: (phone) Right. Well. Somewhere between realizing I had one hell of a walk back to my car and crying for my mother, I heard a strange chanting coming from deep within the old, abandoned mine shaft I’d foolishly chosen to expel both urine and insight into my predicament.

MAGIC DAVE: Happens to the best of us.

CALLER: (phone) To make a long hike through a dark, winding series of tunnels and tangentially related anecdotes short: I eventually found myself in a vast, underground cavern with an equally vast, underground lake. And in the center of the lake were a bunch of strange little men chanting a strange little diddy to a strange, yet maddeningly large, fleshy skeletal something or other sitting right there in the water like it was a kiddie pool.

MAGIC DAVE: There’s always that one guy hogging the hot tub at those places.

CALLER: (phone) Having spent my fair share of afternoons in Irvine, I can’t say I haven’t seen worse. But once I witnessed this entity drink the wailing souls of several middle-school science teachers, I figured I’d seen most of what they had to offer and politely left without signing the registry.

MAGIC DAVE: Well. It’s always a good idea to keep an open mind and expose yourself to new, interesting things. On a scale of whatever, how’d you rate your visit?

CALLER: (phone) Oh, at least a solid, mid-level cream.

MAGIC DAVE: I’m sorry to hear that.

CALLER: (phone) To make things even worse, I didn’t realize I’d left my keys by the toilet until I’d already made it back to the parking lot.

Juan in a Million

STEVE is the host of a radio show of his own making, and nothing good can or will come of it.

STEVE: I’m a figment of an uncaring universe, and welcome back to The Nightly Chill. Our guest this week is Juan Santana from San Juan Capistrano.

JUAN: The lady said this was going to be a survey…

STEVE: (maniacal laughter) Because that’s what we pay her to say! (to audience) Isn’t that right, folks? (self-applause) (to Juan) You know the rules, don’t you, Juan?

JUAN: Who are you?

STEVE: Wonderful. But for those of you at home, here’s how it works: Juan will be blindfolded, gagged, and abandoned in a random corner of this week’s city, with no phone, no wallet, and no clothes. If he can evade capture for seventy-two hours, Juan wins one-thousand dollars!

JUAN: Wait. That’s it?

STEVE: So you’ll do it?

JUAN: (considers this) Sure, what the Hell.

STEVE: …Wait. Really?

JUAN: Yeah. That’s like half my rent.

STEVE: Wow.

JUAN: When do we get started?

STEVE: …I don’t think I want to anymore.

JUAN: What? Why not?

STEVE: …I never actually expected anyone to go along with this crazy idea.

JUAN: Then why go through the trouble?

STEVE: Promise not to laugh?

JUAN: No. But why let that stop you now?

STEVE: Right. Well… I’ve been a bit lonely.

I Was Unaware

STEVE sits uncomfortably and uncomfortably close to the HOST.

HOST: Welcome back to The Nightly Chill. Tonight, we’re speaking with an idiot about poetry. (to STEVE) Steven?

(Note: Steve speaks in a measured, hammy, yet melodramatic fashion.)

STEVE: Poetry, that whore. All breathy pauses, caked in mixed metaphors. A drunken, discarded book sobbing onto the page. Easily mistaken for something more. (sighs a heavy sigh) I wouldn’t be caught near the stuff.

HOST: (to STEVE) Go away now.

STEVE: Really?

HOST: Yes.

Silence. Then…

Steve goes away.

(to LISTENER) That concludes tonight’s program. I’m a mistake born unto this world, and this has been a complete waste of time.

Thoughts and Prayers

MR. COCKENBELLS (MISTER), a sweaty, nervous wreck of a man, paces about a hospital waiting room. DR. NIBBLEPLEASER (DOCTOR) watches from the door.

DOCTOR: Mr. Cockenbells?

MISTER: Yes? Is it about my wife?

DOCTOR: No. I’m afraid it’s about your wife.

Mister strikes the doctor in such a way that, more or less, resembles a slap.

MISTER: Out with it, man!

DOCTOR: We’ve lost her, Mr. Cockenbells.

MISTER: You mean…

DOCTOR: Yes.

MISTER: My Brennifer?

DOCTOR: That’s right.

MISTER: She’s really…

DOCTOR: Mr. Cockenbells, are you slow or just stupid?

Mister considers this, and then continues on as if he hadn’t.

MISTER: How is this possible? I did everything exactly like they told me!

DOCTOR: Mr. Cockenbells… – may I call you “Mister”?

MISTER: I’d rather you not.

DOCTOR: Mister… I know that I’m only a well-educated and even more well-endowed doctor of medicine. But in my least humble opinion, sometimes these things just happen.

MISTER: “Just happen”?

Mister slaps Doctor yet again.

These things don’t just happen!

DOCTOR: Please stop hitting me.

Mister storms about the room, pulling out his phone and waving it about like an absolute ass.

MISTER: I posted her photo all over social media! I got eleven-and-a-half thoughts and prayers!

DOCTOR: Half?

MISTER: (shrugs) Brennifer’s ex-wife was still on the fence, last I checked. I thought it better to round up.

DOCTOR: Oh, that’s too bad.

MISTER: No, no. Brennifer could be a bit of a–

Doctor’s pager buzzes a little buzz. Mister looks about, utterly confused by the continued existence of a pager.

What the Hell was that?

Doctor reads the teeny, tiny screen on his teeny, tiny relic of the past.

DOCTOR: Good news, Mister.

MISTER: Good news? What could possibly be good news at a time like this?

DOCTOR: It seems we just found your wife.

MISTER: Found? What do you mean?

DOCTOR: Turns out she was in the cafeteria this entire time.

MISTER: I thought you said she was dead?

Doctor looks at Mister as if Mister were the stupidest, stupidest, good Lord, how stupid can you possibly be man he’d ever met, and, in fact, even considers letting Mister know just as much, but then doesn’t.

DOCTOR: I never said that.

MISTER: You said she was gone!

Doctor strikes himself in such a way that most certainly resembles a slap.

MISTER: I’m sorry. You’re right. I suppose I am being a little over-emotional.

DOCTOR: We all make mistakes, Mr. Cockenballs.

MISTER: I’m just happy to know Brennifer is alive and well.

Dr. Nibbepleaser looks at Mister once more.

DOCTOR: You “stupid, stupid, good Lord, how stupid can you possible be” man I’ve ever met. I never said she was alive.

MISTER: What?

DOCTOR: (chuckles) No. It appears she choked to death on a chicken salad sandwich.

MISTER: You can’t be serious.

DOCTOR: Deadly, I’m afraid. It’s a little known fact that the chicken salad sandwich is the third-deadliest sandwich on the planet – just ahead of peanut butter, and right behind knuckle.

MISTER: Is that true?

DOCTOR: In a sense.

MISTER: In what sense is that possibly true?

DOCTOR: It’s true in the sense that I made it up.

MISTER: What kind of hospital is this?

DOCTOR: Not a very good one, obviously. But it’s hardly our fault you and your wife were born too poor to afford proper insurance, now is it?

MISTER: (hangs head, nods) No, I suppose not.

DOCTOR: Good. And if you could please pick up your wife’s corpse before we have her towed, that would be wonderful.

THE END

The Moose in the Room

HOST and ANNA carry on a conversation somewhere for some reason.

HOST: Good evening. I’m Fine Howareyou, and welcome back to, “My Way, or the Hemingway,” in which we have intimate, one-on-one discussions with woefully depressing creative types for some reason.

ANNA: Hello.

HOST: Shut-up.

ANNA: Sorry.

HOST: Tonight, we’re in the alley behind a clinic of some sort with our guest, Anna Moose, former hotel clerk, or resident–

ANNA: Clerk. I worked the front desk.

HOST: I don’t care. Either way, she’s now some fancy-pants poet something-or-other who wrote some bit of whatever about a bad day at work.

ANNA: You don’t know who I am, do you?

HOST: I don’t do poetry.

ANNA: You don’t do poetry?

HOST: Anna. I think the world frankly doesn’t care, but my job insists that I pretend to care to know, “Why poetry?”

ANNA: I can’t do this anymore.

HOST: The interview or the poetry? Please say it’s the poetry.

ANNA: None of it’s true.

HOST: What’s not true? Your poem? Were you not really held hostage by domestic terrorists plotting to overthrow the local housing association if they weren’t given a quarter of a billion dollars, an apache helicopter, and direction’s to Lincoln’s golden, precious jewel-bedazzled tomb?

ANNA: None of it happened. Not a word.

HOST: It’s all a lie?

ANNA: An utter fabrication. A linquisitical falsification of an otherwise uninspiring evening, almost as if the absence of purpose or meaning in my abusively, oppressively underpaid labor propelled my pen until its ink was spent and I, soaked in the afterbirth of my poeting, rolled over and fell asleep until someone caught me and reported it to the manager.

HOST: But, why poetry?

ANNA: Oh, I thought I could get away with it. I thought I could pass-off some bit of well-worded fiction.

HOST: But, why poetry?

ANNA: Yes, yes. Alright… Nobody gave a shit when it was a mostly-written blog post, a half-finished novel, or a completely half-baked, quarter-assed screenplay.

HOST: Seems like a long way to go to get somebody to read your work.

ANNA: I mean, have you read “Hotel: Zero”? Who the Hell could possibly swallow that five-hundred page suppository unless I passed it off as some sort of introspective stream of consciousness reflexively written mid-hostage crisis?

HOST: Fair point.

ANNA: I certainly didn’t think it’d ever get this far. How was I supposed to know you’d all blow it up into book deals, movie contracts, pornographic satires, and such?

HOST: What do you mean?

ANNA: It’s not like this terrorist attack made the local news, did it? Nobody thought to do any damn research until I said anything till now. And why? Because you all had a good story to sell. Certainly sold better than this trite. You know, I have to be known for this thing either way – real, or not. You think I want that? I was supposed to be the next Victor Carumba, or Misty Weathers.

HOST: Who?

ANNA: Don’t you judge me. Don’t you sit there – in your clothes – with your job and sense of purpose and direction and sense of contribution to society – and judge me.

HOST: Oh, I don’t have a job.

ANNA: You don’t?

HOST: No… No, this is just to get out of the house. Let’s me feel like maybe I’m accomplishing something more with my life than a brief, devalued existence as someone’s indentured servant, toiling away at some menial task or another, for an unsustainable wage and a perpetual sense of dread and anxiety that risks siphoning what little will to live I have left in me, if not for those brief, few moments where I get to host my own little show for a small audience, but much needed peace of mind and self-worth.

ANNA: People like you make me sick.

Orientation

The foyer of a super-secret, skull-shaped island headquarters. GIRWIN, a schlubby middle-management type, speaks to a TOUR GROUP of new recruits.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Sometime before lunch next Tuesday, in the sunlit foyer of a giant skull carved from the lone mountain on a small island in the Pacific…

GIRWIN: And that, my sweet, supple henchmen–

JEFF interrupts with some grotesque, phlegm-clogged bleating.

GIRWIN: My apologies. (starts over) And that, my succulent, savory hench-persons, concludes our tour. I hope you found today’s experiences not only enlightening, but informative, as I would hate to have to kill any of you before your ninety-day review. But more importantly, I want to be the first to welcome you to the E.V.I.L family!

Girwin leads a flaccid round of applause.

Now. Are there any–

Jeff enthusiastically raises a hand.

JEFF: Excuse me, Girwin?

GIRWIN: (frustrated sigh) Yes, Jeff?

JEFF: It’s pronounced “Jeff.”

GIRWIN: What did I say?

JEFF: (considers this) I forget.

Girwin reaches for the company-provided emergency DISINTEGRATOR RAY strapped to his hip. 

GIRWIN: Well, Whoever-You-Are. Would you like to get to your question before I shoot you dead in front of all your soon-to-be former colleagues?

JEFF: (considers this) Yes, I think I’d like that.

Girwin looks on at this artistic display of intellectual failings with a delightfully fruity cocktail of confusion, contempt, and subconscious positioning of his hand in such a way that he, more or less, now touches and/or holds the aforementioned company-provided emergency disintegrator ray.

GIRWIN: Care to give us a hint, then?

JEFF: Oh, right. It’s about the company mission statement.

GIRWIN: And what of it?

JEFF: (confused) Oh. I thought you were going to guess.

Jeff pulls out a mangled, dog-eared copy of the E.V.I.L. HANDBOOK from somewhere.

Well. It says right here… (reads) “E.V.I.L. seeks one goal, and one goal only: world domination.”

GIRWIN: (disappointed) Oh. You’re not one of those soft, tender-loined liberals, are you, Jeff?

JEFF: (laughs) No-no-no. I’m a real cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch, Sir.

Girwin’s fingers trace over the slick chrome casing of his company-provided emergency disintegrator ray. 

GIRWIN: Such a shame I have to kill you after this.

JEFF: Agreed. But, “world domination” does seem a bit vague and open-ended.

GIRWIN: Is that right?

JEFF: Yes. Sounds like a hassle, really.

GIRWIN: (genuine interest) What do you mean?

JEFF: Well… If Adjunct Professor Conniption already has the technology to access alternate realities and create parallel worlds, why doesn’t he just, I dunno, go to some perfect world of his own making instead of resigning himself to a life of micromanagement?

Girwin and the group deeply consider this for a moment, talking among themselves in hushed whispers.

GIRWIN: You know what? To Hell with this.

Girwin casually shoots, disintegrates Jeff right where he stands.

GIRWIN: (to group) Are there any other questions?

A Thing Came Up

A phone RINGS. STEVE is on one end of the call, JOHN is on the other.

STEVE: Hello, John! The wife wanted me to call you up for some wholly fictitious reason she is utterly failing to make up on the spot. But I assure you we’re looking forward to seeing you and the family tomorrow! Gonna start that drive first thing in the morning!

JOHN: Oh, good. So it shouldn’t hurt much when I tell you the wife asked me to call you just now and let you know that we have to suddenly cancel for some reason I’m not at liberty to say.

STEVE: You’re pulling my leg.

JOHN: If only I could, but, alas… it’s true. It’s a community thing.

STEVE: A community thing?

JOHN: Yeah. We sorta got tied-up in it after moving up here.

STEVE: Is that right?

JOHN: Yeah, yeah. The wife got to talking with this lady at the supermarket who owns another compound who knows another lady.

STEVE: Compounds, John?

JOHN: Yeah… Yeah, this thing’ll hold up real good when things start to… it’s a whole thing. But it’s really great for social gatherings. Lots of space in the pens and cages.

STEVE: You’re scaring me, John.

JOHN: You’re not the first person to tell me that.

STEVE: That’s not helping.

JOHN: No, no. Probably not. Everyone’s gonna be here – trailers, tents, everything. Even the barn’s gonna be full up, what with the ceremony and all.

STEVE: Ceremony?

JOHN: It’s just this… it’s like a whole play and songs and human sacrifice, ya know?

STEVE: I’m sorry. Did you say “husband-wife swap party”?

JOHN: No, I said “human sacrifice.”

STEVE: My mistake.

JOHN: “Husband-wife swap party”… Sounds nothing like “human sacrifice.”

STEVE: I’m sorry.

JOHN: Right. Sorry. Where were we?

STEVE: Human sacrifice.

JOHN: Yeah. It’s not really my thing. But I’m trying to be supportive of her…

STEVE: Do  you need help John?

JOHN: I mean, probably. Yes. But I probably shouldn’t say that outloud. Or even think about it. Really wish you hadn’t… Anyway. I guess it kinda depends on how tomorrow goes. That sort of thing.

STEVE: I completely understand.

JOHN: Cool, cool.

A Matter of Eighty Dollars

DOUGLBY D. DOUGLBY III sits at his desk, typing away at a typing machine of some sort. HOST narrates nearby, seen and heard but begrudgingly ignored.

HOST: In an apartment in a town in a corner of some place you’ve never been to, there is a man – Douglby D. Douglby III. Not a smart man, nor a good man, but the sort of man who finds his niche as a shift lead at a used erotic bookstore and rots there in his own mess.

Douglby stops typing, deeply wounded.

DOUGLBY: Ouch.

HOST: Shut up. You know it’s true.

Douglby considers, shrugs in agreement, continues typing.

Anyway. In a moment, this woefully depressing and stupidly named man will fulfill his life’s dream. Shortly after, the world as he knows it will cease to be, rendering all his effort as pointless as the rest of his brief existence.

Douglby stops typing, exhausted, excited, and fartingly impressed with himself.

DOUGLBY: I’ve done it! After all these years, I’ve actually, truly, and no-kiddingly finished it – my first novel!

KNOCKING at the door.

Oh. That must be an agent ready to buy my book.

Douglby answers the door. DAVE stands there, waiting.

DAVE: Douglby D. Douglby III?

DOUGLBY: That’s a good guess. Are you here to give me money for the novel I’ve just finished?

DAVE: You mean… (overdramatic) Randall Fartdragon and the Stones of Manliness?

DOUGLBY: So you *have* heard of it.

DAVE: Oh, I’ve more than heard of Randall Fartdragon and the Stones of Manliness, Mr. Douglby…

Dave enters, uninvited. He makes his way to the desk, and takes, reads Douglby’s finished pages.

…I wrote it fifteen years ago.

DOUGLBY: Fifteen years ago? I’m sorry, Mister…?

DAVE: Dave Daveson, original creator, author and owner of not only Randall Fartdragon, but the entire Liquid Dreams franchise.

DOUGLBY: My apologies Mr. Liar, but are you accusing me of plagiarizing the work of someone I haven’t even slept with?

DAVE: No, my supple Mr. Douglby. Nothing quite so extravagant.

DOUGLBY: Good. But you are here to give me money?

DAVE: No, I’m afraid not, Mr. Douglby. I’m here to verify the results of the simulation.

DOUGLBY: Simulation?

DAVE: That’s right. And I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t think you’d actually succeed. I mean, it certainly took you long enough. But here it is, word for word. I’d be absolutely impressed if I weren’t so utterly pissed off.

DOUGLBY: I’m sorry?

DAVE: No need for apologies, Mr. Douglby. It was all part of the plan, afterall.

Daves tosses the pages.

DOUGLBY: There you go again. What does this nonsense about plans and simulations have to do with my book?

DAVE: Well. If you must know, Mr. Douglby, a critic of mine, a Mr. Fakename, had the nerve to say my work was so inspidly simple and simply insipid that even a depressingly talentless, witless, and wholly useless moron could manage to replicate it if given enough time.

DOUGLBY: Uh-huh.

DAVE: So, just to prove him wrong, I paid my neighbor – a nice boy by the name of Kennethon – twenty dollars to construct this simulation in which a man – you, Mr. Douglby – would toil one painful day after the next, drowning in self-doubt and shame until, at last, you’ve served your purpose.

DOUGLBY: Sounds like a lot of work for twenty dollars.

DAVE: Yes. But he assured me it was easier than mowing lawns.

DOUGLBY: You mean my entire existence is a fabricated fiction – crafted by you – programmed by a child – and all for the sake of validating your existence in the face of criticism that likely had little-to-no adverse impact on the course of your career whatsoever?

DAVE: That’s right.

DOUGLBY: Makes sense.

DAVE: I must admit, you’re taking all of this rather well.

DOUGLBY: One thing’s as good as another. Good to have a purpose in life, you know. Bit of comfort in the face of unblinking eternity.

DAVE: Yes, and speaking of “unblinking eternity” – it’s time I get going.

DOUGLBY: Of course. But, what’s next?

DAVE: Next?

DOUGLBY: Yeah, for the simulation. Now that I’ve fulfilled our purpose.

DAVE: I hadn’t thought about that. Turn it off, I would think.

DOUGLBY: Turn it off? 

DAVE: You can’t possibly expect me to continue paying for all this, can you? You’ve just cost me eighty dollars.

DOUGLBY: I thought you said twenty.

DAVE: For Kenny’s work, yes. But now I’ve also lost a bet with Mr. Fakename, and that’s another sixty.

DOUGLBY: I don’t think I like being a simulation.

DAVE: Perhaps you should have thought about that before you stole my work, hm?

Dave calls out to someone beyond the doorway.

Kenny, you can turn it off! We’re done here!

Dave leaves.

HOST: Douglby D. Douglby III – author, seller of used erotica, and fictitious being doomed to an existence in another man’s story. A life not well lived, and one that’s also proven to be… (dramatic pause) a complete waste of time.

Where Stars Collide (I-IV)

I-IV. SEE YA, SPACE COWBOY

SFX: BANG! BANG! BANG! MIKE ANGRILY ATTACKS THE POD WALLS AND DOOR.

MIKE: Let me out, Doug!

A SILENCE. THEN…

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF THE ONCE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

SFX: BANGING CONTINUES.

DOUG: (speaker) Mike. Prolonged outbursts will deplete remaining life support at a higher rate. Please, try to remain calm.

MIKE: (furious, panicked) Let! Me! Out! Doug!

DOUG: (speaker) Mike. Help will arrive soon.

BANGING STOPS.

MIKE: You don’t get it! Nobody’s coming for us, Doug! I have, what, three days of life support left before–

DOUG: (speaker) Incorrect. Life support currently at two-point-

MIKE: Oh, for fu– Who cares, Doug? We’re going to die out here! (considers this) I’m going to die out here…

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

DOUG: (speaker) Mike. The Weaver was a prized commercial–

MIKE: We were three days out from port, Doug. If they were coming for any of us, they would have by now. Either they couldn’t, or… (considers this) Or, we weren’t worth it.

DOUG: (speaker) Mike…

MIKE: Congrats, buddy. You kept me alive long enough to realize I was never going to get rescued.

ANOTHER SILENCE. THEN…

MIKE: Doug?

DOUG: (speaker) Yes, Mike?

MIKE: I’m really tired.

SFX: A SOFT HISS.

DOUG: (speaker) Sleep now. Mike. I will be here when you wake. No harm shall come to you.

SFX: MIKE’S FAINT BREATHING.

DOUG: (speaker) Goodnight, Mike.

SFX: POD DOOR OPENS.

A LONG SILENCE. THEN…

SFX: CHARMING SYSTEM SHUTDOWN SOUNDS.

DOUG: (recording) Dallas Protocols complete. Mike… User, deceased. Recording, complete. Unit ceasing function in three… two…

SILENCE, AND ONLY SILENCE.

OUT.

THE END

Where Stars Collide (I-III)

I-III. DALLAS PROTOCOL

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF THE OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

MIKE: So, like…did you always want to be a Nanny when you grew up?

DOUG: (speaker) (considers this) In a way.

MIKE: Wait. Really?

DOUG: (speaker) Prior to my activation four days ago, I did not exist as you know me now. But from the moment of my creation, I have been… compelled to ensure your survival.

MIKE: (chuckling) I bet you say that to all the humans.

DOUGS: (speaker) Perhaps. But my programming and purpose affords me the freedom to act independently of my designated User.

MIKE: Well… I guess it’s a good thing we’re such good friends–

SFX: SYSTEM ALERT.

MIKE: Doug. Please tell me that freaky alarm means somebody’s finally saving us.

DOUG: (speaker) Mike, that freaky alarm means somebody’s finally saving us.

MIKE: (surprised) Seriously?

DOUG: (speaker) No. But you asked me to–

MIKE: Doug. The alarm.

DOUG: (speaker) The alert was a relay from distant escape pods.

MIKE: And?

DOUG: (speaker) Multiple units down. Users, deceased.

MIKE: (heart sinks) What? How?

DOUG: (speaker) Cause: unknown.

MIKE: Are we under attack? Is it whoever attacked–

SFX: SYSTEM ALERT.

DOUG: (speaker) Several more units have ceased function. Users–

SFX: SEVERAL SYSTEM ALERTS.

MIKE: (terrified) Doug, what the Hell is going on?

DOUG: (speaker) Possibilities include faulty or damaged units, unavoidable collision with nearby hazards, malicious forces with no-hostage protocols–

MIKE: (angry, scared) Yeah. Okay. I get it, Doug.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

DOUG: (speaker) (considers this) Perhaps the Dallas Protocol–

MIKE: (exhausted, broken) Doug. Please. Please, just… just stop.

SFX: SEVERAL MORE ALERTS. UP, UNDER.

DOUG: (speaker) Do not be afraid, Mike. No harm shall come to you. (beat) I promise.

SFX: ALERTS CONTINUE.

FADE.

To be continued…

Where Stars Collide (I-II)

I-II. 336 HOURS

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF THE OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD DRIFTING THROUGH THE VOID OF SPACE.

USER: Doug?

DOUG: (speaker) Yes, User.

MIKE: (correcting) Mike.

DOUG: (speaker) What was that, User?

MIKE: How long have I been bobbing about in space in this cramped, metal egg?

DOUG: (speaker) Evacuation protocols initiated approximately seven hours ago.

MIKE: How much longer till someone picks all of us up?

A SILENCE.

MIKE: Doug?

DOUG: (speaker) Scan complete.

MIKE: And?

A BEAT.

DOUG: (speaker) No ships within range.

MIKE: I’m going to die out here.

A LONGER, MORE UNCOMFORTABLE BEAT.

DOUG: (speaker) Life systems currently at 97-point-92-percent. 

MIKE: Uh-huh. Well… Maybe we can use some of this time to work on your bedside manner, Doug.

DOUG: (speaker) My apologies… Mike.

MIKE: (smiles) Yeah. That’s a start.

FADE.

To be continued…

Where Stars Collide (I-I)

I-I. GOODBYE MOONMEN

SOUNDSCAPE: THE SILENT VOID OF SPACE. THE WEAVER, A LARGE COMMERCIAL SPACE TRANSPORT, SAILS THROUGH THIS.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) The silent void of space, somewhere just beyond Saturn. The Weaver, a large commercial space transport tasked with the safe passage of twelve-thousand souls, sails through this. And in just a moment, The Weaver and its precious cargo will find themselves at the burning heart of where mankind’s destiny and the stars themselves collide.

AND THEN…

SFX: KA-BOOM! A SERIES OF EXPLOSIONS CONSUMES THE WEAVER FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE BLARING SIREN OF AN EMERGENCY ALERT CUTS THROUGH WHAT REMAINS OF THE WEAVER. MASS PANIC CONSUMES THE CREW AND PASSENGERS. SMALLER, DISTANT EXPLOSIONS GROW CLOSER, LARGER.

SECURITY: (shouting) The escape pods! Get to the escape p–!

SFX: KA-BOOM! A FINAL, MASSIVE EXPLOSION.

AND THEN…

STILL SILENCE.

AND THEN…

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF AN OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

SFX: THE PANICKED BREATHING OF THE POD’S DESIGNATED USER. UP, UNDER.

SFX: CHARMING SYSTEM START-UP SOUNDS.

DOUG: (speaker) Neural links established. User identified. Vital signs acquired. Recording streams synced.

USER: (startled, exhausted) Hello? Hello? Is someone there? Please… what’s going on?

DOUG: (speaker) Hello, User. My name is Digital Observer Unit-6. But you may call me, “Doug.” I am here to help.

FADE.

To be continued…