Adia: Reuben, or Out

ADIA, A MASSIVE BUDGET BIN, CYBERPUNK-LIKE PORT CITY ALONG THE PACIFIC. NEON-LIGHTS. DENSE SMOG, DENSER PEOPLE. CHEAPLY MADE SCI-FI WONDER MACHINES, VEHICLES, AND OTHER NEEDLESS EVERYDAY EVERYTHINGS. ALSO, EVERYONE’S POOR.

JANUARY EMBERS, CONSPICUOUSLY ARMED TO THE TEETH AND LOOKING DOWN THE SCOPE OF A RIFLE, CAMPED ATOP A ROOF OVERLOOKING A LOCAL DELI. SIBIL, A LITERAL DISEMBODIED DIGITIZED VOICE, IS RIGHT BY HER SIDE… IN A SENSE.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) The place, a rooftop on the south side of Adia, a neon-soaked, smog-choked port city along the Pacific. Too hot to hold, too wet to… to, uh…

JANUARY: Sibil?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Too wet… because it’s always raining all the time when it isn’t too hot. But sometimes, also both.

JANUARY: Sibil.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) The shock of pink hair with suspect fashion sense and her eye trained down the scope of a rifle is January Embers, bounty hunter by day, but also by night.

JANUARY: Sibil!

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) What?

JANUARY: Do you mind?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I’m bored.

JANUARY: I’m working.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You’re always working.

JANUARY: And you are always talking.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I’m literally a voice in your head.

JANUARY: Aren’t we all just voices in each other’s heads?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) (CONSIDERS THIS) Fair point.

JANUARY: Look. I get it. But do you have to narrate everything?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Once you find my, uh… me… bio-me?

JANUARY: If I ever find you…

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) When you do, you can upload all of this to her. To me. To us? Whatever. It’ll be like I was here the whole time. Which I am. Sorta.

JANUARY: I don’t think you’re processing dying very well.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) And I don’t think you’re being very considerate of your best friend’s feelings right now.

JANUARY: You really need to move on.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Move on? I’m not a ghost, January!

JANUARY: Sibil, you died. What’s the big deal?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) (SCOFFS) “What’s the big deal?”

JANUARY: Wasn’t that the whole point of this A.I. back-up gimmick, so death is every bit as meaningless as life?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) We still don’t know for sure that I’m dead.

JANUARY: You died. Learn to cope. I did.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Oh, I’m sorry. Is that what this is? Coping?

JANUARY: Yes?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You’re on a rooftop waiting to kill a guy as he comes out of a deli.

JANUARY: I am waging a one-woman war on the evil that plagues this godforsaken city so that nobody else suffers the same fate as my best friend turned literal ghost in the machine and eternal pain in my ass!

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You kill people for money!

JANUARY: Also money, yes.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) That’s hardly a moral crusade.

JANUARY: That’s why I called it a war. Wars are for money.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I mean, so were the Crusades. I think.

JANUARY: At least I have a hobby. Making a difference in my community. Maybe.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Yeah. No, you’ve totally convinced me.

JANUARY: I don’t need to rationalize my grieving process to you.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Why? Because I’m not the real Sibil?

JANUARY: Wow.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) What?

JANUARY: No.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) It is, isn’t it?

JANUARY: You need help.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) What?

JANUARY: I am perfectly comfortable with who and what you are, and I am fortunate for our friendship to live on…

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Aww.

JANUARY: …in some twisted mockery of sentient life.

A SILENCE.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I hate you.

JANUARY: You love me.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I wish I was never backed up.

JANUARY: Well, you were. And, for whatever reason, had yourself mailed to me.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Who else was I going to pick?

JANUARY: I don’t know. Why did you take off for a year and not say anything to me until I set your password?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I told already, I don’t know.

JANUARY: And I told you I was working. So, can we please not do this right now?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Can I go back to what I was doing?

JANUARY: Yes. Fine. Whatever.

ANOTHER SILENCE.

Sibil?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) The moment’s passed.

JANUARY: (GROANS) Oh, my god. Will you please shut up until I put a bullet in this guy? I’ve been up here all night.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) So have I?

JANUARY: Yes, well, only one of us has to sleep. And I’d like to be in bed before Chuck starts with his morning aerobics. You know I can’t fall asleep once he starts playing Cyndi Lauper.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I hate classical music.

JANUARY: Agreed. But at least he’s finally doing something about his health, ya know?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Oh, for sure.

JANUARY: I mean, it’s a real big, positive change for him and I want to be supportive.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You’re still killing people for money, though.

JANUARY: Yes, and I’d like to get paid sooner. So, will you please shut… Oh, there he is now.

ACROSS THE WAY, A MAN STEPS OUT OF THE DELI EATING A REUBEN SANDWICH.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) That reuben he’s eating sure looks tasty. Think we can get one once we’re done here?

JANUARY: You don’t eat.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) No, but I like to–

BANG! JANUARY BLASTS A HOLE THROUGH THE MAN’S HEAD, KILLING HIM.

JANUARY: (SIGH OF RELIEF) Finally!

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I can’t tell where his head ends and the sandwich begins…

JANUARY: (CHUCKLES) I know, right?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) If I had a mouth and a stomach, I’d be sick.

JANUARY: Is that a pass on the reuben, then?

YET ANOTHER SILENCE.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I didn’t say that.

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.