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 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.

Grand Ghoulish (II-VI)

II-VI. WHAT SHE SAID

A bustling super-secret, super-freaky art gallery with clocks on a wall, teenagers frozen in ice sculptures, and HAROLD’S BRAIN in a jar, floating and bubbling in some clear solution. This monstrosity is somehow wired to an old laptop, a cheap pair of speakers, and a projector. Noisy, pixelated sights and sounds plucked out from Harold’s Brain flash and flicker on a wall.

A confused, yet confused PORTLY COUPLE with literal “bear hands” watch this morbid show.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) There are precisely two types of people in this world.

The first are those eclectic few showcasing their gaudy wealth in a secret art gallery located beneath the surface of the sort of affluent California “community” where everyone is as artificial as the grass, trees, and even the lightly-scented air. For fear of being assimilated, the name of this particular town escapes me at the moment.

(a beat, then…)

Meanwhile, the other sort are the art. And as Harold – or, more precisely, Harold’s skillfully preserved brain and eyes – stared at a clock hung between a pair of terrified teenagers frozen in freshly-carved ice sculptures, he took solace in the fact that while his most embarrassing memories were currently being projected on the wall behind him, at least the portly couple with matching bear-hands in front of him couldn’t tell he was crying.

BRENNIPHIA: (off) Hey, you!

Harold’s Brain bubbles at the sound of her voice. The feed briefly scrambles, then continues.

Portly Couple turn ever so slightly to their left to…

Brenniphia, now a pink bob cut in a silk sundress and adorable shoes, joins Portly Couple.

PORTLY COUPLE: Sophia!

BRENNIPHIA: I go by “Brenniphia” these days, actually. New me, new…well, new everything!

PORTLY COUPLE: (to each other) How naughty!

BRENNIPHIA: I see the two of you are enjoying Oliver’s work.

Portly Couple hold up their literal “bear hands”.

PORTLY #1: (gushes) Our grandson absolutely loves it!

PORTLY #2: Soph… I mean, Brenniphia… you’re looking so daring these days!

Brenniphia teases her hair, fingers glide across faint, but thick lines on her scalp.

BRENNIPHIA: I wasn’t going to keep it, but it kinda grew on me.

A woman’s voice, Sophia’s, crackles again and again from the cheap pair of speakers.

SOPHIA: (recording) What does that make me?

Brenniphia and Portly Couple turned to Harold’s Brain.

What does that make me? What does that make me?

Harold’s Brain bubbles in its solution. The projector flickers vague images, flashing frames of bodies in pieces and blurred faces.

What does that make me? What does that make me? What does that make me?

PORTLY #2: What is that awful thing?

BRENNIPHIA: One of Oliver’s little toys.

PORTLY #1: Bit gratuitous, isn’t it?

Brenniphia nods, “Mmhm.”

BRENNIPHIA: But don’t let Oliver hear you say that.

SOPHIA: (recording) He’s a magnificent surgeon…

BRENNIPHIA: I’m sorry. I better get Oliver over here to fix this.

SOPHIA: (recording) …you can only roll back the clock so far…

Portly Couple say their goodbyes, waddle off, paw-in-paw.

SOPHIA: (recording) Do they bother you?

Brenniphia turns to Harold’s Brain.

Harold’s Brain bubbles.

An uncomfortable silence. Then…

She begins to speak, thinks better of it, and then disappears into the crowd.

THE END

Grand Ghoulish (II-V)

II-V. CLICK II

A very large and dark room. No windows, no doors. No sound but the electric humming of medical equipment. No light but the harsh, cutting white of several, well-placed surgical lamps reflecting on impressively polished steel tools with lots of little blades and teeth.

Harold is on an operating table, unable to move. Only his face is lit and in clear view. His body is obscured by shadow and sheets. Wires run from his head and body to one of the humming bits of medical equipment.

HAROLD: (silently screams)

OLIVER: (off) Sorry, sorry.

Oliver, eating a sandwich in his desk chair, casually rolls out of the darkness, over to Harold. He flips a switch on the humming bit of medical equipment.

You looked like you had something to say.

HAROLD: (yelps)

OLIVER: (scoffs) Was that it? Go on. Get it out. Nobody can hear you scream.

HAROLD: (considers this) Pot to Kettle, how much more of a cliche can you be?

OLIVER: Not to put too fine a point on this, but I am a surgeon holding his wife’s lover captive in a big, secret laboratory.

HAROLD: Fair enough. But, where the Hell did you come from? I thought I was alone.

Oliver gestures to sandwich and feet.

OLIVER: Bit of lunch and socks.

HAROLD: Where’s Sophia?

OLIVER: Why? Feeling lonely?

HAROLD: What did you do to her?

OLIVER: (gestures with sandwich) I scooped out her brain and put it into the relatively younger body of a pink-haired woman who tried to sell me cologne from the trunk of her car.

HAROLD: Did none of that sound crazy to you?

OLIVER: Look. If it helps, you weren’t the first.

HAROLD: What?

OLIVER: Yeah. Sorry. There was this old flame from high school, a few coworkers, this guy from the social security office…

HAROLD: Bullshit.

OLIVER: Hey. I’m not even Sophia’s first husband. Now, that guy? Real piece of work. I got some good practice out of him, though.

HAROLD: Why would she do all that?

Oliver finishes his sandwich.

OLIVER: (shrugs) It makes her happy.

HAROLD: You’re shitting me.

Oliver picks up a shiney steel tool with the scary little blades and teeth.

OLIVER: You slept with my wife. I don’t think you get to shame other people’s kinks.

Harold seizes on the scary little blades and teeth, ignores everything else.

HAROLD: Jesus. If you’re going to kill me, just do it already.

Oliver picks at his teeth with the tool.

OLIVER: Don’t be so dramatic. I’m not going to kill you.

HAROLD: (puzzles this) You’re not?

OLIVER: Of course not. Keeping you alive is the whole point.

HAROLD: Wait. What?

Oliver rolls over to another switch, flips it.

The lights come on and reveal what is, more or less, a chrome-finished Salvador Dali painting. But instead of melted, sagging clocks, twisted figures, or surreal landscapes, Harold’s insides stretch and sag and drip on the outside, all over Oliver’s otherwise spartan, make-shift surgery room. Lungs are draped over the back of a chair. Entrails wrap around one of the surgical lights, across the operating table, and inexplicably tied on the other end to an old Victrola. Harold’s head dangles above this from several cables, with a number of tubes and wires clipped or stuck into this or that hole.

OLIVER: See, Harold?

Oliver holds up Harold’s still-beating heart, jangles it like a set of keys.

I’m a bit of an artist myself.

Harold ignores this, screams.

Oliver shakes his head disapprovingly, then flips the switch.

OLIVER: Yeah. That’s enough of that.

HAROLD: (silently curses)

OLIVER: What? I meant nobody else can hear you scream.

Grand Ghoulish (II-IV)

II-IV. BROKEN CLOCK

That third-floor master suite of a “stately manor” located in the expensive corner of a somehow even more expensive strip of Southern California coastline. Only this time it’s all rather messy. Furniture is tossed, flipped. The walls smothered in blood, gore, more blood, and bits of sick. Also, Sophia is dead in her bed. Harold, not dead, looks upon all this.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) What remained of Sophia slumped awkwardly in her bed. Swashes of blood, splatterings of brains, and bits of skull clung to everything. And as Harold looked on at this from the doorway, he couldn’t help but feel like he made a huge mistake by stopping for gas.

Now. To be perfectly fair to Harold, his grandmother’s near-mint wood panel Ford station wagon was one Hell of a gas guzzler. And the trip from their home in Buena Park to that manor by the sea was already a good hour-long trip down the 5, give or take. Between the forty-year old fuel efficiency standards and some inexplicable bumper-to-bumper gridlock that began and ended for seemingly no reason whatsoever, Harold had zero chance of arriving in time for some heroic save. In fact, Harold realized this back in Irvine. But he also realized that he was a failed photographer in his thirties, living in his elderly grandmother’s garage, and having a summer fling with a married woman. So when the congestion blinked out of existence somewhere around Lake Forest, Harold steered the Ford off the freeway, put several dollars worth of gas in the tank, double-backed a bit, and eventually made his way up to Sophia’s bedroom doorway where he continued standing about like he wasn’t at some grisly scene worth reporting immediately to the local authorities.

OLIVER: (off) Good thing you dropped your phone.

Oliver enters, freshly made up.

Otherwise, this could have gone–

Harold ignores this, breaks Oliver’s nose with a wild and wholly lucky punch.

Oliver brushes this off, pinches at his bleeding, crooked nose.

OLIVER: I suppose I owed you that.

Harold growls, looks for something large and heavy to beat Oliver with, repeatedly.

HAROLD: I’m only getting started.

OLIVER: You know, I completely agree.

HAROLD: (blinks) What?

BRENNIPHIA: (off) Harold.

HAROLD: Brennifer?

Harold turns, sees…

BRENNIPHIA, a woman with a pink faux hawk in sweatpants and a tattered Bon Jovi tee. Fresh surgical incisions wrap around her head. She looks like Brennifer, but talks and moves like Sophia…

What the Hell did he do to you?

BRENNIPHIA: These?

She glides her fingers over the incisions.

Do they bother you?

HAROLD: Sophia.

She steps closer.

BRENNIPHIA: It’s like I told you, Harold. Oliver’s a magnificent surgeon.

She embraces Harold.

HAROLD: I don’t understand…

She sticks a syringe into Harold’s neck.

BRENNIPHIA: Turns out…

She empties, removes the syringe from Harold.

…when the clock stops rolling back, you can just get yourself a new clock.

Harold collapses to the floor, stays there.

OLIVER: Did you see his face? I think we broke his little mind.

BRENNIPHIA: (gushes) Right? (gestures) But did you have to do that to my body?

Oliver looks upon his work, shrugs.

OLIVER: You’re not the only one who loves a little theatrics, Sweetie.

Brenniphia shakes head, sighs.

BRENNIPHIA: Shut up and help me move him.

OLIVER: Yes, Ma’am.

Grand Ghoulish (II-III)

II-III. AN UNEARTHLY SOUND

Grandma’s. Grandma sits on her couch, stares blankly at nothing in particular.

Harold tantrums into the house.

HAROLD: I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him!

GRANDMA: (yawns) Are those MacGuffin boys teasing you again?

HAROLD: (puzzles this) What? No. Grandma, the MacGuffins haven’t lived around here for years.

GRANDMA: Are you sure?

HAROLD: Yes, I’m sure. Remember? Their house burned down when Mr. MacGuffin’s meth lab blew up during a police raid.

GRANDMA: Our water was off all day!

The unearthly sound of a landline telephone rings. Harold answers.

HAROLD: Who’s this?

SOPHIA: (phone) (sobs) Harold?

HAROLD: Sophia? How’d you get this number?

SOPHIA: (phone) I’ve been calling your cell, but it keeps going to voicemail.

Harold checks his pockets and finds only his wallet and keys.

HAROLD: Aw, shit.

SOPHIA: (phone) Harold… Oliver found my phone. He knows everything.

HAROLD: Yeah, I kinda picked that up after he sucker-punched me at the gallery.

SOPHIA: (phone) He already found you?

HAROLD: Not gonna lie. I think I got off kinda easy, all things considered.

SOPHIA: (phone) (screams in that way one tends to do when their muscle-bound spouse suddenly returns home during an in-progress, infidelity-fueled rampage)

HAROLD: Sophia?!

Silence. Then…

Sophia, are you okay? Sophia, are you okay? Are you okay, Sophia? Sophia, are you okay? Sophia, are you okay? Are you okay, Sophia?

Another silence. Then…

Harold inspects the phone.

Oh. Battery’s dead.

GRANDMA: Harold, does this mean you’re going to be late with the rent again?

Harold ignores this, storms out the door.

Harold?

She walks to the door, watches Harold speed off in the station wagon.

(sighs) I’m never getting my car back.

Grand Ghoulish (II-II)

II-II. ONE PUNCH

THE ALLEY BEHIND THE SMALL ART GALLERY. BRENNIFER SPEAKS TO AN OFFICER. OFFICER SLOWLY, YET UN-ASSUREDLY TAKES NOTES ON A HANDY LITTLE NOTEPAD WITH A LITTLE PENCIL.

HAROLD, MEANWHILE, STANDS BY HIS GRANDMOTHER’S STATION WAGON, PATIENTLY WAITING FOR HIS CUE AS IF HE ISN’T ACTUALLY THERE. HE HOLDS A LARGE FRAMED PHOTOGRAPH UNDER EACH ARM.

OFFICER: Okay. So, would you mind going over this one more time for me?

BRENNIFER: What’s the point of writing all this down if you’re just going to have me repeat it?

OFFICER GESTURES TO THE AUDIENCE.

BRENNIFER: Oh. Right. (TO HAROLD) Go on, then.

HAROLD: You sure?

BRENNIFER: (GESTURES TO AUDIENCE) Wouldn’t want complaints about exposition.

HAROLD: (NODS) Of course.

HAROLD DROPS, SHATTERS FRAMED PHOTOS.

(PRETENDS TO CARE) Oh, no…

(TO BRENNIFER) Like that?

BRENNIFER: It’ll do.

OFFICER: That’s it?

BRENNIFER: Don’t make me have to do this again.

HAROLD: Yeah, what she said. Also, I didn’t bring any more of these to break.

OFFICER: Sorry.

BRENNIFER AND HAROLD GLARE, SHAKE HEADS AT OFFICER. THEN…

BRENNIFER: Right. So, that happened. And then, I walked over to Harold and said… (TO HAROLD) Everything okay? I heard screaming.

HAROLD: Yeah, it’s cool. I always scream when things are okay.

BRENNIFER: (GESTURES TO SHATTERED FRAMES) You need some help with that?

HAROLD: Nah. That was the last of it. Sorry it took me so long to come back for all this.

BRENNIFER: It’s cool. I’m sorry nobody bought anything.

HAROLD: Yeah… But at least I got some work out of it.

BRENNIFER: (PUZZLES THIS) (LAUGHS) Oh, yeah. That weird couple. How’d that work out?”

HAROLD: (LAUGHS) Sophia’s not weird…

BRENNIFER: (GRIMACES) Aw, shit…

HAROLD: (BLINKS) What?

BRENNIFER: You dumb bastard. How long have you been fucking her?

HAROLD: (CONSIDERS THIS) What?

BRENNIFER: (TO OFFICER) You getting this?

OFFICER: (READS) “You dumb bastard. How long have you been fucking her?” (TO BRENNIFER) What next?

BRENNIFER: Right. Well. Then, this dude comes up and–

OFFICER: Dude?

BRENNIFER: Just watch.

BRENNIFER GESTURES FOR THINGS TO PROCEED.

OLIVER ENTERS, PUNCHES AND KNOCKSOUT HAROLD.

OLIVER: (TO BRENNIFER) How was that?

BRENNIFER: Perfect. Thank you.

OLIVER EXITS.

OFFICER: Wait. You didn’t think to warn your friend–

BRENNIFER: (SHAKES HEAD) No, no, no… Harold and I screwed a few times in the utility closet after hours. We weren’t friends.

OFFICER TAKES IN THE PINK-HAIRED WOMAN IN FRONT OF HIM, WONDERS IF SHE SELLS MINERALS OR WEED. THEN…

OFFICER: Right. So, you didn’t think to warn Harold that a (READS NOTES) “very angry dude” was about to start a fight with him?

BRENNIFER: (SHAKES HEAD AGAIN) No. Not a fight – an ass-kicking. The dude threw one punch, then left.

OFFICER:  Okay… But why didn’t you say anything to Harold?

BRENNIFER: (SHRUGS) Maybe I thought he had it coming.

END SCENE.

Grand Ghoulish: II-I. Sex, Motels, and Voicemails

II-I. SEX, MOTELS, AND VOICEMAILS

THE MUSTY DARKNESS OF A ROOM AT A ROADSIDE MOTEL IN SOME FORGOTTEN CORNER OF SANTA ANA. HAROLD AND SOPHIA LOSE THEMSELVES IN EACH OTHER.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Their first hotel room felt like a lifetime ago. This one was their second room this week. Another stolen moment in a summer of stolen moments. They stole kisses at a mall like a couple of teenagers cutting class. Text messages became love notes. Love notes evolved into voicemails. Voicemails slipped into hushed late-night calls. Long drives and short make-out sessions in parking lots and malls quickly abandoned for more hotel rooms and lunch at her favorite places. And when Sophia paid with cash, Harold never asked why.

A PHONE RINGS AND RINGS AND RINGS…

SOPHIA ROLLS ATOP HAROLD, ANSWERS PHONE.

SOPHIA: (TO PHONE) I’m busy. What do you want?

SHE LISTENS AND “UH-HUHS” ALONG, ROLLS EYES, GESTURES, “BLAH-BLAH-BLAH.”

(GROWLS) Goodbye, Oliver…

SHE HANGS UP, TOSSES THE PHONE ASIDE.

(TO HAROLD) Where were we?

SHE PAWS AND NIBBLES HAROLD.

HAROLD: Everything cool?

SHE STOPS, LOOKS AT HAROLD AS IF HE’S THE STUPIDEST MAN ALIVE.

SOPHIA: What? Yeah, I’m fine. Everything’s fine. Why?

HAROLD: He just called.

SOPHIA: For fuck’s sake… You’re not going to start being a little bitch about this, are you?

HAROLD: (LIES POORLY) No… It’s just… isn’t this even a little fuckin’ weird to you?

SOPHIA: That’s funny… 

SHE ROLLS OFF HAROLD, GATHERS HER CLOTHES.

I didn’t know that was your conscience inside me a minute ago. My bad.

SOPHIA DISAPPEARS INTO THE SHOWER.

A BEAT.

HAROLD: (SIGHS) Goddammit.

END SCENE.

Grand Ghoulish: I-VI. Clock on the Wall

I-VI. CLOCK ON THE WALL

THE SANDY COASTLINE OF A SLIGHTLY MORE AFFLUENT COASTAL CALIFORNIA “COMMUNITY.” HOTELS AND BOATS ON ONE SIDE, BEACH ON THE OTHER. HAROLD AND SOPHIA SIT ON A BENCH. HE, A SLOBBISH CHIMP, WATCHES THE BOATS. SHE, A FASHIONABLE MESS, PERUSES A STACK OF PHOTOGRAPHS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) It was a sweltering afternoon in a slightly more affluent coastal California “community” where nobody really likes each other, but are too medicated to care. The still air was thick and smelled of fish. And as Harold watched yet another yacht struggle to navigate the calm waters of the harbor, he concluded the world was wrong and life was meaningless.

SOPHIA: Would you do me?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) They sat on a bench beneath the thinning shade of a patch of trees, yacht clubs and hotels to one side, families splashing about on a narrow stretch of sandy beach to the other. She was a fashionable mess of hair blowing in the wind, making her way through a stack of photographs of herself. He was very confused.

HAROLD: I’m sorry, I think an aneurysm burst. What were you saying?

SOPHIA IGNORES THIS, HOLDS UP A PARTICULARLY FLATTERING IMAGE IN WHICH SHE MADE CREATIVE USE OF A CHAIR, A MIRROR, AND THE CONTENTS OF A BOX SHE KEPT BURIED IN THE BACK OF HER CLOSET.

SOPHIA: I’d do me.

HAROLD: I’m glad you like them.

SOPHIA: (GUSHES) I love them! Don’t take this the wrong way, but how are you not getting more work?

HAROLD: (SHRUGS) What’s there to say? One minute, you’re young and full of shit and the world is yours. Next minute, you’re looking at a clock on the wall in an empty art gallery, wondering what the Hell you did so very, very wrong.

SOPHIA SEES THE MAN BESIDE HER, THEN THE STACK OF PHOTOGRAPHS IN HER HANDS.

SOPHIA: I haven’t seen myself… (BEAT) I haven’t felt this beautiful in years. Thank you, Harold.

SHE KISSES HIM.

HAROLD BLINKS.

Your lips are soft…

AND THEN SHE GATHERS HER THINGS, WALKS AWAY.

HAROLD WATCHES LIKE AN IDIOT, EVENTUALLY REALIZES HE SHOULD PROBABLY SAY OR DO SOMETHING.

HAROLD: (BLATHERS) Wait. What? Shit… I’m sorry, Sophia. I didn’t–

SOPHIA STOPS, TURNS TO HAROLD.

SOPHIA: I know you didn’t. I did.

HAROLD: Then, what’s the problem?

SOPHIA: (SMILES) No problem.

THEY SHARE A MOMENT. THEN…

SOPHIA EXITS, TOWARD THE NEARBY HOTELS.

HAROLD FOLLOWS.

END ACT ONE.

Grand Ghoulish: I-V. Click

I-V. CLICK

GRANDMA’S DARK KITCHEN. HAROLD, IN HIS UNDERWEAR, ON A ROLLING CHAIR OF SOME SORT, TYPES AND CLICKS AWAY AT A LAPTOP.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Harold edited erotic photos of a mostly naked married woman by the glow of his computer screen, and his mind wandered.

HAROLD WANDERS AND ROLLS TO:

THE THIRD-FLOOR MASTER SUITE OF A “STATELY MANOR.” SOPHIA WAITS, STILL DRESSED AS WE LOST SAW HER, UNAWARE THE SCENE HAS BEGUN.

HAROLD PUTS ON HIS CLOTHES FROM THE PREVIOUS SCENE AND PICKS UP A CAMERA.

SOPHIA REALIZES WHAT’S HAPPENING, POSES ON THE BED.

HAROLD, ONCE AGAIN FULLY CLOTHED, PHOTOGRAPHS SOPHIA FROM SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE BED AND THAT WINDOW WITH THE BALCONY OVERLOOKING THE EXPENSIVE EVERYTHING. SHUTTERS CLICK, LIGHTS FLASH.

SOPHIA GROWS FRUSTRATED.

SOPHIA: (COOS) I don’t have cooties, ya know.

HAROLD LOOKS UP FROM HIS CAMERA, EYES NEVER LEAVING SOPHIA.

HAROLD: Huh?

SOPHIA: You’re so far away. Wouldn’t it help if you got a little closer?

HAROLD: (SHRUGS) Maybe.

SOPHIA: (POUTS) For someone who does this all the time, you sure are shy.

A BEAT. THEN…

HAROLD STEPS A LITTLE CLOSER, CONTINUES WITH ALL THE CLICKING AND FLASHING. SOPHIA CONTINUES POSING.

HAROLD: To be fair, most of these girls I photograph are…

SOPHIA: Younger?

HAROLD: Not married.

SOPHIA: (SCOLDS) Harold

CLICK, FLASH.

HAROLD: I’m teasing.

SOPHIA RELAXES, SMILES.

CLICK-CLICK-CLICK. FLASH-FLASH-FLASH.

HAROLD: Most of them are wannabe models who will never make it, settle on being whatever an “influencer” is, then turn to selling oils and pills and other people’s artwork.

SOPHIA: Sounds a bit harsh.

HAROLD: (SHAKES HEAD) I’m not judging. Just sharing.

SOPHIA SITS EXPOSED BENEATH THAT INTIMATELY DETAILED NUDE OIL INTERPRETATION OF HER YOUNGER SELF.

SOPHIA: (CONSIDERS THIS) So, what does that make me?

HAROLD STOPS.

HAROLD: I’m not sure yet.

A SILENCE. THEN…

HAROLD CONTINUES WITH THE CLICKING AND FLASHING, SOPHIA CONTINUES WITH THE POSING.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Many hours later, as Harold sat in the mild discomfort of an otherwise dark kitchen, beneath the wobbly blades of a ceiling fan, looking at dozens of photos of Sophia, he still wasn’t quite sure what to make of her.

Like the photos on his laptop, no two Sophias were the same. There was the refined woman in the silk sundress he met at the gallery, soft-spoken, curious, and resigned to the whims of a man who drags her by the wrist and parks in handicap spaces. A carefree mess in her vintage Bon Jovi tee smoking weed with Harold in his car. That confident young woman bound forever in canvas and oils. And every photograph was another Sophia looking back at him, her emotions and thoughts and urges scattered. One moment, she’s aware of how little she’s wearing and reaching for sheets, pretending she’s only being playful. The next, she’s ripping off her top and reaching for Harold with her eyes…

But it was the Sophia who caught his camera lingering too long on an old surgical scar that Harold kept coming back to.

SOPHIA GLIDES HER FINGERS OVER FAINT LINES RUNNING BENEATH HER ARMS AND BREASTS.

SOPHIA: These…? Oliver’s work. He’s a magnificent surgeon, but you can only roll back the clock so far. And time still leaves its scars.

HAROLD SAYS NOTHING…

…AND THE SILENCE CUTS AT SOPHIA LIKE HER HUSBAND’S SCALPEL.

Do they bother you?

HAROLD LOWERS HIS CAMERA, SEES THE MOSTLY NAKED WOMAN ON THE BED IN FRONT OF HIM. THEN…

HAROLD: No.

SOPHIA:  (SMILES) I tried to cover them up as best as I could.

HAROLD: They look fine. You look…

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Harold never finished his thought.

HAROLD RETURNS TO HIS CHAIR AND UNDERWEAR, ROLLS TO:

GRANDMA’S DARK KITCHEN.

HAROLD CONTINUES TYPING AND CLICKING AWAY AT A LAPTOP AS IF HE NEVER LEFT IT.

Back then, Oliver had returned by bursting through the front door and announcing his arrival like Ricky Ricardo. Whatever Harold might have been thinking at the time was replaced by the conflicting desires of leaping from the balcony window with the expensive view and running to the toilet.

GRANDMA ENTERS, ISN’T SURPRISED BY WHAT SHE FINDS.

But now, his Grandmother had walked in on her sweaty grandson in his underwear looking at erotic photographs of a mostly naked woman on his laptop.

GRANDMA: (SIGHS) Harold… I thought we talked about you doing this sort of thing in the kitchen.

HAROLD SLAMS THE LAPTOP SHUT.

HAROLD: I’m working and it’s hot in my garage!

END SCENE.

Grand Ghoulish: I-IV. Lavender

I-IV. LAVENDER

THE THIRD-FLOOR MASTER SUITE OF A “STATELY MANOR” LOCATED IN AN EXPENSIVE CORNER OF A SOMEHOW EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE STRIP OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COASTLINE. DOOR ON ONE SIDE, LARGE WINDOW WITH A BALCONY OVERLOOKING THE EXPENSIVE EVERYTHING ON THE OTHER. A TASTEFUL, YET EROTICLY-SIZED BED IN THE MIDDLE. AN INTIMATELY DETAILED NUDE OIL PAINTING OF SOPHIA ABOVE THIS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The house was little more than a modest four-bedroom home condensed into a cramped four-and-a-half thousand square feet. The Brazilian walnut flooring was several years old by now, and the wine cellar too small for even a moderate day-drinker.

HAROLD ENTERS, ROUGHLY FIFTY POUNDS OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT IN BOTH HANDS.

Sure, the view of the crystalline waters of the Pacific from the third-floor master suite was every bit as breathtaking as it was majestic. But, it could be better. 

HE SEIZES UPON THE INTIMATELY DETAILED NUDE OIL PAINTING OF SOPHIA.

In fact, Harold hardly noticed the view because he was preoccupied with the massive, intimately detailed nude oil painting of Sophia hanging over her bed.

SOPHIA ENTERS WEARING SOMEHOW LESS THAN THE PAINTING, JOINS HAROLD. YET AGAIN, HAROLD SOMEHOW FAILS TO NOTICE…

SOPHIA: My father-in-law used to be one hell of an artist.

HAROLD: Your father-in-law painted this?

HAROLD TURNS TO SOPHIA, DROPS BOTH HIS JAW AND THE ROUGHLY FIFTY POUNDS OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT.

SOPHIA: Yeah, but he’s dead now.

SOPHIA TURNS, CAUTIOUSLY NAVIGATES THE BROKEN PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT, AND LOOKS MELODRAMATICALLY OUT THE WINDOW.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Harold stood there in the bedroom of a mostly-naked married woman, among the several gym bags and rather expensive and broken light bulbs at his feet, a man at war with himself.

HAROLD GAWKS AT SOPHIA, TO THE INTIMATELY DETAILED NUDE OIL PAINTING, TO THE BROKEN PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT ALL AROUND HIM, AND THEN BACK TO SOPHIA.

On the one hand, he was an artist being paid to do his job. It hardly mattered that Sophia was a mature woman wearing only bits of tissue paper, floss, and a smile. The sort of haunting beauty many years removed from that painting, yet preserved by the carefree lifestyle of comically obscene wealth and the skilled hands of a well-compensated surgeon.

SOPHIA CROSSES BACK OVER THE BROKEN PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT, SEATS HERSELF AT THE FOOT OF THE BED. HAROLD CONTINUES TO GAWK.

But on the other less-skilled hand, Sophia hardly seemed to mind that Harold was gawking at her thighs and pondering aloud as to how soft they must feel, perhaps like very expensive toilet paper lightly scented in lavender.

SOPHIA: I thought you were a professional, Mr. Photographer?

HAROLD: Yeah. Me, too.

SOPHIA: Harold, I’m teasing.

HAROLD: I’m sorry. I think maybe this was a mistake.

SOPHIA: What. Why?

HAROLD: Well. You’re married, for one.

SOPHIA: Are you still on that? Oliver’s paying you to do this. He gave you a deposit, didn’t he?

HAROLD: Yeah, but…

SOPHIA: (GROANS, ROLLS EYES) Harold… The mostly-naked woman on her bed is paying you good money to take photos of her. So quit being such a chicken shit, and whip your camera out.

HAROLD: (NODS) Yes, Ma’am.

END SCENE.

Grand Ghoulish: I-III. Stately Manor

I-III. STATELY MANOR

A “STATELY MANOR” LOCATED IN AN EXPENSIVE CORNER OF A SOMEHOW EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE STRIP OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COASTLINE.

HAROLD PILOTS A CLASSIC STATION WAGON FULL OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT TO A STOP IN THE DRIVEWAY, IDLES THERE. 

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) A near-mint condition wood panel Ford station wagon creaked and wheezed to a stop outside what Harold would later describe to his grandmother as a “stately manor,” and Harold idled there for another fifteen minutes.

HE ANXIOUSLY SNACKS AND ROLLS A “MARIJUANA CIGARETTE” AS THE NARRATOR PRATTLES ON AS IF IT FARTING MATTERS.

It was an acceptable Sunday morning in an expensive corner of Southern California. The sun hungover in the sky, half-wrapped in a thin, frayed sheet of moisture that scattered the light like shards of broken glass into exposed flesh. The wind whipped at the eyes, and the salt stuck to everything. And far too many people dressed up for morning sermons but who were really just heading out for mojitos and brunch. A stark contrast to the thick, still air of that semi-converted garage where Harold stewed in his own juices all night, except for that hour or so when the air chilled and warm rain kicked up all the dirt. The sort of heat that wraps around you like a wool blanket and has you gasping for breath when the water of a cold shower hits your skin. Or has you sticking your head in the freezer until you realize how this is stupid and isn’t helping at all, taking your grandmother’s keys without asking, leaving Buena Park behind in the rear view mirror, and then cruising south along the 5 with the window cranked all the way down. Sure, you’ll get there a little earlier than planned. But you can just hangout by the beach for a bit, maybe grab some breakfast. Except there is no parking, and there’s no way in Hell that you’re going to pay fifteen dollars for half a Cubano and some potato chips. So you drive around until you find a gas station with a restroom, and buy some donuts and a drink with an arrhythmic amount of caffeine, even though that’ll just get you all wired up and shaky, and you’ll smoke a bunch of weed to calm yourself down.

HAROLD NODS IN AGREEMENT, LIGHTS AND SMOKES JOINT.

But then you realize it’s almost time for your appointment, and now you have to not only drive up and through a gated community located somewhere on a hill looking out over a stretch of the Pacific, but also do so in a rickety car that handles like a rickety boat.

SOPHIA, A COMFORTABLE MESS OF HAIR IN SWEATPANTS AND A TATTERED BON JOVI TEE, STEPS OUT, APPROACHES THE STATION WAGON. NEITHER HAROLD NOR THE NARRATOR SEEM TO NOTICE…

And once you arrive, you’ll spend another fifteen minutes smoking even more marijuana in the hope of forgetting that you nearly hit a family walking their dog and most definitely hit someone’s latest model luxury vehicle, even if nobody noticed or–

SOPHIA: Harold?

HAROLD EVENTUALLY TURNS TO SOPHIA, LIT JOINT IN HIS HAND. HE ROLLS DOWN A WINDOW THAT IS VERY MUCH ALREADY DOWN.

HAROLD: Hi.

SOPHIA TAKES THE JOINT, TAKES A HIT.

SOPHIA: Nice car.

SOPHIA RETURNS THE JOINT, HAROLD TAKES A HIT.

HAROLD: Thanks. It’s my grandma’s.

END SCENE.

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.

The Heart of a Hero

The parking lot of some godforsaken shopping center. PETER stands there, looking at a car in which a COUPLE are currently engaged in a bit of medium petting.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Peter Protagonist, a thirty-something nobody, stood in the parking lot of some godforsaken shopping center in the sort of Californian city where people with far too much money buy overpriced things from people with far too little of either.

And by “stood,” we mean in the sense Peter intensely watched on as his girlfriend, Ann Plot-Device, had coffee with another man.

And by “had coffee,” we mean, of course, in the sense that they engaged in some form of sexual intercourse in the backseat of a twenty-year old, mostly primer-colored Honda Civic.

But then the sky opened, Hell followed, and the hideous car – and its preoccupied occupants – were instantaneously vaporized as someone falling from said Hellhole in the Sky subsequently landed on – and, I suppose, through – all of this.

A HELL HOLE IN THE SKY opens. Someone falls out of this, onto and through the car. There’s a bit of fire, a sort of explosion. Peter is shock-waved several yards through the air. All fantastically gratuitous, we’re sure.

A crowd of LOOKIE-LOOS gather around and tend to the poor, helpless smoldering hole in the ground.

LOOKIE-LOO #1: Are you okay?

LOOKIE-LOO #2: I think they’re moving.

LOOKIE-LOO #3: Someone survived that?

LOOKIE-LOO #4: Is anyone getting a signal?

Peter drags himself bleeding and internally bleeding to the smoldering hole, sees what all this not-calling-me-an-ambulance business was all about.

REVEAL: a CLOWN in the bloodied, tattered remains of some kind of fancy Halloween costume, wriggling about and crying.

CLOWN: They’re coming! They’re coming! Good God, someone get me out of here, they’re coming!

PETER: Who? Who’s coming?

Clown points a broken, mushy stub to the sky.

CLOWN: Them!

REVEAL: an ALIEN ARMADA more or less gathers on this side of the Hellhole in the Sky.

LOOKIE-LOO #4: Alien invaders!

LOOKIE-LOO #3: They’re going to kill us all!

LOOKIE-LOO #2: It’s the end of the world!

LOOKIE-LOO #1: Everyone duck and cover!

CLOWN: (pained dying noises)

PETER: Sorry. What was that?

CLOWN: I said, the Libertitans aren’t here to kill you.

PETER: Then why are they here?

CLOWN: To conquer you… to steal your world, strip mine it… and enslave your people in soul-crushing, backbreaking low-paying jobs as they profit and feed off your perpetual misery and labor.

Peter blinks at this.

PETER: Uh-huh.

CLOWN: I think I’m a bit too far gone now…

Clown coughs, spits blood and viscera.

Only you can stop them now.

Clown opens their chest cavity with far too much ease, revealing a beautiful GEMSTONE where their heart should be.

PETER: Ew.

Clown coughs, spits again. 

CLOWN: My name is Heckles… I was just a party clown from Anaheim. Until I got this.

PETER: What is it?

CLOWN: A piece of the Black Star.

Peter blinks at this as well.

PETER: Okay.

CLOWN: When you take this, it will grant you power beyond imagination.

PETER: But?

CLOWN: But what?

PETER: What’s the catch, the gimmick?

CLOWN: (sighs) The Black Star will replace your heart and consume your life force until you either die in battle… or you burn out like a battery.

PETER: Why would I ever agree to something so ridiculous?

CLOWN: Because this is your chance to become a hero and save the world!

PETER: Yeah, but I don’t see an upside for me.

CLOWN: Are you shitting me? There’s an alien armada directly above us, and all you can think about is how this situation can benefit you personally?

PETER: Now. See? That’s not fair. You’re the one that came crashing down atop my cheating girlfriend and wrecked my car. And now here you are, a literal clown in some spandex getup…

CLOWN: Supersuit.

PETER: Thank you. A literal clown in some spandex supersuit insisting I give up any semblance of autonomy for the sake of saving a world that has proven time and again to not give a super-shit about me, themselves, or much of anything else, really, even when repeatedly faced with one self-inflicted global crisis after the other. Quite frankly, we could use a change in management around here.

CLOWN: Bit cynical, don’t you think?

PETER: Maybe. But we’re not only talking about choosing between one form of lifelong, cosmic indentured servitude over the other. We’re talking about unfair expectations of selfless self-sacrifice from others when, really, you’re coercing someone to act on pure emotion – in this case, fear – without all the facts.

CLOWN: That’s fair.

PETER: And even worse, you’re handing over the equivalent of a doomsday weapon to a random stranger on the street. Do you go around handing out guns and bombs at the local park on weekends? What makes you think I’m not only emotionally mature enough to wield such power without proper training, but to also do so without any selfish inclination to use such a weapon to force my own will on others?

CLOWN: I… I didn’t think about that.

PETER: Of course not. You didn’t think about this at all, did you? I suppose you’ve been gallivanting all about the multiverse, having one detached adventure after the next, oblivious of any consequences for swooping in and utterly upsetting the natural order of any particular corner of reality, and then being so utterly incompetent as to ensure that your troubles followed you home, where we are incapable – militarily, psychologically – of comprehending such threats, let alone actually fighting with such things.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) But before the clown in the Halloween spandex supersuit could fully process the fault in his logic and the string of mistakes that brought him here – in fact, just a few short miles away from where he had wasted much of his previous life on hard drugs, cheap liquor, and one open mic and dating app after the other – the alien armada unleashed their veggie-ray across the globe. And as the collective consciousness of humanity was locally deleted, but backed up to a server somewhere on the other side of the galaxy, Peter took solace in the fact that, at the very end, his and everyone else’s life was a complete waste of time.

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?

There Goes My Nipples Again

A parking lot.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) In a parking lot a short drive away…

An oddly dressed, but rather FASHIONABLE WOMAN struts out of a shop and across the parking lot.

…a woman wearing very little strutted across the parking lot…

A very stupid man, CUSTOMER, sulks in the opposite direction, notices the woman.

…and a very stupid man walked into a closed door.

The very stupid, now childishly distracted Customer blindly, but very painfully walks into a closed door.

The door belonged to a charmingly inconvenient boutique located in a rather busy corner of a fictional town I’ve made up just now. It was the sort of place with people to eat, things to regret, and, I suppose, whatever else one might think to bother with in an otherwise unimportant backdrop.

The man, meanwhile, belonged to – and was wanted by – nobody in particular, which, coincidentally, was the reason he was here in the first place.

A charming young business woman, SHOP OWNER, sticks her head out the door, looks at Customer in that way that seductively whispers, “I wonder if he’ll spend any money here.”

OWNER: Sir?

CUSTOMER: (mildly concussed) Women… (confused, concussed grumbling)

OWNER: Sir, far be it from me to question any man’s right to drink himself stupid in the middle of the day. But if you’re going to do that sort of thing, I suggest you do so somewhere more appropriate, like a public library or a city council meeting.

CUSTOMER: (slightly less concussed) I was told that I could find a woman here.

OWNER: I suppose you’re technically correct. But I’m not sure why you felt the need to bring my door into this.

CUSTOMER: Is this “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid?”

OWNER: You’ve seen our ad.

CUSTOMER: A friend of mine referred me. He suggested I come here to help with my…

OWNER: With your…?

CUSTOMER: Romance problem.

OWNER: Well, I’m not sure what you were told, but I’m afraid my door simply isn’t interested.

CUSTOMER: This is ridiculous.

OWNER: I agree. (holding the door open) Would you like to come inside and perhaps spend some money, then?

CUSTOMER cautiously enters the shop.

OWNER: Tell me a bit about yourself, Mr…

CUSTOMER: Customer.

OWNER: I’m sorry?

CUSTOMER: Customer. My name is Customer.

OWNER: Bit odd, isn’t it?

CUSTOMER: It’s the best I could come up with.

OWNER: (nodding) I’m sure it was, Mr. Customer. Now. Let me know how I can do so, and I’ll be absolutely frothy to rid you of some, most, or all of your money.

CUSTOMER: I want a woman.

OWNER: I think you simpleton’d something about that, yes. But what sort of woman are interested in?

CUSTOMER:  Oh, you know the sort. Kind, loving…

OWNER: Smart and beautiful?

CUSTOMER: If it’s not too much trouble.

OWNER: Not at all. Quite a common request. Any particular aesthetic, make, or model?

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’ll take whatever I can get. Just someone who loves me, is all.

OWNER: But also smart, kind…

CUSTOMER: And beautiful, yes.

OWNER: Of course. Anything else?

CUSTOMER: It’d be nice if she enjoyed the things I do, maybe understood me better.

OWNER: I think I understand.

CUSTOMER: Well, do you have one?

OWNER: One what?

CUSTOMER: A woman. I came here for a woman.

OWNER: Mr. Customer, what we offer at “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid” is completely customizable companion design and printing of made-to-order, honey-glazed, hand-crafted artisanal friends, lovers, and assorted sexual playthings.

CUSTOMER: You mean, you don’t have any just laying around.

OWNER: Sir, again, if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then I suggest you get into politics.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I mean, you don’t have any off-the-shelf, over-the-counter women in stock?

OWNER: Custom orders only, I’m afraid

CUSTOMER: Shame.

OWNER: Yes, but I assure you our services are second to none.

CUSTOMER: Well if you have no women in stock, what could you possibly offer?

OWNER: Options, Sir. Options.

She rises with a click of her heels and a wave of her hand.

The walls flicker to life with images of women of all shapes, sizes, looks, and attires.

You see, we’ve long discovered that while men such as yourself claim they’re looking for a smart, beautiful, funny, beautifully smart, and funnily beautiful romantic partner, what you’re actually looking for is a fictional surrogate to fill some contrived role in an utterly warped narrative of a poorly written love story that only exists in your head. Whether it’s the strong, independent femme fatale, the diminutive and submissive doll, or perhaps even a flirtatious lesbian whom only you can somehow magically convert into a heterosexual lifemate and plaything. Whatever outlandish concept of a woman you can fathom, we can fabricate.

CUSTOMER: This is insane.

OWNER: I’m sorry, Mr. Customer. I didn’t mean to offend.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’m not offended. No, that was an impressively accurate guess.

OWNER: We aim to please.

CUSTOMER: This all sounds a little too good to be true. How can you possibly have such a roster of willing women simply waiting to tend to the imaginative whims of a lonely man?

OWNER: I’m afraid I’m failing you, Mr. Customer. Perhaps a demonstration.

CUSTOMER: Is there a charge?

OWNER: Not at all. This is a free sample guaranteed to wash out with little more than soap and water.

CUSTOMER: I don’t follow.

OWNER: Well then, please do!

Owner directs Customer to a large glass and metal pod. In the pod is nothing but a chair with a towel on it.

In just a few moments, you’ll perfectly understand what I mean.

Customer enters the pod, sits in the chair.

CUSTOMER: What’s the towel for?

OWNER: It helps us minimize the cleanup.

CUSTOMER: Cleanup?

Owner waves her other hand in a different way and the pod door closes.

Two-and-a-half minutes on high and one adorable little DING of a bell later, and the door opens again.

OWNER: Well, what do you think? We call this one the “Manic-Pixie Dream Girl.” It’s very popular.

Customer steps out of the pod in a cloud of gas known to the state of California to possibly cause some kind of cancer, seizes on what he sees in the mirror – only now TRANSFORMED into a young woman ripped right out of some terrible romantic comedy.

A pleasant little tune plays over the PA system. A disembodied, wholly male VOICE provides commentary seemingly ripped right out of some terrible novel.

VOICE: (PA system) She was a breastuous bit of leggy sex dipped in the sticky, erotic honey of a needy man’s dream.

CUSTOMER: What the hell?

VOICE: (PA system) She played with her luxuriously unkempt hair, hastily tied up in a ponytail, and squeezed at the massive udders bolted to her chest, which were seemingly hoisted up by a series of cables and pulleys until they burst forth from her modest, low-cut, crease and crevice-hugging dress. All skewed slightly because of a pair of glasses now in her face.

Customer uncomfortably jiggles and bounces in frustration.

CUSTOMER: What the Hell have you done to me?

OWNER: Do you know how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly?

CUSTOMER: What? No. Not at all.

OWNER: Well. It’s a lot like that, but not.

CUSTOMER: I mean, why have you made me a woman? I came here for a woman, not to be turned into one!

OWNER: Did you, Sir?

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

OWNER: Are you sure that’s what you came here for?

CUSTOMER: Concussion aside, I’m fairly certain that’s what I eventually said, yes.

OWNER: If you were referred to us, then I’m sorry to say that your ideal woman likely doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make one who does.

Customer silently screams.

OWNER: (sighing) Women are more than a collection of traits to be picked and plucked and thrown together like some macabre masturbatory stew, Mr. Customer. Some might even consider them people, with internal lives of their own and everything.

CUSTOMER: Isn’t that last bit true?

OWNER: How should I know? I started this business so I didn’t have to bother with all that nonsense.

CUSTOMER: What, you don’t mean…

OWNER: That I devised a way to take myself and any other man, put them into a metal pod, convert their physical body into an amorphous blob of malleable genetic material, and then reconstitute such a blob back into an ideal female physical specimen to suit their explicit, implicit, and exhibitionist desires, and all while keeping their male brains and identity full intact? Yes, that’s more or less the gist of it.

CUSTOMER: Huh.

OWNER: I’ll admit, it does seem like a long walk just to avoid having to compromise my unrealistic expectations for the sake of emotionally bonding with another living soul.

CUSTOMER: Any complaints?

OWNER: Not really, no. The men seem perfectly content with their new toys. And the women are happy to be rid of all the creepy little gremlins lurking about their ankles, waiting to catch a glimpse of something she never intended to show them in the first place.

CUSTOMER: Well as much as I do love these fantastic breasts, I can’t help but feel this might be a little wrong.

OWNER: Of course it’s wrong, Mr. Customer. There are those who spend their entire lives struggling to better themselves for the sake of finding love, or to become the woman they always knew they were on the inside. But here you and I are, men who have crafted a facade – a sexual fiction and image that exists solely to placate our uncouth, uninhibited animal urges at the expense of any tattered shred of respect for women.

CUSTOMER: Sounds like this might upset a lot of women.

OWNER: Quite a few actually. But if any of my clients had the first clue about women, or what they thought about or felt, they wouldn’t come to me, now would they?

CUSTOMER: Well, when you put it that way…

OWNER: I did.

CUSTOMER: Right. Well. I guess a test drive couldn’t hurt.

OWNER: Wonderful! Would you like to wear this one out, then?

CUSTOMER: Actually. Do you have anything in a “bisexual open to a threesome?”

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…