by D.J. Sylvis
(The episode begins with a recorded standard introduction. This will be the same for every episode of Season Two.)
Recording. This is Roger Bragado-Fischer, Communications, Moonbase Theta. As per your … instructions in the updated Base directives, I have begun monitoring the personal messages of all active personnel. Please note my … misgivings as put on official record in the previous week’s reporting. And the week before. And the week before that.
As your instructions remain unchanged, my written report, and several related audio messages, have been attached. The dates include two weeks of the shutdown sequence, beginning on November 10 and ending November 25, 2098.
(a brief, tense pause)
Moonbase Theta, Out.
(When that ends, we transition into the background noise we know from the hydroponic farm. We may, occasionally, hear the tardigrade noises in the background, though they are not acknowledged. Wilder’s arm runs, grinding just a little bit.)
Careful. Softly there, darlin’, you got this. One quick tear and then we –
(we hear duct tape ripping)
Good job, Eliza. We’re getting’ that fine control back like a boss! Now put a crease right … there, in to th’ middle, there y’go, that’s lookin’ a lot more like a crane than th’ last ones.
Duct tape origami. I think I invented it, I haven’t tried trademarking th’ process yet. But it works best if y’ got a trick arm like mine to smooth out th’ folds. It’s been good for the … quiet times.
Not that we have many of those; that’s what y’all call a mixed blessing. Things are still a big mess … you know, down in the tunnels, and not so great up here, when it comes down to it. We’re all still …
(her arm ratchets)
Puttin’ ourselves back together. Not that the folks downstairs saw fit to give us any time for it, didn’t adjust our quotas or allow a day off for … they offered half a shift, and I played sick for the rest. Not that I really have t’ play. I’m doing my best, loves, but I’m definitely still under repair. I guess that makes me the lucky one.
She was … I can’t even tell you how special. I don’t have th’ words. Roger – he found ‘em, I forwarded his eulogy, I hope you heard it. It’s what I would have said if I could. As much as I don’t know how I’m feelin’ about him these days … he knows how to turn a phrase. Oh, and I double-checked, since you didn’t believe me. Their pups, the breed is definitely called Dogo.
Doggo. You better have looked that up, it’s worth it. Doggo. Show the kids, too, if you don’t get a kick out of it, they definitely will.
(brief pause, we hear her stand up, hear leaves rustling)
I’ve been takin’ care of the farm since she left us. It was always the heart of everythin’, I couldn’t just … someone needed to take the duty. I figure I owe her. I should have …
(we hear her voice change, the fury, the pain)
I shoulda been there in time, dammit. What’s the point in having goddamn cybernetic enhancements if when there’s actually a need I can’t … I want to rip this whole thing out of me, my arm, all th’ wiring they put in my brain, every part of it. What’s the point in puttin’ up with all the stares, with what they say behind my back, if I’m fuckin’ useless in a pinch? God dammit.
(she sits down heavily, her arm clunks against something)
(her arm ratchets)
I’m sorry, darlin’. I didn’t mean it.
I’m sorry to you, too. Not much of a message home, is it? Not much of a, “Send us regular updates, Wilder, so we know you’re okay.” I’m sorry, babes. I’m gonna make it through. Only a few more weeks now, right?
Any. Hoo. Did you check out that … place, I told you about? I hope all that got through. The lady sounded like a definite piece o’ work, but some little place like that, it could be the hidey hole we’ve been lookin’ for.
(we hear the tone that means there’s an incoming message)
Hold on a tick, somethin’ just came through. I’ll talk to you more later on. Don’t … don’t worry, okay? I know that’s like askin’ bread not t’ rise, but … I’m not done yet. I swear.
(we hear the chime that bookends a message)
Okay, play that thing. Play message.
Secure memo, Wilder, Base Theta. Record. Oh, it’s already – umm, yeah, hi. Sorry, I was just … right. How are things going up there?
(he coughs awkwardly)
I couldn’t get into the file you requested. They’ve got it locked down like a … really tight thing. But! I was able to find an older version of the schematics. The pathways might be a little different, but it should give you what you were looking for. It’s, umm, censored, a little, as per, as by, the rules. I’m attaching it now.
So hey, when you get back to Earth, do you think we could maybe do something? I felt like we kinda clicked, I really liked your voice and I’m completely available, any time –
End message! Oh, puh-lease. I’m gay! L-E-S-B-gay! I’m sure it’s right there in my file.
Display attached document on screen. Next page. Next page. Next page.
Censored a little? You missed a spot here and there, I can actually see a bit o’ diagram. Ah well, Wilder. One does not simply walk into Mordor. Better get to work.
(The tardigrade noises increase, as in Nessa’s final monologue in the previous episode.)
Aww, little buggers. You miss her too. I’m gonna find y’all a safe place to nap before I’m done.
(Scene break – perhaps using the same standard chime for simplicity’s sake. When we come back, we hear the standard background noise of Roger’s private cubicle, but perhaps a bit more outside noise as well. Ashwini is there and speaks first.)
You know I find personal conversations to be a generally regretful experience, but we should … probably talk.
I’m kinda in the middle of … I don’t know. Something.
(sounding a bit inebriated)
Ah, yes. The ubiquitous ‘something’. I know it’s not the best of times for any of our little crew, but one of your broadcasts was brought to my attention, and I felt it best to be –
(obviously speaking past zir, perhaps shouting)
Hey! Where do you think you’re headed?
Like I have to tell you.
Don’t go up there again.
(further away now)
Lâche-moi les baskets!
What did he say – don’t go up there! You don’t deserve to see her!
Perhaps not shouting directly into my face.
Look, we can talk later, I’ve got to go.
Is it really wise to keep on goading him?
I gotta –
All things having been considered?
I can’t just – I have to … you know, something. I’ll find you later on.
Please do. It is a matter of some –
(Ze is cut off as Roger slides his door closed. Now we only hear the slight background noise of his cubicle. He sits down heavily.)
Personal log, continue. I was … talking about …
(brief pause, distracted)
He better not be … I don’t even know what, but he better not. Okay, calm down, breathe. She would say I should breathe.
(he takes a deep breath, trying to clear his head)
Before all that, I was talking about Alex. I should be talking to Alex, but with all the delays, and communication issues, and the solar flares … they probably think we made those up too, if only. I’ve barely been able to keep any contact with Earth, so sending private messages hasn’t been one of their priorities.
It might be just as well. The, umm, nightmares … have been coming back, the more I talk about … don’t get me wrong, I need to talk about it, I need Alex to know, but … yeah. They haven’t been this bad for a while. I wake up soaked with sweat, clenching my jaw to keep from crying out, sure I can feel it all again, closing in around me …
(after a pause, he laughs bitterly)
I don’t know how I’m gonna get into a stasis pod to make it home. Right now, I couldn’t lay there to save my life. Though if you listen to Wilder, chances on that might be less than we hope right now. She’s been staying up nights looking at schematics, muttering to herself and ratcheting the gears in her arm.
I go out to … sit in the hall sometimes, when I can’t sleep, and I hear her. If it’s not her muttering, it’s Ashwini in the other direction, ranting and rambling to, I don’t know, little creatures in the corner of the room for all I can tell. I try not to listen on purpose, that’s all I need right now, more people thinking my ear is cocked in their direction.
(he sighs, more exasperated than anything)
Hindsight and all, I should have been up front about it. That probably would have defused the whole thing when … I did everything I could, though. I gave them all of my messages before anyone’s, everything Alex sent me. What else could I do? And then on everyone else, I gave them the most banal stuff, the things everyone knows anyway. I haven’t even listened in weeks, I just keep changing all the sentences around and sending out the same reports again. But … no excuse, it felt wrong in the beginning, I just didn’t know how to bring it up. Or didn’t trust them. I should have at least told Nessa – she would have known what to say.
(he sits back, quieter, taking a long pause)
This is all so much harder without you.
(We hear the sound of an incoming message. Roger hits a few buttons. We hear the Enclave Officer, but the message is fragmented and interrupted by static.)
ENCLAVE OFFICER (Rec.)
Message to … Moonbase Theta. Signal still distorted due to increased … radiation. Of primary importance to your current goals …
Well, that’s just lovely. Let’s strip that out.
ENCLAVE OFFICER (Rec.)
(clearer now, but still with gaps)
As mentioned, the rocket scheduled to arrive at week twenty will now be the only remaining transport.
What the hell are they talking –
ENCLAVE OFFICER (Rec.)
We have missed our current launch window, and will focus instead on the –
(we hear a noise as he cuts the broadcast off)
Display as text. What the hell? What the hell?
(he slams his hand down)
“Continue processing to the fullest storage capabilities.” Of course, they don’t care about us, they don’t care about … but they definitely want the helium. Just keep piling it up until we get there. Fill all the tanks, slip into your stasis pods, and the cavalry will come.
(he stands up)
I don’t like the way this … I have to talk to – someone.
(we hear him open the sliding door to his cubicle)
The fuck are you doing out here?
Nothing. I was just on my way – shut up.
On your way where? What are you doing now?
(walking away quickly)
None of your foutu business.
Did he have a hammer?
(distant from the microphone, following)
Why do you have a hammer?
(distant as well)
Security Level Blue! Remember what that means, little man?
Get back here! Get the fuck back here!
(We hear the faint sounds of a scuffle. Scene break – perhaps using the same standard chime for simplicity’s sake. We come back in Michell’s cubicle, we hear him groaning.)
(a bit of begrudging respect)
I’ll give him that – the twerp throws a decent punch. I mean, I had him, but … it wasn’t respectful, I was there to hallow the space and … pray. He’s lucky. I should have … ugh.
Olfactory, incense – dragon’s blood, point two five. Incense, cedar, point one.
(we hear the olfactory system, he breathes in)
I gotta focus. I’ve got shit to do; someone’s got to keep this all together. Replay that message again?
(Another message plays from the Enclave Officer. There are no gaps, and the sound quality is fine. However, he sounds harried and stressed.)
ENCLAVE OFFICER (Rec.)
Officer L’Anglois. Michell. We’ve all got to keep it together. I’ve got incursions on every side, significant resource depletion … you know how it is. I’m doing my job down here; you get it done up there. I’m sorry about your friend. Five more weeks, it’ll all be sorted. You know we’ll bring you all home.
(we can hear the doubt in his voice)
Funny they feel like they have to say that. I’ve gotta keep getting the job done. I’ll keep getting it done. Fuck, my jaw hurts.
(He sits down and sighs, and there is a long gap where we only hear his breathing, and the slight spritz every once in a while of the olfactory. Perhaps we hear him tapping at a keyboard. Finally, he speaks again. The underlined text will be translated into French.)
Personal message. To …
(a lengthy pause)
To … Nessa Cheong.
Olfactory, switch to cigarette smoke … forget it, cancel. Revert to previous setting.
I’m so … pissed off at you! What the fuck were you doing out there? Nobody asked you to get out and mess around with the equipment, that’s Wilder’s whole job. That’s what they do! Why were you even down there in the first place, why couldn’t you stay on your goddamn farm with your plants and your condescending attitude and just … Je me contrefous de ce que tu fais ou de où tu le fais, j’aurais juste aimé que tu ne sois pas dans ce tunnel et que tu ne meures pas. (I don’t care what you fucking do or where you do it just so you weren’t in that tunnel and you … didn’t … die.)
(He strikes out and we hear something break. We may hear choked-back sobs. There is a long pause.)
I didn’t have anything to do with it. Her arm was acting up long before I … it doesn’t even matter, she couldn’t have been there in time, she couldn’t have stopped it even if she … nobody could have stopped it. It didn’t make any difference. There’s no point in even …
(a tortured pause)
Archive. Play first message received from Nessa Cheong.
Hi there. I keep meaning to say welcome to the Base! Things have been such a flurry of activity as everyone gets their jobs squared away. But we’ll be among the lucky few staying awake, and I don’t know you well yet, and I’d … like to. You seem like someone I’d enjoy. Well, most people do, but you seem special. Come by the farm if you want, I’m always there.
Rewind ten seconds, play.
You seem like someone I’d enjoy. Well, most people do –
Stop. How much do you enjoy it now? The whole fucking thing, how much was it worth it? Are you glad you got to know me? Fucking saw me, right to the …
Get out of my head! I need you out of my head now, I’m sorry it happened, I … I’m sorry. I’m sorry!
(almost sobbing again)
I can’t … have you in my head while I’m getting the job done. Or the job won’t get done, and if the job isn’t done …
(pause, bitterly, starting to put it together)
They don’t bring us all home.
(pause, he stands up pushing the chair back)
I need to … I have to talk to – someone. Save message as draft.
(We hear the chime that bookends a personal log message. The episode ends.)