Episode 3: “Chance” – Transcript

MonkeyTales – Episode 3 – “Chance”
by D.J. Sylvis

Listen to the episode here

SETTING: The very confined cabin of a scout ship, orbiting a planet below. In the background, we can hear the soft whoosh of conditioned air and faint sounds from the ship’s instruments.

AT RISE: VER is in one of the seats, checking the instruments occasionally. JULAM, meanwhile, is stretched out on the floor, fiddling with something beneath her chair.

JULAM

I don’t know why they put the transponder under my chair. Every time it needs reset, who winds up doing devil yoga to get to it?

            (we hear her hit her head and grunt in pain)

Fucking scout ships. I’ve got jeans that are roomier than this. Okay, give it a minute to boot then you can send the data. I hope we got something decent this time. Did we get something decent this time?

            (Ver doesn’t seem to notice the question)

Ver? Ver, what’s the deal with the planet? Pilot to copilot, are you with us? Fine, I’ll check for myself.

VER

No signs of life, no ice, no radiation above normal background levels. Useful minerals are at a minimum.

JULAM

Shiz. Another worthless rock. Are you sure?

VER

You can check the reports.

JULAM

No … I’m sorry. Anyway, if we don’t send the data now …

VER

Sending.

            (we hear another faint noise)

JULAM

Angular speed is down a little.

VER

It’ll get out in time.

JULAM

I can’t believe there’s nothing. How do other teams find ten good planets in a row? Don’t fucking tell me it’s just luck. Somebody’s paying somebody off.

VER

No one’s been to the planets yet. How do they know?

JULAM

They know. They know. That’s how the world works.

VER

If you say so.

JULAM

We should have stuck to hauling ore.

VER

You wanted to give this a shot.

JULAM

So did you.

VER

I know. After three years on a mining run …

JULAM

Yeah.

            (we hear her jumpsuit rustle as she stands up)

I’m gonna take a walk. You wanna walk with me?

VER

I’m okay.

JULAM

Put your knees up.

(Ver shifts in her seat. We hear Julam walk in a circle several times rapidly.)

VER

This was easier when you did pushups.

JULAM

What?

VER

Back on the freighter, you did pushups.

JULAM

The less space I have, the more I want to do with it. I feel like a hamster on a wheel in here.

VER

Where have you ever seen a hamster?

JULAM

On the net.

VER

We had a hamster in grade school.

JULAM

I miss the net out here.

VER

I fed him bits of my sandwich on bologna days.

JULAM

It always feels weird when you burst through the wormhole and nothing. No net. No world.

VER

Poor thing didn’t make it through the year.

JULAM

We only had virtual pets.

VER

Virtual schools.

JULAM

Virtual bologna. Mom’s vegan.

            (brief pause)

How’s it going over there?

VER

Eighteen percent transmitted.

JULAM

Do you miss the net out here?

VER

I miss being able to talk to Sarah. The rest … I don’t mind being out of touch.

JULAM

Yeah.

            (she drums her fingers on the arms of her chair)

I was shocked you took this job.

VER

We’re partners, right?

JULAM

But you know, with Sarah and all – on the freighter you were always in touch. Here, every time we jump …

VER

I made that choice, same as you.

JULAM

Did you guys talk about it, though? Didn’t she wonder what if –

VER

She climbs and does base jumping. We both take risks.

            (she laughs suddenly)

We always have. Ask her some time how we wound up together. I stole her from her girlfriend – a marine, believe it or not.

JULAM

How’d you manage that?

VER

Oh, it’s a long story. I just did it, that’s all.

JULAM

That’s not all. Come on, gimme.

VER

We went to the same school … it was even the queer high school, but we never talked to each other. I didn’t even like her, and I had crushes on everyone.  A few years later I ran into her at a bar – she was with this soldier girl type, biceps big as my head. Sarah and I wound up talking for hours while the marine played pool and pretended to ignore us.  I knew I had to break them up.

JULAM

Completely wild. What did you do?

VER

All week, I was coming up with these clever plans for how I’d seduce her away and her girlfriend wouldn’t even know until it was too late. Then on Saturday, I was waiting at the same bar – the minute the marine’s back was turned I blurted it all out. Next thing you know, Sarah and I were running for the door.

JULAM

Whoa! Did the marine come after you?

VER

She wasn’t as dumb as I thought. She was out that door almost as fast as we were and caught us in the parking lot. She came running at us full-on, boots kicking up a spray of gravel, and she grabbed Sarah’s shoulder and spun her around. “You’re comin’ back in with me.” So Sarah yanked her arm away and said, “No, I’m going with her.” I’m standing there about ready to wet my pants, knees shaking – but the marine isn’t backing down, she’s grabbing Sarah again and her eyes are daring me to do something about it. So I figured what the hell, I pulled back and hit her as hard as I could in the stomach.

JULAM

Holy shiz!

VER

For a second, she just looked even madder, and I thought, now we’re gonna get it. But we got lucky –she’d been drinking for a couple of hours before I got there.

JULAM

And … she puked.

VER

She puked like she was in free-fall for the first time. All over Sarah and I … and the ground, the side of the building, a taxi waiting on the corner … she was still throwing up when we jumped into that taxi and took off.

JULAM

And you never saw her again?

            (Ver makes a noise of assent)

That’s bullshit. You didn’t beat up Sarah’s marine girlfriend. I don’t believe you.

VER

I didn’t beat her up – it was one lucky shot and I ran like hell. I’m not an idiot.

JULAM

You really did that?

VER

That’s the true story of how Sarah and I met. Twenty-five years and neither of us has settled down.

JULAM

I thought I was the rowdy one.

VER

You don’t know everything about me.

JULAM

            (after a beat)

So, tell me. Everything.

VER

Get serious.

JULAM

I am serious. How come you never told me that story?

VER

It just never came up.

JULAM

Tell me something else.

VER

Why don’t you tell me something?

JULAM

I’ve got nothing to tell. I’m not that exciting.

VER

Do you miss your family out here?

JULAM

It’s just my mom. She wants me to be here.

            (we hear her take a few steps away)

VER

I’m sure she misses –

JULAM

She always pushed me to go into space, you know?

VER

You were born on the Moon.

JULAM

Space space, out there space. She was hooked on those old Star Trek shows, you know? There are these really embarrassing holos of her at my age dressed like a Klingin or something.

VER

On. Kling-on.

JULAM

She pushed me to get my pilot badge, to find a ship. And when I told her we were taking scouting missions … it’s funny, you expect your mom to want you at home.

VER

I’m sure she –

JULAM

I know. I know she loves me. She IMs me every day. But …

            (she paces a quick revolution around the ship, Ver pulls her feet up just in time)

Jump at every chance, she told me. That’s how you make the future.

(She falls back into her seat, thumbing a switch several times in frustration, then banging her fist on the arm of the chair.)

JULAM

And our future is a ball of lifeless rock. What’re we at?

VER

Forty-three percent.

JULAM

Well, it’s your turn again, I’m done.

VER

My turn for what? 

JULAM

Tell me … your deepest, darkest secret.

VER

            (laughs)

Oh, no. No way.

JULAM

Come on.

VER

Do you think your mom is jealous because you went out into space space and she’s on the Moon?

JULAM

Nuh uh. Not me, you. Deepest secret. Come on. 

VER

I’ll have to think about it.

JULAM

No making things up. Just … please.

VER

If I tell you, you have to answer the same thing.

JULAM

I promise.

VER

            (after a pause, thoughtful)

A few years after Sarah and I got together, I tried to have a kid and … it didn’t work out.

JULAM

You mean neither of you could –

VER

Sarah didn’t know anything about it. I tried to have a kid. I had a friend, Rishi, at the gold farm I worked back on Earth. He always said he’d do anything for me … and he did. A couple of times.

JULAM

Why didn’t you get a kit? Or go to a bank?

VER

It hasn’t always been that easy, depending on who’s running things. And I wanted the best chance. I figured this way has worked for millions of years.

JULAM

So you mean you –

VER

And this isn’t where I say I had sex with a man and I liked it. That’s not – I love Sarah.

JULAM

You don’t have to tell me. I slept in your living room that last trip to Earth.

VER

You said you couldn’t hear us!

JULAM

I couldn’t, once I turned up my iPlant.

VER

Oh, geez.

JULAM

To a hundred.

VER

Shut up! Anyway, I think it’s your turn.

JULAM

That’s it? That’s your deepest secret?

VER

That’s it.

JULAM

I was gonna say I killed a man in Luna just to watch him die, but now …

VER

Classical music aside.

            (there is a soft chime from the instruments)

Fifty-eight percent. We’re losing our angle, I’ll have to boost the signal.

            (she makes an adjustment)

Come on, Julam. We had a deal.

JULAM

Okay … but I don’t understand why you –

VER

Because, if it didn’t work … I didn’t want to admit to Sarah I only wanted a baby if it was my baby. I didn’t want to adopt, and … I didn’t want it if she got to be pregnant. It had to be me.

JULAM

Oh.

VER

I figured, you know, easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.

(Ver lifts her feet as Julam walks a quick circuit or two of the ship. Finally, she speaks:)

JULAM

I have a clone.

VER

I’m waiting for the punch line.

JULAM

Well, I don’t have it. My mom does.

VER

Your mom has a clone.

JULAM

But it’s of me. It’s not – it’s at a lab or something. She doesn’t keep it in the closet.

VER

I didn’t think anyone actually … had a clone. Just on hand, you know.

JULAM

My mom works for Luna Hospital, I guess that’s what she does – makes clones for them. She doesn’t talk about it much.

VER

But she made a clone of you.

JULAM

She made a clone of me.

            (she sits down again)

She told me last time I was home. Over dinner. “Pass the soyloaf, Julamber, oh by the way, I’ve got another you I’m keeping on ice just in case.” 

VER

That’s … wow. Wow.

JULAM

I’m not supposed to tell anyone, so keep it quiet.

VER

Who would I tell?

JULAM

Like I said, I know she loves me.

VER

I guess it would be hard to –

JULAM

But when I think about it – I start to wonder. What about ‘jump at every chance’? What about striking out where nobody has been? What does that mean when she’s got another me in case I don’t make it?

VER

I don’t know.

JULAM

Well, if you ever have a kid who –

            (she realizes what she said and turns around in her chair)

It’s just – it’s all kind of wiggly, you know? I mean, would it be me? Or just look like me?

VER

I don’t think she could really be you, not the same way –

JULAM

I know it wouldn’t be my thoughts me, my memories me – but would it – would she react like I do? If Mom cuts her hair short when she’s ten, will she throw a fit and hold her breath until she faints? If her first period comes during a field trip, will she try to call home and hit the emergency distress beacon and they’ll make fun of her all year? Will she have a virtual bunny named Wayne? How much like me will she really be?

VER

Seventy-five percent.

            (there’s a soft beep from the instruments)

The data. It won’t be much longer.

JULAM

I guess it doesn’t matter. I just can’t decide if I’d want her to be another me. If I’d wish that on anybody.

VER

I think that’s why it had to be my baby; I did want another me.

JULAM

Yeah?

VER

I don’t know if I’d want that now.

            (for a few moments, they are both lost in thought)

JULAM

Hey, you remember that personality thing you sent me a few weeks back?

VER

What thing?

JULAM

That meme where you plug in your psych profile and it compares you with your friends?

VER

            (laughs)

I remember it said I shouldn’t spend time around you.

JULAM

I sent the results to my mom. She keeps everything – in case the data turns out to be useful. I figured, if anything happened …

            (she jumps up)

What’re we at now on the clock?

VER

Eighty-seven percent.

JULAM

It’s speeding up. Or I’m losing track of time.

VER

If anything happened?

JULAM

If anything happened to me, I figured she could compare it with – you know. To see how close she scored.

VER

Yeah.

JULAM

I guess now she’s going to get her chance.

VER

I guess so.

JULAM

Fucking scout ships. One meteorite in the wrong place at the wrong time … I’m sorry, Ver.

VER

You did everything you could. It’s just …

            (there is a long, uncomfortable pause)

How much longer do we have?

JULAM

            (sits down)

If you close your eyes, you can feel it. We’re in the gravity well. We’ll hit the atmosphere soon, and without rockets … that’s gonna be it.

VER

Yeah.

JULAM

Will the message make it out first?

VER

Ninety-one percent. Chances are.

JULAM

            (after a moment, she giggles)
You’ll see your hamster soon.

VER

Nibbles. His name was Nibbles.

JULAM

May Nibbles be with us.

VER

Now and in the hour of our death.

JULAM

            (after a pause)

Ver?

VER

Yes?

JULAM

What if you had the baby, but she didn’t turn out like you?

VER

I don’t know. I’d still love her.

JULAM

I hope my mom doesn’t compare her to me. I don’t want to be the big sister who did everything better.

VER

It’ll be okay.

            (there is a soft chiming sound, they both reach up to their instruments)
One hundred percent. All the data is on its way.

JULAM

Goodbye, data.

VER

Should we try firing the engines one more time?

JULAM

I just did. No response.

(After a moment, Julam lies back in her chair. We can hear a roaring noise growing louder, as the atmosphere tears at the ship.)

VER

            (looks at Julam for another moment, then lies back, closing her eyes)

We’re bouncing around a lot more.

JULAM

We’re in the atmosphere now. It won’t be long.

VER

Okay.

JULAM

            (after a pause)
I hope my mom will still love her, even if …

VER

            (similarly)

She will.

JULAM

Ver?

VER

Yeah?

JULAM

Hold my hand?

(The roaring noise keeps building, and the instruments chime periodically. Finally, the sound fades and the play ends.)

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *