Cyote

A safe place. A PERSON sits in a chair before all, restless.

PERSON: I never thought I could kill anyone. Until I did.

All I wanted was some fuckin’ ice cream, man. It’d been pushing’ a hundred all week, and I was sweating’ like crazy every night, all night. And… I mean, y’ever been so hot you stick your head in the freezer just to cool off? Y’ever get stoned out of your mind just so you can forget how hot it is? Well, when you’re both, ya know, shit happens.

The last thing I remember before it all went screwy, it’d have to be standing in line in this sweatbox of a gas station, right around the corner from my place. I had that ice cream in my hand, man. Sweatin’ there in this long fuckin’ line, wondering the fuck there’s a line at two in the mornin’. Then I finally pay, step outside, and then… nothin’. No stars, no black, no nothin’. Just, nothin’. Didn’t even get to open the wrapper, man.

I remember the way the man cried. He was… how do I put it? He was fuckin’ losin’ it, ya know? I remember’ just kinda blippin’ into that, ya know? One minute, I’m all about that ice cream. The next, I’m in the middle of a fuckin’ canyon. The sun’s coming out. It’s finally cold as shit, and everything’s wet. And there’s this guy tied up next to me. He’s just layin’ there, losin’ his fuckin’ mind. Crying and screaming. Shit was runnin’ down his nose. He was choking on his spit and everything. I don’t know what happened. He looked fine. Nothing had happened. Not yet.

Maybe I’m the weird one for not acting like that.

She wore a Coyote mask, jeans, and a Ramones tee. Her voice sounded young, but something about the way she talked, I don’t know, it’s like she’d been doing this a while. Like, there’s that way people talk when they’re really comfortable doing shit, ya know? Like, they got this shit handled. No worries. Ya know? Real boss-lady type shit.

The whole thing’s really fucked up. The whole fuckin’ thing.

“Pick one.” That’s what she said. She tossed me a fuckin’ tire iron – a tire iron! And she says to me, “Pick one.”

And I just stood there for a minute, looking at her like… I don’t know. I guess like she’d just kidnapped me, dragged my ass to the middle of a fuckin’ canyon along with some dude who looks and sounds like he’s shitting himself, and then tossed me a tire iron and instructed me to, “Pick one.”

Then she pulled out a piece and aimed it at my head. So, I picked one.

She took our phones, our wallets. I had to walk out of the canyon, down the highway. Caked-up in dirt, in tears, in vomit… in bits of blood and brains and bone. I don’t know how long I walked. Maybe it was a few minutes, maybe longer. Eventually CHP pulled me over, and they pulled a gun on me too. Not that I blame him. I mean, you should have seen me.

You think she was watching? I bet she was watching.

Sleep is hard. Being awake ain’t easy either, I guess. But sleeping is harder. I should probably see someone about that. Money’s a bit tight. But sometimes when I can’t sleep, I think about her. Did she know what I would do? I didn’t know the guy, he didn’t know me. Probably. She could’ve picked anyone else in that gas station. Why me, huh? Why him? Or that piece of hers. It’s not like she fired a warning shot, or whatever. She just kinda held it, waved it around a bit. 

“Pick one.” Do you think she meant her too? Did I kill some guy I didn’t know with a fucking tire iron when I didn’t have to? Maybe if he had to pick, we’d both still be here. Did I fuck up? Does it even matter?

Person grows silent, still, lost deeper and deeper in thought.

I’ve Got a Receipt (II-V)

II-V: THE GARDEN III

The lonely aesthetic of a dead mall’s parking lot.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Some forty-five minutes after witnessing her sister and several others devoured by the ancient evil lurking in a trippy cosmic void several miles below her local mall, Cassie was escorted out by mall security.

A lone SECURITY GUARD on a segway escorts Cassie out of the mall.

SECURITY GUARD: (tired, don’t care) Thank you for shopping at The Garden. You are now banned from The Garden for eighteen months. Please vacate the premises immediately.

CASSIE: Wait. So, that’s it?

SECURITY GUARD: What, were you expecting a big chase scene and more ritual sacrifice?

CASSIE: (shrugs) Maybe.

Security Guard’s radio SQUAWKS and a VOICE speaks from the other side.

VOICE: (radio) Frank?

SECURITY GUARD: (to VOICE) Yeah. Go ahead.

Another SQUAWK of the radio.

VOICE: (radio) Peter’s under the escalator again.

SECURITY GUARD: (sigh) Goddammit. (to VOICE) I’ll be right there. (to self) They don’t pay me enough for this shit.

Security Guard turns around, disappears into the mall.

CASSIE: Huh.

Cassie’s phone RINGS, she answers.

CASSIE: Mom?

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Hiya, Sweetie. I’ve been trying to get a hold of your sister, but she’s not answering.

CASSIE: Mom…

MOM: (phone) (drunk) She left me an awful voicemail – all this shouting and screaming.

CASSIE: (emotional) Mom. Brennifer’s dead!

An uncomfortable silence. Then…

CASSIE: Mom? Mom are you–

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Hello? Sweetie?

CASSIE: Yes, Mom. I’m trying to–

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Stupid phones never have any–

CASSIE: Brennifer’s dead, Mom!

Another silence. Then…

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Cassie? Hello? Cassie, are you there?

CASSIE: Yes. Mom. I’m–

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Hello?

CASSIE: Mom! I’m trying to tell you about Brenn–

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Nevermind your sister.

CASSIE: (puzzles this) Are you drinking?

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Does boxed wine count?

Yet another uncomfortable silence. Then…

CASSIE: (sighs) Yes, Mom. Boxed wine–

MOM: (phone) (drunk) Anyway!

CASSIE: (repressed rage)

MOM: (phone) (drunk) You’re not gonna believe this, but I gave you the wrong receipt! (cackling) I feel like such a doofus!

THE END

I’ve Got a Receipt (II-IV)

II-IV: The M’na-ger

An impressively modern, if rather unimpressively modern temple of evil worshiping in the style of a hockey arena. The muffled roar of a large, rowdy AUDIENCE. A foul, sinister prayer playing on a loop over the PA system that is, in fact, a foul, sinister rendition of Piero Umiliani’s “Mah Na Mah Na.”

NARRATOR: (voice-over) If you were to remove the top portion of your typical professional hockey arena, replaced the chill, dry air with something similar to that of burning plastic – though, only inside out and with the lights off – and filled it to the nosebleeds with robed figures – in addition to colorful jerseys and painted, furry bellies of grown men bellowing a foul and wholly sinister rendition of Piero Umiliani’s classic hit “Mah Na Mah Na,” of course – you’d have a fairly poor image that vaguely resembles what Cassie witnessed upon stepping through what she was sure was a bed sheet covering the entrance to the amphitheater.

Cassie and Bobert enter, watch from the stands and among the crowd.

CASSIE: (drinks it in and hates it) Yeah. Something tells me I don’t want to be.

The audience suddenly and immediately go dead silent.

CASSIE: Aw, crap. (to Bobert) They heard me, didn’t they?

BOBERT: (shushes) It’s starting!

DOUG, a man in corduroys, enters and PHHHT-PHHHTS across center ice to a podium.

CASSIE: Who’s the dork in the polo and corduroys?

BOBERT: That’s Doug, the M’na M’na Manager.

CASSIE: Wow. That’s quite a M’na-outhful.

BOBERT: I know, right? Personally, I always thought he should be called the M’na-ger.

Doug the M’na-ger speaks in a dry, lifeless voice into a microphone and through the PA system.

DOUG: (PA system) Good afternoon, everyone.

MOSTLY EVERYONE: (equally dry and lifeless) Good afternoon, Doug.

DOUG: (PA system) Now. I know things haven’t been looking too good for us, numbers-wise. But I’m happy to announce that we have not one, but three–

Doug’s phone RINGS.

DOUG: (PA system) Sorry. Just give me…

Doug answers the phone, attempts and fails to not be heard over the PA system.

Hello? Yeah. No, this isn’t a good… Uh-huh…. Uh-huh… Okay, I will. But I have to… Yes, I’m at work. Okay. Okay. Okay, Ma. I gotta go. Wait. How many again? Okay, got it. Yes. I got it. Okay. I love you, too.

Doug hangs up.

(PA system) (to AUDIENCE) Right. As I was saying. We have not one, but three offerings scheduled for this afternoon!

The audience pitties Doug with a light smatter of applause.

(PA system) So please, help me give a warm Garden welcome to today’s Sacrificial Lambs!

BANG! The amphitheater goes dark. Colorful spotlights and music blast through the PA system. The crowd ROARS to life with pure, wholesome bloodlust. And the one-hundred square foot, super-high resolution video screen provides all in attendance with a crystal clear image of everything.

DOUG: (PA system) Skating out first to center ice, he’s a middle-aged Hispanic man with great hair 

A middle-aged Hispanic man with GREAT HAIR holding a pair of slacks, a sweet, older FILIPINA WOMAN, and Cassie’s ham-faced potato of a SISTER all skate out to center ice.

SISTER: (squawking) I want to speak to the manager!

Cassie recognizes Sister on the big screen.

CASSIE: (mild surprise) Oh, hey. I know that potato!

BOBERT: You do?

CASSIE: Yeah, it’s my sister. What’s she doing down there?

BOBERT: (ruh-roh) Uh…

Meanwhile, at center ice…

GREAT HAIR: (to SISTER) Excuse me. Do you mind if I go first? I just need to exchange these pants, and I think I left my truck running in the parking lot.

FILIPINA WOMAN: Well, you can go ahead of me. I’m not even sure why I’m here.

A large TENDRIL made of nothing suddenly and swiftly picks up, tosses all three into a gaping maw of teeth and really icky stuff that wasn’t there a moment ago at all. Then… BELCHES and SPITS their bones back onto the ice one, like pulpy, bloody watermelon seeds.

An uncomfortable silence.

CASSIE: (scared, pissed, confused.) What. The. Shit.

Everyone and everything turns to Cassie.

Another silence. Then…

CASSIE: (puzzles this) Uh… (sings. poorly.) Mah Na Mah na! Doo, doo…

The audience ain’t buying what she’s selling.

(hangs head, sighs) Goddammit.

To be continued…

I’ve Got a Receipt (II-III)

II-III: BIZARRE BAZAAR

The bustling bizarre bazaar beneath the mall – a collection of assorted booths, carnival games, eateries, and curiosities operated and enjoyed by EMPLOYEES, their FAMILY MEMBERS, and DARK FIGURES dressed in ceremonial hooded robes.

DARK FIGURE #1 attempts, fails, and rages at a game somewhat resembling a typical carnival bottle toss. Their friend, DARK FIGURE #2, watches. The game ATTENDANT doesn’t get paid enough for this.

DARK FIGURE #1: (crazed) This game is freakin’ rigged, man!

ATTENDANT: (panicked) Miss, I need you to let go of the Quantum Madness Ball!

DARK FIGURE #2: (to DARK FIGURE #1) Maybe we should go before someone writes us up.

DARK FIGURE #1: (heavy sigh) Fine… 

Dark Figure #1 returns the Quantum Madness Ball.

DARK FIGURE #1: I really wanted that Frankie the Insanity Flea doll…

Dark Figure #2 comforts Dark Figure #1 as they exit in disgrace.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Due to the convenient way the abyss defies both the laws of physics and story structure, Cassie and Bobert arrived at the docks of an island bobbing about there in the nothingness approximately twelve minutes before they originally departed.

Now. For Bobert, their impossibly early arrival meant there was plenty of time to give Cassie a full tour. Unfortunately for Cassie, this also meant there was time for a full tour.

Bobert and Cassie enter. Bobert leads while Cassie follows, a bit wobbly in the knees.

BOBERT: (gesturing) And this is the employee store, cafeteria, and midway!

CASSIE: How do you even navigate this place? I’m so turned around, I think I’m gonna be sick.

BOBERT: Oh, you don’t want to do that. There’s no telling what might come out.

They carry on from one booth to another.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) They navigated this unholy union of consumerism and madness given form, stopping to peruse the various cheap jewelry, impressively unimpressive paintings of local landscapes, and several sorts of fish-like nightmares.

Cassie turns to the posted sign written in blood.

CASSIE: (reads) “Chrono-finned Tuna”… What the Hell?

She takes a big whiff of the chrono-finned tuna.

CASSIE: (smiling) Hey! These things smell like peppermint!

Bobert curiously observes Cassie.

BOBERT: Uh…

CASSIE: What? What’s wrong?

Bobert dismisses this with a wave of his hand.

BOBERT: I’m sure you’ll probably be fine.

They venture onward.

A MAN hands out out pamphlets between whatever a “nightcare center” is and a churro cart.

MAN: You clocking out, Bobert?

BOBERT: Nah, I’m just giving the new girl a tour of the place on the way to get her a new badge.

Cassie waves “hello”, Man waves back.

CASSIE: Hi.

COWORKER: Hi, I’m (frightened screaming).

CASSIE: (considers this) That, uh… that short for something?

MAN: (offended) Wow.

CASSIE: What?

MAN: (ignores this) Anyway. Are you coming to the show in the screaming fields this Friday?

CASSIE: Show?

Man hands Cassie a pamphlet.

CASSIE: (reading) The Mangina Monologues…

MAN: It’s an all-male reimagining of–

CASSIE: Of the Vagina Monologues. Yeah. I got it. Cute.

BONG! The ominous clattering of a large ceremonial bell.

BOBERT: (squealing) Oh, my god!

CASSIE: (so done with all of this) What? What the Hell’s next? And what’s with all the floaty dudes in robes?

MAN: They’re headed towards the amphitheater.

BOBERT: (childish glee) It’s time for an offering!

CASSIE: Offering?

MAN: Yeah. We don’t get too many of these lately.

BOBERT: Come on, Newbie!

Bobert scuttles off to the amphitheater, and Cassie follows.

To be continued…

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?

Terry, Please Shut Up

A living room. TERRY screams and bleeds out all over the carpeted floor as PAULENCE and JENNDA bicker.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Aside from the bloodthirsty, flesh-craving ghouls now eager to force their way into their home, it had been an otherwise boring Sunday night until just a few moments ago.

Jennda preoccupied herself for most of the day by arguing with strangers on the internet about the racist connotations of ordering a burrito platter from a burger joint owned by a sweet Korean couple.

Paulence, meanwhile, once more pleasured himself with a flaccid attempt at something resembling a novel, which mostly amounted to several social media posts about writing his novel rather than actually writing any of it.

But it wasn’t until they got around to arguing about what to order out for dinner that they finally noticed their neighbor, Terry, had broken into their home, barricaded their door, and taken to dying and bleeding profusely all over their carpet.

JENNDA: Terry! You know we just had the carpet cleaned last summer!”

TERRY: (coughs blood and viscera) Sorry. I forgot.

PAULENCE: I hope you plan on paying for another cleaning.

TERRY: Actually. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

Jennda claps her feet and laughs.

JENNDA: You hear that? He wants to talk about it!

PAULENCE: I’m sorry, Terry. But you’re bleeding all over our carpet. I really hope you don’t think you can convince us to pay for your mess.

Terry waves what used to be his hand at this, blood splattering all over the place.

TERRY: I wouldn’t dream of it. No, I wanted to warn you about all the zombies.

Paulence looks out at the ZOMBIE HORDE looking in from the living room window.

PAULENCE: Is that what those are?

JENNDA: I thought it was the Mormons again.

TERRY: It’s zombies, I’m afraid.

JENNDA: How can this night get any worse?

TERRY: I think I’m dying.

PAULENCE: Don’t be stupid, you stupid, stupid man. You’re not dying.

TERRY: I’m not?

PAULENCE: Of course not!

TERRY: That’s a relief.

PAULENCE: No, you’re slowly turning into one of the undead.

TERRY: I think maybe I’d rather die, if it’s all the same to you.

JENNDA: All the same? (spits, then spits a second time on Terry) We respect the sanctity of life in this house, Terry.

PAULENCE: That’s right. We won’t kill you until you’re already good and dead.

TERRY: Undead.

JENNDA: For God’s sake, shuttup, Terry. (spits again)

TERRY: Sorry.

PAULENCE: You ought to be after suggesting such an awful thing. There’s no need for such needless suffering and violence.

TERRY: I’m suffering rather bad, to be honest.

PAULENCE: Perhaps. But have you even stopped to think about how much worse Jennda and I would feel if we were forced to help you suicide yourself?

TERRY: I’m sorry, guys. It won’t happen again, I swear.

PAULENCE: I should hope not.

Jennda notices she’s being bitten by a zombified MRS. CERVIX from across the hall.

JENNDA: Uh-oh.

PAULENCE: (annoyed grunt) I’ll go get the gun.

TERRY: Wait. Why does she get to be mercifully put down?

JENNDA: My body, my choice.

PAULENCE: First you bleed all over our carpets, and now you act like a misogynistic ass to my wife as she needlessly suffers a fate worse than death? You really are a selfish bastard, Terry.

JENNDA: No wonder your wife left you.

TERRY: She didn’t leave me – she was the one who bit me.

JENNDA: And where is she now?

TERRY: How should I know? She’s a zombie.

JENNDA: (scoffs) A woman liberates herself from an abusive, ignorant piece of shit like you, and the only thing you can be assed to do is start with the name-calling!

PAULENCE: (firm, but polite) I really think it’s time you left, Terry. (beat) Terry? Terry, are you listening to me?

Terry lies unresponsively dead on the floor.

JENNDA: I think he’s dead for the moment.

PAULENCE: Better go get the gun, then.

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?”

I’ve Got a Receipt (II-II)

II-II: ABSURDAPOTAMUS

The jungle boat putt-putts across the incomprehensibly strange, yet inexplicably calm abyss. Bobert pilots, speaking exclusively through the boat’s shoddy PA system. Cassie suffers this.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) As they ventured across and through the abyss towards a distant glow along the horizon, Bobert quite literally jumped at the opportunity to play tour guide.

BOBERT: Good afternoon, ya’ll! I’m Bobert, and I’ll be your ferryman-slash-tour guide for today’s journey across The Great Divide!

NARRATOR: (voice-over) He clucked about a bellowing mass of flesh, teeth, and an adorable pair of wiggling ears that playfully rocked the boat in passing.

An ABSURDAPOTAMUS splashes, plays in the boat’s wake.

BOBERT: Sorry about that folks! We have a friend joining us today – say hello to Glenda the Absurdapotamus!

NARRATOR: (voice-over) He twittered ceaselessly for several minutes about the majestic beauty of a three-necked, two-headed abyssal megacephalosaurus.

A pair of ABYSSAL MEGACEPHALOSAURUS breach the nothingness below, engage in a mating ritual.

BOBERT: And that’s where baby abyssal megacephalosaurus come from!

NARRATOR: (voice-over) He even quacked at a large eye with wings perched atop a large shard of concentrated madness drifting in the nothingness that surrounded them.

Whatever-It-Is drifts in, drifts out.

BOBERT: Hmm… I actually haven’t seen that one before…

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Cassie, meanwhile, couldn’t be assed to listen to a word of Bobert’s blissful and cheery everything until his honking about the cosmic salamander.

The Cosmic Salamander appears, does as a cosmic salamander does.

BOBERT: Oh! And directly above us, you’ll see the Cosmic Salamander re-configuring time and space for lunch!

CASSIE: Wait. You can see that thing?

BOBERT: Of course, silly.

CASSIE: I thought I was going crazy.

BOBERT: Oh. Well, that might still happen.

CASSIE: What?

BOBERT: (shrugs) Yeah. This place can be a bit kooky. One time, I had to stop someone from ripping off their bottom jaw. Poor guy thought his tongue was trying to kill him.

CASSIE: But you stopped him, right?

BOBERT: Nope.

CASSIE: That’s not comforting.

BOBERT: Got pretty messy, too.

CASSIE: I bet.

Bobert hangs, shakes his head and sighs.

BOBERT: This job isn’t for everyone, I guess.

CASSIE: You’re a real strange dude, Bobert.

To be continued…

I’ve Got a Receipt (II-I)

II-I: BOBERT

Cassie ventures deeper into the void of a massive torch-lit cavern beneath the local mall. The foul, sinister praying still echoing in the distance.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Fifteen minutes down the path, Cassie’s heart fluttered to the distant rhythm of that foul and sinister praying. The foreign sounds dug into her ears and crawled up and around the inner walls of her skull like vines. And the air tasted the way an original vinyl pressing of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Hip to Be Square” looks when played on a burning Victrola.

Cassie looks to the sky in disbelief as time collapses upon itself in the wake of a cosmic salamander.

CASSIE: Oh, my god… what now?

NARRATOR: (voice-over) But it was ultimately the way time collapsed upon itself as the cosmic salamander passed overhead that had Cassie doubled over, nose pinched, and eyes squeezed down to slits.

Cassie doubles-over, dry heaves.

BOBERT THE FERRYMAN enters, drifts toward Cassie in an adorable little boat with an equally adorable little bell. Ridiculously and sincerely cheerful and polite, Bobert is the ideal theme park employee.

BOBERT: You lose something, Miss?

Cassie turns to Bobert and his little boat.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Cassie opened her eyes to find a well-groomed young man in a little sailor outfit, standing in a small jungle boat drifting about in that vast sea of nothingness, and looking back at her as if she were just about the silliest thing he’d seen that day.

CASSIE: What the Hell? Who are you?

BOBERT: I’m Bobert, the ferryman.

CASSIE: I’m sorry. Did you say ‘Bobert’?

BOBERT: Yes, I did.

CASSIE: Huh.

BOBERT: Yup.

CASSIE: Wait. Where did you come from? I’ve been walking forever, and I didn’t see you until now.

BOBERT: (chuckling) You must be new here.

CASSIE: (lying… poorly) Yes. That is correct. I am new here… and not someone who simply ran in here after startling real mall employees… who also totally didn’t catch me peeing behind a vending machine.

BOBERT: Cool.

CASSIE: Look. “Bobert,” was it?

BOBERT: That’s right.

CASSIE: Bobert.

BOBERT: Uh-huh.

CASSIE: I’m gonna be totally honest here. I think I’m tripping balls right now.

BOBERT: Oh?

CASSIE: Yeah. And I’m seeing and hearing and smelling all kinds of seriously weird shit.

BOBERT: Ya know, I thought I smelled a little tinkle.

CASSIE: What? No. Not that.

BOBERT: Really? I’m pretty sure that’s–

CASSIE: Shut up, Bobert.

BOBERT: Sorry.

CASSIE: Don’t worry about it.

BOBERT: (considers this) Sorry. Still a smidge worried.

CASSIE: (sighs) Ugh. Look. I just want to go home. So, how do I go about getting out of here?

BOBERT: Oh. That’s easy. (gesturing) Just go right back out that door.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Cassie turned to find the back-end of the Coffee-2-Go only several yards away from Bobert’s boat.

CASSIE: Yeah. No. Definitely tripping balls.

BOBERT: You’ll need to scan your employee badge, though.

CASSIE: Sorry. New employee, remember? No badge.

BOBERT: (puzzles this) Well… I suppose you can always pick up a new badge at the employee center inside the temple.

CASSIE: You said “temple.”

BOBERT: I did.

CASSIE: Of course you did. Let me guess… you ferry people to the temple?

BOBERT: Ain’t you smarter than the average bear.

Cassie boards Bobert’s boat.

CASSIE: Yeah. Somehow I doubt that.

DING-DING! Bobert rings the adorable little bell.

To be continued…

I’ve Got a Receipt (I-V)

I-V: COFFEE-2-GO

Cassie scuttles up, down, and all about the moist labyrinthine network of wholly impossible corridors in the back end of the mall.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) As her sister made yet another poor life decision in a series of such things, Cassie, in a desperate attempt to empty her bladder, followed a sign through a door marked “RESTROOMS” nestled between what used to be a discount Hawaiian jewelry shop and a gold-for-cash place. But rather than finding an actual toilet, she found a labyrinthine network of ever twisting, stretching, and, at times, she would have sworn, writhing corridors that were most certainly used as toilets. And then there was the issue of Cassie turning left several times in a row, yet failing to go in a pee-pee scented circle.

Cassie turns a corner, comes to a dead stop in the face of yet another copy-paste corridor. Only this one has a COFFEE-2-GO machine.

CASSIE: Oh, god-dammit.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Just as the turn before this one — and the one before that — this hallway looked, moved, and smelled the same as all the others. A single fluorescent tube flickered and buzzed overhead. The air thick, heavy with the moisture of a thousand flushes left to fester in a concrete tube with no windows and no doors. The concrete floor beneath her feet moving in such a way that it felt as if it had briefly, but surely transformed into a caravan of mighty Amazonian army ants nipping at the soles of her flats. Also, this one had a “COFFEE-2-GO” machine set against a wall.

CASSIE: Okay. You know what? Screw it. I’m just gonna go right here.

Cassie ducks, squats behind the COFFEE-2-GO machines.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) But just as Cassie squatted down between it, a group of mall employees piled out from the once super-secret door located behind the aforementioned coffee machine from the 1970s.

The super-secret door opens, a YOUNG WOMAN and MAN step out mid-conversation.

YOUNG WOMAN: So I look behind the escalator, and all I see him doing is crying.

MAN: Yeah. That’s somehow more gross.

Young Woman and Man stop dead in their tracks, seize on Cassie.

YOUNG WOMAN: Oh, my God. Is that woman peeing behind that vending machine?

NARRATOR: (voice-over) With her leggings still wrapped around one ankle, Cassie pigeon-toed her way between the puzzled man and gawky girl, straight through the once super-secret door behind the Coffee-2-Go, and beyond.

Cassie flees through the once super-secret door.

CASSIE:  Sorry not sorry!

The once super-secret door closes behind her.

Cassie now stands at the precipice of a massive torch-lit cavern beneath the mall. Distant, unholy humming of a foul, sinister prayer echoes in the void.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) The Coffee-2-Go led to a well-worn dirt path cutting through a swerving, dipping, curving swath of nothingness that seemed to stretch forever in all directions. The path was lit every few feet by a dark, cold fire, housed in the leather-bound remains of a large creature’s skull. And the darkness hummed with the dull roar of distant praying.

Cassie hobbles down the path, fumbling with her leggings.

NARRATOR (CONT’D): (voice-over) Cassie fumbled with her leggings where the path met nothing, and stared into the deep and endless abyss.

CASSIE: Oh… Well, shit…

END ACT ONE

To be continued…