Elsewhere: D’ja Vu’larian

DR.‌ ‌HOWARD‌ ‌FINE‌ ‌documents‌ ‌his‌ ‌thoughts‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌fashion‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌time‌ ‌-‌ ‌wherever,‌ ‌whenever,‌ ‌and‌ ‌however‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌point.‌

DR. FINE: Feeding exclusively on those threads of time and space intertwined with some poor soul’s untimely, traumatic death, the D’ja Vu’larian’s morbid appetite is seen by some as a cosmic blessing in disguise.

Effectively a wholesale rejection of death itself, these individuals… I hesitate to call them “victims”… regain consciousness sometime in their own past, with only a faint, dreamlike recollection of what transpired.

But much like those affected by a Chronopillar, there is a serious philosophical discussion to be had regarding that lost part of us, devoured moment-by-moment, and now slowly digesting in the belly of some great, trans-dimensional worm.

The Sound That Night (II-III)

II-III. A DEBT PAID

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A VAST AND ENDLESS DESERT.

SFX: BENNY ABSENTLY TOSSES ROCKS AT THE TRACKS.

BENNY: (bored sigh)

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

BENNY: (looks up, out) Huh?

SFX: THE DISTANT SOUNDS OF AN APPROACHING HORSE.

BENNY: (sees something) Hey… (it clicks, all smiles) Hey! (laughing) He did it!

SFX: STRANGER ARRIVES ON HORSEBACK.

BENNY: You did it! You really did it! It is him, right?

SFX: STRANGER DISMOUNTS.

STRANGER: You tell me.

STRANGER GRABS A HANDFUL OF CLARENCE’S HAIR, PULLS HEAD UP.

CLARENCE: (pained groans) You can’t do this to me…

STRANGER: I can and I am.

BENNY: (looks on at CLARENCE) My God… the sight of him…

STRANGER: This your man?

BENNY: Yeah… Yeah, that’s Clarence.

SFX: STRANGER RELEASES CLARENCE.

Oh. Yeah. Right. (fumbles in pockets) I think this is yours.

SFX: BENNY DROPS TWO COINS IN THE STRANGER’S HAND.

I suppose this makes us even.

STRANGER: (agreeable grunt)

BENNY: (nods) Good. Good… (looks at CLARENCE) I still can’t believe that’s him. (to STRANGER) Ya know, I didn’t think about it till now, but… (emotional) with her folks, and now Clarence… me… Natalie’s all alone now.

STRANGER: Aren’t we all.

A SILENCE, THEN…

SFX: STRANGER TURNS, WALKS AWAY.

BENNY: What happens now? You… you take him to Hell, or somethin’?

STRANGER: My experience? Hell is what you make of it.

SFX: STRANGER MOUNTS HORSE.

BENNY: And me?

STRANGER: Follow the tracks west.

BENNY: (looks west) What’s out there?

STRANGER: (considers this) Maybe we’ll both find out someday.

BENNY: Yeah. I hope so.

SFX: STRANGER RIDES OFF INTO THE EAST.

A SILENCE, THEN…

SFX: BENNY WALKS WEST.

OUT.

THE END

The Sound That Night (II-II)

II-II. THE HUNT

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNSUSPECTING AMBIENCE OF A CONVENIENTLY QUIET, ISOLATED STRETCH OF ROAD.

STRANGER: (voice-over) I’ve heard it said you never hear the one with your name on it. That’s why I make sure they see me coming first.

SFX: CRUISER DRIVES BY, AWAY.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE INTERIOR OF THE POLICE CRUISER.

OFFICER JIMMY: So, uh… How’s Natalie doing?

CLARENCE: Why the sudden interest in my baby sister, Jimmy?

OFFICER JIMMY: No reason, Clarence. Just…making conversation, is all.

CLARENCE: (disapproving growl)

SFX: BANG! THE CRUISER’S TIRE BLOWS OUT.

SFX: CRUISER LOSES CONTROL, CRASHES.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNUSUALLY PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE OF A QUIET, ISOLATED STRETCH OF ROAD AFTER A CRASH.

SFX: CLARENCE EXITS THE WRECKAGE.

CLARENCE: Jimmy? Jimmy! Jimmy, you brain-dead idjit! What the Hell was that all about?

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

STRANGER: Clarence Middleton!

SFX: STRANGER APPEARS, APPROACHES ON HORSEBACK. SLOW, STEADY.

CLARENCE: Deputy Middle–! (wait, back it up) (barking) You! This your doing?!

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) Clarence?

CLARENCE: I’m here, Jimmy! Some horse-riding son-of-a-whore shot out our tire!

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) I ain’t doin’ so good, Clarence…

CLARENCE: Look what you did to Jimmy, you damned savage! 

STRANGER: He’ll live.

SFX: CLARENCE STRUGGLES TO HIS FEET.

CLARENCE: That right? And me? You gonna kill me, Cowboy?

STRANGER: Dead or alive, you’re—

CLARENCE: Fuck you!

SFX: BANG! CLARENCE SHOOTS STRANGER.

SFX: STRANGER DROPS DEAD OFF HIS HORSE.

A SILENCE. THEN…

SFX: CLARENCE LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY.

CLARENCE: Take that you stupid summna–

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) Clarence…

CLARENCE: I heard ya! Don’t you worry. I’ve got this one handled, Jimmy. You radio for–

SFX: BANG! STRANGER SHOOTS CLARENCE IN THE GUT.

CLARENCE: (weak-in-the-knees) Wha-What in the…

SFX: CLARENCE DROPS TO HIS KNEES.

SFX: THE STRANGER RISES TO HIS FEET.

STRANGER: Clarence Middleton.

CLARENCE: God in Heaven…

SFX: STRANGER APPROACHES, THE JANGLING OF SPURS PUNCTUATING EACH STEP. ONE STEP… TWO… THREE…

CLARENCE: No… No, I shot you. I shot you!

STRANGER: I don’t care.

CLARENCE: Who do you work for? Huh? Who sent you?

STRANGER: You’re wanted for the murder of Benicio Sierra.

CLARENCE: What? That filthy wet–?! Did his people send you? Huh? You idiot! I’m the police! You can’t–!

SFX: BANG! STRANGER SHOOTS CLARENCE, POINT BLANK.

SFX: CLARENCE DROPS DEAD.

STRANGER: I can, Deputy Middleton. And I will.

FADE.

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (II-I)

II-I. THE BOUNTY

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE ATMOSPHERE OF A COZY 1950S HOME OCCUPIED BY A YOUNG WOMAN (NATALIE) AND THE OLDER BROTHER (CLARENCE) WHO MURDERED HER BOYFRIEND IN COLD BLOOD.

SFX: NATALIE CLEANS DISHES IN THE KITCHEN.

CLARENCE: (off) (calm, but dominate) Natalie.

SFX: NATALIE FREEZES. SHE’S TRAPPED IN A ROOM WITH A BEAR.

SFX: CLARENCE ENTERS.

CLARENCE: Is my lunch ready?

NATALIE: It’s on the table.

SFX: CLARENCE INSPECTS THE BAG.

CLARENCE: (warm. ish.) Are these Ma’s persimmon cookies?

NATALIE: Yes.

BEAT.

CLARENCE: You know, I promised her I’d look after you best I could. And I ain’t gonna let any harm come to you. Even when you bring it upon yourself.

NATALIE: Okay.

A BEAT. THEN…

SFX: CLARENCE CLOSES, CRUMPLES BAG.

CLARENCE: I’m all you’ve got left now…

SFX: CLARENCE APPROACHES NATALIE FROM BEHIND, UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE.

You understand that, don’t you?

NATALIE: Yes, Clarence.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SFX: HONK-HONK! THE CRUISER’S HORN, CURBSIDE.

CLARENCE: That’s Jimmy. I gotta go. I’ll be home late.

SFX: CLARENCE GRABS HIS KEYS, LEAVES, AND THEN…

SFX: SLAMS DOOR BEHIND HIM.

SFX: NATALIE FLINCHES, GASPS AT THE SOUND. SHE CAN BREATH AGAIN, FEEL AGAIN. AND THE TEARS WON’T STOP COMING.

FADE.

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (I-II)

I-II. THE STATION

SOUNDSCAPE: THE PEACEFUL AMBIENCE OF A BUSTLING, OTHERWORLDLY TRAIN STATION SURROUNDED BY AN ENDLESS STRETCH OF DESERT.

STATION MANAGER: Sir? Excuse me, Sir. Train’ll be arriving shortly.

BENNY: (stirs) Train?

SFX: DISTANT SHRILL OF A TRAIN WHISTLE.

STRANGER: (voice-over) Like many others before him, Benny finds himself on a bench on the platform of a train station looking out across a vast and endless desert. The wood planks worn smooth. The paint peeling and flaking. And the sky burns in the flames of perpetual sunset.

SFX: BENNY RISES, STEPS FORWARD, AND TAKES IT ALL IN.

BENNY: Where am I?

STATION MANAGER: A long way from home. But I suppose we all are.

SFX: TRAIN APPROACHES. UP, UNDER.

SFX: CROWD MURMURS IN ANTICIPATION.

STRANGER: (voice-over) The black locomotive trimmed in gold appears in the east, cutting west across the burning desert, toward the station. The gathering crowd marvels as silver plumes of steam and smoke stretch upward forever until they become the clouds and the stars in the sky.

SFX: TRAIN PULLS IN, STOPS.

SFX: PASSENGERS BOARD.

BENNY: Where does it go?

STATION MANAGER: Somewhere else.

BENNY: Will it get me home?

STATION MANAGER: (considers this) Eventually.

BENNY: Am I dead?

STATION MANAGER: (nods) Afraid so.

SFX: A DISTANT GUNSHOT RINGS OUT ACROSS THE DESERT.

BENNY: (it sinks in) He shot me…

STATION MANAGER: Who?

BENNY: A man named Clarence… Will he come here too?

STATION MANAGER: Does it matter?

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

BENNY: What…?

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A VAST AND ENDLESS DESERT.

BENNY: (panicked) No. No-no-no. This isn’t–this is… It’s gone! Where did it all… No, it can’t– Hello? Hello?!

SFX: THE STRANGER APPROACHES ON HORSEBACK, SLOW, STEADY.

STRANGER: They’re gone.

BENNY: Where?

STRANGER: (gestures) West.

BENNY: What’s that way?

STRANGER: Something else.

BENNY: And the other way?

A SILENCE. THEN…

STRANGER: The man you spoke of…

BENNY: Clarence… You heard that?

STRANGER: (nods) The bounty is two coins.

BENNY: Coins? I don’t… (checks pockets) I don’t think I’ve got any… (pulls out TWO COINS) (to STRANGER) What is this?

STRANGER: Every soul must pay The Conductor to ride the Train to Elsewhere.

BENNY: (puzzles this) But if I pay you…

STRANGER: You must walk west, across the desert.

BENNY: (looks westward) (to self) Natalie… (To STRANGER) Will I ever make it?

STRANGER: Someday. But long after those you love.

BENNY: And Clarence?

STRANGER: I will find him.

BENNY: (considers this) Yeah. Yeah, okay. You’ve got a deal.

SFX: THEY SHAKE HANDS.

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

FADE.

END ACT ONE

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (I-I)

I-I. CRY, LITTLE SISTER

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DRAMATICALLY APPROPRIATE SOUNDS OF A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

STRANGER: (voice-over) The year is 1955. The place, a moonlit stretch of road cutting and weaving through a weed and bramble-choked canyon somewhere in California.

SFX: A CLASSIC ROADSTER APPROACHES, ROARS PAST, AND AWAY.

The car, meanwhile, belongs to the young man behind the wheel — Benny Sierra. But while his eyes are on the road, Benny’s attention and affection both belong to the charming young woman seated beside him.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE ROCK ‘N ROLL INTERIOR OF A 1955 BEL AIR AS IT SPEEDS DOWN A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

NATALIE: Benny… I had a really nice time tonight.

BENNY: (smiles) Me too, Natalie. (putting on the charm) So, uh… what was your favorite part?

NATALIE: (considers this) Well… I want to say it was the part where I got to share a moonlit picnic by the lake with a dark, handsome stranger.

BENNY: S’that right?

NATALIE: (smiles) Mm-hmm. (teasing) But…

BENNY: (wait. what?) “But”? Wait. What? Why’s there a but?

NATALIE: (bigger smile, pressing on) But… I gotta say, I kinda wish I stayed with that Mutant fellow with the big brain.

BENNY: Laws, that was an awful movie!

NATALIE: (laughs) Did you hear that man sitting behind us?

BENNY: Hear him? I still can’t get his bad jokes out of my head. He was talking through the whole movie!

NATALIE: (snuggles close) I guess it’s a good thing we left early, huh?

BENNY: Yeah. I guess it was.

AND THEN…

SFX: WOOP-WOOP! A POLICE CRUISER FLASHES LIGHTS AND SIREN.

BENNY: Aw, man. What now?

NATALIE: Benny, you better pull over.

SFX: THE BEL AIR PULLS TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, STOPS.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE AMBIENCE OF AN UNWARRANTED TRAFFIC STOP ON THE SIDE OF A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

SFX: OFFICER (JIMMY) APPROACHES, TAPS ON GLASS.

SFX: BENNY ROLLS, CRANKS DOWN WINDOW.

OFFICER: Please step out of the car, Sir.

BENNY: Excuse me?

NATALIE: (to OFFICER) Jimmy?

OFFICER: Hey, Nat. This’ll just take a second. (to BENNY) Sir, please. Step out of the car.

NATALIE: Jimmy, what are you doing?

OFFICER: I’m sorry, Nat.

SFX: DEPUTY CLARENCE MIDDLETON EXITS THE CRUISER, APPROACHES THE BEL AIR.

CLARENCE: The man asked you to step out of the car twice now. Don’t make him ask you a third time.

NATALIE: (furious) Clarence!

BENNY: Aw, shit.

SFX: NATALIE STORMS OUT OF THE CAR, AT CLARENCE.

CLARENCE: Natalie. You get back in there. This ain’t got nothing to do with you.

NATALIE: Like Hell!

SFX: SLAP! CLARENCE STRIKES NATALIE ACROSS THE FACE.

NATLIE: (pained scream)

BENNY: Natalie!

CLARENCE: See what you’ve made me go and do, Mr. Sierra? Think you want to step out of that car now?

SFX: BENNY STEPS OUT OF THE CAR.

CLARENCE: That’s a good boy. (to NATALIE) See? Was that too hard? All I wanted was a little pow-wow with our mutual friend.

BENNY: What do you want, Clarence–

CLARENCE: Deputy Middleton. (To OFFICER) Jimmy. Escort my baby sister back home.

OFFICER: Come along, Nat.

NATALIE: (pulls away) What? No!

BENNY: What do we have to talk about? Was I speeding? You gonna give me a ticket?

CLARENCE: No. We’re past that, Mr. Sierra.

SFX: CLARENCE UNHOLSTERS HIS SIDEARM, PISTOLWHIPS BENNY.

SFX: BENNY DROPS LIKE A ROCK WITH A BROKEN JAW.

BENNY: (pained, broken grunts)

NATALIE: Benny!

CLARENCE: Yeah. I bet that smarts.

OFFICER: Clarence…

CLARENCE: Jimmy. Wouldn’t you agree that there is a God-given order to the world? A purpose. A plan. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

OFFICER: Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. But, uh… Clarence, I don’t think–

CLARENCE: Nor should you. Didn’t I order you to take Natalie home?

OFFICER: Yeah. But…

CLARENCE: Then I suggest you mind your place and do your job.

OFFICER: Yes, Sir.

CLARENCE: And you, Mr. Sierra. We’re going to see if we can sort out exactly where you belong.

SFX: CLARENCE KICKS BENNY IN THE RIBS.

BENNY: (pained grunts)

NATALIE: (sobs) Benny!

OFFICER: Clarence! Stop this!

CLARENCE: Jimmy, I told you–!

SFX: BENNY TACKLES CLARENCE TO THE GROUND.

OFFICER: Clarence!

SFX: BENNY AND CLARENCE WRESTLE, STRUGGLE OVER GUN.

NATALIE: Both of you! Cut this out right this instant!

SFX: BENNY PINS, PUNCHES CLARENCE. ONCE, TWICE…

SFX: BANG! A SINGLE GUNSHOT ECHOES THROUGH THE CANYON.

NATALIE: (frightened gasp)

SFX: BENNY DROPS DEAD.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

NATALIE: (broken) Oh, God…

OFFICER: Clarence… Clarence, what did you do?

SFX: CLARENCE RISES, DUSTS HIMSELF OFF.

CLARENCE: Eliminated the threat.

OFFICER: You shot him, Clarence. He’s dead. He ain’t supposed to be dead. But you shot him, and now he’s dead.

CLARENCE: Then I guess he knows his place now, don’t he?

OFFICER: (shakes head) This is wrong. This is all wrong.

CLARENCE: The only thing wrong, Officer, is that you’re disobeying a director order. Get Natalie home. Now.

OFFICER: What are you going to do?

CLARENCE: It’s like I said: a place for everything, and everything in its place. And someone’s gotta take out the trash.

SFX: OFFICER ESCORTS A BROKEN NATALIE INTO THE CRUISER, DRIVES AWAY.

FADE.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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…

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…