Probes 'n Us!
Setting: "On board", can be very simple, even bare stage, but it would be nice if there were an otherworldy glow or design to the scene. A deep, soft electric hum should sound throughout the play, always very quietly. Lights up instantaneously, a woman, Ellen, lies on her stomach, in a bathing suit, arms and legs in full breast stroke mode, completely soaked, and takes a big "breaking-the-surface" sort of breath. The illusion to be created is that the woman appeared there simultaneously with the lights coming up. She lifts her head and looks around, and after a beat, begins screaming like crazy. Another woman, Poot, is seated against the stage right wall, knees up to her chin, she is scared and has been crying. She is dressed in a night shirt and clunky winter boots. She is shocked at the sudden appearance of this second woman, but then relieved that someone else is there with her.
Poot: (trying to get her attention through the screaming) Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! It's O.K.! O.K.! Hey! Look over here! Hey! Hey! (Ellen finally notices Poot) It's O.K.! Calm down... Hey... that's it... yeah... it's o.k.... I did the same thing for like two hours.... It's o.k.! Hi... my name's Posey... Posey... hi... but you can call me Poot. Everyone else does...
Ellen: (still sounding frantic) Wh... How...Wh... Wh...What happened?! Where the hell am I?
P: (soothing but still nervous) I don't really know... I just showed up here too... I don't remember how long ago... probably 3... 4 hours ago...
E: I'm scared... this is bad... really, really bad...
P: (Comes to center and sits by Ellen) I'm scared too. I don't know what's going on and why or even how.
E: We're going to be killed!
P: What? No, no, no, don't think things like that. Look, we don't even know where we are; I mean we might be some place friendly. (tries to smile)
E: What? Are you crazy?! I was swimming in the pool at the Ramada by the airport. I just dived in and was trying to swim a whole length underwater... (begins to shake)
P: What? What's wrong?
E: What's wrong?! What the hell do you think is wrong? (long pause) Sorry... I'm just really freaked out...
P: Yeah, I know.
E: I... I had just about made it to the other side... the underwater light was getting bigger and brighter and I was reaching out for it, and then... I... I was here.
P: And screaming.
E: Yeah... this can't be real, right?
P: Let's keep it simple, o.k.? What's your name?
E: Sorry... Ellen. I'm Ellen.
P: O.K. Hi, Ellen.
E: Where are we?
P: I have no idea. Say, do you remember what time it was when you were swimming?
E: Probably like 4 or 4:30. I was going to go out for supper after I had swam. So, yeah, right around there.
P: You said a hotel by the airport. Which airport?
E: Yeah, Detroit.
P: O.K. O.K. That's very strange.
E: Yeah, what isn't?
P: Well, that would mean that I've been here a lot longer than I thought.
P: 'Cause I live about eighty miles northwest of Detroit, and I was getting ready for bed at about 10:15 last night, and my dog started whining and barking and scratching at the front door. I went to let her out, and then I saw these lights coming through the trees.
E: Car lights?
P: That's what I thought, but there's no road where I was looking; we're fairly isolated out in the country. So I put my boots on and went outside to get a closer look... The lights got brighter and then came over the top of the trees. There was no sound... you know, like no sound, nothing from the lights... the trees were shaking violently... I remember looking down and Junebug, my collie, was barking and jumping around like crazy... but I didn't hear anything... then there was a split-second whistle, a deep whistle inside my head, and I was right here.
E: I heard that whistle too! I thought maybe I was just about passing out from being underwater that long.
P: Yeah, and then you showed up, but I must have been here since last night then... 10:15 pm to 4:30 pm the next day... that's... ummm... over 18 hours. Jeez... it has only seemed like three or four.
E: Why did you put those winter boots on?
P: (lost in her miscalculation of the time that has passed) Huh?
E: Is your yard real muddy or something?
P: What... oh... no, no... it's a typical country yard.
E: So why'd you put those big winter boots on to look at the lights?
P: Well, I was barefoot, and I didn't want my toes to freeze in the snow; so, of course...
P: Yeah, snow; so I put...
E: Ummm... Poot?
E: Uhhh.... I don't really know how to tell you this... uhh, maybe I just... ummm...
E: No... ummm... nevermind... it's not, uhh, important.
P: What isn't important?
E: No... really... it's just a stupid thing. Don't worry about it.
E: Nevermind... nevermind... forget it... so like really big lights, huh?
P: Tell me.
E: 'Cause I just saw the swimming pool light, you know?
P: Tell me now. You have to!
E: I don't think...
P: (grabbing her face) Ellen?! Now!
E: It's... it's July.
E: I was at the hotel. It was July when I was swimming.
P: No... no, it wasn't. It isn't.
E: Yes. The pool was one of those indoor/outdoor ones. They had the top open. It was eighty degrees and sunny.
P: No! No, it wasn't! No! ... No! ... No! No! No! No! No! NO!!
E: I'm sorry; I told you that you wouldn't want...
P: (over E's line) No! No! It's January! It's cold! Snow! I have my boots on!!!
E: (long pause while P continues quieter protestations, E comforts her by stroking her hair) I'm sorry... so sorry... shhh... shhh... It's o.k. I'm here now... We can keep each other company.. shhh... shhh... you have such nice hair...
P: (slowly coming to a realization) I can't believe... wait... I have such nice hair... but my hair is the same length as the night I got here. See... see... I can't have been here for six months... my hair would be much longer!
E: Poot, I don't know how long you've been here; I don't know how long your hair should be. All I know is, it was Detroit, I was outside in a pool, it was July.
P: (getting up walking around) Well... July... I guess I don't need these then! (she kicks off her boots, pause, she looks at them, then picks them up one at a time and throws them violently across the stage) Nope! Just save these up for winter again! (There is a shout of excitement from off-stage, just as Poot chucks the second boot, the excited shout continues until it changes to "Hey!", a beat, then in walks Marty, carrying Poot's second boot. He looks like a stereotypical good-ol' boy from the country, plaid work shirt, jeans, in just his socks, but he is gregarious and kind. Ellen and Poot are startled and surprised to see this new person.)
Marty: Whoa, there! (holding up boot) One of you missing something? (laughs, sees Ellen in a swimsuit, addressing her) Hmmm... must not be yours! (walking toward Poot) Hi there! (offers his hand)
P: Uhhh... Hi... I'm... uhhh... Posey. (nervously gives handshake)
M: Hey, Posey! That's a nice name; I'm Marty!
P: Hi... Marty... You can call me Poot. Everyone does.
M: You can call me handsome; everyone does! (laughs) Seriously, though... Poot? Ha! Well, that's just too cute, Poot! Shoot, Poot... boot? (pause, then he chuckles, he is very outgoing and fun-loving)
P: Yes... it's my boot...
M: (turning toward Ellen) Hi, there! Marty's the name, but you can call me handsome!
E: Yes, I heard. (she is a little embarrassed by her limited clothing in front of this unknown man) Ummm...
M: Musta got you when you were swimming, huh?
E: Yes... uhhh... who...
M: Kinda what it looks like to me!
E: Yes... who...
M: Me, I was watching the very end of the Lions-Bears game on TV, overtime and the Lions just were making a field goal attempt to win, the snap, the spot, the kick was up, then there was that ol' familiar light and poof! Here I am!
P: Wait, what happened?
M: Well, the Bears tried to go for it on fourth down instead of try for a real long field goal, but the Lions...
P: No! No! No... not that!
M: Oh, you mean like earlier in the game? Well, it was kinda dull, more of a defensive struggle, not that that's not good football too, but I kinda tuned out for most of the second half, and then the...
P: (has been saying "no" under M's last line, and builds to a crescendo, finally cutting hi off) NO!! NOT THE FOOTBALL GAME!!
M: (pause) So, what d'ya mean?
P: The light and you showing up here! What happened?
M: That's it, just the bright light... kind of just coming right out of the TV, just as the kicker's foot hit the ball, then I was here.
E: Familiar... you said familiar light? Didn't you?
M: Ohh... sure... just like the last time and the time before that.
P: What?! This ... this...
M: Happens to me all the time! Usually when I least expect it, ya know? Like the football game, right when I was gonna see if the Lions could finally win one this year!
E: All the time?
M: Yeah! This is... ummm... (counts in his head for a little bit)... ohhh... must be the fifth time since summer... maybe the sixth...
E: Since summer?
M: Yeah, since school started back up for the little ones...
P: Where are you from?
M: Up near Ontonagon... uhhh... that's in Michigan, in America...
P: I know where it is.
M: Oh, good, I hate having to explain that, 'cause Michigan's divided into two parts, you know...
P: I know; I'm from Michigan.
M: Well now, that's neat! Whereabouts?
P: And it was football season when you got here?
M: Yeah, crunch time, right after Thanksgiving, ya know... Now the Lions ain't got a chance of making the...
E: Shut up about the Lions! (pulling back) Please? I'm sorry...
M: Hey, no sweat, I hear that from my wife a lot...
P: Marty, you said it's after Thanksgiving... end of Novemeber....
M: Well, yeah, when they sucked me up, it was. Twenty-seventh, I think.
E: I've only been here ten minutes! It was July!
M: Oh, don't even think about it, it gets pretty confusing...
E: No... No... touch me, touch my hair, I'm still wet! My hair still smells like chlorine! It's July! I was underwater!
P: Shh... Ellen...
M: Really, don't think about that! Just enjoy the trip!
M: Sit back and enjoy the trip!
P: We are not on a trip! Marty! We don't know where we are, we don't know what happened to us, we don't know what time of the year it is!
M: Or even what year it is!
M: Yeah... what year was it when you got sucked up?
E: This year, right now!
P: Me too!
M: No, I'm not trying to scare you; so don't get all frightened, alright?
P: What do you mean, Marty?
M: Like I asked ya: what year was it?
P: (horrified, breaking down just a bit, sobbing, chokes out) 19...87.
M (both are crying now and obviously terrified, E gets even more frightened when Marty says) 2009 for me.
E: No... smell my hair... chlorine... it's July... July... 2006... I was swimming...
M: (genuinely trying to soothe them) Hey, now! Hey, now! It's alright. Trust me.
P: We... don't even know you.
E: I was swimming.
M: Sure you were, I know that. Eveything's fine.
P: Fine?! I've been up here for over twenty-two years, and you say everything is just fine?! I haven't eaten for twenty-two years!
E: I was only swimming...
M: Listen now; let me explain some things to you, alright? Is that o.k? I think it will help ya understand the situation you're in.
P: What? What can you explain?
M: Well, here's what I understand, based on my past experience with this sorta thing. The time thing doesn't really matter. When they're done with us, we'll each go back to exactly where we were, at exactly the same time, doing exactly what we we were doing.
E: How can that be? You're from the future. We're both from the future in Poot's eyes.
M: Different dimension. Like fourth or fifth dimension, ya know. Don't know what that looks like; so I couldn't tell you exactly, but we are definitely outsida any sorta Earth time right now.
M: Oh yeah! These guys scoop you up anywhere, anytime, hold you for as long as they want, you never know how long, but it doesn't matter.
P: But, I've aged 22 years...
M: No, no... it's not any time right now, no time. You haven't aged at all, and you'll end up right back where you were.
P: No, it's not...
M: Poot, trust me on this, this is about the thirtieth time I been sucked up... you'll end up back in Michigan in 1987. I'll be back in front of the football game and the kick will still be in the air... You'll be back underwater in July, 2006.
E: I can't understand it.
M: That's the good thing about it: you don't have to! You'll just be back where you were. You might feel a little odd, but it only lasts a few minutes, and, here's the genius part, you won't remember a damn thing!
M: Pretty cool, huh?!
M: Not a thing. It'll be like nothing ever happened, no time passed, you'll be exactly the same as you were when you left... no aging, no memory of anything strange or scary.
P: But... but, how do you know all this?
M: Like I said, thirtieth time, give or take a few, so you pick up the general procedure pretty well, ya know?
P: But, how do you remember any of what you said? You said you forget everything.
M: Right, when your back in your own world, but when you get sucked up again, it all floods back! It becomes like a favorite little vacation, except no one ever knows you're gone.
E: This is not a vacation! This is scary and horrible!
M: Sure, that's what I useta think too! But, when it happened, the second and third time, I began to realize that it's actually not bad at all. In fact, if you open yourself up to the experience, it's a lot of fun!
P: I really don't think it's nice for you to joke about this, Marty!
M: Sorry, I realize you're both rookies, but, really, it's a good time! You meet great people, hear amazing stories, participate in some great science experiments...
M: Yeah, this one time, about ten trips ago, I was up here with both Napoleon and Stalin and that Chinese guy... ummm. crap, can't remember his name... but, hey, can you believe that?!
M: Yeah! Seriously. Another time, there was a whole group of elementary school kids from the year 5521 taking a class trip, and... oh.. yeah... then this one time...
E: Science experiments?!!
P: Marty, what happens?
M: Depends on who's got us!
P: Who has us?
M: Yeah, this is a pretty non-descript room, so I'm not sure if its the Pulftanzars or maybe... the Yok race... or could be the sub-class Wredglos Dominion... or maybe it's the plasma legions of Telppa Jj... don't know, but I'm sure we'll find out soon!
P: But, what happens, Marty; what science experiments?
M: Oh, lotsa things... (women react with great fear and horror at each experiment) One time, they removed every bone in my body! How frickin' cool is that, huh?! I just kinda hung out in this gelatin stuff for a few years and then they put the bones back. Another time, they actually removed my head, and then put like these weird wheels under my neck area and used me like a remote control car sorta thing... then... ummm... oh yeah! There was this one time, where they kept changing the color of my skin and like putting different types of hair and slime on me, no idea why, it was wild though! Ohh... and this one time, they removed these portions of my brain and made me see sound and hear colors and turn on lights with my fingers... Then, once, they... uhhh... (looks at his crotch, remembers his audience)... well, uhh... nevermind about that one, but it was awesome too!
E: Please stop!
P: Don't ever start again!
M: I know, yeah, sounds pretty freaky, but don't worry about it. None of it has ever even hurt... they got some wicked-ass painkillers on these things...
E: Stop! O.K.? Please?
M: Sure, sure...
E: (too curious) Ummm... Marty... do they... ummm.. you know? The... uh... like they always say on TV?
M: Ohhhh! Yeah! You bet your sweet ass they do! And let me tell you something, it's great! I mean, it is truly amazing! Everytime! Never disappoints!
E: But... why?
M: No, idea, they're all different too; I mean the gist of it's pretty much the same, but the variety makes my head spin! Could be just a metal rod, which is kinda my definition, ya know, but these folks ain't from Michigan! I can tell you that! So, they got some very creative ideas about probes and anuses!
E: For science?
M: That's what they want to believe I think, and I play along, but I stay for the fun! It's totally awesome! Every time!
E: I... I...
M: You know, you see the pole or the pasma energy field or whatever coming down between your legs, and just jump back whip off those undies and lift those legs real high, 'cause this is one roller coaster your gonna wanna ride all day long!!
E: Ohh. Really?
M: Yeah, I ain't gay or anything, but it makes me wonder about switching teams every time it happens!
E: But, weren't you scared!
M: Damn straight, I was! That first time, they had to lash me down with lasers, but I stopped struggling pretty quick, if you know what I mean.
E: (slightly intrigued, but still not accepting anything about the situation) Ohhh... yes... I know what you mean... I guess...
(There is an electronic sound, then a strange looking figure enters from SL, this is Rempakkaqq, make him as alien as you'd like, he speaks in slow English, at first, the women are freaked out)
Rempakkaqq: Greeting, honored guests! I am a Science Leader of my colony's 223rd mission to your planet. My name is Rempakkaqq. I am just going...
M: Holy crap! Hey! Hey! Pakki! It's me! Marty, from Ontonagon! Remember me, man? 'Cause I remember you guys!
R: (becoming conversational, using English like Marty does) What the... well... damn! Marty! Nice to see you, man! How ya doing? How's Nicole?
M: Good, good, you know... she's gotta put up with me, but, hey!
R: She's a trooper! And the girls?
M: Fine, fine! They'll be in third and first grade this year; thankfully they look more and more like their mother everyday...
R: Good for them... good, good... (chucks him on the shoulder)
M: Wow! Pakki! Good to see you again! What's it been? Ten years?
R: No idea, man.
M: So... ummm... hey... any probing on this mission, Pakster?
R: Oh yeah! Sure, gotta have some probing, we're going to be checking on a new technol...
M: Hey! I don't wanna know, alright?! (laughing between both of them)
R: Yeah, doesn't really matter, does it?
M: (to E and P) You guys are not gonna wanna miss their probes! These guys are, like, the emperors of the ol' anal probe!
R: Ohhh... stop (genuinely embarrassed)
M: And this guy's like the Hank Aaron of probers! He's top-o-the-line probefessional-grade!
R: Geez, Marty, really now... (to E and P, with modesty) I just enjoy my work.
M: And it shows, my friend, and... it... shows!
R: Thanks, Marty... good to have you along again!
M: (dropping his pants quickly) Let's get started, Pakki! Huh! C'mon! It's probing time!
R: Oooh! Sorry, Marty! Posey's first on the schedule!
M: Ahhh, man... serious? I was so ready! (to P) Hey, Poot, trade ya! C'mon! Please?!
R: (pointing at P and controlling her motions with his hand, making her stand and start walking off SL, she begins panicking, softly at first)) Yeah, sorry, Marty! I don't make the schedule... you know, lotta bureaucracy round here; best just to play by the rules.
M: Crap... sure... I understand, Pakki. (E is screaming and trying to fight the forces impelling her off stage, M shouts to be heard over her protestations) Hey, Poot! Don't worry! You're gonna love it! Spread those legs wide, girlfriend! Take one in the poot, Poot! Woo-hoo!
(P and R are off. M looks after them, still excited, pants still around his ankles, crosses back toward E)
M: So... where 'd you say you were from?
E: (devestated, droning, lights fading, electronic bed up louder) I was underwater. I was underwater. I was underwater.
(lights out, loud shock sound heard from SL)
M: Lucky Poot!