(Transcripts may vary slightly from the published recording, because, you know, improvising. Also, grammar and punctuation may be imperfect…because…umm…Astral Plane.)
THEME MUSIC PLAYS
INTERIOR CAR SOUND – RADIO BEING TUNED – STORM OUTSIDE
Cash: “Incoming Broadcast from Desert Skies”
Attendant (AM RADIO VOICE): Greetings travelers still traversing through the astral plane. This is the Attendant coming to you from Desert Skies, here to bring you some advice and remind you of some important information for navigating the celestial spheres. Let’s get to it.
There are eleven rest areas along the road and I recommend stopping as needed. When I say rest areas, don’t think of the traditional human bodily fluid relief units you may have visited when still present on the physical plane, we don’t do that here. These rest stations are for soul relief. Specifically the relief of burdens you carry with you from your time on earth. Stop at one, stop at all eleven. Lots of baggage? Take advantage!
There are 33 spheres you must cross before reaching the next plane of existence, each sphere being moved by a powerful celestial being. Most are benevolent, some are malevolent. And you’d be surprised how hard it is to know which is which. As we say around here, they may look evil, friendly, or sad, not worth the risk, assume they’re all bad.
If you’re a traveler fresh off the physical plane you’ll soon be arriving at Desert Skies. We look forward to meeting you! Be sure to try one of our freshly baked donuts. We’re assuming they’re freshly baked because they just showed up a little while ago. No clue where they came from. Stuff like that happens sometimes.
And also, we got the coldest beverages this side of the physical…
Mac, what are you doing?
Mac: I wanna say somethin’.
Attendant: I’m on the air, what is it? It better be important.
Mac: It is Tendy, I promise.
Attendant: Fine. Make it quick.
Mac: Greetings to travelers making their way across the celestial spheres. Mechanic here, with today’s embarrassing childhood memory. This one goes out to Shayla, recent traveler from Phoenix, AZ, who at the tender of age of 8 started crying during a talent show. Here’s the kicker, she was singing it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Classic. This is Mac the Mechanic saying, you can’t make this stuff up.
Attendant: Give me that. Thanks for that, Mac. Shayla, if you’re still out there on the road, I apologize. There’s no shame in crying.
And now back to the music. Safe travels.
Attendant: Mac, if you want to share embarrassing childhood memories can you make it anonymous? I can’t imagine people wanting their embarrassing childhood laundry blasted over the airwaves.
Mac: I can try, but as soon as I get on the air I become an absolute madman.
Attendant: And when you’re not on the radio you’re a completely normal person.
Mac: Exactly! See, you get it. Wait a second
Attendant: Listen, Mac, I saw the coyotes across the road when I took the garbage out. Can you go see what they want?
Mac: My furry friends are here? Yesss. I can’t wait to tell ‘em I was on the radio. They’re gonna love this.
Attendant: Cash Register
Cash: How can I assist you Attendant?
Attendant: We’re running low on Tera-Seraphic soda and the last traveler just finished off the non-dairy creamer.
Cash: Placing an order now, attendant.
Attendant: Hey! Welcome. I’ll be right with you. One other thing Cash, I’ve been meaning to tell you about a light I saw at the base of the mountain earlier. Kind of blue-ish, seemed to be moving…
Francis: I’m sorry to interrupt. It’s just that something seems to be -zap- wrong with me.
Attendant: Oh my God. Okay. This is okay. You’re just uh…
Mac: Hey Tendy! You’ll never believe the joke HueHue just told me. So there’s this coyote who is also a doctor (laughter), but that’s not the whole joke! So he…
Attendant: Not now, Mac! We have a problem
Mac: What is it?
Attendant: It’s our traveler. She’s subbing really bad.
Francis: I’m sorry. What is -zap- subbing?
Attendant: Subbing. Um, Sub. S.U.B. It stands for Significant Unfinished Business.
Francis: What does that mean?
Attendant: It means there’s something very, very important that you left unfinished on the physical plane.
Francis: What do you mean the physical plane? Where am I?
Attendant: I guess I should have started there. What’s your name?
Attendant: Francis, you’re dead.
Francis: That’s not good.
Attendant: It’s not as bad as what’s happening to you now. Can you think of something significant you may have left incomplete before you came here. Something massively important to you that you could have carried into the Astral Plane?
Francis: Wait, I’m sorry, so I’m dead? Why is there a -zap- gas station?
Attendant: I’m sorry, I’ll answer all your questions, but it’s really important we get this figured out while there’s still time. Did you leave any unfinished business in the physical plane? Something important?
Francis: Unfinished business? Nope. Nothing. I mean, I haven’t led the most interesting life but I was mostly happy with the way things went. Kind of surprised it’s already over. Maybe that’s it. The surprise of it. Maybe that’s why I’m, you know…-zap- subbing.
Attendant: A little too common. Most people are surprised when their short time on the physical plane comes to an end, whether 19 or 90. You left something major undone, and it’s affecting your presence here on the Astral Plane. That’s what’s causing you to glitch.
Francis: That’s what this is, a -zap- glitch?
Attendant: That’s what we call it, and if we don’t figure it out quickly, it’s not going to stop.
Francis: You mean I’m going to glitch like this forever?
Attendant: It’s actually worse than that, and don’t freak out, okay?
Attendant: If you can’t let go of the business you left behind, you’re going to sub out completely.
Francis: What does that mean? Where do I go?
Attendant: We’re not exactly sure. Mac thinks you go back to the physical plane as a ghost.
Francis: Well, that might not be so bad. Being a ghost could be fun. I wonder if my -zop- dog would still see me.
Attendant: But we don’t know if you become a ghost, for all we know you may sub entirely out of existence. Look at me Francis and take this seriously. If you can’t remember what you left undone, your glitches are going to get closer and closer together and there will be nothing we can do. You’ll be here one moment, and gone the next, and you’ll never come back. You’ll never drive across the celestial spheres, you’ll never reach the next life, you will never arrive at your destination.
Attendant: Francis this is Cash. She’s a computational assistance and service help register. She’s going to help us determine the cause of your glitch.
Cash: Hello Traveler.
Francis: Uh, hello….robot.
Attendant: Cash, can you run a traveler bio for Francis? I can start reading it over while you perform the sub diagnostic.
Cash: Requesting traveler bio, Attendant. Now, traveler
Francis: Sub diagnostic?
Cash: The Sub Diagnostic is a series of questions designed to identify the reason for your glitch. These questions will focus on the most common categories of significant unfinished business. Please answer each question with yes or no. Do you understand?
Francis: I -zap- think so.
Cash: Beginning sub diagnostic. Question 1: In your time on the physical plane did anyone murder a member of your family and did you seek to avenge their death?
Francis: Murder a member -zap- of my family? Not that I’m aware of.
Cash: Please answer yes or no.
Cash: Question 2: Did you seek to avenge the death of a non-family member?
Cash: Question 3: Did you witness a murder or another crime being committed and depart the physical plane before you were able to tell anyone?
Cash: Were you in the process of seeking a long lost treasure when your time on the physical plane ended?
Cash: Yes or no, please
Francis: No -zap -.
Mac: Let me try one Cash.
Cash: Be my guest, Mechanic.
Mac: Did you ever start playing a game of Monopoly but didn’t finish because everyone had to go home but you were doing really really well and all you needed was just one person to land on Park Place because you had just built a hotel there? They said they were really tired but it was only 10 pm and tomorrow was a Saturday so you knew they were probably lying.
Francis: Wait, how did you…
Mac: Yes or no, please.
Francis: Uhmm, yes, actually. That did happen once.
Mac: I figured it out, Tendy! We just have to get our hands on a monopoly set.
Attendant: Francis, I’ve skimmed your file and can’t find anything we’d normally associate with subbing.
But there is one piece of unfinished business that shows up over and over again. Looks like you wrote a play ten years ago but never did anything with it. Every year you’d come back to it, make a couple revisions, consider sharing it with the local acting group you were a part of. Could that have anything to do with…
Francis: Where are you getting this information?
Attendant: I read about it in your traveler bio.
Francis: Traveler bio? Give me that!
Attendant: I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to…
Francis: There’s a lot of really -zap- personal information in here.
Attendant: The traveler bio is pretty informative but it’s not exhaustive. It’s just meant to give us a place to start in the event a traveler is having trouble moving on.
Francis: Well, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to keep your nose out of -zap- mine.
Attendant: Fair enough. But we need to figure out why you’re glitching, and our best bet is in those pages. Can we just talk about the play? Just to rule it out.
Francis: What’s there to talk about? It was just a dumb idea and I didn’t feel like sharing it. Yeah, I’d look at it from time to time, but so what? It was just a stupid hobby.
Attendant: I’m not trying to push, but what was it about?
Francis: If I wanted anyone to know that I wouldn’t have kept it to myself. Let’s drop the subject. Whatever I left behind, it isn’t that play. I need some -zap- fresh air.
Mac: So, it was the monopoly game?
Attendant: Probably something bigger than that. How do you know so much about Monopoly anyways?
Mac: I have a life outside of this gas station you know.
Attendant: You quite literally do not.
Mac: Why are you like this?
Attendant: We don’t have time for this. We need to figure out what’s causing her to glitch, now
Mac: Oh, I almost forgot to tell you Tendy. The reason why the coyotes were here.
Attendant: The doctor coyote joke?
Mac: That’s not why they were here. HueHue said they saw a light at the base of the mountain and decided to check it out
Attendant: I saw that too. I was telling Cash about it earlier.
Mac: Yeah, well, it turns out, it’s a malevolent spirit.
Attendant: Which one?
Mac: Didn’t sound like they were able to tell. Not a sphere mover.
Attendant: Well, that’s good, I guess.
Mac: HueHue thinks it’s still a good idea for us to stay inside as much as possible. They’re keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too close.
Attendant: Those are some commendable coyotes. I wish we had a way to repay them.
Mac: Maybe we can think of something.
Attendant: Well, if something’s out there, we need to get Francis back inside. C’mon.
Attendant: Where is she? Francis!
Attendant: She’s not out here, Mac. You don’t think she walked into the desert do you?
Mac: Can’t think of where else she could have gone.
Attendant: This is bad. This is real bad.
Attendant: The coyotes. Maybe they can help us find her. Can you talk to them Mac?
Mac: On it
Attendant: Great, as soon as you’re done, meet me inside. We have to figure out what to do about Francis before she gets back
Mac: Can do
Cash: Attendant, where is our traveler? I’m growing concerned.
Attendant: Looks like she wandered off. And the coyotes are saying the light I saw moving around the base of the mountain is a malevolent being.
Cash: Oh my
Attendant: Mac is recruiting HueHue’s help finding Francis. She’s running out of time, Cash. What should I do?
Cash: It seems to me that given the limited amount of time she has remaining it would make sense to put all efforts towards pursuing the best possible solution we have at the moment.
Attendant: The play.
Cash: The play.
Mac: Our furry friends are on the case. Francis will be back in no time. Any idea what our next step is?
Attendant: I think I have an idea. Cash, just how deep can you dig into a traveler bio?
Cash: You’d be surprised.
SOUND FROM OUTSIDE – COYOTE GROWLS
Francis: Okay, okay, I’m going back in –zap– side
You guys have a serious animal control problem here. And these glitches are get-zap-ting worse by the minute. Hey, where is everybody?
Cash: Greetings traveler. Please make your way to the soda cooler isle and find your seat.
Francis: Okaaay. Are you running more tests?
Cash: Something like that. Now please, take a…
Francis: Alright, I’m goin’ I’m goin’. This place is -zap- weird you know that? Subbing out is starting to sound pretty nice.
LIGHTS DIM – DRAMATIC MUSIC BEGINS PLAYING
Francis: Why are you doing that? Why are you turning down the lights?
Cash: Ladies and gentleman, Desert Skies is pleased to present a reading of Apple Slice Afternoon. Written by Francis Carrigan. The part of Mattheus Carrigan will be read by the Attendant. The part of Francis Carrigan will be read by the Mechanic.
Francis: Are you serious? Where did you get -zap- my script? I told you guys my play has nothing to do with…
Cash: Please, no talking during the performance.
Francis: Alright Alright, but I -zap- hate you.
Mechanic: Who are we if not storytellers? What makes us human but for the process of gathering, sharing, and retelling the experiences unique to ourselves, and yet common among all peoples? I have many stories to tell, and while all have come to define me, some have defined me more than others. Let me begin one afternoon, a week after the passing of my mother.
Attendant: Francis, I will not tell you again. You asked for a snack and I took the time to prepare it. The least you can do is pretend to appreciate it.
Mac: Mommy sliced them different.
Attendant: Your mother did many things differently, my dear, but she’s gone now and she isn’t coming back. We must do our best to carry on. Now, finish your snack and pack your things. You’re going to spend time with your grandmother
Mac: But I want to stay here, Daddy. I want to be with you…
Mac: But I don’t want to be a lawyer! I have my own path to follow. You want me to be just like you, but I am my own woman.
Attendant: And how will you provide for yourself? What is to come of you when I’m gone? You show no interest in marriage, no interest in your studies at the university. All you do is sit in your room writing silly stories. It’s time to grow up, Francis.
Mac: If you cannot accept me for who I am not then you can never love me for who I am. Please, dad. Can you not say that you’re proud of me? Just once
Attendant: I refuse to say what is untrue. Furthermore, if you cannot find it in your…..
Attendant: I’m so glad that you’ve decided to come. I wasn’t sure if you would.
Mac: Despite everything, you’re still my dad. I know that mom’s death was hard for you…
Attendant: Keep it together, Mac
Mac: I know that mom’s death was hard for you, but you did your best.
Attendant: I could have done so much better. I love you, Francis, and I am proud of you. I’m going now, Francis. I love…you…
Attendant: Francis, are you okay?
Francis: You guys are such terrible actors.
Mac: We didn’t have a lot of time to practice
Francis: No, it was lovely. In it’s own stupid way. I didn’t think I’d ever get to see it per-zap-formed
Attendant: You’re still subbing. I guess the play wasn’t your unfinished business after all.
Francis: I’m thankful that I got a chance to see it, you gave me that, but there’s something you can’t give me.
Attendant: What’s that?
Francis: The last scene didn’t actually happen. I know what my unfinished business was. I wanted to see my dad again. I wanted to hear him say he was -zap- proud of me. That he loved me.
I know I shouldn’t care. My dad’s opinion didn’t define me. But after my mom died, I needed him. Just a kid who needed her dad. He died alone, at home. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to his funeral.
Attendant: I’m sorry, Francis. I’m sure if you’re dad had the chance now he’d tell you that he had been wrong.
Francis: Yeah, but he’s never going to have that chance.
Cash: That’s not entirely accurate.
Attendant: What are you talking about, Cash?
Cash: During your performance I took the liberty of reviewing some security footage. It’s from Mattheus Carrigans visit to Desert Skies. Please turn your attention to the monitor.
Francis: That’s my dad.
Attendant: Who is he talking to?
Cash: That is the previous attendant. Francis, this is the part I’d like you to hear.
Old Attendant: Well, that’s everything. The Mechanic should have your car ready. I think you’re ready to hit the road Mr. Carrigan.
Mattheus: Thank you. I know that no one is ever ready to die, I had just hoped I’d have a little more time. I had a daughter, we haven’t spoken in quite a few years. She was little when her mom passed, and I retreated, pulled away. Something in me became bitter, jaded, unable and unwilling to be close to anyone or anything. I died without ever telling her how much I loved her. She was her own person and that’s something I never had the strength to be. If you’re still here when she comes through, will you do me a favor?
Old Attendant: Yes sir, if I’m still here when she comes through. What’s the message?
Mattheus: Tell her that I’m proud of the life she led. That I’m sorry I never told her that, and I’m sorry I wasn’t a better man. And that, I loved her. I still do.
MONITOR TURNS OFF
Francis: I wish he could have said that when he was still alive, but it helps to hear it now.
Attention: Francis, you’ve stopped subbing.
Francis: Huh, no more glitch. I wasn’t lying before, I really didn’t know what I’d left behind. It’s funny though. What I needed wasn’t back there, it was here, waiting for me.
Attention: It’s funny how these things have a way of working out.
Now, in the words of my predecessor. I think you’re ready to get going Francis.
Francis: I think you’re right.
Cash: Yes, Attendant
Attendant: I’d like to submit my traveler report for Francis Carrigan
Cash: I am ready to receive your report
Attendant: Francis Carrigan had unfinished business in the physical realm, but business that could never have been finished there. One thing that working at Desert Skies has taught me is that most of the regrets people have in life aren’t because of things they did, but because of things they didn’t do.
Whether it’s having the courage to share the play you wrote, or the courage to say I’m proud of you even when your own pride has you say otherwise. Everyone thinks they have more time. I’m thankful that Francis found the closure she was looking for. I hope she’s able to enjoy her new journey.
That’s my report Cash
Cash: Report captured, anything else Attendant?
Attendant: Not at the moment. Thank you, Cash
Mac: Well, Francis is on her way
Attendant: Great. Now all we have to worry about is our malevolent visitor.
Mac: Nope. HueHue says they chased him out of the desert sphere.
Attendant: Well, that’s a relief. It’s nice to have friends like those coyotes.
Mac: Right? I gave them the last of my jerky stash as a little thank you gift. They seemed touched.
Attendant: That was really considerate of you Mac. I know how much you like your jerky. When you’re ready to tell me what animal it’s made from, I might like to try some.
Mac: Aw, wasn’t nothing. I can always make more.
Attendant: Still, that was thoughtful. I know I don’t say this enough, or maybe ever, but, I’m really proud of you Mac.
Mac: Thanks, Tendy. That’s really nice to hear you say.
Attendant: And a new traveler approaches. Ready team?
Cash, Mac: Ready (Attendant)
Attendant: Good. Let’s do this.