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19 Nocturne Boulevard


19 Nocturne Boulevard is an award-winning anthology audio drama series that ran from 2008 through 2013, and then went into deep hibernation.

RETURNING October 2020!!

Also the creator of Fatal Girl, Bingo the Birthday Clown, The Deadeye Kid, The Lovecraft 5, The Prisoner of Hancock House, The Decadence of Borrowed Silk, Eternal Dusk Roulette, and Atomic Julie's Galactic Bedtime Stories.                                                        Join our awesome Patreon supporters!

Sep 23, 2021

[The Outpost won the Gold Mark Time Award for best sci fi audio drama for 2008]

You wake up, millions of light years away, in a place nothing like home. 
...What do YOU do?

Cast List

  • Grant Hickey - Gene Thorkildsen
  • Vanessa 98949 - Julie Hoverson
  • Lassiter - Russell Gold
  • Yasmin - Melissa D. Johnson
  • Recorder - Beverly Poole

Episode and incidental music from the album "...go..." by Sulatus (www.sulatus.cbl.pl). 
(available on Jamendo.com) [Used under a Creative Commons license.]

Show theme:  Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)
Recorded with the assistance of Ryan Hirst of Neohoodoo Studio
Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson
Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock

"What kind of a place is it?  Would you believe it's a habitat, in an asteroid cloud, in a distant corner of the galaxy?"

*********************************************************

The Outpost

This story was very loosely inspired by the movie Suna No Onna (Woman in the Dunes), from 1964; directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara from the novel by Kôbô Abe, as adapted by Eiko Yoshida, starring Eiji Okada and Kyôko Kishida and the sand. 

It's an awesome film - superficially about a man who is trapped by a small town and placed with a woman as her new husband.  In the film, he's an office worker and amateur entymologist seeking to make some kind of name for himself by finding a new species of bug on his day trip to a beach.  He falls asleep and wakes to find he missed the last bus, but a local town has someone who will take him in for the night  - a woman who lives at the bottom of this odd huge sand pit. 

The whole town live at the bottoms of these pits, and we slowly realize that the sand has built up over the town for generations, and they just dig out the areas around the huts by night and have the sand taken away. The woman lost her husband and child in a sandslide and cannot handle the work of digging the sand all by herself, so they have placed the man with her as her new husband - letting him down and taking away the ladder.  The man also finds out that he's not the only one - other men in other houses were similarly abducted.

I didn’t want to work with any of that for my story, specifically since I had determined to make it a gender reverse, and a woman kidnapped and handed to a man to be trapped as his wife is kind of ... a lot of real history.

So I focused on the subtext and themes of the movie.  At its heart, it's a culture clash, the man representing "modern japan" (in the 60s) and the town and woman being so traditional that they won't even leave ancient homes that are being devoured by the sand.  In modern life, people are cogs, and he's coming from a life where he's basically interchangeable - hardly even missed when he vanishes - into one where the good of the community and the comfort of the partner are directly affected by the actions of the individual and each person is therefore important.

That gave me a more satisfying framework to play with.  By creating these two cultures - the efficient and interchangeable people she comes from - where even her personal achievements are somewhat generic - and the humble, personal, and individual life in the asteroids, where he takes time to respect the dead, and is proud of his little triumphs.

I also wanted an equivalent to the sand.  The film is basically a three character piece, with the sand as much a presence as the two people in it.  I made the outpost, with its gripes and problems, sounds, and needs, as similar to that as I could.  

I like to think it's the writing that makes this episode really great but I give a lot of credit to my costar, for being able to bring to life a male character that is strong without being overbearing, who is in control without being controlling, and who is never ashamed to feel.

That left me free to be a bitch. 

Of course the climax comes in both stories when the captive has a chance to walk away.  I won't spoil it.

****************************************************************

THE OUTPOST

Cast:

  • Olivia (host)
  • Grant Hickey (M20s-30s), calm and lonely. Stoic, eager.
  • Vanessa 98949 (F20s-30s), sharp and commanding, modern
  • Recorder (any)
  • Lassiter (M20s-30s), on Janice (another nearby outpost)
  • Yasmin (20s), another survivor of the Xanadu

OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's an outpost in an asteroid cloud, can't you tell? 

MUSIC

AMBIANCE     INSIDE OUTPOST MU LAMBDA EPSILON [Millie]

SOUND    MACHINE AND ELECTRONIC NOISES, SLOSHING OF LIQUID

VANESSA    [waking up noises, then with a start, coughing]

GRANT    Easy now.  Just breathe.

VANESSA    [breathing, coughing a bit]

GRANT    Tell me.  Do you know your name?

VANESSA    My what?  Of course.

GRANT    Tell me your name.

VANESSA    Vanessa 9 [breaks into coughing]

GRANT    [incredulous]  Your name is Vanessa 9?

VANESSA    Don't be stupid.  It's Vanessa 98949.  How old do I look? [coughing]

GRANT    [not a clue] Um...

VANESSA    Where am I?

GRANT    I'll tell you whatever you wanna know.  Later.  You're all wrung out.

VANESSA    Nonsense.  I am ordering you to tell me--

GRANT    Now there ain't no call to get huffy, miss.

VANESSA    [offended]  Where is your Vox?  I plan to let her know precisely--

GRANT    My what?

VANESSA    [altering slightly] Your Vox?  The one who gives you orders?

GRANT    Ain't got none. 

VANESSA    There must be a female around here somewhere!

GRANT    Nope.  Just me.  And you.

VANESSA    What the hell kind of place is this?  [pain]  ooh....  ah.

GRANT    There, now.  You lie back down and get yourself some rest.  [fogging out]  Waking from deepsub is no cakewalk...

MUSIC

VANESSA    [waking sharply again, gasp] Ohh.

SOUND    SWOOSH OF POD HATCH OPENING, HESITANT FOOTSTEPS, A STUMBLE

VANESSA    Where is that throwback?  Hmm?

SOUND    SHE PICKS UP A NOTE AND A RADIO

VANESSA    [reading] Frequency 12.  great.  [louder, commanding]  Frequency 12.

SOUND    NOTHING

VANESSA    [more strident] Frequency 12.  [Ugh!]

SOUND    RADIO UNIT BEING SHAKEN, CRACKLES TO LIFE

VANESSA    [hesitant] Frequency 12?  Is there anyone here?

GRANT    [on filter]  No need to holler. 

VANESSA    Your comm unit isn't set to recognize my voice!

GRANT    [baffled] Oh.  I'll... see what I can do.  You need anything?

VANESSA    [snap] No.  Well, I could use something to eat.

GRANT    All righty.  I have to finish up something, and I'll be down as soon as I can. 

SOUND    CLICK RADIO OFF

VANESSA    What?  You get down here immediately!  Ugh!

SOUND    THROWS RADIO UNIT - SOMETHING SNAPS

MUSIC

SOUND    SHE PACES

SOUND    DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN, HE ENTERS, DOOR SHUTS

GRANT    [sigh] All righty.  Brought you some chow.

VANESSA    [seething]  It's been almost an entire hour!

GRANT    [matter of fact]  You caught me outside.  Was quicker to finish what I was doing than to come in and get back out again later.

VANESSA    Give me that.

SOUND    TRAY RATTLES

GRANT    [grunt of effort] No.

VANESSA    What?  How dare you?

GRANT    You're in my home, and if you can't be civil, then ... well, I can be downright rude too.

VANESSA    There must be someone else here - I will report your behavior--!

GRANT    Nope.  Just me.  Like I told you.

VANESSA    Take me to your comm unit--

GRANT    No. 

VANESSA    [faltering] But I--

GRANT    You can ask nicely.

VANESSA    [indignant] What?  How can you even look me in the face and say such a thing, male?

GRANT    [beat, then sigh]  Call me again when you're in a better mood.

SOUND    FOOTSTEPS, DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN

VANESSA    [up]  The-- [deep breath, forces herself to a nicer tone] The radio is broken. 

GRANT    Broken?  Hold up.

SOUND    SETS TRAY DOWN. PICKS UP RADIO

VANESSA    I... shook it.  It wouldn't listen to me!

SOUND    RADIO SHAKES, RATTLES

GRANT    Hmm.  Looks like I'm gonna have to get in there.

SOUND    VANESSA TRIES TO BE SNEAKY, GRABBING SOMETHING TO EAT

GRANT    But I still don't understand what you're saying about-- [sees her eating, makes an impatient noise]

VANESSA    [around a mouthful]  You expect me to starve?  I just woke from deepsub.  I require caloric intake.

GRANT    [sigh, tsks] 

SOUND    HIS FOOTSTEPS LEAVE, DOOR SWOOSHES SHUT

MUSIC

SOUND    TINKERING WITH MACHINERY - LITTLE ZAP NOISES, ETC.

VANESSA    Just ...about ...there!

SOUND    BLIP AS SOMETHING TURNS ON

RECORDER    [crackly] Life pod B-L-T-L-1-4-5, ship Xanadu, designated X-14-Z-3-J--2-0-5--

VANESSA    [real relief]  Finally - a civilized voice!  Recorder.  Play back the Xanadu's final entry.

RECORDER    Final log entry of star cruiser Xanadu.  G-vector, Delta quadrant, encountered space debris.  Explosion.  Unknown cause.  Xanadu evac mandated.  Pods loosed at ship day 172, T-vector, speed normal.

VANESSA    Calculate time in transit.

RECORDER    Calculating.  One thousand, three hundred and eighty two days since Xanadu Evac.

SOUND    DOOR OPENS

VANESSA    Four years--?

GRANT    [off] You were on a star cruiser? 

VANESSA    [gasp]

SOUND    BONKS HEAD AS SHE REACTS

GRANT    That musta been interesting.

VANESSA    Yes, I am part of the crew of the Star Cruiser Xanadu, bound for Ganymede 800 in the Gargon nebula.  There will be people looking for me.

GRANT    [rueful]  Not here they won't.

VANESSA    What do you mean?

GRANT    I don't know what all your specs there are, but first, no one much comes this far out, and second, well, I do know the Gargon Nebula is hellagone from here.

VANESSA    You have to let me contact someone.

GRANT    Nope.  I don't have to do anything.

VANESSA    I order you!  As third under-lieutenant subchief, engineering bay 5 of the star cruiser Xanadu, I command you to take me to your comm room.

GRANT    Pff. 

SOUND    DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS LEAVE

VANESSA    [very last second] Please.

GRANT    [off, leaning in]  Wish I could.  Left you some food there. 

SOUND    DOOR SHUTS

MUSIC

SOUND    ELECTRONIC MENDING NOISES

SOUND    DOOR OPENS

GRANT    Whatcha doing?

VANESSA    Keeping busy.  What do you want?

GRANT    You about ready to come out? 

VANESSA    Out of what?

GRANT    The room here?

VANESSA    The room? [working up] You kept me locked up in here, and now you ask--

GRANT    Door don't even lock.  I was wondering why you never--

SOUND    HER STOMPING FOOTSTEPS

VANESSA    Door open!  See?  Nothing happens!

GRANT    Well o'course not.  Doors don't have ears.

VANESSA    Normal doors take orders.  Radios too.

GRANT    You're an underengineer sub chief thingee and you don't even know how to work a door?

VANESSA    Normal doors take orders!

GRANT    Well, I guess we're all a bit old fashioned here.  This is how you open the door.  Wave your hand right here--

SOUND    WhoooosH.  DOOR OPENS

VANESSA    [sullen] Oh.  I see.  Wait!

GRANT    What?

SOUND    SLAMS HIM UP AGAINST THE WALL

VANESSA    You said we're all a bit old fashioned - who is "we"?

GRANT    [controlling some strong emotion, at being slammed against a wall] Well - um - I was including the doors and all.  [deep breath] Since you like t'talk to them all.

SOUND    SHE LETS GO

MUSIC

GRANT    [off] To the left there.

SOUND    DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN. A COUPLE OF FOOTSTEPS, THEY SLOW

VANESSA    This is it?

GRANT    [pride] Yup.  Millie's brain center.  There are 42 more like her spread throughout the cloud - um, here.

SOUND    BUTTONS PUSH. SCREEN HUMS TO LIFE

GRANT    Pretty, huh?

VANESSA    It's rubbish.

GRANT    [hurt, but covering]  Millie has 12 chambers - each a self-sealing unit, in case of breaches - and a backup--

VANESSA    How do you call out?

GRANT    Hmm?

VANESSA    Out!  How do you call out!  I need to make arrangements to get the hell out of here!

GRANT    It don't quite work that--

VANESSA    Nothing here works!  Nothing works at all! [almost hysterical]

SOUND    SLAP

VANESSA    [stunned gasp]

GRANT    Now I'm real sorry about that, but you need to breathe.  And let me finish my sentences.

VANESSA    I could have you up on charges so fast!

GRANT    Well, not here, you couldn't.  [sigh]  Now, as I was about to say, you can call the other habitats, or the quarterly supply ship - if he's in range.  Just might be - he come through here only last week.

VANESSA    Another male?  What is this, throwback central?

GRANT    What you got against fellows?

VANESSA    [disgusted noise] Males have been proven inferior and in the civilized galaxy have been effectively relegated to a purely functional capacity.

GRANT    You mean where you come from is all ladies?  Don't it get boring?

VANESSA    What?  What are you implying--?

GRANT    Just - well, how do you have kids?

VANESSA   

GRANT    So everyone has to have kids? 

VANESSA    No one "has" children. [shrugs, indifferent] Everyone donates genetic material, and it's automatically matched up with compatible fertilizing agents.  Children belong to the community, and are raised in a proper safe environment, under supervision. 

GRANT    But - those poor little boys and girls--

VANESSA    Girls.

GRANT    [sigh] Them poor little kids, never knowing who their - mommas are.

VANESSA    They're cared for by properly trained personnel.  Much better for their long-term physical and mental health.  How would someone like me, with a career on a star cruiser, ever find that sort of time?

GRANT    That's real sad.

VANESSA    Not to mention, I haven't spent my life immersed in study of childhood ailments and development.

GRANT    Well, neither did my mama.

VANESSA    Yes.  I'm sure.

GRANT    [hurt, slightly annoyed]  Look, you can mock me, and turn your nose up at Millie, but don't you never speak ill of my mama. 

SOUND    CRACKLE OF STATIC

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter] Hey Grant?  You there?  Grant?  You there? 

SOUND    SQUEAK OF CHAIR, CLICK

GRANT    Yup.  Whatcha need?

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter] That capsule thing you sold me - you got yours to work OK?

GRANT    [hurried] Ah, hell.  Let me call you back, Lassiter.

SOUND    CLICK

VANESSA    [absolute fury] Sold?

GRANT    I got work to do.

SOUND    SLIGHT SCUFFLE, SHE BLOCKS HIM FROM LEAVING

VANESSA    [not quite screaming] Was he talking about a deepsub pod like mine? 

GRANT    [muttered] I find all sorts of things.

VANESSA    You sold a - a - a PERSON to that - that male?

GRANT    What makes you think the pod weren't empty?

VANESSA    That's slavery!  And you know what that means?

GRANT    Don't matter.  Sides, what would I do with two of y'all out here?

VANESSA    The same as you're doing with one - nothing at all!

GRANT    [standing up to her a bit]  Yup.  long as I'm talking to you, I'm doing nothing at all.  Like I said, I got work to do.

SOUND    HE LEAVES, DOOR

MUSIC

VANESSA    It was one of these switches--

SOUND    RADIO STATIC

VANESSA    Yes!  [lower, into the mike] Lassiter?  Come in Lassiter?

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  Huh?  Who's this? 

VANESSA    I'm at .... Millie. 

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  Excellent - it did work!  You tell Grant to let me know what he did, y'hear?

VANESSA    To wake up the woman in the pod?

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter] Yeah.  [eager] I can't wait.

VANESSA    [warning] Lassiter.  You do know it's vastly illegal to rescue someone and then force them into slavery, don't you?

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  What?

VANESSA    If you press her into service, you are committing high seas slavery, according to Rule 4715 D of the unitary code.

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  Is Grant there?  Can you put him on?

VANESSA    Shut up!

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  Jeez.

VANESSA    Lassiter.  I will make a bargain with you.

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  I dunno--

VANESSA    I will help you revive the survivor, if you will --  let me talk to her as soon as she wakes up.

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  Sure.

VANESSA    And if you understand that I will find a way to come over there and kill you if you hurt her in any way.

LASSITER    [scratchy, on filter]  Hurt her?  Hey!  I paid good money for--

VANESSA    Agh!

MUSIC

YASMIN    [scratchy, on filter]  What do I do?

VANESSA    Be placating - we have to try and get together, make our way home.

YASMIN    Aye-aye, Vox.  Data mode for now.  I await your word.

VANESSA    Remind him I will kill him if he hurts you.

YASMIN    He doesn't seem very threatening.  I could put him down if I have to.

VANESSA    Good.  Engineer Vanessa 98949 Out.

YASMIN    Yasmin 222338 Out.

GRANT    [sad] Whatcha doing?

SOUND    CHAIR WHIPS AROUND

VANESSA    Huh?

GRANT    I see you found your friend.

VANESSA    We were part of the same crew.  I have rank, so I told her I would protect her.  It's my duty.

GRANT    Protect her?  From Lassiter?  He ain't some kinda --  of -- I ain't even sure what you're thinking he is.

VANESSA    A man.

SOUND    GETS UP FROM CHAIR

GRANT    [realizing]  Are you afraid of me?

VANESSA    [thinks, then] You hold all the cards.  All you have to do is refuse me food, and I'm helpless.

GRANT    I wouldn't do that!

VANESSA    You already did.

GRANT    I was trying to get you to-- Look, if I wanted to actually hurt you, I gotta blaster for that.  I just wanted you to think twice and act civil.

VANESSA    How many more were there?

GRANT    More?

VANESSA    Of the deepsub pods.  Did you just find the two?

GRANT    [grudging]  Four.  Total.  Lassiter's was the last to revive, so all of y'all are all right.

VANESSA    All right?  Let me talk to them!

GRANT    You gotta learn to stop giving me orders.  You're not my momma.

VANESSA    Your mother is--?

GRANT    She died.  Since then... [shrug]  I got work to do.

VANESSA    [belligerent] What is this work that seems to constantly demand your attention?

GRANT    You ask nice, you'll get a lot more answers.

VANESSA    [beat, then making an effort]  What is it that you do all day?

GRANT    Salvage.  Used to be mining, but the cloud here grabs every lump of crap out of the nearest 10-20 sectors, so salvage pays a helluva lot better. 

VANESSA    Salvage?

GRANT    And maintenance.  Millie here's old.  I keep her limping along, but it's truly full time. 

SOUND    DOOR OPENS

GRANT    Come on.  I'll show you where the food units are.  Then you ain't gotta wait on me if you get hungry.

MUSIC

GRANT    So this switch here changes the band - you gotta jiggle it a bit, here, sometimes.  And this list here shows all the other habitats  - the ones up top are closest - most reliable for contact.  Next down, these three - well - I ain't heard from them in a while.  Not even sure they're still... functional. 

VANESSA    Vacated?

GRANT    No one vacates.  Not unless--  But [trying to convince himself] comm equipment goes down sometimes - a lot - and it's a bitch to get the right parts.

VANESSA    All the habitats are as old as ...this one?

GRANT    Yeah, they were built for miners - never really meant to be permanent, but you know how things go.

VANESSA    Why don't you leave?

GRANT    Leave?

VANESSA    If you sell your salvage, it must go somewhere.  Someone must be buying it.  Why don't you just go, too?

GRANT    Why?

VANESSA    You say it's a full time job just keeping this place from falling down around your ears.  So find another place.

GRANT    But this is my home.  I was born right here in Millie.

VANESSA    It is falling apart.  I hope you don't think I plan to stay here with you.

GRANT    [beat, then neutral] Course not.  But you do owe me.

VANESSA    [indignant again] Owe you?

GRANT    I rescued you.  I pulled your damn pod in here and I woke you up. 

VANESSA    That's --

GRANT    And I've been feeding you and letting you breathe my air - which ain't cheap, I should point out.

VANESSA    Then let me get out of your air.

GRANT    First you gotta ... you know...pay me back.

VANESSA    [suspicious] How, exactly?

MUSIC

SOUND    ELECTRONIC REPAIR NOISES

VANESSA    Damn!  Bloody stone-age tools!

SOUND    CLICK RADIO TURNS ON, VERY CLEAR AND NO STATIC

VANESSA    Ha!

GRANT    [on radio] What?

VANESSA    [a little winded] I patched your antenna into the router from the pod's emergency signal - some serious interface issues, let me tell you - but you should get much clearer signals now.

GRANT    [on radio] [congratulatory]  Damn.

MUSIC

SOUND    CLANK OF METAL DROPPED

VANESSA    Damn.

GRANT     Everything all right?

VANESSA    Half my damn solar cells were damaged in the landing. 

GRANT    So?

VANESSA    I was thinking I'd jury rig them into something, get you a little extra free power.  Bloody hell.

MUSIC

SOUND    SOLDERING IRON SPARKS, STOPS, FACEPLATE UP

GRANT    That's a nice bead right there.

VANESSA    Yeah, I think I'm getting the hang of it.  Now watch this.  [command] Chicken!

SOUND    VENDING MACHINE RUMBLES, THEN CLUNKS

GRANT    Holy cow!

VANESSA    Well, chicken, but yes - you get the idea.  I still have to code the machine's other foodstuff options in for voice.  I'll need to get your voice into the system sometime, too.

GRANT    [mood dropping] Right.  O'course.  So I can do it myself.

VANESSA    [not noticing] Absolutely. 

MUSIC

VANESSA    You didn't have any trouble making contact?  I appear to be at the very arse end of the cloud, so they're out of my range from here.  Damn these archaic --

YASMIN    I... got them.  You may be disappointed, though. 

VANESSA    Why?

YASMIN    Helen 74589, and Griselda 80281 ... um... do not ... wish to participate.

VANESSA    What are you saying?

YASMIN    They have become attached to this place.

VANESSA    How the blazes--?

YASMIN    Griselda declined any details, but Helen seems to find some - companionship in the man Conrad and his children.

VANESSA    [disparaging]  Children.  At least we've only got men to deal with.

YASMIN    [iffy note] Yes.

MUSIC

SOUND    MACHINE DISPENSES FOOD

VANESSA    Sit down.

GRANT    Sit?  Why?  I always eat standing.

VANESSA    You practically sleep standing.  I have never seen you relax.

GRANT    Last time I just sat and waited was...

VANESSA    Yes?

GRANT    [evasive] Don't know.  doesn't matter.

VANESSA    Why not sit?

GRANT    Too much to do.

VANESSA    Please.

SOUND    BEAT, THEN SQUEAK OF A CHAIR

VANESSA    Haven't I helped at all?

GRANT    Oh, yeah - many hands make light work, like momma used to say, but there's always more to do.  [beat]  But the repairs are real good.  If this keeps up, I can maybe repressurize capsule 14.  [trails off]

VANESSA    Do you need the space?

GRANT    [hurt but covering] Never hurts - could put some more hydroponics in there, maybe put in some greens and generate oxy of my own.  Why not?  It's like minting money.

VANESSA    You'd be better off with algae tanks.  They take more processing to make them palatable for eating - much more - but they've been genetically manipulated to give a much higher O2 to cubic foot ratio, and they require less nutrient.

GRANT    I'd have to get it from somewhere--

VANESSA    Shouldn't be difficult - most cruisers have algae tanks, and all you need is a dip to start with and some growth media.  The tank - well you could pretty much put anything together, if you're not too concerned about sterile edible conditions - but for oxy production, anything that will contain the growth medium and keep the temp stable will do.  You'll need U-V simulators, too--

GRANT    Yeah.  [sigh]  Maybe you can send me some when you get home.

VANESSA    --you could re-make one room for food plant growth and have the algae - What? 

GRANT    Nothing. 

VANESSA    There's even better technology out there, you know.  I'm surprised you're not more curious.

GRANT    Well, I figure it's like this - of all you've talked about so far, doors that listen and whatever, this algae thing is the only one that seems like it'd fit into my life.  Everything else is like - so far beyond me, I don't see it mattering much.

VANESSA    But you would know.  You would have something to - to work toward.

GRANT    Something to chase?  Something to... miss.  Something to worry about not having?  Nah.  I figure, easier just to assume you're gonna tell me you can shit blueberry cobbler - it's all well and good, but I don't wanna do it.  And goodness knows I don't wanna eat it. 

VANESSA    [laughing] Cobbler?

GRANT    I-I got things to do.

VANESSA    Let me help.

GRANT    [breath] Nah.  It's all outside - I gotta hawk in some stuff.

VANESSA    [brightening a bit] Outside?  In a suit?

GRANT    [very unhappy] Yes.

VANESSA    Let me help!

GRANT    No.

VANESSA    Why?  Are you afraid I'll run away?

GRANT    [muttered] No, just ...float away.

VANESSA    What?

SOUND    HE GETS UP

GRANT    It's my job.  I have to do it.

VANESSA    Do you have two suits?

GRANT    Yes.

VANESSA    Many hands make light work.

GRANT    [thinks, then] No.

VANESSA    Look, I've put in my 100 hours on simulators, plus over 300 hours working on the hull in stagnant space.  Goodness - you've even got gravity here--

GRANT    Minimal gravity.

VANESSA    Point is, I know my way around a suit!

GRANT    [finally snappish] Look!  If things didn't have to be done, I'd never get into one of those damn things myself!  There's no way I'd put you in that kind of danger.

VANESSA    You don't - you don't like being out there?

SOUND    DOOR WHOOSHES OPEN

VANESSA    But - but I enjoy--

SOUND    HIS FOOTSTEPS EXIT

GRANT    You don't want to be here and that's fine.  I'd rather see you leave on the cargo ship than [barely controlled] floating off into blackness...

SOUND    DOOR SHUTS

MUSIC

VANESSA    Can you ask your Lassiter something?

YASMIN    [on filter]  You can talk to him yourself.

VANESSA    I just want to know about suit drifts in this area.

YASMIN    Why?

VANESSA    [overly casual]  Just something Grant said.

YASMIN    Ah, here he is - You can help Vanessa, can't you?  [teasing, fond noise] Hmm?

LASSITER    [on filter] Sure.  What you need? [snickers, then aside]  Stop that!   

MUSIC

GRANT    Chicken. 

SOUND    DISPENSER DISPENSES FOOD

VANESSA    How old were you?

GRANT    [completely startled] what?

VANESSA    When your father drifted?

GRANT    [tightly controlled]  Why do you care?  You don't even have a father.  [beat]  I should get back to--

VANESSA    No.  Unless you actually physically move me, you're not leaving this room.  Talk to me. 

GRANT    [mumbled]  I don't want to talk to you.

VANESSA    Why?

GRANT    [swallows, then sighs, speaks very quietly]  The more I talk to you, the more I'll miss having someone to talk to - later.  [sniff] Get out of my way.

VANESSA    No.  I've lost people in space too - I did my time in the corps, shipboard accidents...  I- I understand.

GRANT    It's different with family.

VANESSA    Show me.

GRANT    I was 12 when my father's line got tangled, and he had to cut it - then something in the piece he was salvaging blew, and - it took forever for him to be completely out of sight - he kept talking right up to the edge of radio range....

VANESSA    [pause, then sincere, if dry] I feel for you.

GRANT    Thank you. 

VANESSA    I wish I knew what to say.

GRANT    That's all right.  [deep breath]  I've got work to do. 

SOUND    HE WALKS AWAY

VANESSA    Your food?

SOUND    HE DOESN'T SLOW - DOOR SHUTS

MUSIC

VANESSA    How do you talk to them?

YASMIN    [arch] It's not always in the talking.  What's wrong?

VANESSA    I want to - offer him sympathy, but he just walks out of the room.  He says he... just wants to ignore me until I leave.

YASMIN    Are you still planning to leave?

VANESSA    Aren't you?

YASMIN    Well.  No. 

VANESSA    Why?  Is it the sex?

YASMIN    Well... That's part of it - you have to admit it's kind of fun.

VANESSA    I don't - haven't.

YASMIN    Maybe that's why he's avoiding you.

VANESSA    But don't you want to go back to your job?  Your home?  Don't you want your life to have some meaning?

YASMIN    Meaning?  What meaning?

VANESSA    I was on the way to making full chief engineer - and I would have been the youngest to reach that grade.  Ever,

YASMIN    [dry] You would have impressed everyone.

VANESSA    Don't talk like that about my goal.  The point of ... everything.

YASMIN    And who benefited from this goal?

VANESSA    I would.  The ship would.  Everyone on it.

YASMIN    And someday someone would reach that rank even younger, and when you retired, someone else who could do the job just as well would take over, and no one would even remember you.

VANESSA    I would--

YASMIN    Unless you did something like - I don't know - discover an alien race or die to save a bunch of people - but how often does that really happen?

VANESSA    I once prevented an explosion because I spotted a faulty valve.

YASMIN    And I'll bet every person you saved came and thanked you. 

VANESSA    [somewhat dissatisfied]  The point of preventing a disaster is so that no one knows they were ever in danger.

YASMIN    [sigh]

MUSIC

AMBIANCE     SPACESUIT.  BUZZ, BREATHER, ECHO

SOUND    BOTH - this scene - on filter throughout

VANESSA    You needed help--?  Oh!

GRANT    It's jammed.  I can't shift it alone.

VANESSA    I see.  Hold on.

SOUND    METAL IMPACT

GRANT    Is your line secure?

VANESSA    Yes.  I checked and double checked.  Hmm. 

GRANT    Do you think the person inside is still all right?

VANESSA    Won't know if she is till we clear some of this debris.  [beat]  Looks like it still has some power.

GRANT    Help me shift this plate - I think it'll clear some of this.

VANESSA    Hold on - No, not that.  There's too much leaning on it, and we don't know which way it'll fall. 

GRANT    What then?

VANESSA    Um.... This.  I think this is the key piece, and I don't see anything it can bring down with it.

BOTH    [Grunt with effort]

SOUND    A BUNCH OF STUFF SHIFTS

GRANT    Ah hell.

VANESSA    What? [seeing the damage] Oh.

GRANT    At least we should be able to get it clear, now. 

VANESSA    Let's lighten the load - get the corpse out of there.

GRANT    No.

VANESSA    Why?

GRANT    You want to just dump her out, right here?

VANESSA    Why not?  She's dead.

GRANT    She still deserves some respect.  I'll do it, if you don't want to be bothered.

VANESSA    Do what?

GRANT    Bury her.

MUSIC

SOUND    HATCH SHUTS, HELMETS COME OFF.  SOUND OF REMOVING SPACE SUITS

SOUND    SOMETHING DROPS

VANESSA    [sharp gasp]

GRANT    Hey?  What's wrong?

VANESSA    [in pain] Nothing.

GRANT    Let me-- [sigh] You shoulda come back in earlier - your fingers are nearly blue.  I told you the heat circulation in that suit ain't up to snuff.

VANESSA    I'm fine.

GRANT    Give me your hands.

VANESSA    What? 

GRANT    Let me warm your hands fro you.

SOUND    BEAT, THEN SKIN ON SKIN, AS HE SLOWLY CHAFES HER HAND.

VANESSA    How do you do that?

GRANT    Hmm?

VANESSA    [gasp] Your hands are... warm.

GRANT    They just come that way.  Here, hold your hand here while I--

VANESSA    In your jacket?

GRANT    Just do it.  Give me the other one.

SOUND    SLOW CHAFING AGAIN

VANESSA    They're fine now.  I'll go and--

GRANT    I don't like that nail color there.  Can you feel this?

VANESSA    Yes.  I'm perfectly capable of--

GRANT    This?

VANESSA    [a bit more irritated] Yes.  I know what the--

GRANT    This?

VANESSA    --difficulties with cold can be, and--  what?

GRANT    This?

VANESSA    [startled] No.

GRANT    Here.  [puts her finger into his mouth]

VANESSA    [long gasp, startled, amazed, and aroused]

GRANT    [talking around her finger] Stop squirming. 

VANESSA    Let - let go.  Let go!

GRANT    Need to get the circulation back.  Heat and suction.

VANESSA    Ahh!

SOUND    SLIGHT STRUGGLE, SHE PULLS HER HAND FREE

GRANT    [mouth noise] Look.  Whatever it is you don't like about this - is it worth losing a finger over?

VANESSA    [long beat, erratic breathing]  No.  [gasp as he takes her finger again] 

MUSIC

GRANT    [talking on the radio]  Thanks for the heads up Lassiter, but it'll happen or it won't.  Glad you're doing well, and... and congrats.

LASSITER    We're real happy.

GRANT    Out.

SOUND    CHAIR TURNS

GRANT    [startled] Oh!

VANESSA    Congrats?

GRANT    Lassiter and Yasmin are pregnant.

VANESSA    [bothered] Oh.

GRANT    Well, they're pleased.

VANESSA    I didn't mean to sound... I'm just confused.

GRANT    Well, it won't be for much longer.  Quarterly cargo ship will be here in the next couple of hours. 

VANESSA    Grant?

GRANT    Don't worry - by my calculations - we're pretty much square, in fact you're a bit ahead, hooking up those solar panels and all--

VANESSA    Grant--

GRANT    So I'll just cover the cost of your trip, at least as far as--

VANESSA    Grant!

GRANT    Damn, now you got me lost. 

VANESSA    Grant, I--

GRANT    I appreciate your help here... Vanessa.  Got me ahead of my schedule.  [cracking a little]  Um, I should go and get the cargo ready.

SOUND    CHAIR SQUEAK, FOOTSTEPS, THEY STOP

VANESSA    Grant.  I need to know something.

GRANT    Whatever I can help with.

VANESSA    Would you--  Do you-- [a breath] What will you do?

GRANT    When?

VANESSA    If - when - if I go.

GRANT    Same as I done before.  Nothing's gonna  change.

VANESSA    You should have kept Yasmin or Helen - they love it here.

GRANT    Yasmin loves Lassiter. And Helen--

VANESSA    [snapping him back] Grant.  Why me?

GRANT    [muttered] You're ...the prettiest.

VANESSA    I ...am?

GRANT    Yup.  I looked at you and I knew that if I was ever gonna take a chance, it'd have to be on that one.  [sniff]

VANESSA    Tell me you want me to stay.

GRANT    N-no.

VANESSA    You don't - want - ?

GRANT    You go home.  Have a good life.  I got cargo to move.

SOUND    HE SHOVES PAST HER

MUSIC

SOUND    RADIO TURNS ON

LASSITER    Grant?  You there?

GRANT    Um - yeah. 

LASSITER     How'd it go?

GRANT    I'm doing all right.  Even ordered an algae starter culture. 

LASSITER    But your ...lady--?

GRANT    Oh, I'm still ahead, even after her ticket--

LASSITER    Ticket?  Ticket?  You let her leave?

GRANT    Course.  [breaking down] She - sh-she don't belong to me. 

LASSITER    She woulda gotten used to it.

GRANT    I had to get used to being all alone.  How could I do that to--?

VANESSA    --to me?

SOUND    CHAIR TURNS FAST

GRANT    What-- What happened?  Did they-?  Did you miss it?

LASSITER    Grant?  Grant?

VANESSA    I decided there was a better use for the cost of my passage - negotiated for three more solar panels, and a couple more oxygen tanks for the suits.

GRANT    I don't understand.

VANESSA    It was what Yasmin said, about being important to someone.

GRANT    But I never said you were--

VANESSA    You said it every time you couldn't look me in the face. 

GRANT    But what do we do now?

VANESSA    We build a tank for the algae.  Many hands make light work.

GRANT    Many hands make light work.

VANESSA    Oh, yes, and--

GRANT    And?

VANESSA    This--

SOUND    NOISY KISS, RUSTLE OF AN EMBRACE

VANESSA    Not bad.  You could use a little practice.

GRANT    [gasping a bit for breath, making a joke] Well - I may have had my 100 - and then some - hours of simulation, but I never actually took one of those there out for a spin.

VANESSA    [chuckles] Wait till you see the rest of the equipment...!

CLOSER

OLIVIA    Now that you know how to find us, you'll have to come back.  Maybe next week?  Don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already...