Voyagers! Home, Part Four

(We cut to a scene almost completely in darkness, but we can see only the slightest bit of movement in the foreground. A rectangle of light floods the room, nearly blinding the audience as the door slides open, as all future-doors will do. CLEO and PETE enter the room. We hear a few thuds in the darkness, then a voice)

CLEO: Damn!

PETE: What?

CLEO: The light controls aren’t working. I don’t know if I’m happy to say this, but I think we’re in the right room.

(out of the darkness, a voice is heard. It is a baritone, deep and cold like a winter stream, but yet intensely cultured and flirting with affability. It successfully blends PHINEAS’ bluster and pomp with CLARISSA’s clip.)

VOICE: That would depend on your definition of “right,” I would think.

(We can only see in silhouette from the hallway as CLEO grasps PETE’S wrist tightly, fearfully)

PETE: Is it him?

VOICE: Oh, I do love that one… I have to admit, it was initially a thrill to be so well-known that a simple pronoun would suffice, but now… ah, the price of fame.

PETE: (whispering) Can you get the lights up?

VOICE: I can hear you, you know. And don’t bother with the lights. In fact… here.

(he claps twice, and the room is flooded with light. On the far end of a workshop, with his back to them, is the wiry frame and dark, almost black hair of a man. The hair is a careless mass of tumbling until it stops just before his shoulders, which gives way to a long, white coat that nearly reaches the floor. The coat is spotless, almost impossibly so, and there is just the glimpse of black boots underneath it.)

VOICE: Is that better?

CLEO: Maddox…

MADDOX: Oh, don’t take that tone with me, Cleopatra. You and I both know it won’t work. It’s been, oh, what… two years since you last tried?

CLEO: I was stupid to think I could help you.

PETE: Wait, were you and him…

MADDOX: Well, I can’t exactly fault you for a lack of knowledge. You are from Antiquity, after all.

CLEO: Don’t start with that, Maddox…

PETE: Hey, what…

MADDOX: (still not turning around) Start with what? It’s a simple fact: you come from a comparatively primitive time. You can’t hope to understand all of this, your future, my present… even in the years and years you’ve spent here.

CLEO: That’s not funny.

MADDOX: Oh don’t worry, Cleo…

(Maddox turns around. We see him from the front now: charming, handsome face, square jaw, beguiling smile, piercing blue eyes and flawless skin. He’s clad in a white turtleneck that is offset by black trousers and a black waistcoat, in one of those odd jumbles that only can be excused by futuristic fashion, as shown by the small, circular glasses perched on the end of his nose, their lenses seemingly cut from onyx as well. His smile itself is almost criminal.)

MADDOX: You still look quite good for your age.

PETE: Hey, asshole! Stop ignoring me!

MADDOX: (glancing slightly to his left over the glasses)

You… you I do not know. Who are you?

PETE: (a little confused) Pete Rodney.

MADDOX: Well, that went swimmingly. Can you tell me any more about yourself, Mr. PETE, other than your name reminds me of an ancient football player?

PETE: You know, your Dad said the same thing.

(a darkness flashes across MADDOX’s face and, for the first time, we see some tension in his features.)

MADDOX: Indeed.

(he picks up what looks like an iPad from the table and slips it into the pocket of his overcoat, walking toward them slowly. His affable nature, gone for an instant, has returned)

MADDOX: Well, I’ve got what I came for. You’d be wise to let me go, now.

PETE: I don’t think so… you stole something!

MADDOX: It was being woefully underutilized in this sterile nightmare. If you must, think of it as me taking it for a field trial… a test drive.

PETE: And why should I think of you taking it at all?

(MADDOX and PETE are now nearly face to face. MADDOX has a good three to four inches on the 19 year old.)

MADDOX: Ah. There it is. Forgive me for dusting off an old chestnut, but… you must be new here. Am I right, Cleo?

CLEO: …yes.

MADDOX: And, as you can tell, our usually ebullient friend Cleo has gone rather quiet, hasn’t she?

PETE: I’m just gonna assume it’s ‘cuz you were a lousy date.

(MADDOX allows himself a chuckle)

MADDOX: My, my… it’s been a while since someone talked to me like that. You are certainly something else. But still, I am going to have to respectfully ask you to step aside.

(PETE suddenly pulls his aunt’s gun out from the waistband of his shorts and points it directly in MADDOX’s face)

PETE: And what if I don’t feel like being respectful?

(MADDOX sighs, half annoyed, half bemused, and disarms PETE in the blink of an eye, now holding the gun directly between PETE’s eyes.)

MADDOX: You see now, Mr. Rodney… I am as close to perfection as the human race has ever gotten.

(he says it plainly, without ornamentation)

MADDOX: (after a pause) Am I right, Cleo?

CLEO: … he’s right.

MADDOX: And there we are. You’d best give up now, Mr. Rodney. You can’t possibly win, and I don’t want to have to shoot you.

PETE: (allowing himself a chuckle this time) You stupid son of a bitch… I’m from New York. I’ve gotten guns pointed at me more times than I can count, and I know when the loser holding it isn’t going to pull the trigger on me.

MADDOX: (after a short pause) Hm. You are different. And I suppose you are right.

(he turns quickly and fires a shot into CLEOPATRA’s abdomen, sending her collapsing to the ground in shock and agony.  PETE immediately rushes to her side as blood begins to pour onto the floor.)

MADDOX: (inspecting the gun) Unfortunate.

(he drops the gun to the floor and walks out of the open door without saying another word.)

CLEO: (lying, dying) Pete… go after him…

PETE: No, Cleo… you’re dying!

CLEO: This isn’t so bad… the asp hurt more than this.

PETE: Oh, come on… wait! That program!

(PETE leaps to his feet and begins and scrambles to the keypad near the door, trying feverishly to remember)

Her name was Kira… Her name was… damn it, what was her number?

CLEO: Pete…?

PETE: (rushing back to her) What?

CLEO: Do I… really look that old?

PETE: Oh God…. oh… God…

(tears begin to form in the corners of his eyes before, suddenly, CLEO is bathed in a comforting blue glow and rises slowly from the floor, her bleeding almost immediately stopped. As she hovers about four feet in the air, a program not unlike Kira appears out of the code and works to stabilize her.)

PETE: How…?

(We hear Phineas’ voice behind him, and as the camera spins around we see him at the keypad, frowning.)

PHINEAS: You don’t deal well with mortality. At least, outside of your own.

PETE: Is she…?

PHINEAS: It’s too early to tell, but the program will take care of it from here.

PETE: I’m sorry, I just… I couldn’t remember Kira’s number!

PHINEAS: All Kira could have done was gotten her a ginger ale and a fluffed pillow. Your instincts were right, though… you helped her in the best way you could. You calmed her.

PETE: Next time, I won’t screw up.

PHINEAS: You say that as if there will BE a next time.

PETE: There’s always a next time.

PHINEAS: Not for everyone.

(we see the absolute heart-wrenching memory come to life in PETE’s eyes, then. His parents never had a next time.)

PHINEAS: I’m sorry, Mr. Rodney. But it’s all right now.

PETE: No, it isn’t! That guy… that Maddox guy, he made off with something!

PHINEAS: (produces the Omni from his pocket) Did it look something like this?

PETE: Yes, but bigger.

PHINEAS: Hm. Unfortunate. That’s a prototype next-generation Omni. He may not be able to control it… if it was anyone else in the universe I’d say he couldn’t…

PETE: So, do we go after him?

PHINEAS: We won’t have the faintest idea where he’ll turn up, Mr. Rodney. I’m afraid we’ll have to play the waiting game and cross those particular bridges when we get to them.

PETE: (glancing back at CLEO, who is stabilized) You’re taking this awfully well for a terrorist attack.

PHINEAS: They happen often enough, Mr. Rodney. And our time period learned long ago that giving into raw emotion in times of crisis only leads more disastrous situations in the long run, and often self-inflicted. The situation has been neutralized, and we can return to business as usual. Come along, we still have our hearing to do. It looks like…

(PHINEAS glances over to CLEO, hovering in mid-air and being seen to by the electronic doctor. We see just a brief wave of compassion and sorrow crash over his features, and it is obvious he has to force it back down)

PHINEAS: It looks like Cleo’s hearing will be postponed… for the time being. Which means we’ll be next. Come along.

PETE: (a little dazed) Okay.

(they both head toward the door, but PETE stops right in the doorway with a start.)

Wait!

(he runs back to where CLEO is laying and leans down, whispering tenderly in her ear.)

You look beautiful…

(he then hurries back to join PHINEAS as they leave the room. The door closes, and we see some of the vital stats for CLEO tick upwards, and in general the medical numbers turn from red to green, signaling things are well on their way.)

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