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Imaginary Time

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In his Last Week Tonight interview with John Oliver, Stephen Hawking complains that science fiction writers don’t use his theory of imaginary time.

But isn’t that an aspect of what True Detective Rust Cohle is talking about with his Membrane theory?

If not, what is Cohle talking about?

Written by marypmadigan

June 17th, 2014 at 8:56 am

Facebook takes the next step…

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…towards making this a Person of Interest universe:

personofinterest_daddy

Facebook wants to listen in on what you’re doing

“The aim was to remove every last bit of friction from the way we reference bits of pop culture on the social network,” writes Ryan Tate of Wired. Depending on how you feel about informational privacy and/or your friends’ taste in pop culture, that statement is either exhilarating or terrifying.

The feature is an optional one, something the company emphasizes in its announcement. The tech giant does seem well-aware that in these days of Snowden surveillance revelations, people might not be too keen for Facebook to take control of their smartphone’s mic and start listening in on them by default. It’s only rolling out the feature in the U.S. and a product PR person emphasized repeatedly that no recording is being stored, only “code.” “We’re not recording audio or sound and sending it to Facebook or its servers,” says Facebook spokesperson Momo Zhou. “We turn the audio it hears into a code — code that is not reversible into audio — and then we match it against a database of code.”

If a Facebooker opts in, the feature is only activated when he or she is composing an update. When the smartphone’s listening in — something it can only do through the iOS and Android apps, not through Facebook on a browser — tiny blue bars will appear to announce the mic has been activated. Facebook says the microphone will not otherwise be collecting data. When it’s listening, it tells you it is “matching,” rather than how I might put it, “eavesdropping on your entertainment of choice.”

They say the microphone will light up when Facebook is eavesdropping, but we already know that these indicators can be bypassed

Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning

Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature — a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use. But Wolf says she never saw the light on her laptop go on. As a result, she had no idea she was under surveillance.

That wasn’t supposed to be possible. While controlling a camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates, conventional wisdom said there was at least no way to deactivate the warning light. New evidence indicates otherwise.

Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years.

I’m not opting in, but I’m not sure that it matters….

Written by marypmadigan

May 25th, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Tech,The Cloud

Author Earnings – May 2014 Earnings report

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Author Earnings

Here we see self-published authors earning 2% more while Big 5 authors hold steady. Again, with fewer daily sales but a higher price, the Big 5 publishers increased their own revenue while their authors stayed pat. Amazon Imprint authors saw a 3% decline, which might be due to the volatility they have as a small number of titles can see a large number of sales. What we can’t tell with these two data sets is if we are seeing real trends or just random fluctuations, but we can say that our findings from February have now been corroborated by this second data set. Self-published authors are clearly earning as much as traditionally published authors on the largest e-book sales platform in the world.

Written by marypmadigan

May 21st, 2014 at 9:15 am

Posted in writing

Overland Park shooting suspect had “a desperation for attention”

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missouriroad

Missouri Road

Today the LA Times reported:

“The killings of three people on the eve of Passover outside two Jewish facilities in a Kansas City suburb are being treated as hate crimes, law enforcement officials said Monday…

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, is being held on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder after Sunday’s attacks in Overland Park, Kan. A doctor and his 14-year-old grandson were killed in the parking lot at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and a woman was killed a short time later in a parking lot at Village Shalom, a nearby community for seniors, police said.

CBS News reports

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The man accused of killing three people Sunday in attacks at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement community near Kansas City is a well-known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader who was once the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

Frazier Glenn Cross, of Aurora, Mo., was booked into Johnson County jail on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder after the attacks in Overland Park.

At a news conference, Overland Park police Chief John Douglass declined to publicly identify the man suspected in the attacks. But CBS News confirmed Sunday that the suspect in custody is Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, of Aurora, Mo., also known as Frazier Glenn Miller.

Frazier Glenn Cross also goes by the name Fraiser Glenn Miller. Other sources refer to him as Glenn Miller.

Frazier Glenn Cross aka Frazier Glenn Miller was also known as the “Grand Dragon”. Jim Hoft of Gateway pundit writes:

He is the former leader of the defunct North Carolina-based White Patriot Party (formerly known as the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan). Convicted of criminal charges related to weapons and violation of an injunction against paramilitary activity, he is a perennial candidate for public office as both a Democrat and Republican.

Glenn Miller tried to run for Congress in 2006 but all the parties he tried to file with refused to accept his check (In Missouri, the receipt of the filing fee check is required to file).

Frazier Glenn Cross aka Frazier Glenn Miller aka Grand Dragon was also known as “Rounder” by his associates at the White Supremacist Website Vanguard News Network.

His former associates are now calling him a ‘self-detonating lone wolf’, but, like most self detonating lone wolves Grand-Dragon-aka-Frazier-Glenn-Cross-aka Fraiser-Glenn-Miller-aka-Rounder watched Russia Today (RT) News.

Like his associates at Vanguard News Network, he was a fervent Ron Paul supporter.

In April 2010, when he was running for US Senate in his home state of Missouri with the slogan “It’s the Jews, Stupid,” Miller had an interview with The David Pakman Show. In this interview, he displayed what Pakman called “a desperation for attention.”

Miller praised Ron Paul, Hitler and Pat Buchanan. He didn’t praise the Tea Party, the Republicans or the Democrats.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

This isn’t the first time a VNN user has been arrested for violence. On January 17, 2011, less than 12 hours after posting on VNN, Kevin William Harpham placed an improvised explosive device concealed in a backpack along a Martin Luther King parade route in Spokane Washington. The lead sinkers in the radio-detonated IED were coated with Warfarin rat poison, evidently intended to increase bleeding.  Had the device functioned, dozens of men, women and children would have been killed or injured. Harpham also distributed The Aryan Alternative….

…Our research shows that racist killers are hiding among us in plain sight. A forthcoming two-year study by the SPLC will show that nearly 100 people in the last five years have been murdered by active users on another prominent racist website, Stormfront.org.

Apparently there are a lot of self-detonating lone wolves.

Written by marypmadigan

April 14th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Joe’s Plan

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This eight-page screenplay was written for the second round of NYC Midnight’s Screenwriting Challenge.

Here are the rules, via the NYC Midnight site:

There are 3 rounds of competition. In the 1st Round (June 14-22), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment (see examples of past assignments here). Writers have 8 days to write an original short screenplay no longer than 12 pages. The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (July 25-28) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write an 8 page (maximum) short screenplay. Judges choose a top 25 from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 5 page (maximum) screenplay in just 24 hours (August 23-24). A panel of judges review the final round stories and overall winners are selected!”

The Genre for this heat was A Ghost Story. The subject was A race. The character was a 10 year old boy

This post wasn’t done in the traditional screenplay format that was required by the contest. For info about formatting screenplays, here’s a PDF sample (thanks to Oscars.org)

The LOGLINE (that’s professional screenwriter lingo for “a brief summary of a television program, film, or motion picture providing both a synopsis of the program’s plot, and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest) is:


Joe wants to keep the family from losing their beloved beach bungalow. His recently deceased grandfather is a can-do kind of guy, but he’s too busy coping with afterlife issues to help.

So here is,

JOE’S PLAN

INTERIOR SCENE – MORNING, UPSTAIRS BEDROOM, A BEACH BUNGALOW IN SANTA CRUZ

The bedroom is unfurnished aside from a rumpled sleeping bag. JOE, a red-haired, ten year old boy wearing a “Santa Cruz” t-shirt and jeans peers out the window at the moving truck outside. He walks to the stairway, looks downstairs and sees his mother, ANNIE, packing boxes. She’s nervous, red-haired and slim. MURPHY, an aged but fit man wearing motorcycle gear, sits on the floor, smoking. It becomes evident that Murphy is a ghost (and that Annie can’t see or hear him) when she makes a turn to the left and walks right through him. Murphy is startled when she does that, but then he sighs.

MURPHY
You always ignored me when I was alive. Why should anything change now?

(Annie notices that photographs of Murphy are still hanging on the wall. She takes them down. Joe comes down the stairs.)

ANNIE
I can’t believe I left these pictures up. I’m so frazzled trying to sell this place, I’m losing my mind.

JOE
(picks up a picture)
That’s Grandpa, on his motorcycle.

ANNIE
Yup, riding without a helmet, just like the day he died. Seventy-five years old and still acting like a teenager.

(She tosses the pile of photographs into the garbage pail.)

MURPHY
Hey!

JOE
Mom, don’t throw those out! Grandpa wants you to keep them.

ANNIE
Grandpa WANTED me to keep them. Get your tenses right.

(She sees Joe is upset and softens her tone)

Ok, you can keep them, but don’t think Grandpa was a role model. He was a clever inventor, but he had no common sense. He was fired from his own company! The CFO called him “bonkers.”

MURPHY
..after the S.O.B. emptied the company till.

ANNIE
(packing again)
Then there were his charities. Like ‘Balloonists against Bulimia’.‘ Motorcyclists against Melanomas’ …

JOE
‘Sailors against Sepsis’ …

ANNIE
He meant well, but he was the world’s worst money manager.

(Joe shrugs, then walks into the kitchen. He climbs up on to the counter, balancing carefully. He opens the cabinet doors, one by one, and finds that they’re empty.)

ANNIE
Joe! You’re walking on that slippery counter. In socks! Get down!

JOE
I’m looking for cereal.

MURPHY
There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts up the street, kiddo. Coffee and sugar-fried dough, the breakfast of champions.

ANNIE
I said get down!

(Joe leaps down, landing evenly without wobbling.)

ANNIE
Give me strength! I didn’t mean that you should jump.

(She roots around in a box, pulls out air freshener and sprays it directly at Murphy’s cigarette. Murphy grimaces and waves his hand)

This house still stinks of cigarettes. Daddy smoked a pack a day. He wouldn’t stop no matter what Mom did.

(She stops spraying)

I remember, I’d be watching TV and he’d say “Make yourself useful, go get me some smokes. And don’t tell your mother.” And I would get them! (she shakes her head)

(Joe finds a cup in the sink, fills it with water, sits down and drinks it. Murphy sits next to Joe. Annie starts spraying again, and walks into the next room. Murphy and Joe both sneeze.)

JOE
(turns to Murphy)
Grandpa, if you’re a ghost, how come you still sneeze?

MURPHY
I have no idea, kiddo. The afterlife sucks, there are so many things that make no sense. I can pick up things that are made of fabric, like sheets, but I can’t pick up a glass of whiskey and drink it. I can smoke, I can walk through walls but I can’t fly. So, am I a solid, a liquid or a gas? (He stubs his cigarette out in his hand.)

JOE
(Points to Murphy’s undamaged hand.)
That’s pretty cool.

MURPHY
Huh, Yeah.

ANNIE
(returns)
Joey, the Millers have offered to watch you while I bring the movers to the storage space. Is everything ready to go? Did you pack your bike?

JOE
I was going to go bike riding with Tommy this afternoon.

ANNIE
(she sighs and gives Joe a hug) I know you’re going to miss this house and your friends. But your grandfather owed nine thousand dollars in property taxes. I don’t have that kind of money.

JOE
(looking down)
I know. Are we bringing Grandpa’s boat with us?

ANNIE
No one would buy that old thing. I’ll leave it here. Hopefully someone will steal it.(She looks through her purse) You haven’t had breakfast. Want an energy bar?

MURPHY
Don’t eat that, kiddo! They taste like paste and wood chips.

(Joe eats it.)

MURPHY
I can’t look. Blah!

ANNIE
Be good for the Millers. (She kisses Joe on the forehead) I’ll pick you up after dinner.

(Joe checks to be sure that Annie is walking out the door and Murphy is looking out the window. He quickly takes the opportunity to sneak upstairs.)

INTERIOR SCENE – UPSTAIRS BATHROOM

The bathroom is bare, even the shower curtain has been packed away. Joe looks under the sink and finds a bag he’s hidden there. He pulls it out and puts it on the sink. Then he takes some mascara out and puts it on, sloppily.

MURPHY
(walks in the bathroom, sits on the toilet)
Finally decided to come out of the closet, eh?

JOE
I’m not gay.

MURPHY
Oh, so you’re a cross dresser. I’m cool with that. I always liked Eddie Izzard.

(Joe sprays powder dye on his hair, makes it look grey, pulls his grandmother’s old windbreaker out of the bag, puts on her old fabric bucket hat.)

MURPHY
Okay, now you’re getting into a whole new class of weird. What is going on?

JOE
(puts on lipstick)
I’ve got a plan.

(Joe pulls a wallet from the purse and checks to see that his grandmother’s driver’s license is in there. Murphy looks at the wallet.)

MURPHY
Marta was so sensible. She didn’t eat red meat, didn’t smoke. She shouldn’t have died before me. (he touches her wallet) Goddamn cancer.

(Joe looks at him sadly, about to say something.)

MURPHY
(interrupts)
So, what’s your plan?

(Joe doesn’t answer)

MURPHY
Not gonna tell me, eh? There’s a reason why your friends call you ‘honey badger’. You can be pretty badass when you set your mind to something.

Hmm…you don’t want to sell the house, so you’re planning to steal something to pay the back taxes. You’ve got the perfect disguise. Who’d suspect a little old lady?

(Joe shakes his head, dye powder falls into the sink.)

JOE
Guess again.

(He puts the wallet back, carries the purse and walks through Murphy.)

EXTERIOR SCENE – THE BACKYARD

MURPHY
(follows Joe as he walks towards his bike)
Hey! Tell me! You should know not to piss off a ghost, kiddo. I can be pretty damned scary when I want to be.

(Joe is about to get on his bike when Murphy jumps in front of him. The air shudders. Murphy turns into a rotting, maggot-infested ghoul. Tendrils of burnt ectoplasm drift from his gnarled fingers. An unearthly roar emanates from his fetid mouth. Joe is surprised, but not as scared as he should be.)

JOE
Grandpa, get out of my way. I’m late.

MURPHY
(Turns back into normal ghost)
But … you’re supposed to be scared. Why aren’t you afraid of me?

JOE
No matter what you say, no matter what you do, you’re still Grandpa.

(Murphy smiles with trembling lips, watching Joe as he gets on his bike and rides away.)

MURPHY
(runs alongside bike)
You can see why it’s so aggravating to be dead. I shouldn’t have to run, I should float. And I can’t fix any of this! The laws of physics don’t apply.

JOE
(pedaling)
Uh huh.

MURPHY
(stops running,gasps)
Like, why am I so out of shape? (he shouts as Joe rides away) It shouldn’t be this way! (He pulls a cigarette from his pocket and makes a flame to light it with a snap of his finger.)

EXTERIOR SCENE – EARLY AFTERNOON, A CROWDED MARINA

A banner above the Marina entrance reads “Solo Sail Race Today – Top prize, $10,000.” Joe, still disguised as his grandmother, gets off his bike and walks to the sign-in desk, where the ORGANIZER, a middle-aged man in a polo shirt and khakis is welcoming competitors.

ORGANIZER
Just an FYI, ma’am, you have to be between 18 and 85 to participate in this race. Can I see your ID?

JOE
(Sees that the start pennant is already up)
Hurry up, I’m late … umm, sonny.

ORGANIZER
Marta Murphy … Yup, you’re on the list. Good to go.

(Joe runs to Murphy’s sailboat. It’s tied to the dock. He pulls the cover off. Murphy walks through the Organizer and other sailors and stands beside Joe.)

MURPHY
This is your plan, to win this race? That’s not just crazy, it’s stupid. You don’t know the first thing about sailing!

(Joe steps into the boat, takes the rudder out of the cabin and assembles it. Then he pulls the mainsail up.)

MURPHY
Okay, maybe you know the first thing, but you don’t know how to stay on the wind. Do you even know the difference between a tack and a jibe?

(A horn blows. Both turn towards the sound and watch as the start flag is raised.)

JOE
No, but you do. (he holds the mainsail sheet out to Murphy) You have to help me.

MURPHY
What?

JOE
You heard me. Make yourself useful!

(Murphy laughs, throws his cigarette into the water and jumps onto the boat. He brings the mainsail around and, with Joe’s help on the rudder, the boat slides away from the dock. With the wind in their hair, they quickly glide past the competition.)

MURPHY
(turning to the other sailors)
Eat my dust, losers! (laughs) I can sail the boat but I don’t add any weight. For once, being dead is an advantage. (turns to Joe) Good plan, kiddo.

JOE
Uh huh.

Written by marypmadigan

August 4th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Posted in writing

Surprise Me

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This 12 page screenplay was written for NYC Midnight’s Screenwriting Challenge.

“Surprise Me” made it to the 2nd round!

Here are the rules, via the NYC Midnight site:

There are 3 rounds of competition. In the 1st Round (June 14-22), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment (see examples of past assignments here). Writers have 8 days to write an original short screenplay no longer than 12 pages. The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (July 25-28) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write an 8 page (maximum) short screenplay. Judges choose a top 25 from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 5 page (maximum) screenplay in just 24 hours (August 23-24). A panel of judges review the final round stories and overall winners are selected!”

The Genre for this heat was Comedy. The subject was A spaceship. The character was A journalist

SURPRISE ME

INT.  the Good Karma Vegan cafe, Stockholm, Sweden

Early morning, breakfast. The cafe is crowded with customers. BILL, a balding, forty-something Englishman is wearing a parka over his pinstriped suit. He’s sitting at a table, turning his face from side to side, unnerved by everything he sees.

CRAIG, American surfer/cameraman, twenty-something and tattooed, is waiting for his order, listening to music on his iPod. He hands money to the girl behind the counter, then juggles two large cups, a plate with a brownie and a plate with a plain sweet potato. Craig puts the sweet potato down, in front of Bill

BILL
(leaps from his chair)
Auggh!

CRAIG
(pops the earbuds out)
What?

Bill
The potato!

CRAIG
I know, it’s weird to have sweet potato for breakfast, but it’s what you asked for.

BILL
You … you already gave it to me. The same potato, placed on the same exact spot on the table. You’ve done this more times than I can count!

CRAIG
(shakes his head)
Not that again. You need to take your meds, man. You’re delusional. (drinks his coffee) Hey, did you hear me talking Swedish with that hottie over there? I learned it from Grandma Olafson. Uff da!

BILL
Uff what?

Craig doesn’t answer, so Bill looks up. The scene is the same as it was at the very beginning. Craig puts the potato down in front of Bill in the exact same place. Bill screams again.

CRAIG
(pops the earbuds out)
What?

BILL
(sighs, with a shaking hand, reaches for his glass)
Never mind.

CRAIG
Hey, did you hear me talking Swedish …

BILL
Yes. Uff da.

CRAIG
I was just going to say that. How…?

BILL
That’s what I’m trying to tell you! I’ve been living and reliving the same ten minutes of my life, for what seems like a year. (He takes a bite of the sweet potato) I … I  believe I’m losing my mind.

Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day? (Craig nods)

That’s what I’m experiencing. I’m caught in a time loop.

CRAIG
Yeah, right. So, what happens next?

BILL
You’ll take a bite of your brownie, then, three seconds afterwards, Melissa will call. She’ll be angry.

CRAIG
I could have told you that. Uh, you know, the angry part…

Bill counts down the seconds. They stare at each other expectantly. At the count of three Bill’s phone rings.

BILL
Melissa! Ha! I told you.

CRAIG
But I didn’t eat my brownie.

MELISSA
Hello, Bill. Your cameraman tells me that you want out of this assignment because you’re caught in a time loop. Really. Why don’t you just say the dog ate your homework?

BILL
(to Craig) Snitch. (to Melissa) Craig’s not a cameraman, he’s a surfer dude. A professional would have brought a real camera.

CRAIG
Hey! I came equipped. (He pulls a pile of small plastic cameras out of his ragged backpack.) I’ve got, like, five GoPros!

Bill ignores him, turns away and whispers into the phone. Craig gives him the finger behind his back.

BILL
Melissa, luv, I can’t do this. Just being here is giving me panic attacks. This spaceship was designed by a lunatic. He is now deceased after a catastrophic test flight in a similar prototype. His daughter, Dr. Medina, is an inexperienced pilot. She can’t even assemble a decent business plan, much less a spaceship.

MELISSA
You’re overreacting.

BILL
I don’t want to die! This is not unreasonable.

MELISSA
But the powers that be at Xtreme News Online want you to go up in Xena’s ship. They think it could, literally, be the story of the century.

BILL
Please stop insisting that I die for the glory of Xtreme News. And please stop misusing literally! (tries to calm down) We had a nice little, local newspaper. Why did you decide to sell it to these adrenaline junkies?

MELISSA
We had a nice little paper that no one read. I didn’t want our staff to lose their jobs.

BILL
If we had followed my 10 year plan…

MELISSA
We’d all be dumpster diving.

BILL
Be that as it may, I refuse to go. Send your new boy toy to do it.

MELISSA
My ‘boy toy’ is in the Congo, interviewing arms dealers. Do you want to switch places with him?

BILL
I’d rather not. All right, I am willing to interview Dr. Medina. What angle do you want me take?

MELISSA
Surprise me.

BILL
We’ve been working together for twenty years. I can’t surprise you.

MELISSA
I know.

She hangs up. Bill looks up and realizes that he’s back in the time loop. Craig puts the potato on the table.

BILL
Damn it!

CRAIG
What?

BILL
In the movie Groundhog Day … how long was Bill Murray stuck in his time loop?

CRAIG
Umm… I think it took him more than a year to get out of it. He couldn’t leave until he convinced Andie McDowell to love him.

BILL
(sighs)
I will be here forever.

Craig takes a bite of his brownie. Bill’s phone rings.

BILL
I’d rather die than take this call again.

CRAIG
So, you’re ready to go?

Ext. MEDINA LABS    Afternoon

The laboratory is consists of a hangar and an icy runway under grey skies at the edge of the Baltic Sea. The spaceship is tied down in front of the hangar. It’s similar to SpaceShipOne, a suborbital air-launched spaceplane. There’s a fire burning near the shore. Beside the fire is a folded blanket, a pair of glasses, three cups and a bottle of brown liquid. Craig and Bill, both wearing parkas and huge mittens, stand near the fire, waiting to meet XENA MEDINA.

BILL
(shivering)
Where is she?

CRAIG
Dunno. Hey, just in case you have doubts about my credentials, take a look at the clip I filmed of Hamilton catching epic swells off West Oz. Sick shit, man!

BILL
Sick shit. Is that a positive or negative thing?

CRAIG
(snorts)
What do you know about anything? You’ve been in stuck on Melissa for, like, 20 years, and all those years you’ve been totally friendzoned.

BILL
How did you know that?

CRAIG
I have eyes. Everyone in the office knows.

A chubby, nail-polished hand emerges from the frigid water, clawing at the ice. Craig’s back is to the water and he doesn’t see the hand. Bill screams.

CRAIG
What? You deja vu-ing again?

He points to the hand gripping the ice. Xena’s blonde head emerges from the water. She’s bleary-eyed but happy.

XENA
(smiles broadly)
Eight minutes! I held my breath underwater for eight minutes. A new record!

CRAIG
Awesome! (he takes his cell phone from his belt, begins to film, then holds a hand out. She shakes it.) Craig Olafson, glad to meet you.

XENA
(turns to Bill)
And you must be Bill Boonton, the intrepid reporter from Xtreme Online.

Bill pulls off a mitten, reaches to shake her hand than gasps from the cold. He puts his hand back in his mitten and rubs it.

BILL
Dr. Medina, I’m sorry to tell you that I’m as far from intrepid as it gets. I won’t be going up in your spaceship.

Xena puts on her glasses. They fog up, she wipes them off, puts them back on. They fog up again.

XENA
I wasn’t going to take you up into space or anything.  We were just going for a hop around the pattern.

BILL
No.

XENA
(shrugs)
Whatever.

She pulls herself up onto the ice, flopping on her belly like a fish. She’s plump and very red-skinned from the cold, almost as red-blue as her berry-colored one-piece swimsuit. Frost is collecting in her hair.

BILL
You could not possibly have been in that water all this time. No human being can stay in sub-zero water for that length of time. It’s impossible.

XENA
(laughs)
But I just did it. You saw me.

BILL
It’s impossible.

XENA
(frowns as she rubs her hair dry)
Is he always such a buzzkill?

BILL and CRAIG
(at the same time)
Yes.

XENA
(shrugs and turns away from them, stretching)
Yoga helps me adapt to subzero temperatures. It’s all about the breathing. (She bends down, grabs the bottle and pours some vodka into the cups.) This is my father’s secret recipe.

CRAIG
Brown vodka?

XENA
Drink up!

Xena stands up straight, then drinks directly from the bottle.

BILL
So, why were you trying to freeze yourself to death?

Xena, still drinking, puts up a finger signaling that he should wait for her to finish. She drains the bottle

BILL
And why are you trying to die of alcohol poisoning?

She laughs but stumbles. She wraps the blanket around herself and puts on the slippers that were tucked underneath.

XENA
I’m trying to develop a resistance to cold in order to prepare for the warp drive test flight. According to theory, warp drive is be achieved by contracting the space in front of the ship while the space behind it is expanded. And this creates…

BILL
(frowns, looks at his drink)
… a warp bubblespace.

XENA
Right … wait, how did you know that? I didn’t put that in the press release.

BILL
I’ve been here before. I remember everything you said. Like … the bubblespace will allow the ship to travel distances in faster-than-light time.

XENA
Exactly!  And why am I trying to adapt to cold weather?

BILL
You told me that your father died when his life support systems failed in the middle of the test. (Xena is visibly hurt by the memory. Bill pauses, then goes on) You’re going to be cryogenically frozen when you go into warp. If anything goes wrong, your pod is programmed to go back to earth.

XENA
How can you be remembering something that hasn’t happened yet?

CRAIG
He’s been deja vu-ing. Like the guy in Groundhog Day.

BILL
I remember all of this, everything up to the moment that I took a sip of this vodka. (Becoming angry) That’s what sent me into this delirium. Your homebrew.

CRAIG
Awesome. Let me try. (he downs the vodka, then burps) Nope, no deja vu. But I do feel nauseous.

XENA
(whoops with delight.)
I know what happened – It worked! The warp drive worked, and you, Bill Boonton, are proof! You went into the bubblespace with me! That’s why you’re reliving the same moments over and over. As a side effect of the faster-than-lightspeed travel, you’re experiencing an altered version of the time-space continuum!

BILL
Bollocks!

XENA
But, it’s the only possible explanation.

BILL
I can propose another, much more likely theory. You poisoned me and I’m currently tripping balls.

XENA
(thinks about it)
No … even in the throes of the most drunken delirium, you don’t have enough imagination to make up a story like that.

CRAIG
Yeah, you’re right. He doesn’t.

BILL
(panicking)
I didn’t go on the ship. I would never do that!

XENA
You must have. In fact, it’s entirely likely that you’re simultaneously here and on my ship … right now!

Bill collapses, falls onto the icy ground.

Ext. MEDINA LABS Bill wakes up and sees Xena and Craig sitting beside the fire, drinking more vodka, eating herring. It’s nighttime.

XENA
There’s a theory that all of time and space exist at the same time. For us, time is like a movie. The images simultaneously exist on the same reel, but our interpretation of time passing makes it what it is. That may be Bill’s problem. After he went through the bubblespace, he’s watching the same movie that we are, but he sees short, repeating clips. He’s interpreting it differently.

CRAIG
Damn, girl, you’re making my brain hurt.

Bill groans and rubs his head.

XENA
You’re awake! How are you feeling? (helps him sit up)

BILL
I didn’t go on the ship. I didn’t go on the ship…

XENA
But, you must have.

BILL
Why would I do such a thing?

XENA
Maybe you wanted to go back to change the past. To avoid taking a risk you shouldn’t have taken.

BILL
I have never taken any risks. I carefully planned every moment of my life. As a child, I would plan which socks I was going to wear every day of the week. It never varied.

CRAIG
Maybe that’s what you wanted to change.

Bill thinks about that. Craig hands him a plateful of herring and Xena tends the fire.

XENA
(puts a cold compress on Bill’s forehead)
I wouldn’t mind having company out there. But you would have to get used to living in subzero cold. I’ve had months to prepare, but you haven’t.

BILL
If I were to go, that wouldn’t be a problem. (he turns to Xena) You’ve never met Melissa.

Xena laughs and refills his cup of vodka. He watches her tending the fire, the cinders floating up towards the northern lights, dancing around the moon.

BILL
I’ve never seen the sky look quite like this. It makes one think that all sorts of things could be possible. (sighs) If I was a stronger man, I might give that space shot a try, but I know my  limitations. I wouldn’t have the nerve to do it.

XENA
(tending the fire)
You wouldn’t get the nerve to do what?

Bill watches as the cinders float towards the northern lights, dancing around the three moons.

XENA
Hon, which MRE do you want tonight, beef or chicken?

Bill stands up, sees brightly lit birds fluttering through the ice underneath him. The breeze is blowing directly upwards, making the palm trees and his hair stand straight up. Glowing green fish swim in the sky.

Bill
(smiles)
Surprise me.

Written by marypmadigan

July 24th, 2013 at 10:49 am

Posted in writing