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1: The End

Blat the half‐demon has a calamity in the filing room. Eggerton the fairy gives a fateful presentation. And Darcy the human realizes she is being hunted.

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Game Master: Sean Howard
Players: Carter Siddall, Michael Howie and Marisa King

Ananka: Maggie Makar
Tweeter: Stephen Smith
Augustus: Eli McIlveen

Additional material and sound design: Eli McIlveen
Story consultant: Laura Packer
Game consultant: Stephen Smith

Content Warning: The world ends. Other tragic disasters are mentioned. Things explode.


Episode Transcript

PROLOGUE: THE PATH TO THE GLADE

ANANKA (VOICE‐OVER)

(Slavic accent)

Imagine this.

Wind chimes ring out softly.

ANANKA (VOICE‐OVER)

Is a river downstream from a gigantic waterfall. It is called the Twist: the most magical river in all the land.

The sound of a river fades in, followed by slow footsteps along a dirt path.

ANANKA (VOICE‐OVER)

And by the river comes walking a little man. He is a halfling. He is littler than most people in town. But he is not from this town. He is not from this world.

He has a job to do, this halfling man. He is a guide for travellers coming here from far, far away. It is very important duty.

But instead he has to talk to annoying squirrel.

The chimes fade out, replaced by birdsong.

AUGUSTUS

(chipper, Australian accent)

Morning Cyrus!

CYRUS

(permanently gloomy)

Oh. Hey, Augustus.

AUGUSTUS

How’s it going?

CYRUS

It’s going stupendous as always.

AUGUSTUS

You’re looking well.

CYRUS

Thanks.

AUGUSTUS

Mind if I ride up here?

CYRUS

What? Oh, ow. WATCH. WATCH THE…

AUGUSTUS

It’s a good view from up here.

CYRUS

I didn’t think this day could get any worse.

AUGUSTUS

I was riding a centaur the other day. You can get a great view from their shoulders! Where are we going?

CYRUS

I’m going up to the glade at the top of the hill.

AUGUSTUS

Oh, amazing. There’s some great oak trees up there.

CYRUS

Yeah, yup. I hear there are.

AUGUSTUS

It’s making me hungry already. Hey, you packed a lunch! Mind if I check it out?

CYRUS

No, that’s that’s my…

AUGUSTUS

Oh, Egg salad sandwiches—my favorite. Oh sorry. Do you want one?

CYRUS

No, that’s OK. You enjoy yourself on the Cyrus ferry.

AUGUSTUS

Thank you!

CYRUS

Next stop: the glade.

A bird flutters up.

TWEETER

(just as chipper as Augustus)

Well, you’re a funny pair.

CYRUS

What is… What is that?

AUGUSTUS

Oh hello, Tweeter!

TWEETER

Hi Augustus.

CYRUS

Oh god, you know each other.

TWEETER

Of course we do. It’s the forest! Everyone knows everyone in the forest.

CYRUS

No. No.

TWEETER

Who’s your friend?

AUGUSTUS

This is Cyrus! He works down at the Academy.

TWEETER

Where you guys going?

AUGUSTUS

Up to the glade.

TWEETER

Can I come too?

AUGUSTUS

Oh, if you like. The more the merrier!

TWEETER

Oh this is good, I don’t have to fly!

He flutters up onto Cyrus too.

CYRUS

What do you mean? Oh. Ow. Ow.

AUGUSTUS

It’s all right. We’ll help balance you out.

CYRUS

It’s a nice perch.

AUGUSTUS

Here, have a sandwich.

TWEETER

Oh, even better!

CYRUS

Alright, you know what? I don’t know if we’re gonna make it all the way to the glade. This log here is looking pretty good.

TWEETER

Oh, don’t sit on that one.

CYRUS

Why not?

TWEETER

Mrs Skunk. She came along last night and gave it a good one.

CYRUS

Ew, oh yeah. Good call. Thanks, Tweeter.

TWEETER

See, I’m helpful!

CYRUS

Yeah, really helpful. Are you enjoying that sandwich?

TWEETER

The sandwich is good! Do you have another one?

CYRUS

Oh, here we are. This log looks and smells great.

AUGUSTUS

Oh. I think that one’s cursed.

CYRUS

Cursed? Well, then it’s perfect for me. Everyone make themselves comfortable. I’m just going to read my book and wait forever.

TWEETER

What are we waiting for?

CYRUS

Not sure. Some new arrivals, if all goes well.

Silence. Birds chirp.

TWEETER

Do you want some grubs?

CYRUS

No Tweeter, you can keep the grubs.

The chimes return.

ANANKA (VOICE‐OVER)

Poor Cyrus. So long to wait. His visitors haven’t even left home yet. They have not even been born! Not for hundreds of years!

So long to wait. But don’t worry, Cyrus. They will be here soon.

Who are these visitors? I will tell you. But to do that I must take you all the way to the end of the world.

Theme music plays.

ANNOUNCER (ELI)

The End of Time and Other Bothers: an improvised fantasy roleplaying game set in the world of Alba Salix.

Your Game Master is Sean Howard, with players Carter Siddall, Michael Howie and Marisa King.

Episode 1.

Theme music ends.

ANNOUNCER (ELI)

The End.

THE FILING ROOM

SEAN

It’s the year 32, or rather, the 32nd year since the Balgomarian revolution. The very revolution that restored the monarchy, enlightened the people and brought our most beloved Emperor Boltius to power.

It’s been over 12 centuries since the cantankerous but beloved Alba Salix walked these lands. Now Farloria is no more—not even a memory in this day and age. The Balgomarian Empire stretches over the continent and beyond. It all seems pretty far away from life here in Steadfast.

Steadfast is your home. It’s the capital and the greatest city in the world. It’s a twisting grid of monumental concrete and obsidian structures that reach up out of the smog. Sky high railway trams zip by while workers and vehicles move slowly through their day.

Now we’re going to begin with Blat.

The camera moves forward. It’s following one of the tram cars that zips past and the camera moves in on a nondescript large concrete building and comes to rest on a window with a worker behind a desk. But that’s not Blat. And the camera begins to go down faster and faster past window after window until it goes all the way through the ground, down deep into the earth and it starts following some pipes, winding through corridors and empty rooms until it finally pops into the room where Blat is usually working, only Blat is not to be found.

Clunky, mechanical music in the background.

CARTER

Blat stumbles into the office, looking around to make sure no one can tell that he’s coming in late. He hangs his fedora up on the coat rack knocking it over because he’s too much of a nervous hurry, picks it up again, straightens it up, makes sure it looks nice; his horns now shimmering in the fluorescent light—because he is a half‐demon.

He adjusts his tie and then, like he does every day, which he’s done every day for the last nine years, he starts alphabetizing files. Thick government files.

Long live Boltius.

SEAN

So your office—is it a cubicle? It’s an office?

CARTER

It would be like a small room with a lot of shelves in it and perhaps Blat gets a single chair but no desk, per se. Just filing! Just non‐stop filing.

SEAN

So basically, on the outside of the door to this room is an old brass plaque that says FILING CLERK. Your office is very near the furnace.

CARTER

Yes, he is the only one that works there because being half demon he can withstand the heat. All the other previous file clerks complained and thus were moved to different departments. But not Blat. He finds it soothing.

SEAN

OK, so Blat is moving paperwork around when… Do we have phones, Eli? Do we have a name for those yet?

CARTER

The Talk‐O‐Tron! The Talk‐O‐Tron or the Speechifyer. Pick one.

SEAN

Speechifyer. I’m writing this down. This is now canon.

Laughter.

SEAN

OK, so Blat: you work for Balgem. Balgem is one of the largest companies. There’s not very many. And Balgem produces all of the electronics, commercial electronics, of the world and they’re known for not always being the highest quality. So your Speechifyer on your desk starts twittering.

The Speechifyer rings.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Hi‐diddly‐ho! Go for Blat!

SEAN (AS BOSS)

(over the phone, grouchy)

Blat, we seem to have a problem in that we don’t have the correct files from that accident case last week.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Oh, no. I think I should’ve got that by now. Do you have a name for it?

SEAN (AS BOSS)

No, if I had the name then I would have the file.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Makes finding the file a bit more difficult. I’ll see if it’s this one.

(a pause while he checks)

Nope, it’s not this one. Maybe the one below it…

(another pause)

No. I just got these last night, so I don’t think these would be them.

SEAN (AS BOSS)

It’s from last week. It was the explosion.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

The explosion. Oh, right. Now did I file that under E for Explosion or D for Devastating Explosion? Just give me a minute, please.

Soothing music plays over the phone line.

SEAN (AS BOSS)

No no… don’t—argh!

SEAN

Is there hold music?

(hums bossa nova bassline)

Dum dum dum dum…

CARTER

(hums)

Ba dap bap ba dap bah…

SEAN (AS BOSS)

I can’t believe I’m on hold. I don’t have time for this.

The music stops as Blat picks up again.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Actually, it was in another section of E. It was under Extremely Devastating Explosion. But I have it here, yes. Boy, it’s a thick one!

SEAN (AS BOSS)

(sighs)

I need that right away. Send it up to floor D7‐392.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

D… 7…

SEAN (AS BOSS)

3…

CARTER (AS BLAT)

3…

SEAN (AS BOSS)

…92.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

9…

SEAN (AS BOSS)

2.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

…2.

SEAN (AS BOSS)

Yeah. I need that rushed.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

I’ll pneumatic tube it up, sir!

SEAN (AS BOSS)

Very well. Thank you.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

And that’s a good day from Blat. Long Live Boltius!

SEAN

So basically your day goes around sort of like that. And, what does Blat do for lunch? Does Blat bring his lunch…?

CARTER

Blat does bring his lunch. He just warms it up in his hands. He doesn’t need to use any of the lunchroom appliances for the food and he eats it in his chair in the file room because he noticed that going outside the building would actually take his entire lunch hour to get all the way up and then all the way around to the door and then outside again. So he just stays in the chair the entire time, trying not to get crumbs on his slacks.

SEAN

I just want to picture this. This is Blat sitting in a chair in the middle of a filing room with no desk.

CARTER

No desk. No, you don’t need one. If you want to pile files up, that’s what the floor is for.

SEAN

So, I’d say that it’s a pretty busy day. The pneumatic tubes are firing non‐stop, just all morning—sshunk! sshunk!—stacking up on each other as you have your lunch and plugging up the tube.

CARTER

That’s what the broom beside the pneumatic tube is for. Sometimes you have to shove the stick up there just to unclog it. Get the files coming out again and sometimes papers fall out and they wind up in other files, but that’s what makes Blat’s job challenging.

SEAN

I was gonna say like that pressure would be building up as they stack up and that tube, right? So it’s after lunch, it’s around 1:00 and all the tubes are stacked up and there’s a strange sucking—it’s like this this high pitched sucking. It’s like the pressure is building and building and building up the tube, and you’re realizing you might need to get that unstuck.

A rising scream of wind through the blocked tubes.

CARTER

We call that the Busy Day Whistle! It’s quite annoying. So that’s… got to get the poking stick. Yeah.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Come on. Get out! Get out! Stop the whining! Get out!

SEAN

So what are you doing? Tell me what you are doing.

CARTER

I’m just taking the end of the broom and shoving it up the one problematic pneumatic tube. The problematic‐matic tube!

MARISA

Say that three times fast.

CARTER

Problematic pneumatic tube! The problemati‐tube. And papers are flying everywhere…

SEAN

OK, give me a Defy Danger roll. So you’ve got that stick way up there… Our first roll of the game.

CARTER

Two dice—here we go! Ooo, that’s a 3.

SEAN

I’m going to have you help me with this one. So basically you’ve got the broom halfway up this tube. There’s this growing high pitched sound—which we’re probably going to hear when Eli adds it—and the broom gets jammed and you see the glass start to crack. What happens?

CARTER

Well, Blat starts to get very nervous, because this is a really problematic pneumatic tube. He looks around for someone to help him, but he realizes he works alone. And so he’s trying to hold the pneumatic tube together with one hand while continuing to shove with his other hand that has the broom… and the squealing is just getting higher and higher and higher. And yeah, he isn’t quite sure what to do. He just keeps shoving with his problem‐solvin’ stick.

SEAN

And that is when the explosion shakes the entire building as it just…

The whistle gives way to a huge explosion.

SEAN

The whole tube shatters, and all of the waiting canisters come pounding, literally ricocheting around the room like very large bullets, bouncing off cabinets, knocking them over, files flying through the air.

He rolls a die.

SEAN

And you’re gonna take 4 damage.

CARTER

Oh my lord. This was quite the explosion.

SEAN

So basically the glass shattering out sends you flying and right into one of the filing cabinets—knocks it over, knocks the next one over… It’s like a domino effect in the room.

MARISA

I think you could classify it as another Extremely Devastating Explosion.

CARTER

I’ll have to file this… except the file room doesn’t exist anymore.

SEAN

And that’s when something very strange happens. So first of all you got the ringing in your ears. But all of a sudden you realize that there are no more sounds of pneumatics. So at first you think, OK, the tubes are broken, you broke everything. But then you realize that the furnace isn’t running. It takes a minute for it to sort of sink in… that there’s a silence you’ve never heard.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

I’m… cold! This has never happened in all the time I’ve worked here.

CARTER

So I open the door, if it’s still on its hinges—probably not.

SEAN

It’s half on. You shove the door. You sort of stumble out of the room with chaos behind you.

CARTER

Looking around again. There’s no one… and I’ll go next door to the furnace room to see what’s happening in there.

SEAN

OK. Yeah, you’ve been in there many times like to warm up on a cold day. So you open the door to the furnace room… and there is no furnace in the room.

Blat’s voice echoes in the empty room.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Well, that’s changed since last time.

SEAN

It’s like a large empty room. It’s a massive room, right? And it’s just utterly empty.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

I hope the Speechifyer is working. I feel like I need to report this to HR or something.

CARTER

Is there a furnace number?

SEAN

(laughing)

I think the number was on the side of the furnace.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

I know, I’ll call my boss! That’s it! He wanted to get the Devastating Explosion file and perhaps this will take precedence.

Laughter.

CARTER

Can I find the phone in the room I used to work in?

SEAN

Right. So you’re right you’re back in the room. Yeah, you find the Speechifyer under a filing cabinet. It looks like it wasn’t damaged too badly.

CARTER

That’s good. Government property.

SEAN

OK, so you’re going to try it?

CARTER

Yeah.

The speechifyer’s ringback tone.

SEAN

It’s ringing. It’s twittering—like you hear the tick‐tick‐tick. But there’s no answer.

CARTER

So. My manager isn’t picking up, my department’s been utterly devastated… and the furnace is missing.

I think this might be a professional development day. Just… call this Wednesday a writeoff, and I’ll see you at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

(sighs)

I guess I’m gonna to have to… go upstairs.

SEAN

So you gather up what’s left of your lunch box.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Oh, there’s a file in it. Well, there’s part of a file in it. Oh! This was part of the Extremely Devastating Explosion file that my boss wanted… Save that for later.

SEAN

Your fedora is still there, untouched.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Oh, thank heavens! Long live Boltius!

SEAN

In all the devastation it’s still there.

CARTER

So I put on my hat… and start trudging upwards.

SEAN

As you walk out, the doors fall off behind you and hit the corridor.

CARTER

That’s janitorial. I’m not going to worry about that. That’s not my area.

SEAN

And you make your way through your long route that you have to go through. It’s pretty normal that you don’t see anyone. And you come up onto the street out of your little side janitorial door… and it takes a moment. The first thing that hits you is: it smells different.

CARTER

Sulfur? He said hopefully?

SEAN

Yeah, there might be a bit of sulfur…

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Mmmm! Like mother’s milk.

SEAN

(laughing)

Yeah. So there’s a sulfur smell to the air. And then it hits you that you don’t hear anything again. It’s like… insanely quiet.

CARTER

Not even the monorail?

SEAN

No monorail. No Centurions stomping around—just silence.

CARTER

This is more than just a file‐related incident.

SEAN

I have to ask, what would you… What would you organize a file‐related incident under?

CARTER

Well, it’s all just F. F is the most popular letter in the department. Because most things get filed under F for “this should be filed under a file”, or… like, X is never used, Q—very unpopular. F—that’s three filing cabinets right there. But he could always find it, because he was the only one working that department. He knew what was what.

I think Blat’s going to have to re‐enter the building and perhaps talk to someone in security or something. Maybe someone’s got a working Speechifyer that we can contact somebody in the outside world to see what’s going on.

SEAN

So cut to Blat standing at the big front security entrance. And there is nothing. There are no people at security. There are no people going up and down the Moveators. (Gotta write that down.) There are no people coming in and outside the front doors.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

No, no… Copernicus should be on duty. He’s the head of security. He should be at his little desk out front here.

(sadly)

Oh Copernicus, what’s happened?

SEAN

Yeah, there’s nothing.

CARTER

He’s going to walk around, get towards the the Moveators. See if I can call one of those up.

SEAN

It does. It comes down with a ding.

Doors slide open with a squeak, and elevator music plays in the background.

CARTER

Oh, very good. So I’ll get into the Moveator and I think I know what’s happening. What I need to do. So I just hit every button going up, like a Christmas tree. 2, 3, 4, right up to 112.

SEAN

Yup.

CARTER

And I just get off at 2 to see, if I poke my head out whether there’s anybody doing anything on any floor.

SEAN

So on 2, your hope gets raised for a second, because you see a bag that had been set down or dropped, but then you realize there’s not a sound. You don’t see anyone.

Silence.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

(softly)

Bag, do you know anything?

Silence.

CARTER

I take the bag.

Laughter.

SEAN

OK, so inside the bag you actually see it’s an executive’s lunch. Someone had been sent to get it. So is not like an Impescor thing. This is like, real food.

CARTER

I get back in the elevator, heat the bag up with my hands and I’ll just start eating as I poke my head out on each floor… On 3…

SEAN

So I’m picturing like flame coming up from the bag, sort of, as the embers of the bag are burning away as the food heats up.

CARTER

You don’t need the paper anymore so that’s fine.

SEAN

OK. So you’re going up floor by floor… Ding! Ding! There is nobody in this entire building.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Hello? Long live Boltius?

SEAN

You hit the executive suite floor.

CARTER

Oh… someone’s going to know their lunch is missing. I’d best finish this sandwich up before I get off on this floor. If anyone asks about their lunch I’m going to have to feign ignorance.

SEAN

OK, so you’re shoving the rest of it in your mouth.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

(undignified eating sounds then, muffled:)

Hello?

SEAN

The doors open and you see another security station. And you see machines that you have to walk through, right, to make sure you don’t have any weapons or anything… but you don’t see any guards. You don’t see anything.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

(gulping his stolen lunch)

Hello…? Sirs…? Corporate executive sirs?

CARTER

So I’ll pass through the safety machines. See if I can find…

SEAN

OK. The machine’s like… beep‐beep‐beep‐beep‐beep as you go through.

The security scanner beeps.

CARTER

Does it detect that I have an illicit sandwich in my stomach?

Laughter.

SEAN

I don’t know. You’re not sure. It might have. It might have detected executive sandwich.

CARTER

I’m gonna have to risk it then. I’ll… I’ll keep walking through, see if I can find anyone in one of the main offices in the back.

SEAN

So we cut to… You’re standing in what must be a VP suite. The view… There is no wall. It’s all window, like all the way up, on a slant all the way to the ceiling and you can see everything. But there are no trams. There’s no movement down on the streets. The place is empty and that’s when you hear…

The security scanner beeps again.

CARTER

I spin around to see if maybe somebody else has come in through the safety machine.

SEAN

You can’t see the safety machine from where you are. You’re in the executive office.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Maybe… this makes me the head of the building now?

Laughter.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

My first order of business will be to get a new furnace.

SEAN

It is getting a little chilly.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

I’d ask someone to do that but there isn’t anyone here.

SEAN

You hear footsteps approaching. But they’re like… clopping.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Ohhhhh… someone’s going to ask me about that file I didn’t bring. Or maybe the lunch—the lunch or the file. It’s one of the two.

CARTER

So I spin around and I don’t want them to catch me, here in the executive suite in which I should not be. So I’ll go out into the hall and see if I can meet the clopping footsteps.

SEAN

OK. So you step out, and you see, heading down the hall towards you, what looks like a minotaur. You’ve heard of minotaurs. You’ve probably done filings of their claims.

Wearing like, faded blue coveralls and a duster jacket flowing, and what looks like some weird hat. For those listening, it’s a ten‐gallon cowboy hat. But you’re not quite sure you’ve ever seen anything like that.

He’s got a beard that’s sort of flecked with white, and he stops when he sees you. And… he lifts something up with his hand, and it’s hard to even explain what it is. There’s like a cable, and it’s bent. And it has a long part that he’s holding and he sort of points it in your direction and says,

SEAN (AS MINOTAUR)

(awkwardly)

Oh! Citizen. Hail Boltius!

CARTER (AS BLAT)

Ah yes. Long live Boltius! Uh… fair warning: I am not a executive or division head of any sort. I work… a few floors below. I’ve just come up to see what’s going on—

SEAN

He pulls the trigger and a dart—sslpp!—slaps right into your chest. It just buries itself, this dart.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

…Ow! I don’t see how this is helpful.

SEAN (AS MINOTAUR)

I just need to ask. Did I say that right? “Citizen… Hail Boltius?”

CARTER (AS BLAT)

That part was correct. We don’t usually shoot bolts at one another afterwards… it’s more of our version of “hello”.

SEAN (AS MINOTAUR)

Mm hmm. You should feel that acting pretty quickly. Don’t panic. You’re just going to feel a little sleepy.

CARTER (AS BLAT)

…I think perhaps you have something to do with this. And you’re not—oh, I’m starting to black out.

He hits the ground.

SEAN

And cut!

THE PRESENTATION

SEAN

So we’re going to cut to one of the nicer buildings. And it is actually one of the buildings where the Committee of State runs all its operations out of.

And we’re going to start somewhere in the middle. We’re going to come into a boardroom and we’re going to see Eggerton, a flightless fairy, who is preparing for a very big presentation on the last explosion fiasco from a week ago.

So tell me what we see. Who do we see? What are you doing in this room? So, it’s a boardroom and you’re getting ready for this presentation. People haven’t come in yet. You’ve got like 10 minutes to set it up.

MIKE

Eggerton is shuffling papers and opening a folio case and pulling out large printed charts. They’re very nicely done, lots of colours, putting them up on easels against the walls, humming to himself a bit as he does it.

SEAN

And tell me what does Eggerton…? Help me understand how tall, what he looks like…

MIKE

Eggerton is a somewhat typical fairy. He’s a little under five feet tall. He’s a little tubby, but you know, when you eat all those carbs and sugars that’s bound to happen.

He’s wearing a nice suit, but it looks a little off and when you look closely you realize that the pants are slightly different than the suit jacket, and as you look down even further you’ll notice that he’s wearing two distinctly different coloured socks: one blue and one green. And, you know, just typical nicely clean shoes.

He’s in his 30s. He’s got wispy hair that’s slicked back, it’s dark in colour; rosy red cheeks and big round eyes that are green.

And he is sorting out all of these things, and then seems like he remembers something, walks back to the middle of the table and starts spreading out the snacks. He’s got various types of cupcakes, cookies with swirls in them…

SEAN

Oooo. Real food!

MIKE

Well yes, he is a fairy after all. These are important aspects of any meeting.

SEAN

Are these fairy snacks?

MIKE

These are fairy snacks.

SEAN

OK! So you’re spreading out the fairy snacks.

MIKE

Spreading out the fairy snacks. Counting the chairs to make sure there’s enough for everybody. It’s an important presentation and he needs to be able to explain to the rest of Balgomar what the explosion was and that everyone should remain calm.

SEAN

K. There’s a knock at the door, that’s open. And you see your nemesis. You guys started at the same time and she’s sort of glued herself to your boss and sort of gotten the promotions and she’s, like,

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Eggerton… Sorry, Karen said, first you need to be ready in eight minutes, which I’m sure you are. I’m sure you’re on top of it. But Karen wanted you to know—oh, she told me last night. I totally forgot to tell you: actually, we need to spin this whole thing, that this was… this actually did not happen, and come up with some great reason why it’s a celebration.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

It’s a celebration now?

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Yes. So just…

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

The large explosion at the center of Steadfast was a celebration.

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Yes.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

I have charts on how the wind will expel any potential harmful chemicals away from Steadfast, though.

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Yeah, fascinating, fascinating. I’m sure you have this in hand. I look forward to seeing your presentation.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

It’s OK, everything’s OK. I’m OK. This is OK. It’s good. We’re good. OK.

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Good, I’ll tell Karen you’re all set.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

I had eight minutes, I thought.

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Oh yes yes. You do.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

OK. So you go talk to Karen. I am going to rearrange these fairy snacks that I brought in from home. And I’m not going to eat any of them. I am not stressed out at all. I will not resolve it with eating fairy snacks…

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

(interrupting)

This has been lovely, Eggerton!

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

What celebration are we celebrating?

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Well, that’s your presentation.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

That’s my presentation, right. Right. Right. And today’s… it’s Tuesday.

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Yes.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

It’s Tuesday. OK. No, that’s good.

SEAN (AS NEMESIS)

I have to go…

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

OK. Oh it’s ok… Yeah, go, go. I’m good. I’m good. I got it.

SEAN (AS NEMISIS)

Good.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Good good.

SEAN

She scurries away.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Oh geez.

It’s OK though. I know because it’s Tuesday and Tuesdays are always good days for me. I like Tuesday. I found that microcredit on the ground last Tuesday so this Tuesday’s gotta be good. It’s OK. It’s OK. I’ll get it. I’ll get it. Good good good.

MIKE

OK, so the fairy snacks are looking really good. I’m pretty sure Eggerton has already, as he was sort of mumbling to himself, grabbed two of the little things and started shoving them in his mouth, crumbs sort of falling down, getting caught on this suit jacket.

SEAN

K, you look up the clock. You realize it’s five minutes before the meeting. And you’re staring at your big slide with the explosion.

And what’s your tagline? “The Smoke Will Clear”?

MIKE

The smoke always clears.

SEAN

Yeah, the smoke always clears. So you’re staring at that. And you’ve got five minutes. You hear people in the corridor starting to work their way towards the meeting room.

MIKE

I look around and try and find a marker. Are there are a lot of markers? It’s an office space, of course there’s a lot of markers.

So I go and I grab a marker. And I walk over to the sign and I put one hand under my chin, and tuck my other arm under it and look up at the big slide and think…

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Hmm… I’ve got it!

MIKE

And he walks up and where it says “The Smoke Will Clear”… he puts an exclamation point at the very end.

Laughter.

MIKE

And steps back, smiles, reaches over and grabs a fairy cake which he stuffs in his mouth and starts to eat as he looks up at it and goes,

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Right!

MIKE

And he’s ready now.

SEAN

OK, so people are starting to file in. You see your nemesis come in and sort out look at your board and sort of smirk a little and sit down, and everyone’s starting to sit down.

It’s the usual yes men, yes women, yes people. And a minute goes by, everyone’s just sort of sitting there. Nobody’s touching the fairy cakes.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Everybody have a fairy cake! I brought them in from home. I made them myself.

SEAN (AS CO‐WORKER)

Oh, thanks. I just ate but, uh…

SEAN

And so everyone’s staring at this plate of half‐eaten fairy cakes with crumbs.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

They’re very tasty. I had to… to make sure they were very tasty, though, for all of you.

SEAN (AS CO‐WORKER)

Oh yes. Yes. Good good good.

SEAN

OK, so Karen comes walking in. She’s like,

SEAN (AS KAREN)

So sorry to keep you waiting. I hope you didn’t wait. OK, well, let’s begin…

SEAN

And she sits down. She goes,

SEAN (AS KAREN)

Eggerton, I’m very excited to see what you’ve come up with to take this tragic event and make it a celebration for the people.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Yes! A celebration. That is exactly what I had planned on doing… and I have done that. So let’s get started with the presentation. It’s good. It’s good! Uh… could someone pass me one of the cakes, please. OK, thank you. Thank you for that.

(he resumes talking, with his mouth full)

SEAN (AS KAREN)

We can’t understand you, Eggerton. Can you do that last part again, please?

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Yes yes. So, we need to say that this Extremely Devastating Explosion was in fact a good thing.

SEAN (AS KAREN)

Well, yes. So I thought I established that. So yes, so if you could go from there, Eggerton, and just sort of… yes, go on.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

It’s good, it’s good. So what we need to do is spin the idea into something good.

SEAN

Everyone’s like,

ALL (AS CO‐WORKERS)

Oh yes, yes. Spin. Spin. Spin is good, right?

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

So what I thought we could do is say that this Extremely Devastating Explosion was in fact a celebration from the previous Extremely Devastating Explosion, and that the smoke always clears. See, it cleared! So we’re all good and we were just having fun, because we all like to have fun! And the other thing I thought we could do then is put…

SEAN (AS KAREN)

So, wait, wait wait wait wait. Now this is….

SEAN

And you see your nemesis sort of smirking and you see Karen go,

SEAN (AS KAREN)

Wait, you said we’re going to use the name of the explosion in the celebration?

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Yes, that is what I said.

SEAN (AS KAREN)

Eggerton! I think that’s brilliant.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Well, thank you very much, Karen.

SEAN (AS KAREN)

Please can you… can you go to the next slide? If you could just show me what’s next. I’m very intrigued.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

The next slide. Right right. The slides are all… they’re all good.

SEAN

You know the next side is all the dead bodies.

MIKE

So I… I pull down the slide and look up at it and listen to the gasps around the table.

CARTER (AS CO‐WORKER)

So many dead!

MARISA (AS CO‐WORKER)

I think that’s my cousin!

SEAN (AS CO‐WORKER)

How is he going to spin this?

An uncomfortable pause.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

So… Flashmob!

SEAN

And you hear a pop. You just hear a pop sound, like your ears pop—like a pressure change.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

That was weird.

So we got everyone together, and we got on the Speechifyer, you know, the night before the celebration of the Extremely Dangerous Explosion or, excuse me, Devastating Explosion. And we told them,

“Hey everybody, here’s a fun idea. Let’s re‐enact the first one and then after that we all jump up and go ‘Hooray, we’re alive!’ And we took this picture to show, for you know, prosperity what it would look like before that happened. That’s going to be really good because we’ll get the students out. Maybe we’ll bring up some of the people who are working in the basement, they don’t see a lot of the sun.

SEAN

You start to get a feeling that nobody’s listening. But your back is still to them, right? You’re staring at this slide as you come up with all this.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

So I think, you know… we can all get behind this, right?

MIKE

And I do a little positive arm motion and say,

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

…Right?

SEAN

Do you turn around?

MIKE

And I turn around.

SEAN

The room is empty.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

…I didn’t think it was that bad.

SEAN

Yeah, there’s nobody in the room.

MIKE

There’s nobody in the room. Nobody at all.

SEAN

No.

MIKE

Are the fairy cakes still on the table?

SEAN

Yes.

MIKE

I walk over and pick up one of the fairy cakes, a pink one that had only one small bite out of the side of it, and start nibbling on it.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

Well, I knew Karen was a little, you know, unhappy with some of the things I had done but I didn’t think they’d all run away.

SEAN

Now you were facing the slide. So if they were to have walked out they would have walked past you. You thought you were pretty excited… but were you that excited to not see them?

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

I do get pretty excited from time to time and when I get wrapped up in an idea that idea just starts going and I don’t really know how to stop those ideas from going and it’s sometimes good though. I think it really helps me get new ideas and that’s what I like to do when I’m making the fairy cakes, I’m trying different shapes and different colours. So I don’t know that I’d necessarily see anything passing me by. But at the same time you know I was thinking really really hard and that could take away from it too. But you know Karen, she wears those shoes and they clip‐clop, clip‐clop, clip‐clop when she walks in, so I don’t really know…

SEAN

Cut to 10 minutes later… Keep going.

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

And I’m really just trying to figure out you know, should I be doing this job or should I be trying to do something different? I think I can probably, you know, make people happy. And no one ever really seems…

SEAN

Cloppity, cloppity, cloppity, cloppity.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Well, this one’s gonna be easier.

SEAN

You feel this shhhunk!

MIKE (AS EGGERTON)

What was that? It smells kind of funny.

(slurring)

Whaaa…

SEAN

And you hit the floor. And the minotaur puts you in a bag and puts a device on you, and just turns and walks away out of the room.

And we leave the bagged flightless fairy in the boardroom with food in his mouth inside a bag.

THE MUSEUM

A majestic orchestral version of the theme music.

SEAN

We cut to high above Steadfast.

And the camera is centered on the Plaza of the Empire. And in the center of this plaza is a giant monument, and we are moving towards it. And the monument is of Emperor Boltius standing on a sphere—a globe, the Earth. One hand is raised to the heavens, and the other is reaching out as if to the people.

We fly past this monument and we go past vendors, and Centurion soldiers, and trams zipping through the air. And we start to follow a group of people that are moving forward as if to enter the People’s Museum of Culture and Prosperity.

And the camera centers on one of these people—the back of a woman’s head. A human woman. And her name is Darcy Kimble.

So tell us what we see, Darcy.

MARISA

OK, so this morning I woke up feeling pretty rough. Not really sure what was going on but… I woke up really late, maybe 8 a.m. I’m supposed to be at work at 8 a.m.

So I threw on my ill‐fitting clothes which I get the used clothing shop, which is really frowned upon by most humans. But I like going there, because I’m into the non‐humans, the fairies, the centaurs and things, and so I kind of want to dress the way they do. So I have a sort of ill‐fitting, like a fairy jersey, and some centaur pants that only fit two legs, so I just put them on. Just because you know, I don’t want to look like the other humans. Also I don’t have a lot of money, so.

So anyway I’m rushing through the vendors I’m supposed to get to the cafeteria. I’m supposed to be serving breakfast. And now we’re already heading towards lunch. Hopefully my boss won’t notice. So I try and sneak through the back long hallway.

SEAN

Awesome. And tell me, what does Darcy look like, aside from the clothing?

MARISA

So I’ve got spiky brown hair which I find really hard to keep down and keep tamed. I’ve got these greenish eyes, but in certain lights they look almost yellow, so they lean towards yellow… I’m only about 5′4″ or so, pretty skinny, ‘cause I don’t get to eat a lot.

SEAN

And wearing pants that have two extra sets of legs, so they’re dragging—

MARISA

Yeah, which I sort of—no, no, actually I’ve tied them up to my waist in this cool sort of style. And occasionally I flip one of the legs around, you know, just to seem cool. Or what Darcy thinks might be considered cool.

SEAN

Love it. OK. All right, so you’re working your way in. So Darcy works at the People’s Museum of Culture and Prosperity.

MARISA

In the cafeteria. Yeah. As a line worker.

SEAN

Yeah. So Darcy, to get to her job, she would come in the main entrance. So it’s a pretty impressive building. Like, most of the buildings in Steadfast are really more monumental and massive and imposing. This is more wide steps, and people are allowed to come in to see the museum.

MARISA

Yeah. It’s pretty imposing. But I go in the back entrance, actually, to get to the cafeteria. I don’t want anyone to see me.

SEAN

All right. OK, so Darcy’s coming in the back entrance. You come to guard station, and you see Gordo sitting there, the guard, sort of looking bored and he’s like,

SEAN (AS GORDO)

Name badge.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Gordo, you see me every day.

SEAN (AS GORDO)

I don’t know who you are yet. I haven’t seen your name badge.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Here’s the name badge.

SEAN (AS GORDO)

Yup. Still you, Darcy.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Still me. Still me.

SEAN (AS GORDO)

Yup. Okay. All right, you can go through.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Thanks, Gordo.

SEAN (AS GORDO)

Weren’t you supposed to be here for the first shift?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

I don’t know what you’re talking about. See ya, Gordo! Bye!

SEAN

Darcy, you turn left down the employee‐only corridor you have gone down a hundred if not a thousand times on your way to the cafeteria, when you are stopped dead in your tracks. Because immediately to your right is a pair of golden gleaming doors, underneath a giant curved sign that reads The Hall of Wonders.

MARISA

Okay, so I stop, and I have this satchel and I’m pulling out my apron and my hair net. I’m starting to put it on, but as I’m putting this stuff on, I’m really looking at this door and I’m thinking, was this here yesterday? I’m sure this wasn’t here yesterday. Did I miss it? And I’m thinking I’m so late! But also this door is so fascinating.

Soft, mysterious music begins.

SEAN

This was not here yesterday. It was not here the day before. In fact, the blank walls sort of turn gold and angle in, leading you to this pair of doors… and one of them is open a crack.

MARISA

OK. So I slowly approach the door and just peek through the crack to see what’s in there.

SEAN

OK. And it’s a little dark inside, but you see an exhibit where they have beams of light coming down on different things that are sort of in the walls in behind glass.

MARISA

So I look around see if anyone’s watching, and I crack open the door a little more, and I just sidle through to try and see some of these exhibits that I’ve never seen before.

SEAN

So first of all, as you’re coming in, the lights are all on and you see that in most of the room the lights are lighting up empty displays. But you’re walking past three or four… and there are things that you don’t even know what they are. And considering that you’ve probably seen the whole museum…

MARISA

Yes.

SEAN

And the museum only has what’s currently available in Steadfast right? Like, you know everything else in the museum. There’s nothing unusual in this museum.

MARISA

Right.

SEAN

Everything in this room is insanely unusual. You see what looks like a flat piece of I don’t know. Gleaming something it’s like a rectangle and it’s got writing on it and a strip, and it says CREDIT.

And then you see like this round object that has all these markings on it, and it says V‐A‐S‐E. And you’re not sure what that is. And they’re just like all these like weird things in here just like they’re alien… it’s like a joke.

MARISA

So I look at each of these items and I’m trying to figure out how they fit in, or what they might be from. Because usually what I’m used to in the main part is, they’ll have like the Observatron 2000 and then the Observatron 3000 and then the Observatron 4000.

SEAN

Right.

MARISA

So it’s all just the same. So I have no idea what to make of this. I’m just completely agog at what’s going on here.

SEAN

And then you realize what time and that you’ve been spending time in here.

MARISA

(gasps)

OK. Now do I have my little camera clicker here?

SEAN

Yes.

MARISA

OK so I I take it out and I’m taking a few pictures of the stuff because I’m just… this is wild. It’ll be great to show the centaur later.

SEAN

OK.

MARISA

So I take these pictures, and I run back out through the door and I just close it again to the crack that it was closed at.

SEAN

And you hear a…

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

Ahem!

MARISA

And I turn around to look at who’s coughing.

SEAN

And you see the head curator of the museum standing there, frozen, like he was getting something out of a bag. And he’s just looking at you.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(nervous)

Hey, Mr. Sootweather! How are you today?

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

(a stiff, older man)

Very well. Were you, um, just in that room?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

I… might have stepped into it for a minute?

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

Why?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Uh, I… my hair net, see, which I have on my head now, just kind of fell into the room and I had to just grab it, but I didn’t see anything—

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

Where do you work?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Uh, I’m at the cafeteria.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

Yes. And what’s your employee number?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

It’s 58432.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

(noting this)

Thank you, 58432. That will be all.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

OK. Uh, I hope to see you later at the cafeteria. I know you enjoy, uh… the zesty casserole!

MARISA

And I run down the hall as fast as I can.

SEAN

OK. So you get into line, and as you’re running you’re dropping things, picking them back up… You just catch a glimpse of someone watching you. And at first you think it’s Sootweather. And then you realize that it’s a minotaur, which you’ve seen before. But he’s wearing like dusty blue overalls and a weird hat. And he then just turns away and goes between two columns and walks away. But you get the sense that he was watching you.

MARISA

OK. So I look down after him but I don’t want to engage, because I’m already really late and I’ve already got in trouble with Mr. Sootweather. So I’m just trying keep a low profile now.

SEAN

OK. So you make it to, you know… And Macey is there, and Macey’s like,

SEAN (AS MACEY)

(whispering)

Oh my god! I covered for you, but you’re really pushing it!

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(whispering)

I know. I know. I know, I just…

SEAN (AS MACEY)

Quick. Get on the casserole.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

OK. OK. I’m on the casserole here. Did anyone notice, do you think?

SEAN (AS MACEY)

No no no, we covered. We covered. We said you were like, making stuff out back.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Excellent. Good cover.

SEAN (AS MACEY)

I hope it was worth it. I hope he or she was worth it!

MARISA (AS DARCY)

No, it’s fine.

SEAN

So you’re serving out casserole, it’s an endless line…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(lifeless monotone)

Hi. Wednesday is Surprise Day. Would you like the Mystery Flan, the Mystery Bake or the Mystery Soup?

SEAN (AS VISITOR)

What’s in the Mystery Soup?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Well, it’s Surprise Day. You know that’s what they like to do here at the cafeteria on Wednesdays. We can’t tell you, but you can have it Original or Zesty or Party.

SEAN (AS VISITOR)

Zesty.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Zesty it is. Here you go. Enjoy your meal.

SEAN

(a glop of casserole on a plate)

(Thwock.)

SEAN (AS VISITOR)

Thank you.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Hail Boltius.

SEAN

OK. So it’s line after line… and then at one point, you see him again watching you.

MARISA

The minotaur.

SEAN

Yeah. So he’s sitting out in the main food area. He’s not eating… but you sort of meet his gaze, and then he slowly turns away and goes to looking at something else.

MARISA

OK. So I turn to Macey and I say,

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Hey, Macey. Do you see…

SEAN (AS MACEY)

Yeah, what? Are you out of casserole already?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

No, not yet. No one ever takes the casserole. You know that.

SEAN (AS MACEY)

Yeah I know.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Do you see that minotaur sitting out in the food court?

SEAN (AS MACEY)

What minotaur? Where?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

The minotaur, right over there—

SEAN

He’s not there.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

He was right there. I could’ve sworn. I feel like he’s watching me or something. Anyway I’m probably just imagining…

SEAN (AS MACEY)

You OK?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Yeah, I think so.

SEAN (AS MACEY)

(teasing)

Was it a late night, maybe? A little too much Impescor soda?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(laughs weakly)

Yeah, that’s it I’m sure, yeah. OK.

SEAN

All right, so you guys are like washing up. You know you’re finishing up the end of your shift. You basically worked an hour shift. So lunch is sort of the end of your shift, and cleaning up, and all the girls and guys and everything are starting to hang up their aprons and they’re like,

SEAN (AS CO‐WORKERS)

See you tomorrow!

SEAN

Macey’s like,

SEAN (AS MACEY)

See you tomorrow! Maybe!

MARISA (AS DARCY)

I’ll be here. I’ll see you tomorrow.

SEAN (AS MACEY)

All right.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

All right. See you later.

SEAN

OK. So everyone’s sort of going off and heading out through the back corridors.

MARISA

So I follow.

SEAN

OK. So you’re going along the back corridors and you hear a clopping of feet in a corridor behind you.

MARISA

OK. So I stop and I turn around.

SEAN

You don’t see anything.

MARISA

Hmm. So now I’m moving a little faster so try and catch up with Macey and the rest of them.

SEAN

OK. so you’re running. You’re trying to catch up, and all of a sudden an arm grabs you and pulls you in between two pillars.

MARISA

(gasps)

Hey! What the—

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

(low, gentle voice)

Shh. Quiet. I will explain.

SEAN

And you see the minotaur in the dusty coveralls, the hat. He lets go of you, holds his hands up like he doesn’t mean you any harm. And he holds a finger up to his lips, and says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Shhh.

SEAN

And he gestures. And there’s a small gap between the pillars that leads over towards the public side, right? Which you don’t ever generally go any more, because there’s nothing to see there. And he’s gesturing you forward, towards the public side.

MARISA

So I look around a bit, and I follow him hesitantly…

SEAN

As you get closer, and he moves one more pillar forward and sort of gestures for you to join him. You see that Mr. Sootweather is actually interacting with one of the Centurions.

And as a citizen of Steadfast, your blood runs cold just seeing Sootweather talk to a Centurion, and remembering your interaction with Sootweather.

And a Centurion is an eight‐foot‐tall exoskeleton. It’s half soldier, half tank. They speak out of a box on their shoulder. They’re riddled with weapons. They are designed for mass warfare, and yet they patrol the streets. And their justice is… swift. People just disappear.

And the Centurion is saying,

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

(harsh, robotic voice)

State your business.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

Yes, yes. I’m trying to, you confounded machine.

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

State your business.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

(sighs)

I have stated it twice.

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

State your business, citizen.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

I run this establishment. And I need you to pull in a cafeteria worker for interrogation, and then disposal. Normal procedure.

SEAN

There’s a pause while that sinks in for you, and the minotaur sort of puts a hand on you not to bolt. And the Centurion says,

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

Proceed. State name.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

I told you my name.

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

State name of appointee for interrogation.

SEAN (AS MR. SOOTWEATHER)

Oh, it’s Cafeteria Worker 58431. Or maybe it was 54832—just do plus or minus 5. Get them all—you’ll get her.

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

Very well. Submitting orders now.

SEAN

The minotaur leans down beside your ear and says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

(whispering)

Do you have a safe place?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

…My house?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

That’s not safe.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

…Your house?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

(sighs)

The room you found today.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Yeah.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Do you remember where it is?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Yeah, it’s just down the hallway.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Okay. In a moment—

SEAN

All of a sudden your card, your employee card that you’re wearing, starts beeping.

SEAN (AS EMPLOYEE CARD VOICE)

(a thin, automated voice)

Bong! Citizen 58432. Please report to the nearest Centurion for processing.

MARISA

And I immediately cover it—I’m trying to rip it off and throw it on the floor, I don’t know if I can or…

SEAN

You can’t.

MARISA

So I’m just covering it, like…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(grunts)

Nnghh!

SEAN

He’s like,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Go there now. Go.

And you see the Centurion turning towards your direction.

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

Citizen! Halt!

MARISA

And I run.

SEAN

Okay so you’re running…

MARISA

There’s no halting.

Laughter.

SEAN

You’re going to make a Defy Danger roll. You need to roll 2d6.

MARISA

All right. And I roll… a 10. Booya.

SEAN

OK! So tell me what you want to happen.

MARISA

Is 10 good?

MIKE

10 is great.

SEAN

You get… what do you want to happen?

MARISA

So it’s like I have wings on my feet now. And I’m just soaring down the hallway. This Centurion can’t touch me… and I dive‐roll just because I feel like it’s cooler, into the into the room with all the artifacts, and I slam the door shut… and I look around for—can I move one of these empty cabinets?

SEAN

No, they’re all part of the wall.

MARISA

OK. So I’m looking for something to jam against the door; there is nothing. So I look around. Where… is there anywhere to hide is there another door?

SEAN

There is no other door out of this.

MARISA

…out of this place? So now I’m cursing that friggin’ minotaur. I’m like,

MARISA (AS DARCY)

What did he mean? Why am I in here?

MARISA

I’m frantically looking at all the artifacts… is there anything going on?

SEAN

And so from outside you hear:

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

Citizen! Gun is armed! Citizen, halt!

SEAN

And you hear… it’s like a sound of metal striking metal, and you hear this roar. And you hear sparks. And you hear

SEAN (AS THE CENTURION)

(its voice begins to break up)

Citi—Ci—Citizen! Ha—a—alt—ha—!

SEAN

And you hear like more clanging of metal and then you hear the alarm sound.

An alarm begins to blare.

SEAN

Now as a citizen of Steadfast every once in a while you’ll hear the alarms like the last horrible explosion. They go across the entire city and it basically means it’s like lockdown. You get to safety… It basically means the Centurions are moving. So you hear the alarms going out over the whole city. But it’s muffled because you’re in this room… and then you hear a tap‐tap‐tap at the door.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

There are no citizens in here. No citizens at all.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

(through the door)

It’s me, Darcy. Open the door.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Who’s “me”?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

The minotaur.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

All right.

MARISA

So I slowly open the door and I let them just enter the room.

SEAN

So as soon as the door opens, the sound of the alarms gets so loud. it’s blaring everywhere. You hear the sounds of shutters coming down over windows, like, full lockdown. And he comes into the room.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Are you OK?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Yeah, but I don’t know what’s going on. This only happened that Thursday that we poisoned that guy who was high up at the—never mind, let’s not talk about that right now.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

You only have a few more seconds.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

What do I do? Who are you? What’s going on?

SEAN

And all of a sudden…

The alarm ceases.

SEAN

Everything stops. The alarms stop. The lockdown stops. You hear everything just slowly halt. And he’s like,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

You’re about to find out, Darcy.

Darcy Kimble, you may be one of the only people to experience what just happened. And I’m happy to report… I’m still here to see it too. We weren’t sure about that. Come.

SEAN

And he opens the door and it’s just silence.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(breaking down)

Are you going to tell me what’s going on here? Because I was just supposed to come into work and serve people some mystery crap, Zesty or Original or Party. And now I’m stuck in this room with a minotaur and I don’t know what’s going on!

SEAN

And he steps out into the hall. He says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

I can’t explain it. You have to see it, Darcy.

SEAN

And he starts walking back towards where the Centurion was.

MARISA

So I just sort of stand in the middle of the room for a minute…

SEAN

There’s nothing. There’s no sound. Everything just seems… weird.

MARISA

(with growing determinatino)

So then I remove my hair net, and I remove my apron, and I stuff it into my satchel. And I straighten myself up, and I try and screw up my courage… and I march after this minotaur wherever he’s going.

SEAN

OK.

Footsteps.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Where is everybody? Why is it so quiet?

SEAN

And he turns to you and he says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

This is the end, Darcy. This is the event that ends everything.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

I don’t know what that is.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

It’s more than I can explain to you. But come. You have to see it.

SEAN

And he walks towards the front steps and pushes open one of the doors and steps out onto the street.

MARISA

And I follow, eyes very wide.

SEAN

So as you step out you see the street is there, the buildings… some of the vendor stalls… but there are no people. There are no trams. There is what looks like a broken down vehicle, because it’s not moving, and it’s right sort of there on the road in front of you. But it’s not moving, it’s not buzzing. And as far as you can see in both directions, there’s just no life. There is no sound. There is this strange tang, scent to the air…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(weakening again)

I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe we should find Gordo. Gordo might know what’s going on. He runs security here. Have you met Gordo? I don’t know, but I think he’s usually at the back entrance and maybe we should go and look around for him or something because I don’t know what’s going on.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

I understand. We can. We can go and look around, Darcy… But I think first, you need to just see this. Because this is what it looks like everywhere right now.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Is it… just everywhere, like this?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Yes.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Is the Emperor still alive?

Pause.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

We actually don’t know.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(softly)

Hail Boltius.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Hail… Boltius… citizen. Did I say that right? I need to work on that for later.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

It’s good enough for now.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

I don’t know how to make this easy for you, Darcy. I’m a hunter. I don’t normally deal with people… but it’s really important that you understand what has happened. So where do you want to go so that you can fully realize…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Well, I would go to my home but I usually get there on the tram. It’s a long way to walk. Could you carry me? You seem pretty big. We might get there faster that way.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

I’m happy to carry you.

SEAN

And he kneels down, and puts you piggyback. And he starts to run like, cloppity cloppity. He moves pretty fast.

MARISA

And I think Darcy’s kind of in shock, ‘cause she wouldn’t normally ride piggyback on a minotaur, but this seems like exceptional circumstances so… she’s just sort of clinging to him, just not knowing what to do.

SEAN

And so he stops at different cross streets so you can sort of look around and then he just waits for you to tell him which way to go from there.

MARISA

So I give him directions all the way back to my little hovel.

SEAN

OK. So you work your way all the way back—is it one of the skyscrapers?

MARISA

Yeah, yeah. I’m in one of the skyscraper buildings, in a really small unit.

SEAN

OK. So he brings you back to one of the residence buildings. And it’s that’s where I think it really starts to hit you. Because the city has got its problems… but when you get to the residences, which is where all the not‐well‐off people are, there’s like, sharing and laughter and talking and… and there’s not a sound. It’s as if the motes in the air aren’t moving, like the dust. There’s something surreal about the whole experience, to where you’re not even sure if you’re dreaming or awake. And he sets you down.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Are you okay to walk up to your unit?

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Will you come with me?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Of course.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

All right. Let’s go.

SEAN

He follows you.

MARISA

So I try and summon a Moveator. Are they working?

SEAN

Yep. It dings, comes down.

An elevator opens, and the same soothing music plays.

MARISA

Okay, so I get in the Moveator, and I go up to the 16th floor where my unit is, 1625.

SEAN

(hums along)

Dum dum dum, dum dum dum… bing!

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Okay, so here we go…

MARISA

I look around, and I step into the hallway.

SEAN

It’s very weird. You see like a toy out in the hall, just abandoned.

MARISA

So then I run along the corridor, and I’m just knocking on doors.

SEAN

Yup. One door swings open…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

(calling)

Mrs Sitwell? Anyone?

SEAN

(softly)

Empty.

MARISA

And I just… Nothing?

SEAN

Nothing.

MARISA

So I turned to the minotaur and I say,

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Fine! I believe you! Everyone’s gone. Where are they? What’s going on?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

I’m not the one to explain that to you and we don’t have a lot more time. I just needed you to see it.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Well, this is great. Could you send the person who does know what’s going on?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Yes, I can.

SEAN

And he pulls out this… it’s like a beetle. It’s made of gleaming metal with little legs and wings tucked on it, and it’s beautiful… It’s about six inches tall. And he hands it to you and he says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

This is a Grissom device. It will take you to the person that can answer your questions.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

OK. How do I know you’re telling me the truth?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Well, you don’t have a lot of choice.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

That is true.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

We don’t know exactly how long we have in this stream.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

So you need me to activate this little beetle guy?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Yeah. So I can activate it for you, or you can activate it yourself. It has to become part of you to work.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Whoa.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

It does hurt.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

This just… none of this sounds good. What do you mean, part of me?

SEAN

He reaches out his hand. He takes it from and he presses the button on the back, and all the feet sssnick out as blades that are about two inches deep. And he says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

So, you basically…

SEAN

And he presses it again and the feet‐blades go away, and he puts it against his arm. He says,

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

You place it on a part of your body and press the button and it will take over from there.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

I’ve never been a fan of feet blades. Is this the only way?

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

I can tranquilize you first and then do it for you…

MARISA

My eyes screw up, and I close them really hard and I say,

MARISA (AS DARCY)

No. Fine. Just… just put it on me and you activate it.

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

(softly)

It’s an honor to meet you, Darcy.

MARISA (AS DARCY)

If you are screwing around with me I’m going to come back and—

SEAN

And then you just hear this pain, this like, sharp pain into your arm as it latches in and grabs on…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Aagh!

SEAN

And then the world goes white. And you actually see all of existence for a brief nanosecond…

Darcy lets out an unearthly scream that breaks up into reverberating echoes, then silence.

SEAN

…and then everything goes dark.

EPILOGUE: THE PATH TO THE GLADE

Wind chimes and birdsong.

ANANKA (VOICE‐OVER)

So you see? Our visitors are on their way. Not too much longer, Cyrus.

Tweeter flutters up.

TWEETER

What you reading?

CYRUS

It’s called Your Existential Crisis.

TWEETER

That’s a big word, isn’t it? How do you fit that in your backpack?

CYRUS

(slight chuckle)

It’s not easy.

TWEETER

Ooo. What does it mean?

CYRUS

I don’t think we have… no, we’ve got plenty of time to explain it.

TWEETER

There’s always time for existential crisises!

(beat)

I have no idea what that means.

Theme music plays

ANNOUNCER (ELI)

The End of Time and Other Bothers: an improvised fantasy roleplaying game set in the world of Alba Salix.

Your Game Master is Sean Howard, with Marisa King as Darcy, Carter Siddall as Blat, and Michael Howie as Eggerton.

You also heard Maggie Makar as Ananka, Stephen Smith as Tweeter and Eli McIlveen as Augustus.

Additional material and sound design by Eli McIlveen.

Story consultant: Laura Packer.

Game consultant: Stephen Smith.

Join our Patreon for behind‐the‐scenes information, access to our Discord server, and lots more. You’ll find it all at OtherBothers.com.

OUTTAKE

SEAN

All of a sudden a hand grabs you…

MARISA (AS DARCY)

Hey! What the—

SEAN (AS THE MINOTAUR)

Shh!

SEAN

And a mouth sort of… you see… I’ll do that again.

(mocking)

“A mouth says, ‘Shhh’.”

Laughter.

MARISA

A mouth does say “Shhh”.