A Play In Progress
© Brett T. Botbyl
Lights up. Kitchen. Mother is sitting in her bathrobe at one end of the kitchen table. Before her is a frilly place mat, cup of coffee, can of gun oil and various cleaning implements. She carefully cleans a chrome, .38 caliber revolver. Billy enters in pajamas and large “monster feet” slippers. He turns his back on the audience as he loudly rummages through the cabinets and cupboards.
I had the craziest dream last night.
I was a hot dog in a roadside diner down off of the Garden State Parkway.
Yeah. And you were…hey, do we have any more of that Strawberry Toast Cereal?
Behind the sugar. Top shelf.
© Brett T. Botbyl
INT. frontier army fort – dusk
A haggard cavalry captain, NATHAN NORTH, moves quickly amongst his men. He carries a saber in his left hand and, in his right, a bloodied tomahawk. Various men in worn uniforms hurriedly make ready an assortment of weapons. Torches and ground-fires illuminate a litter of discarded firearms. NORTH stops at the large, wooden front gate that’s been reinforced with steel-shod timber and piles of sand bags. A younger officer, BAIRD, approaches the captain.
Do you think it’ll hold, sir?
Close on Capt. North
No.(beat) But it’ll buy us some time.
Wider shot of North.
He kicks a pile of sandbags with his boot, testing its footing.
Over Baird’s Shoulder
Did you find the Hex mage? I want these gates sealed before–
Suddenly the clarion call of a TRUMPET (OS)cuts through the din.
shouts across the parade ground.
Here they come!
A series of angles
The men scramble to take positions at the walls. An old man runs toward the captain with a circular plaque bearing symbols and concentric circles, trailing ribbons of magical energy. A fast-moving horde of zombies and non-human invaders riding monstrous mounts advance toward the fort carrying weapons made of human bone.
(Dedicated with love & wonderment to my dear friend, Andrew.)
(MATURE THEMES – WARNING)
The bubbling and crackling was starting to get a little embarrassing. The sound was pretty loud and made the whole iHop smell like pancakes and spit. Andrew and I shared a booth across from Robi as he tackled his sixth stack of buttermilk pancakes with coconut syrup. His food-choked ramblings sounded like a cross between a Coney Island boardwalk vendor and a Dutch pimp. English was in there somewhere. I was sure the demon that borrowed his body somewhere in the Veneer left behind a good amount of extra matter not of this plane. You donʻt play Motel 6 to a Demon without picking up a little sumpin sumpin, if you get my drift. Did I mention the part about this little culinary event being two steps to the right of embarrassing? The eating wouldnʻt be so bad if it werenʻt for the giggling. The run-on chortles were pretty good indications that this wasnʻt the good-ole buddy that Iʻd come to know and love. Ok, for starters…he was throwing off some major heat. He already opted to dine sans clothing. Oh, Andrew and I tried to get him to wear a few threads. We sort of succeeded with his agreeing to put on an oversized pair of board shorts, but he made it quite clear, “IʻM TOO FUCKIN HOT!”
I’m gonna take you to my special place.
It’s a place that you, like no one else I know might appreciate.
I don’t go there with anyone but you’re a special case for my special place.
Joni spoke to me one night. I was waiting on the whim of the cool and slick when I was feeling the fool and sick. But I just had to get out and speak the words of magic and we would giggle and scream and eat cheese and mustard. And we had fish and shared a car and bills were little monsters that we kicked to the curb with a crack and a crunch. Ice was for sliding on, whether in your van or your sneakers. Axes were hard to come by, but chef’s knives were not. We played in dungeons and on starships with frisbees of blood and plus-five swords of bill collector slaying. The Renaissance was on the other side of the lake and Little John had KY in his tent. Saint Anthony had no head and Jesus was dead ’til we stuck him in the little ceramic cradle right before the parties began. California was easy when you got the wheel in your hand. You just whistle when you get home so ya know it’s not a ghost – or a cat under the tub. Pack the Christmas tree with wrapped soul tickles regardless of who owes who. It matters not. Fuck my twat. Course and abrasive and nasty and funny and irreverent and unholy and sweet and loving and true and honest and never, never, never, NEVER is your pain worse than mine. Hear me?! HEAR ME?!?
He does. And he knows just how much space he takes up in my heart. He knows that nothing will ever change. A little distance. A little space. A little this and that and grey hair and bigger bellies and time and people and hay rides that just aren’t the same anymore. I will still be standing on that rock hammer jacking a hole big enough for a sword or a show or the only Merlin or maybe – just maybe…these memories. Oh there are so many more. But you know what I mean. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle.
That’s not Barnabas.
I miss you, boy.
So…I got the blood test back and the doctor uttered a mouthful of words I didn’t want to hear. “You have gout and a positive reading for rheumatoid arthritis. Ok. So, what does that mean? Old men get gout. Rich old men like Thurston Howell on “Gilligan’s Island” and Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m not a kid anymore, but I’m not THAT old! Right? Ok, let’s look at the positive. I’m on good meds with a good doctor. I have a cool cane, giving me more the gate of TV’s Dr. House than any old storybook codger. And we caught it early. With dietary change, medication and exercise I can kick (oops) or rather, gently nudge this disease. But what about the arthritis? I say, bring it on! I can take it. I’ve almost died twice and have been through more pain than most guys my age. Like Nietzsche said, “That which doesn’t kill me…” Well, you get the idea.
Good-bye shellfish, liver and turkey. Hello yummy pineapple, coffee and tofu! Veggies, veggies, fruit fruit fruit….
Our relationship has proven difficult at times. You’re self-centered and insensitive. You are inconsiderate of my privacy and always prattling on about the minutia in other peoples’ lives. I need my space. I need some peace and you’re not ready to listen to my feelings. When you’re near me, I feel agitated and overwhelmed. And above all…you just don’t care, FB. Your pokes, your “like” this and “like” that…all your friends. It means nothing, does it? Good-bye, FB. We had some fun…
(As lights come up from black) Mission log. Backward encryption grade Alpha six. Authorization AF2900 – G. Space Station Praemos. Alann Foucette – Command Marshal. Day 17 (beat) I, think.
I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on. I feel so sick. My crew? They’re all… The station is quiet. Too quiet. Too fucking…quiet.
I was trapped inside the Singularity Chamber when a catastrophic grid breach triggered a lock down. The shielding of the S3 cell is too dense for the radiation to penetrate. Great little safety feature.
Martin looked up at the Klingon towering a half-meter above him. Shaktaar stood next to a noticeably trembling Ensign. Martin nodded at the other officer.
“Your partner on this exercise, Ensign Tarluk beat you here by about forty-five seconds. So much for Klingon punctuality. Unfortunate.”
“Apologies, sir.” Shaktaar handed the lieutenant his PADD.
“But you’re only half-Klingon, isn’t that right?” Martin smiled as he noticed the brown stain on Ensign Shaktaar’s uniform. “You finished almost all of your coffee, Ensign?” Martin grinned.
“Aye, sir”, Shaktaar grunted with a mixture of embarrassment and anger.
“Don’t worry about it, Ensign. You’ll need something a little warmer when you get in there.” The lieutenant gestured slightly toward the holodeck doors. “Shall we?” Lieutenant Martin approached the holodeck console. “Computer. Holodeck training simulation Zeta Five-001.2.”
The two large Ensigns stood at attention while Martin briefed them on the particulars of the simulation. Two technicians moved to meet them with a cart stacked with heavy parkas, boots and equipment. After assessing the supplies, both men dressed for cold weather and hastily equipped themselves.