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produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/4/08. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Ancient Wisdom." My random actor draw: write a play for three men and one woman.

Four space voyagers the Captain (M), the Lieutenant (M), the Science Officer (F), and the Navigator (M) face the audience, standing proud, a poster for space travel.

CAPTAIN: It is the year four hundred thousand... and twelve. The deep space exploration ship Destiny is over 500 years into its mission to chart unknown regions of space. Thanks to nanoengines implanted in their stomachs, the crew will survive indefinitely, as a steady stream of nanoswarms simulate the intake of proteins and nutrients, and engage in constant cellular maintenance and repair. It is a form of technical immortality, given only to those intrepid voyagers who are destined to discover what lies beyond our galaxy. Pause. It is also incredibly fucking boring.

The crew separates and takes "stations" - they simply need to stand or sit at various points around the stage, with the Captain in the center, looking out over the audience as though he is staring at a viewscreen. They are incredibly professional.

CAPTAIN: We're nearing end of shift. Let's have a report, people. Science Officer?

SCIENCE OFFICER: It is still incredibly dark out there, Captain.

CAPTAIN: Navigator, how's our course?

NAVIGATOR: We are still in the middle of nowhere, Captain.

CAPTAIN: Lieutenant, how's the ship?

LIEUTENANT: If we see a gas station, we might want to stop.

CAPTAIN: Lieutenant, I'll thank you to keep your witticisms to your recreational hours.

LIEUTENANT: Of course, sir.

CAPTAIN: Do we actually need gas?

LIEUTENANT: No, sir.

CAPTAIN: Anything else?

SCIENCE OFFICER: It's also very empty out there, sir.

CAPTAIN: Noted. A loud bell or buzzer sounds. That's the shift, people. Lieutenant, please distribute the recreational-shift dose.

The Lieutenant distributes silver ball point pens to each of the crew members. Taking their cue from the Captain, they each use the pen to inject themselves in the neck. As the dose takes effect, each of them visibly relaxes. They stand, stretch, shake it out.

CAPTAIN: Oh my fucking god, that feels good.

NAVIGATOR: How long was that last shift?

SCIENCE OFFICER: Fifty years.

NAVIGATOR: Felt longer. Like... fifty-one maybe.

LIEUTENANT: That button right there... I am so fucking sick of having to push it. You'd think whoever built this piece of shit could have automated that sensor. All the other sensors are automated, but not that one... I have to keep pushing that fucking button. Over and over again. I hate that button.

CAPTAIN: You've got a lot of pent up anger, Lieutenant. I think what you need is a good long back rub.

The Captain sidles up behind the Lieutentant, who submits to the back rub at first grudgingly, but gradully coming to enjoy it. Meanwhile, the Navigator sidles up beside the Science Officer, who has taken to doing yoga or stretching on the floor.

NAVIGATOR: I've been thinking about you quite a bit.

SCIENCE OFFICER disapproving: On duty?

NAVIGATOR: We haven't had a change of course in two hundred years. The mind wanders.

SCIENCE OFFICER: I've been thinking about all the measurements I'll need to take once we reach that galaxy.

NAVIGATOR: I've been thinking about touching you, holding you, making love to you... mostly that last one, actually.

SCIENCE OFFICER: You're welcome to have sex with me once I've finished my stretches.

NAVIGATOR: No, that's not what I mean. I mean... making love.

SCIENCE OFFICER: I'm sorry, I don't understand.

NAVIGATOR: Let me start over.

CAPTAIN: These muscles are just incredibly tense, Lieutenant. I'm surprised.

LIEUTENANT: I have a tendency to hunch. Plus there's all the hatred. I really wish I could go back in time about six hunded years and punch myself in the face and break my nose so that I couldn't sign up for duty in the first place. I think about that day a lot. Signing those papers. Getting that injection. I was such a kid. Such an idiot. I'd like to go back in time and just beat that kid senseless. That's probably why I'm tense.

CAPTAIN: Would a blow job help?

The Lieutenant ponders.

NAVIGATOR: Would you like to go on a date with me?

SCIENCE OFFICER laughs: A date? What would we do?

NAVIGATOR: We could... walk around the ship, and we could talk. About our lives. Things that have happened to us.

SCIENCE OFFICER: My personnel record is on file-

NAVIGATOR: I don't mean official things. I mean personal things.

SCIENCE OFFICER: But I'm not... I don't remember-

NAVIGATOR: If you don't remember something, it didn't happen. Pause. Do you remember your name?

The Science Officer hesitates; she isn't sure.

LIEUTENANT: I think what I might actually be in the mood for is a good old game of Scrabble.

CAPTAIN: We don't have that game on board.

LIEUTENANT: Actually, we do. I've got a set in my storage locker down in the cargo hold.

CAPTAIN: No, I'm afraid you don't.

LIEUTENANT: What?

CAPTAIN: We were slightly over regulation weight capacity before lift off. They were forced to shave a few pounds out of cargo. I'm afraid your Scrabble set was deemed optional.

LIEUTENANT crestfallen: It's not on board?

CAPTAIN: I'm afraid not, son.

LIEUTENANT dazed: Oh. He slumps into a seat.

CAPTAIN: The blow job offer still stands.

The Navigator sits next to the Science Officer on the floor.

NAVIGATOR: I have a confession to make. When our last shift started, I only pretended to take the on-shift dose. I didn't really take it. Everyone else started right to work, and I just... had to pretend.

SCIENCE OFFICER awed: But how did you concentrate for so long?

NAVIGATOR: I wasn't scheduled to touch the controls during that shift, and I just... wanted to feel something. And then I started thinking about you. Being in academy with you. Being young with you. Even then-

SCIENCE OFFICER whispers: I should report you!

NAVIGATOR: Let me take you on a date.

SCIENCE OFFICER: Why?

NAVIGATOR: Because... I have feelings for you.

SCIENCE OFFICER: Those are just withdrawal symptoms.

NAVIGATOR: No, the nanoswarms repair the nervous system too quickly for withdrawal to set in. It's just... me. Pause. Did you like me back in academy, before the injection? I remember liking you. I remember hoping I'd get assigned to the same ship as you.

SCIENCE OFFICER turns away: This is very unprofessional.

NAVIGATOR: This is our recreational shift.

SCIENCE OFFICER: Yes, but you're talking about... "feelings," and "feelings" aren't recreational, they're serious business. I can't have feelings and still take good measurements.

CAPTAIN: I tried to stop them, you understand. But then I remembered something. How crafty you are at that game. All those super bonus scores and fancy "Q" words. You must have had your nanites memorize the tournament dictionary. I didn't think I could stomach a thousand years of you beating me at Scrabble.

LIEUTENANT: What else did you let them take?

CAPTAIN: You used to have a small stuffed bunny.

LIEUTENANT: Oh no.

The Navigator takes the Science Officer's hand; she turns back to him.

NAVIGATOR: Go on one date with me. Just one. You're not scheduled to measure anything for a very long time. And if you start having "feelings" before the recreational shift is over, you can take an extra on-shift dose. You can take mine. I just think it would be nice. The two of us holding hands and strolling about, reminiscing about things. Smiling at each other a lot.

SCIENCE OFFICER taken in: That does sound nice.

Another bell or buzzer sounds, and a small red wash comes up on center stage. The crew are completely surprised.

LIEUTENANT: What the hell?

Everyone moves slowly toward center and faces an imaginary control panel.

CAPTAIN: Does anyone remember what this red light means?

SCIENCE OFFICER: It means something unexpected is in sensor range.

CAPTAIN: What kind of something?

SCIENCE OFFICER: I'd have to check the instruments, sir.

NAVIGATOR urgent: She can't do that, sir, she's not on shift.

LIEUTENANT: But we have to know what it is!

NAVIGATOR: The sensors are recording everything. We'll know soon enough.

LIEUTENANT: It might be something we need to examine more closely. We might need to recalibrate the sensors, or make a course correction! For god's sake, doesn't that sound exciting?

SCIENCE OFFICER to Navigator: We could postpone our date until the next recreational shift. Excited: Measurements!

NAVIGATOR: No, I can't wait another fifty years before I get a chance to be with you again. It's too empty. I'm too empty. I'd rather just kill myself.

LIEUTENANT: Well, good luck.

NAVIGATOR: Pardon?

LIEUTENANT: I said good luck. Believe me, I've tried. I've searched out every jagged edge in this ship and ripped my veins open. The blood doesn't even have a chance to spill out. The nanoswarms just sew it right back up. Just like new. I thought I could shoot myself, but the swarms saw it coming... they erased all my training, I couldn't even get the safety off. I tried to go out the airlock, figuring I'd just float into a star someday and burn, but they wouldn't let me work the controls. I just stood there, staring out the window. You're not empty. You're chock full of life.

CAPTAIN: So about this pesky red light. It only goes away if we do something, correct?

SCIENCE OFFICER: Yes, sir.

CAPTAIN: We can't just... break it, can we?

SCIENCE OFFICER: No, sir.

CAPTAIN: Then I'm afraid I have no choice. Lieutenant, please distribute on-shift doses to all critical members of the crew, which would be... everyone.

The Lieutenant distributes another round of ball point pens, and everyone moves to their stations. On the Captain's cue, everyone injects themselves but the Navigator makes eye contact with the Science Officer and makes it clear he is not actually injecting himself.

CAPTAIN: Science Officer, report.

SCIENCE OFFICER: A hunk of rock has come into sensor range, sir. Fairly common composition of alloys. Nothing special.

CAPTAIN: Very well. Keep monitoring.

NAVIGATOR bitter: Any course corrections, sir?

CAPTAIN: No, I don't think so. But let's not waste the on-shift doses. Stay at your posts. Onward we go!

Lights fade.



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