Digital Ischemia

16/09/2018

Signing Your Life Away part 2/2

A workplace relationship is a casualty of lame criminality, but by-catch can come back to bite.

Signing Your Life Away began at part 1.

SCENE 12
ALICE: There’s just one problem.
GEMMA: (D) Why’s he employing clerical staff rather than business consultants?
ALICE: Lawrence and I have a history.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I’d forgotten about that. Deliberately.
SOUND: BG PARTY CHAT, MUSIC
ALICE: You see animals as resource production factories, not people.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Early on in the festival project, we had a cheesy meet and greet at one of the venues. Lawrence gave a lengthy, self-aggrandising speech which wasn’t up for discussion. He’s far too important to be harangued by some lowly contractor. He rolled his eyes and went to walk away.
ALICE: Please! I listened to your perspective; have the courtesy to listen to mine.
FELIPE: (V.O.) There was a man unused to being trounced.
ALICE: You speak of whales as if they were production facilities. One hundred years ago you would’ve said that about women. Two hundred years ago you would’ve said that about other races. My perspective is not an aberrant idealism; this is western society reawakening to what some other cultures have never lost: that other life has its own rights or entitlements, which are to be respected. And that doesn’t mean killed ‘humanely’.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She wasn’t impressed to find out that this pompous arsehole in charge of the festival committee made his money through various exploitative businesses, including whaling. She reeled off all sorts of research, observation, just a whole different perspective. I thought he’d just walk off but something caught him. He looked pretty nauseous. She finished him off.
ALICE: Don’t be afraid. What you’re experiencing is cognitive dissonance. That’s when new information conflicts with what you believe. Be open.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He pulled some weird face – sort of uncomfortable defiance and fled. I was gawping like everyone else. She just stood there trembling, watching him go, till somebody—Therese, I think—scooped her up and took her to get a drink. When I came back to life, I caught them up.
THERESE: Felipe! This one of yours?
FELIPE: No. But if I behave myself and am incredibly fortunate, I hope to be one of hers. Bravo, Alice.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She was pretty stunned. We’d not long been together. It turned out she’d seen my face at the end and thought I was horrified, that she’d gone way too far. I had to explain.
ALICE: I’m so sorry. That was just ego out of control.
FELIPE: I am truly awed. I could see you! Totally master of that landscape. Letting him lead you around while you set traps. Then you went back around every single one, collecting his bones.
ALICE: I forgot about everyone else! I couldn’t see anyone but him and his killing.
FELIPE: You were utterly brilliant. I mean, I knew you were intelligent and knowledgeable and passionate. I just didn’t know you were that good.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went on like that for a good while: complimenting her and appreciating her right up till I apparently sacked her and she left.

SCENE 13
FELIPE: (V.O.) I make a rubbish ‘clandestine operative’ or whatever. I have no confidence or patience.
FELIPE: Have you heard from Alice?
GEMMA: (D) Not in the last forty-three minutes.
FELIPE: Have you arranged some sort of…security cover?
GEMMA: (D) Yeh, she has a bodyguard with her at all times.
FELIPE: Isn’t that a bit—? Can you be serious, please?!
GEMMA: (D) Felipe, I’m always serious, this is a serious business and your fretting is helping absolutely nobody. Haven’t you got a run?
FELIPE: You’ve sent her into the lion’s mouth!
GEMMA: (D) She’s having a conversation with a prospective employer. Do you have any respect for her ability?
FELIPE: (V.O.) Meaning do I have any respect for Gemma’s ability.
GEMMA: (D) I know where she is. She’ll let me know when she’s done.
FELIPE: Maybe she’s trying to call you right now!
GEMMA: (D) That would be ironic.

SCENE 14
FELIPE: (V.O.) Will he be so puffed up he’ll believe she’s that desperate for work she’ll accept a dodgy PA job? Of course he will; because of that very trouncing: he wants her to renounce all her morals and integrity, to admit you can’t be ethical in the real world. I hoped.
SOUND: EXTERNAL DOOR OPENS
GEMMA: Alice? Are you alright?
ALICE: I think this might be what you’re after.
SOUND: FABRIC RUSTLING, DOOR CLOSES
ALICE: (D) I was surprised you didn’t sack me for that.
LAWRENCE: (D) I’m not like that. I don’t mind being challenged.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He totally does.
LAWRENCE: (D) I like to let everyone have their say.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He absolutely doesn’t.
ALICE: (D) That’s decent of you.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Alice played humble very well.
ALICE: (D) So here I am, jobless.
LAWRENCE: (D) I’m sure we can find something for you. Although it won’t be professional grade.
ALICE: (D) I’m not fussy. Office work is fine.
LAWRENCE: (D) Paula said you were open.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He actually said “open”. Just letting her know he hadn’t quite forgiven.
LAWRENCE: (D) Paula’s been helping me out with quite a few of my businesses. We pop her in, prune out the fixed-term contracts—you know, so many of these young, under-experienced managers pay silly money for short-term employees they don’t really need.
FELIPE: (V.O.) That would be me.
LAWRENCE: (D) You’d be surprised how many we trim before they notice.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Yeh, never under-estimate how much the evil kingpin wants to tell the hero exactly how he committed his crimes. Especially when he thinks he’s getting vengeance for the wench’s earlier disrespect.

SCENE 15
FELIPE: (V.O.) Some of the audio was cringeworthy; some of it was really difficult to listen to. I hoped Alice was acting.
ALICE: (D) His explanation for sacking me? Apparently he didn’t know what he was signing! Unbelievable. Sorry, but that’s what your signature means: I have read and understand this and agree to it.
LAWRENCE: (D) The man’s a puppet.
ALICE: (D) You must be regretting appointing him.
LAWRENCE: (D) Actually, no. His trusting nature has proved very useful.
ALICE: (D) Surely he’s a liability?
LAWRENCE: (D) That appearance will make him easy to let go when the time comes.
ALICE: (D) You sound rather devious.
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s executive business management. I’m not in it to make friends. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. If one area isn’t performing well enough, other areas have to support it, or get cut loose.
ALICE: (D) Ah, so you’re cutting the project loose? I’m not surprised; festivals can be hit or miss.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Are you hearing those regular clicks? That’s Alice setting her traps, one by one.
LAWRENCE: (D) No, it’s actually another area that’s underperforming. the whaling, actually, but not why you’d think.
ALICE: (D) My principles seem to be lost on the rest of the population.
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s not a lack of market. These hysterical pressure groups are making politicians touchy about the cargo passing through European ports. That’s just nonsense: they’re not selling, they’re not even unloading, just refuelling. It’ll quiet down after a few months, but meanwhile the confusion causes delays in supplying Japan and cashflow.
ALICE: (D) Rotten whale meat?
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s deep frozen! Stuff lasts for years.
ALICE: (D) So long as you have fuel to keep it frozen while you float around no-man’s sea.
LAWRENCE: (D) Not a problem. This hiccup’ll pass. Meanwhile we have to run a tight ship, keep the shareholders happy.
FELIPE: (V.O.) “A tight ship”? The man’s off the chart.

SCENE 16
SOUND: MUG ON TABLE
GEMMA: He has no idea about your relationship with Felipe?
ALICE: I get the idea his business success is more luck than skill. He doesn’t bother with facts.
GEMMA: Now he’s on the record saying he instructed Paula to terminate the contracts, but continue paying the employees into the same account. Felipe will be stoked!
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was ecstatic. For a moment.
ALICE: OK, good. Can I go now?
FELIPE: (V.O.) Then I realised I had a lot more work to do.

SCENE 17
SOUND: PAPER RUSTLE
FELIPE: Is this enough to indicate the account the money was going to is his?
GEMMA: I think it’s clear enough; either that or he’s being incredibly stupid trying to lord it over Alice.
SOUND: PHONE TAP
LAWRENCE: (D) You can always check with Paula if you’re not sure of anything. Just terminate as many fixed-term contracts as you can, but continue budgeting for those costs and paying the employees.
ALICE: (D) Because I’ve changed all their bank account details to the same account?
LAWRENCE: (D) Spot on.
ALICE: (D) Should I be asking: where is the money going?
LAWRENCE: (D) I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.
ALICE: (D) I mean, I don’t want to end up working for another amoral, incompetent liar.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Ouch.
LAWRENCE: (CHUCKLE) We’re just redistributing between businesses.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Did you notice how she lures him into her traps again?

SCENE 18
FELIPE: (V.O.) Did she notice I’m still in her trap?
SOUND: CLOTHING ZIP, GRABS BAG
GEMMA: She doesn’t want to see you, no, sorry.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went underground then. The festival staggered on and fizzled out. There was lots of legal stress, a court case. It was alternately dull and nasty, as these things are. Alice didn’t look me in the eye the entire time, never mind speak to me. When it was over, I was completely drained: I had nothing left in my life. I even stopped running. I shut down.

SCENE 19
SOUND: DOORBELL, EXTERNAL DOOR OPENS
FELIPE: Hey Gemma.
GEMMA: You look awful.
FELIPE: Thank you. I feel worse. Comes of total life failure and emptiness. Can I help you?
GEMMA: I can help you. I have some nice letters to wind up the case, which we’re going to read through together before you sign—
FELIPE: Does my signature have any meaning now? That judge was pretty fierce.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I take a painfully long time reading and questioning everything before signing now. Lesson learned.
GEMMA: I also have this note.
SOUND: PAPER CRACKLES
FELIPE: (V.O.) I recognised the writing. I nearly ripped it out her hand.
ALICE: (V.O.) When I got the letter I should have spoken to you. I’m sorry. My world crumbled so fast; everything I thought you were and we were dissolved. This investigation gave me some explanation, some reassurance. I hope it gives you decent hope of vindication. I’m on a terrifying knife edge, but I think I’m less afraid of never being with you again than I am of not loving you anymore.
FELIPE: (V.O.) My head melted. I couldn’t decipher that last bit. Afraid of trying and failing? Or finding out it’s over? Or was she saying she knew both were already the case?

SCENE 20
FELIPE: (V.O.) A few weeks later, Gemma called.
SOUND: STEPS ON PAVEMENT, BG TRAFFIC
FELIPE: I thought we’d finished all the paperwork?
GEMMA: (D) There’s just one thing outstanding.

SCENE 21
FELIPE: (V.O.) She invited me to meet her for lunch. Only it wasn’t her I met. I never asked how she did it. Too fragile to risk ruining it.
SOUND: BG CAFÉ CROCKERY CLINKS, CUSTOMERS CHAT
FELIPE: Thank you and sorry aren’t enough, but they’re a start. All your efforts with the investigation and the legal— It’s an understatement to say it was my salvation: it proved I was set-up. But I still shouldn’t’ve signed anything without reading it!
ALICE: I could’ve trusted you a little bit.
FELIPE: Probably safer without personal relationships in the workplace.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Meaning: please tell me we’re not better without.
ALICE: It bombed my life—I guess you know about that—but perhaps without it we wouldn’t have unpicked all the…fraud business.
FELIPE: OK, so, I’m really glad to see you’re picking up the pieces.
SOUND: CHAIR DRAGS, RUSTLE
FELIPE: (CONT’D) Do you have to go? I was hoping—
FELIPE: (V.O.) She stayed, we talked, we even laughed a bit. We met again every other evening for a fortnight. I started running again.

SCENE 22
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING, BG BIRD CALLS
ALICE: I know this is mad, but I wonder if something like this was going to happen anyway – as if we needed a major jolt and if it wasn’t this it would’ve been something else.
FELIPE: That is mad, but if it means I get to court you twice in one lifetime, I’m incredibly lucky.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I know; I actually said “court”.
FELIPE: Although maybe not as incompetent director Felipe.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She smiled that smile. She said—
ALICE: Do you have any other sexy identities?
FELIPE: (V.O.) All my tension just went. Most of it, anyway.

END

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15/09/2018

Signing Your Life Away part 1/2

A workplace relationship is a casualty of lame criminality, but by-catch can come back to bite.

SCENE 1
FELIPE: (V.O.) Never have a personal relationship with a colleague. (PAUSE) Not even if it’s the best thing to happen in your life? Is it worth the price? See what you think. One day I came home to no-one.
SOUND: EXTERNAL DOOR BANGS
FELIPE: Alice?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was organising a local crafts festival. If you’ve heard of it, it will be for the wrong reasons. In any case, it barely ran once and it doesn’t exist anymore. She—Alice—was designing the artwork: brochure, leaflets, posters, signage. Straightforward except that I kept changing not just the participants and the timings and the locations, but the whole atmosphere and the audience profile. I was over-reacting. I was under-experienced. She was—
ALICE: You’re certainly challenging. I suppose this is good exercise for me: I do the work five times over and eventually you come back to where we started? (CHUCKLE)
FELIPE: I’m sorry. Artists keep dropping out; they don’t like how it’s shaping up, so I change it, so others change their minds. It’s like herding bees.
FELIPE: (V.O.) We didn’t meet through work; I didn’t employ her because I liked her; we just discovered—
ALICE: Are you stalking me? Oh! You’re Director Felipe and also Hill Runner Phil!
FELIPE: I have multiple personalities.
ALICE: I think it would be sexier to say ‘multiple identities’.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She said “sexier”. I was hooked. I rented a flat to be on site. She stayed with me whenever she was up to consult on the project. She made everything easier, more fun. She made me less of an idiot. Then she vanished.
SOUND: TABLET, KEYS DROP ON COUNTER
FELIPE: Alice? You here?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I called her phone.
SOUND: TAPPING, PHONE RINGING OUT
FELIPE: (V.O.) By eight o’clock I was calling colleagues.
FELIPE: Is Alice down there? I thought maybe she was taking photos of the aqueduct? (PAUSE) OK, she must be on her way back. Cheers.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By ten o’clock I was calling everyone, anyone.
SOUND: TAPPING, PHONE RINGING
FELIPE: Hey, it’s Felipe. Is Alice with you? (PAUSE) No, I called him already. (PAUSE) She’s not answering. (PAUSE) She left there…six hours ago. (PAUSE) Yeh, I’m getting worried.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By two AM I was calling the nearest hospital, the police.
FELIPE: Her clothes?
FELIPE: (V.O.) They had me check in the wardrobe, the bathroom. Most of her clothes were gone, her toothbrush, her special bread without the wheat. She had planned to leave. I just felt like a twat as the officer tactfully explained they don’t get involved when it seems to be a relationship issue. A ‘relationship issue’? How did I not know? Was I that much of an idiot?

SCENE 2
FELIPE: (V.O.) I didn’t sleep. Next day I went to work. Somehow I thought I’d see her there.
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING
THERESE: Not seen her. Maybe she’s working at home?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I barely took in what people were saying to me. I was totally focused on Alice.
THERESE: Felipe, go for a run, go home. Maybe she’ll surprise you?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went. I got a surprise.

SCENE 3
SOUND: STEPS ECHO IN STAIRWELL
FELIPE: Carl, can you work from my flat this afternoon?
CARL: (D) No bother. You got workies in?
FELIPE: Alice has apparently fucked off without bothering to speak to me but she still has keys and I can see she’s been back this morning taking stuff.
CARL: (D) What?!
SOUND: EXTERNAL DOOR CLICKS, BANGS. BG WIND BUFFETS, TRAFFIC. STEPS ON PAVEMENT.
FELIPE: I mean her stuff.
CARL: (D) Doesnae seem like her. Is she alright?
FELIPE: Well, clearly she’s fine. But I need to be on site this afternoon so I need you to sit here in case she comes back again.
CARL: (D) You want me to keep her there?
FELIPE: No, I think that would be illegal. Just ask her what’s going on.

SCENE 4
FELIPE: (V.O.) So he did.
SOUND: PACKING BOX, SLIDING BOX ACROSS FLOOR
CARL: Apparently I’ve no’ to try to stop you leaving, but could you no’ just speak to him?
ALICE: You’re his friend; I won’t try to turn you against him. If he hasn’t told you what he did.
CARL: He says he’s nae idea, and I certainly dinnae ken, so you may as well tell me.
ALICE: Sacked me.
CARL: Eh? But that’s no reason to walk away fae him, fae this.
ALICE: I think lying to me is.
CARL: Aye, come to think of it, was he no’ saying last week everyone was getting extended?
ALICE: How could he say so to my face then sack me?
CARL: Here; have a wee seat. I’m no’ surprised you’re a’ rattled.
SOUND: CHAIR FOAM HISS
ALICE: I’m horrified! I feel constantly sick! He totally betrayed me. How could he be so cold? Even just professionally? So I’m finished here. Not well managed but nothing illegal.
CARL: And personally?
ALICE: Who have I gotten involved with? Someone who could consciously mislead me?
CARL: Dinnae look at me. I’m baffled. I’d swear he doesnae ken, but. Where are you staying?
ALICE: Sorry but not your business.
SOUND: GRABS BAGS, BOX
CARL: I willnae tell him. I just— Something feels wrong about this…apart from the obvious. If something kicks off I’ll maybe need to get a hold of you.

SCENE 5
FELIPE: (V.O.) Then he told me.
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING, BG TRAFFIC
CARL: Apparently you sent her a letter?
FELIPE: Why would I—?!
CARL: I dinnae ken! The whole thing’s daft!
FELIPE: Well, after you called I checked her file and there’s nothing weird there.
CARL: No copy letter?
FELIPE: Did she seem…at all…delusional?

SCENE 6
FELIPE: (V.O.) Other wheels were coming off too.
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING, BG BIRD CALLS
FELIPE: Therese!
THERESE: I thought we were meeting an hour ago?
FELIPE: I know; I’m sorry. I got held up with…everything. Just tell me your little snags are under control and aren’t getting worse.
THERESE: Felipe.
FELIPE: Please tell me you haven’t got a staff issue? (PAUSE) Therese?!
THERESE: Can’t lie. I have a staff issue.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Therese’s team move display furniture about between sites. They’re a well-oiled machine. When there’s enough cogs.
FELIPE: What is going on?!
THERESE: You tell me. You sacked three of our contractors. We can’t just stretch to fit whatever workload. A heads up would’ve been nice.
FELIPE: (EXASPERATED EXHALE) How did I allegedly do this?
SOUND: PAPER CRACKLES
FELIPE: OK, that is my signature.

SCENE 7
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was teetering on paranoid hysteria. If that’s a thing.
SOUND: PAPER RUSTLE
FELIPE: What’s still to be filed, that Nancy or her replacement left?
GREG: Nothing.
FELIPE: There must be record of changes somewhere?
GREG: I don’t have a password for the system yet.
FELIPE: Right, we’ll use mine. Can I just check: have you had a letter saying you’re sacked?
SOUND: TYPING
GREG: Hope not. Only started yesterday.

SCENE 8
SOUND: TYPING, INTERNAL DOOR OPENS
GEMMA: Felipe?
FELIPE: Thanks for coming over so quickly, Gemma. I don’t know where to start. I think something is seriously wrong in the admin. I need someone completely independent to investigate.
GEMMA: How wrong? Do we need to alert lawyers?
FELIPE: I don’t know. Probably. Can you just take a look first?
GEMMA: Walk me through.
FELIPE: Several of the contractors received letters, apparently from me, telling them their contracts aren’t being renewed. We just do it on a month-to-month basis for—
GEMMA: “Apparently”?
FELIPE: Signed by me but not agreed…I don’t know. That’s just the start of it. There’s no record of any changes but when I looked at all their electronic files, just by chance, I noticed one had a new bank account. I happen to know because…because she’s—she was—my girlfriend.
GEMMA: Still not exactly high treason.
FELIPE: Until you see that everyone who got let go has the same bank account.
GEMMA: Why would they share an account?
FELIPE: Well, obviously they don’t.
GEMMA: Obviously?
FELIPE: Sorry, I mean I asked one guy who hasn’t stormed off in disgust yet. Someone changed it without his knowledge. His wages aren’t going to him.
GEMMA: Not if he’s been terminated.
FELIPE: That’s the thing: on the system he’s still live—still a current employee. They all are—all the folk who’ve been written to.
GEMMA: So they stop working but their wages are all going into one pot somewhere else? It seems pretty amateur as an embezzlement scam.
FELIPE: Except for the scaling. This is happening right across the project. And I wouldn’t have put it together nearly so fast if it hadn’t been that one of them was…my—

SCENE 9
FELIPE: (V.O.) I know Gemma from college. She’s always gone at things with her teeth.
GEMMA: Alice? This is Gemma Cairney. I’m auditing the Canal Festival administration.
ALICE: (D) How did you get this number?
GEMMA: It’s one of the accurate pieces of information in your file. There appears to have been an abuse of…procedures.
ALICE: (D) I don’t work there—
GEMMA: I know. That’s part of the issue. Can we talk?

SCENE 10
SOUND: BG CAFÉ CROCKERY CLINKS, CUSTOMERS CHAT
GEMMA: (CONFIDENTIAL) I can’t give it a legal label, but it appears to be a clumsy attempt at fraud.
ALICE: Yes, I missed that personality: Felipe the Fraud.
GEMMA: I’m aware of your relationship. Felipe brought me in because he noticed the anomalies.
ALICE: I think it’s called dissociative disorder. He can get professional help.
GEMMA: I understand you feel aggrieved – justifiably. Can I explain where we are? I’m hoping you’ll feel in a position to help.
ALICE: (SPLUTTER) To help him out of being incompetent and slopey-shouldered?!
GEMMA: We need more evidence before we can get a legal intervention – the bank won’t give out who the destination account is registered to. Apparently you can put any name on a cash transfer – I could put your name beside my account details and—
ALICE: Yes, I think I experienced this already.
GEMMA: Of course, but what I mean is: banks don’t verify that the label matches the account holder. The money just comes in and they shunt it according to the account numbers.
ALICE: And yet they’re so hot on security when it suits them to hassle you.
GEMMA: We’re…examining actions taken by the temporary PA who covered after Nancy left—Paula—Felipe says the Chairman—Lawrence—brought her in.
ALICE: Did she fake Felipe’s signature?
GEMMA: No, he thinks he did sign them, just—
ALICE: (SPLUTTER) You know, I am really quite busy now, with trying to find a new job.
GEMMA: —but this is the point: he was misdirected. Obviously he realises he should’ve given them his full attention—
ALICE: I think this is what your signature means?
GEMMA: —but Paula— Felipe feels he was rushed—coerced. She had some fluster about a broken printer and catching the post.
ALICE: And we must take his word?
GEMMA: We’re hoping to—hoping you can help us get some evidence. We want to ask some questions (FADE)
FELIPE: (V.O.) Gemma said Alice was pretty hard work—hard to convince. I don’t blame her. I looked like a complete shit from where she was. But luckily for me she hadn’t totally stopped caring. That gave me a tiny bit of hope in the midst of the tornado. Not just about saving my professional credibility.

SCENE 11
FELIPE: (V.O.) Alice agreed to play bait to try to entrap the chairman, Lawrence, so long as she didn’t have to speak to me. She started spending some of her new-found free time at the local gym, because the only thing we knew was Paula the temp. was a member. It wasn’t much of a stretch for Alice to say to anyone who would listen that she was desperately looking for quick work after getting sacked. I appreciated that; I know how she hates ‘networking’.
SOUND: STEPS ON PAVEMENT, BG TRAFFIC
ALICE: Gemma? This is exhausting.
GEMMA: (D) Just think how fit you’ll be!
ALICE: No, the making conversation with everyone. These people are not on my wavelength!
GEMMA: Have you met Paula?
ALICE: I was so pissed off I think she believed me. She gave me details to meet this guy with some vacancies for office work.
GEMMA: (D) Lawrence?
ALICE: She said he has all sorts of businesses and some need…streamlining.
GEMMA: (D) That’s an interesting word.
ALICE: There’s just one problem.
GEMMA: (D) Why’s he employing clerical staff rather than business consultants?
ALICE: Lawrence and I have a history.

concludes at part 2

17/12/2017

In The Dark: Cupboard

SOUND: DOOR BURSTS OPEN, RAPID SLIDING STEPS, DOOR BANGS SHUT
VIOLET: (EXHALE) Aaaaaaah! Nauseating little goblin! All goblins are little, Violet. Try to avoid pleonasms.
SOUND: PACING
VIOLET (CONT’D): Poisonous vat of slime! I think you mean vat of poisonous slime, Violet. No matter. Myopic warmonger! Inelegant. Sulphuric harpy! Alright, that’ll do. (EXHALE)
SOUND: WHUMP-CLACK
VIOLET (CONT’D): Ow.
SOUND: DOOR CLICKS OPEN
ARNOLD: Ms Bogscrattle?
VIOLET: (PAUSE) What?
ARNOLD: It is you?
VIOLET: Well done; you rumbled me.
ARNOLD: Are you … well?
VIOLET: Very not.
ARNOLD: I’m sorry.
VIOLET: Not your fault, Mr Shipworm.
ARNOLD: I wasn’t apologising; I was expressing regret.
VIOLET: Could you close the door? You’ll attract attention.
ARNOLD: From the outside?
VIOLET: Whatever.
SOUND: SHUFFLE, CLICK
VIOLET (CONT’D): You’re still here.
ARNOLD: This … intrigues me.
VIOLET: It’s a cupboard.
SOUND: SWITCH CLICKS RAPIDLY
VIOLET (CONT’D): Not working. I like it dark. Sanctuary. Usually.
SOUND: FINGER TIP SQUEAKS ON TILE
ARNOLD: I think it may be a toilet. It feels tiled.
VIOLET: Or a shower. Whatever I’m sitting on seems to have slats.
ARNOLD: Doesn’t sound comfortable.
VIOLET: I’m being very slowly filleted.
ARNOLD: Er, then time is of the essence. I did want to speak to you.
VIOLET: Speak away.
ARNOLD: I mean with you, not at you.
VIOLET: And yet there I was, in the appointed place, at the appointed time, almost with the appointed person. The music was divine. And yet… And yet…
ARNOLD: I thought you were someone else.
VIOLET: Again.
ARNOLD: You liked the music?
VIOLET: That’s not going to salvage this. I deliberately misled you; you punished me. Can we call it even? I’ve had a rather trying day. Even before your sulphuric harpy.
ARNOLD: How wonderful.
VIOLET: Thank you for support. Can I be alone now?
ARNOLD: (WISTFULLY) Sulphuric harpy. Wonderful. Vicious. But why would you say such a thing?
SOUND: WHUMP-CLACK, FABRIC RUSTLE
VIOLET: Mr Shipworm.
ARNOLD: (CLOSE) Yes?
VIOLET: Why are you holding my arm?
ARNOLD: Oh, sorry, sorry; really shouldn’t touch you there … here … anywhere.
VIOLET: Molested by an attractive man in a dark cupboard. It could go either way, couldn’t it?
ARNOLD: Toilet.
VIOLET: Shower.
ARNOLD: Attractive?
VIOLET: You noticed that too.
ARNOLD: (CHUCKLES SADLY) Only in the dark could I be considered attractive.
VIOLET: You’re disappointingly visually discriminatory for someone who works with noise.
ARNOLD: I only sound attractive?
VIOLET: You sound narcissistic.
ARNOLD: It comes of being a performer.
VIOLET: You certainly made a performance of it.
ARNOLD: I didn’t know you were you! Twice!
VIOLET: And I exploited the loophole between my name and location.
ARNOLD: I got confused by your, er … reversing out from under the apron – you were muttering about irony and how many people it takes to change a light bulb.
VIOLET: I didn’t mean for anyone to deeply contemplate it. (PAUSE) Or my pithy muttering.
ARNOLD: Of course not. I mean: I wasn’t; my eyes just rested—
VIOLET: Joke.
ARNOLD: Ha! Well, I thought you must be one of the electrical people.
VIOLET: I can wire a plug. Apparently that equates to special skills in stage lighting.
ARNOLD: I like the air of mystery about … electronics.
VIOLET: It’s just tech. Let’s not imbue it with magical powers.
ARNOLD: You could fix the light in here.
VIOLET: I doubt it.
ARNOLD: Too dangerous?
VIOLET: Too demotivated.
ARNOLD: (WHISTLES NERVOUSLY)
VIOLET: Why is no-one allowed to listen to your practice?
ARNOLD: (SPLUTTER OF DISBELIEF)
VIOLET: Splutter all you like, but I genuinely don’t know.
ARNOLD: No, no, sorry, I mean that’s ridiculously pompous. Where did you get that from?
VIOLET: The lackey. The sulphurous harpy-esque one. Right before she unceremoniously removed me.
ARNOLD: Nonsense. What exactly did she say?
VIOLET: That I had to leave because you were not to be overheard.
ARNOLD: Ah.
VIOLET: Ah?
ARNOLD: My conversation was not to be overheard. My conversation with you. Which I was expecting to have any moment. But I thought I was waiting for someone who looked not like you.
VIOLET: To speak to or with about your still clandestine purposes.
ARNOLD: Oh, yes, I’ve drifted away again, haven’t I?
VIOLET: Is it because you’re nervous?
SOUND: CLOTHES SWISH, SNIFF
ARNOLD: Oh, god, can you smell…?!
VIOLET: No, you smell quite attractive.
ARNOLD: Oh. Ah. Er, what, then, my voice, whistling?
VIOLET: Your finger. It squeaked on the tile.
ARNOLD: Damn it. Too late to deny the rest now, I suppose?
VIOLET: I’d go on the offensive.
ARNOLD: Right. Er, why did you pretend to be someone else?
VIOLET: I’m sorry. I mean: I apologise.
ARNOLD: I’m not after an apology. I’m curious.
VIOLET: I think I was more passive; lying by omission.
ARNOLD: I’m not parsing what you said either. I just wonder why you didn’t, you know, like normal people, realise I was asking you for you because I didn’t know your face.
VIOLET: I did.
ARNOLD: Yes, of course you did, but I mean why, having realised, didn’t you just volunteer who you were and painlessly clear up my ignorance?
VIOLET: Have I caused you pain?
ARNOLD: Only a mild psychosocial wound.
VIOLET: I was flummoxed.
ARNOLD: By the electricity?
VIOLET: You could say that.
ARNOLD: Had you shocked yourself? What?
VIOLET: No, that was you.
ARNOLD: How did I shock you?
VIOLET: You were a whole lot more … than I expected.
ARNOLD: Oh. Right. Oh!
VIOLET: So, you see, it takes ten minutes in a cupboard in the dark to get to that.
ARNOLD: Toilet.
VIOLET: It’s a shower!
SOUND: STANDS, DOOR CLICKS
ARNOLD: Are you going to tell Facilities?
VIOLET: About your interference in my bolthole?
ARNOLD: Ahem. About the light not working.
VIOLET: I doubt it. I like it.
ARNOLD: Me too. Would you mind if we did this again sometime?

28/11/2017

In the Dark: Office

Two colleagues unravel a socio-technical faux pas.

PATRICK: Do you see what she did?! Why’s there no lights?
SOUND: SWITCH CLICKS RAPIDLY, TABLET CLUNKS ON DESK
NEIL: Turn it till I see, then…
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL CHUCKLES
PATRICK: Every time I go to get my email, this…daft picture pops up, jiggling!
NEIL: Very guid. Very guid.
PATRICK: It’s not good! It’s technical harassment!
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL: Sparkly wand! (GIGGLES) It’s like you have magic powers.
PATRICK: Yeh, magic. Why are you in here with no lights?
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE, TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL: Aye, it’s like it’s you making the app come up. (CHUCKLES)
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL (CONT’D): The smug face is totally you.
PATRICK: Had enough?
NEIL: Naw.
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE, TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
PATRICK: OK, OK. Come on, now. How do I get rid of it?
NEIL: Who cares? It’s brilliant! Patrick the arrogant magician.
PATRICK: Can you stop laughing at my trauma here and… I’ve been hacked!
NEIL: It’s no’ really hacking, is it, if you hand over the device yoursel’, no’ even locked?
PATRICK: I thought tablets were supposed to be unhackable?! Where did she get that picture?
NEIL: Probably took it. No’ difficult, seeing as you’re a’ways pointing at some puir wee soul, barking orders. Here, see mines.
SOUND: TABLET SLIDES ACROSS DESK
NEIL (CONT’D): She must’ve recorded me when I was chuntering over those dire business proposals.
SOUND: TAP
NEIL: (D) No, we’re no’ doing that. No’ doing that either.
NEIL CHUCKLES
SOUND: TAP
NEIL: (D) No, we’re no’ doing that. No’ doing that either.
NEIL CHUCKLES
PATRICK: You can’t do that; you can’t record people without them knowing! It’s illegal!
NEIL: How is it? You have a picture of yoursel’ on your own device: call the cops. (CHUCKLES)
PATRICK: This isn’t funny! This is frightening! Surely that’s affecting your productivity: every time you go to do something you get that daft message.
NEIL: No’ really, if you think about it. Setting aside that you definitely need to lighten up, so much of what we do online is knee-jerk; you dinnae really need to do it, or no’ right that moment. You’re addicted! You need to sit back and organise your thoughts.
PATRICK: “Organise your thoughts”?!
NEIL: Aye! So let’s sit back and—
PATRICK: In the dark.
NEIL: —think this through. What, are you afeart of the dark now?
PATRICK: I’m in a state of high alert! I’ve been threatened!
NEIL: The on’y thing getting threatened is your pride. So, what exactly did you say to her?
PATRICK: I said, “Neil says you can sort my email.”
NEIL: Ah, well, nae wonder.
PATRICK: What?
NEIL: Nae preamble. Did you no’ think to say who you were? Ask who she was? How her day’s gaun an’ that?
PATRICK: I did sort of explain: I said I was really busy—I was right in the middle of rehearsal and it was going all wobbly—so I needed my email sorted by the end of the day.
NEIL: Sweet.
PATRICK: I don’t have time for niceties! I don’t have time for the stupid helpdesk! Plus, obviously, my email’s hoofed. I had two thousand and sixty unread messages! I was on every group! I couldn’t see the wood for the bees!
NEIL: Did she say anything?
PATRICK: Er, she asked me to set it not to lock itself or something.
NEIL: Ah-ha.
PATRICK: Then I had to go back to the unattended imbeciles in the hall.

NEIL: Did you get it back by the end of the day?
PATRICK: In a plastic bag.
NEIL: Gubbed?
PATRICK: No, it’s just a bit odd, isn’t it? It’s like getting your dry-cleaning back in a fancy plastic case with a hanger when you just took it scrumpled in a bag.
NEIL: When do you get dry-cleaning?
PATRICK: Never mind, it’s suspicious, like: why are you polishing the turd?
NEIL: I think you’re taking the wrong things to get dry-cleaned.
PATRICK: So I asked. And she said, “security.” So I said, “pretty obvious what it is.” And she said, “yes,” in that patronising way, “but when the forensic team arrives, my fingerprints won’t be on it.”
NEIL GUFFAWS
PATRICK: That put the wind right up me! I’m looking down at my big greasy paw wrapped right round it. Right enough, the rest of it’s totally clean.
NEIL: Can you see where you went wrong?
PATRICK: In ever coming to speak to you today?
SOUND: TAP
NEIL: (D) No, we’re no’ doing that. No’ doing that either.
NEIL CHUCKLES

NEIL: How’s your email?
PATRICK: Oh, that’s lovely: all sorted, tidied up, all the pish banished somewhere.
NEIL: There you are.
PATRICK: At what price?!
NEIL: So you have a wee animated caricature that maybe gets a bit annoying.
PATRICK: And an email in my inbox called ‘kiss my osud’.
NEIL: I beg your pardon?
PATRICK: I think I slightly incited that.
NEIL: What did you do?!
PATRICK: When I came up at break, she was—
NEIL: You came back up?
PATRICK: Yeh?
NEIL: Where was I?
PATRICK: How should I know?! I can’t even operate my tablet! I don’t have a tracking satellite!
NEIL: Well, this’ll be it. Gi’es it, then.
PATRICK: Ah, she was just sort of swaying about, bending.
NEIL: How do you mean?
PATRICK: I don’t know, it looked like contemporary dance. Maybe she was doing yoga. Wasn’t work anyway. So I got a bit annoyed.
NEIL: Oh, aye.
PATRICK: I asked her if it was done yet. She glances over at it and says, “fifty-five percent.” So I say, “can’t you speed it up?” No, apparently it’s ‘synchronising’ so we’re at the mercy of the electronicary.
NEIL: So you were a wee bit tetchy, ya arrogant arsehole.
PATRICK: No, that was when I said something really foolish, considering— Do you know, I really hate how these techies basically hold you to ransom! Like, ‘lick my arse or I’ll accidentally wipe your life’s work—’
NEIL: Is it no’ ‘click my arse’?
PATRICK: Why is this a massive joke to you?!
NEIL: Because it is! What stupid thing did you say?!
PATRICK: I said, “I hope you’re not reading my emails.” I was pretty snotty.
NEIL: Aye. And her witty comeback?
PATRICK: How do you know?
NEIL: I have a sense of impending doom.
PATRICK: She glances at the screen again and snaps back, “yeh, I’m getting moist for your thoughts on… Jane Ace.”
NEIL: Jane whae?
PATRICK: Janàček. One of the emails that I did want. That just tipped me over the edge into haughty overload—
NEIL: Naw!
PATRICK: I just barked, “I need you to finish this—” She spits back, “can’t rush those security checks.” So I said, “just bring it to me before five.”
NEIL: Aaaiihhhh!
PATRICK: I know! Calm as a sanddune she asks, “can I check where you’ll be? Or should I just follow the glow of your specialness?”
NEIL SUCKS HIS TEETH
PATRICK: So I snap back, “hall six,” and stride out.
NEIL LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY
PATRICK: You don’t even know… I knew I’d been offensive, I just couldn’t stop. It never hit me till I saw the ‘Osud’ email: she kept saying ‘check’.
NEIL: Ah! Your yanar-check?
PATRICK: And Czech, the nationality. Osud is one of his operas.
NEIL: Well, that was worth waiting for. It must be braw to finally meet someone on your twatty, cliquey, trivia wavelength. While pissing them right aff.
PATRICK: Totally outmanoeuvred. But I think she likes me: “Dear Mr So-Frightfully-Busy-and-Important,” it starts…
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE, TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL SIGHS

PATRICK: Where is the malevolent harpy, anyway?
NEIL: After she fixed your tablet, and helped me fix the power, she really had to go away and do her own work.
PATRICK: What do you mean: fix the power? We’re sitting in the dark!
NEIL: It broke again. Well, I broke it. I just couldnae leave it; I should’ve left but I couldnae stop myself going to press a button: FIZZT! Then you turn up with your light entertainment so here I still am.
PATRICK: What other job?
NEIL: What?
PATRICK: You just said she had to do her own work. What work?
NEIL: You’re still thinking she’s ‘just a techy’?
PATRICK: Obviously she’s not just a techy; techies are frighteningly powerful, plus she has scary special powers.
NEIL: Why are you so threatened by a woman with independent thought?
PATRICK: Because: look what she did to my tablet!
NEIL: Heinous. On’y it’s hilarious.
PATRICK: By the way, didn’t you want me to meet some woman?
NEIL: Oh, seriously? What’s this – seven hours later? We finally come full circle.
PATRICK: Yeh, that was why I came to see you in the first place, because my email was all clogged up so I couldn’t get the details but I knew I needed to speak to you about something, someone you thought, I don’t know, you thought I could work with? I was whinging about my email, you said you’d had the same, blah blah, then you pointed me at this bint under the table all tangled with cables.
NEIL: You are incredibly easily misdirected, do you ken that?
PATRICK: How?
NEIL: Thought I’d kill two burds wi’ one stone, or kill one stooge twice wi’ the same burd, as it turned out. Hello? Aye, there it is.
PATRICK: The… Medusa! She’s let me hang myself with the massive loophole of my assumptions!
NEIL: I think she let you embroider it a guid bit first.
PATRICK: Ah, shite. I need… I need… I need to get my head… When’s she here next?
NEIL: Dinnae ken.
PATRICK: I don’t mean to the minute. Tomorrow?
NEIL: There’s nae plan for her to come back. Thinking about it, I dinnae ken why she would come back, seeing as her day was totally hijacked by technical distractions and arsey demands.
PATRICK: She was only here today? I need to make reparations! I don’t know who she is, what she does, where she might be…
NEIL: I wouldnae worry; she certainly has your number.
PATRICK: Yeh, massively wide berth.
SOUND: TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL: Inbox, pillock.
PATRICK: Oh, right, good; I can’t wait for her to torment me some more.
NEIL: Och, wheesht your havering. If you really pissed her aff she could’ve totally scorched you.
PATRICK: (LAUGHS SARCASTICALLY) Yeh, I feel so comforted about all the stuff she could’ve done that I’ve just not discovered yet.
SOUND: TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
PATRICK (CONT’D): Will you give that a rest?
NEIL: I like the comforting glow of your specialness.
PATRICK: All your fault.
NEIL: Let’s just sit here a wee while, in the dark.
PATRICK: Why?
NEIL: For the metaphor.

22/10/2017

Grandparent File Download

LYLE: Sure you want the whole file?
MARIE: Absolutely.
LYLE: I mean—sorry to be patronising, just to cover everything, you know—it’s a massive file; it’s about…ten and a half years’ worth of usage allowance.
MARIE: I’ve saved up.
LYLE: Aye, I see you have the credits.
MARIE: It’s not something you can chunk up. That’s not how the data’s organised.
LYLE: Even if it wouldn’t work in chunks, you could still download it that way? Just to be safer if one chunk got interrupted?
FATHER: Where are you based?
MARIE: Dad! I’m dealing with this.
FATHER: I’m not interfering. Simple question.
LYLE: Sorry, what?
FATHER: Are you a person or a robot?
MARIE: I’m sorry; my father is online too.
LYLE: Ah, OK. That’s good if you got him connected and working.
MARIE: Although obviously he does like to be involved.
LYLE: Right, for the record, then: I’m a real person and I’m at the Onlineage Support Centre in Glasgow.
FATHER: Jolly good. Is that the new establishment in Dumbarton?
LYLE: Er, I can’t actually give any details – for security reasons.
MARIE: Dad, could you just imagine him in Dumbarton so we can move on?
FATHER: I’m not sharing my information with some ‘clown’ in Anniesland. Or Mumbai.—
LYLE: Did he just call me a clown?
FATHER: (OFF) —Or Dubai. Or Arizona.—
MARIE: I think he meant “cloud” but it was disrespectful; I’m sorry.
FATHER: (OFF)—Or Wales.
MARIE: What’s wrong with Wales?! Never mind. Pipe down, eh, or you’ll blow all my credits hijacking a support call.
FATHER: Willco. Dumbarton it is.
MARIE: Onlineage has all your information already. Those cats are out the bag and clawing open all your cans of worms.
FATHER: (OFF) Cats didn’t eat worms in my day.
LYLE: Er, most folk like to get comfortable with the parent file before installing the grandparent files.
MARIE: Aye, in an ideal world I’d be twenty-two and fizzing with vitality, but I have to be pragmatic. This is as comfortable as I get. I don’t have the luxury of time.
LYLE: Fair enough.
MARIE: I’ve saved up for this four times already; each time life got in the way and I had to start all over. If I’d had my parents and my grandparents linked up sooner maybe things would’ve been different. If, if. I’ve had to get through without them. But no more. I have the credits. I’m ready.
LYLE: No bother. Like I said, sorry to be patronising; I just have to check.
SOUND: BEEP
LYLE: OK, that’s the transfer started.
MARIE: Which one?
LYLE: Both, sorry.
MARIE: My grandparent files go “beep”?
LYLE: Aye, just the final confirmation.
MARIE: I can see it coming through! Fantastic. Thanks so much.
LYLE: Welcome. You want to stay on the line till it finishes? Just in case? Won’t cost you any more.
MARIE: Thank you; I’d appreciate that.
FATHER: I say, getting rather crowded in here.
MARIE: Recognise anything yet?
FATHER: That’s not what happened! My memory may not be fully polished but this is clearly faulty.
MARIE: You’re going to need to relax. It’s all just perceptions, same as yours. Somewhere between all these bits of information is the truth. There’s so much to learn.
FATHER: (OFF) Bunkum.
LYLE: So, what are you going to learn first?
MARIE: Gaelic.
LYLE: That’s one I never heard before.
MARIE: I want to learn Norwegian and I reckon there’ll be some overlap. There are some old cultural connections I want to get at.
LYLE: Isn’t Gaelic really difficult?
MARIE: Less difficult than English. Every day I think in English and some daft peculiarity strikes me.
LYLE: But you’re fine at English.
MARIE: Aye, and that’s taken me decades to get this good at. It must be torture for non-native speakers. And when I die: zap – all deleted.
LYLE: I’m sure you’ve got plenty time to use it before then.
MARIE: I’m ninety-two. What odds would you give me?
LYLE: You’re joking? (PAUSE) What age is your dad?! (PAUSE) No, obviously it’s in the file. Shite. A hundred and…twenty-eight? That wasn’t him…
MARIE: That was your excellent Synthesis app.
LYLE: Shite.
MARIE: I have no children. I need to integrate my knowledge so it’s not wasted. Every new person shouldn’t have to learn all this stuff from the beginning.
LYLE: You’re combining your lifetime of experience with your parents’ and their parents’?
MARIE: Isn’t that what this technology’s for? It’s not idle nostalgia: see the world through your ancestors’ eyes. You have to give it forward. Think what we could be if we weren’t restricted to sharing experience only by communication through the filter of societal behavioural norms?
LYLE: Er…
MARIE: Speaking, mostly.
LYLE: Right, right. I thought this was mostly for, like, instead of ‘how was your weekend?’ you just experience the whole thing. Eech.
MARIE: At first I wondered how folk’d get along without the liberty to embellish, but seemingly that’s factored into their perceptions.
LYLE: Like, if you want to believe you had the best time, that’s what others will get from your experience, too?
MARIE: Nobody will care that my father always kept fifteen spare packets of toilet paper, but they might benefit from his experience as a child during wartime. They can feel his psychology and understand how he attributed a lifetime’s hyperconsumerism to suffering rationing. I have this theory…
LYLE: You may as well tell me; we’re only at thirty-four percent.
MARIE: Last century our cultural evolution suddenly got turbocharged. Industrialisation, commercialism, technology raced away with our beliefs about success and happiness. ‘Can do’ completely overtook ‘should do’. We started making demands on our bodies that would take generations for physiological evolution to deliver. Bombarding ourselves with information and materialism. At the same time it became apparent that this hyperconsumerism was equally unhealthy for us and the rest of the living world.
LYLE: This is where technology solutions come in?
MARIE: Aye and no: we have to ask if, now a robot prepares your tea, are you happier? Saves you twenty, thirty minutes, right? Time you could use for something more useful? More useful than appreciating where your food comes from? Savouring the smells as well as the tastes that are part of the full experience for your body? More useful than the mental downtime of a simple task?
LYLE: I don’t know if that spiritual stuff is for everyone – all that overanalysing stuff.
MARIE: I think that’s where our lives are generally: chronic overstimulation, poor mental and emotional agility, constant analysis of marginal information.
LYLE: So you mean, like, get implants?
MARIE: They just enable you to process more and more information of less and less value. You still have to work out what that vanishingly small value is in order to make use of it. More and more work to get the same quality of information.
LYLE: Surely adding your parents’ experiences in to the mix is just more stress then?
MARIE: Only if you don’t learn from it. See the lessons they learned from their lives; see what worked for them, what they figured out.
LYLE: You’re pretty bright for a ninety-year-old.
MARIE: I’m still learning. How’re we doing?
LYLE: Sixty-two.
MARIE: Humans have been grappling with the same life problems for millennia; wouldn’t it be good if we learned from others more efficiently – the benefits of their experience?
LYLE: Isn’t there a point to, you know, working it out for yourself?
MARIE: Sure, and maybe you come up with an even better solution, but why not see what your predecessors came up with first? Minimise that struggle, that suffering?
SOUND: BEEP
LYLE: Er…
MARIE: Finished?
LYLE: No… Some block. Your system has stopped confirming the request for download.
MARIE: Ah, I bet I’m using too much processor being online.
LYLE: That shouldn’t be an issue. Can you check you’ve shut down absolutely everything apart from our app?
MARIE: Oh, I have, really: I checked the processes before I called. That’s all that’s been running this whole time.
LYLE: OK, you’ve filled in all the criteria in the form, all the technical specs; you have plenty memory, enough processor capacity. What else could be using up the system?
MARIE: Your Synthesis app.
LYLE: Your father? Can you suspend him?
MARIE: (laughs) Aye, but that won’t be enough.
LYLE: Wait: I have a mirror pane; it’s showing another person running… Is that…you?!
MARIE: The very one.
LYLE: I’m speaking to a Synthesis?
MARIE: Indeed. Died a while ago. Something snapped. Who cares? This is far too important for a hurdle like that to derail the whole project.
LYLE: Er, if there’s any indication that you’ve reverse engineered our software, I have to invoke a non-compliance procedure…
MARIE: Don’t be daft: I’m ninety-two! How would I ‘reverse engineer’ anything? Couldn’t even reverse my tea trolley without cowping the last fifteen years. I haven’t broken any of the agreement I signed. But by all means check. And while you do that, consider who you’re going to prosecute. Hah.
LYLE: But how— How can you— How am I having this conversation with you?
MARIE: Your Synthesis app! Onlineage is really very good. You should probably be promoting your products a bit more.
LYLE: But it needs something— How can you launch it?
MARIE: Ah, the combination of all these experiences, knowledge, so on; it takes on a life of its own, so to speak.

10/09/2017

Play Me

SCENE 1
SOUND: phone rings
HARRIET: Hey, Vin. Alright?
VIN: (D) No, sorry, need you to come through. Drew’s really upset. He’s locked himself in his office.
HARRIET: Upset? At what?
VIN: (D) No’ angry; he’s wailing, greeting even.

SCENE 2
SOUND: footsteps approach, taps on door
HARRIET: Drew? Can you let us in?
SOUND: door handle clunks, muffled groan, sob
HARRIET: My love, we’re really concerned. Please let us in. Drew?
VIN: Come on, man. Need to let us help.
SOUND: taps on door
HARRIET: Drew?
SOUND: footsteps recede
HARRIET: (whisper) At least he’s conscious.
VIN: (whisper) There’s no’ anything up wi’ you two, is there?
HARRIET: No? Totally fine till you called. Was he alright with you?
VIN: Aye, seen him first thing. He just didnae come through for lunch. Will we burst the door?
HARRIET: He might be right inside. OK, what I’m about to show you… Never mind. I trust you. We’re going back along, but totally silent, OK?

SCENE 3
SOUND: door clicks
HARRIET: Nicely done.
VIN: We’re in a storage cupboard.
HARRIET: Aye, I found this one time he had me wait in his office. I got bored, peered about, seen the wardrobe—why is there a wardrobe in that office? Turns out the back of it’s like Narnia except it’s just sort of joists and maintenance scaffold between the walls. Anyway, it comes out here. So, we walk along the planks and sneak into his wardrobe.
VIN: Do we need anything?
HARRIET: Torch. There.

SCENE 4
SOUND: breathing, click, rustle, swish, steps burst from wardrobe
DREW: No! Get out! (gasp)
VIN: It’s only us, man.
SOUND: shuffle, rustle of kneeling
HARRIET: My lovely man, what’s happened? Can you sit up? Look at me.
VIN: Did he collapse?
HARRIET: I don’t know yet. No smell on his breath, eyes are fine, pulse a bit rapid. Can you look about if anything’s out of place?
VIN: I don’t want to touch his stuff.
HARRIET: Don’t. Just scan. You’ll see something.
VIN: Why’s that flashing? Must’ve been unplugged. There’s a CD in, paused. Who has CDs still?
HARRIET: Maybe that’s why it was unplugged.
VIN: Will I unpause it?
DREW: No!
HARRIET: Drew, my love, can you tell me why? Just tell us, please?
DREW: No. (moan)
SOUND: caress
HARRIET: OK. Why plug it in..?
VIN: Guess we have to listen—
HARRIET: No! Wait. No, don’t touch it. Don’t touch the buttons, any CD cases, anything.
VIN: OK, what?
HARRIET: What do you do when some mailbox you don’t know emails you a file unexpectedly?
VIN: Bin it; virus.
HARRIET: What if it’s an audio file?
VIN: Probably a fake file extension; bin it.
HARRIET: What if it’s on a CD? Can’t infect the stereo, can you?
VIN: Shit! Sonovirus?
HARRIET: Don’t touch anything. Come away over here. We need serious polis. Nobody needs to listen to that. They need to Fourier analyse it or something off-line. No audio.
VIN: You think Drew here got like hypnotised?
HARRIET: I know: I have a rush of paranoia now. But we do it to ourselves plenty: atmospheric music, trance, using vocal tone, pitch, pace to match mood or subtly altering it to lead mood. No wonder we’re stressed-out insomniacs. Applied maliciously you could use sound as effects, tunes, speech to match subconscious thought, brainwaves even, then disrupt them. Not much of a leap to someone twisting it to an audio weapon.
VIN: He maybe thought it was a promo track?
HARRIET: Call the polis—ambulance first. Say he’s maybe been hypnotised into some sort of mental breakdown.
VIN: Psychotic?
SOUND: phone tapping
HARRIET: I don’t know the psychiatry, it’s mood-altering sound. I don’t think he’s scrambled, just maybe acutely depressed or paranoid from suggestion or non-verbal sound.

SCENE 5
VIN: On the way. Eight minutes. Can I touch the door?
HARRIET: Why?
VIN: Unlock it?
HARRIET: Aye, good point.
SOUND: bolt drawn
DREW: (gibbers)
VIN: You’re alright, man. Help on the way. Why Drew?
HARRIET: That’s not how terrorists work, is it? It’s random, innocent folk.
VIN: There’ll be more then? Shit. They won’t show their hand without an impact.
HARRIET: That’s my paranoia ramped right up. Maybe it’s just one random nutter. Oh, my poor boy.
VIN: How desperate do you need to be to go to these lengths to get attention?!
HARRIET: I’m not feeling sympathetic to anyone’s cause right now.
VIN: It’s just nasty stuff. Twisted sociopaths.
HARRIET: Want to head out to meet the medics?
VIN: Check they are who they say they are?
HARRIET: Cannae do this conspiracy shit. I just need to see my man safe.
VIN: Still trust me?
HARRIET: Have to trust someone. Have to trust each other? Otherwise they win.
SOUND: door clicks
HARRIET: My poor love. We’ll be alright.
DREW: (sigh)

06/08/2017

My Neighbour’s Baby

The parents’ squabbling catches my attention. My quiet Sunday breakfast with a wildlife magazine shattered. Peer Gynt capers on in the Hall of the Mountain King. The squabblers slam from room to room, swatting and shrieking at each other. I lean to the window and pull back the gauze curtain, searching for explanation. One of their children sits on my front grass. Just sits, not playing, not eating, not moving, not seemingly hurt, but I don’t read children well. The parents barrel on. Another figure slinks by – another neighbour, inspecting the unattended child. My gut flips – some pre-verbal fear. In a reflex I knock the window. The neighbour starts and glances at me. I wave. Frustratingly her momentum carries her out of my sight. The parents separate, hurling only intermittent complaints. The child remains immobile.

I unlock the front door to look closer. Mostly I want to help, but I need more information: what happened? I seem to be too late. The neighbour is out of sight. The child sits on the grass, freckled and bewildered. I don’t want to approach in case this aggravates the situation. I don’t want to interfere. Or should I move her to a safer position? What would be safer? In my house is far too ambiguous. I have no relationship with this child. Her parents seem to be calming. I return indoors and glance out the window. The child still hasn’t moved. I can’t settle back to breakfast; I wander ineffectually about the front rooms, reviewing the incident, assessing my choices. I keep glancing out the window.

Suddenly the parents launch a fresh bout of shouting. I check the window: the child is gone – in a matter of seconds between my glances. I can’t see anybody, any movement. I open the front door and see the parents hopping and shrieking along the pavement. I can’t read their distress. Still no sign of the child. My eyes flit to another movement. Beneath the bordering hedge I see my neighbour’s legs saunter up the path and out of sight. The parents are hysterical. Why didn’t they do something for their child before? Why didn’t I? I peer again between the trunks of the hedge. I look very carefully to catch a glimpse as my neighbour’s path curves back into view. In a moment I see what I’m looking for: the shape of the child, carried away.

There was a moment when I could have acted. I chose not to. To let others’ choices play out. I may have delayed things by rapping the window, but that’s as likely to have increased the suffering as not. If I had the chance again, I’d lift that baby and bring it indoors. I’d suffer the guilt of upsetting the parents. My experiences lead me to believe that my neighbour simply wanted to play with the child. A distorted behaviour that has its roots in natural instinct but has become torture. I have some responsibility for that. I could do better.

If it had been my neighbour the sparrowhawk who found the young blackbird, I would be more comfortable with that. A reasonably quick death for food. A domestic cat I’m much less comfortable with. It doesn’t feel natural to me. Still, I have too little information. I had a moment and I only half-intervened. Bless her.

01/08/2017

Cold Call: Day 19

The last in a series of telephone conversations where truth comes away in layers – begins at Cold Call: Day 1

SOUND: PHONE RINGS, REPEAT, REPEAT
LACRIMOSA: You know I know how to escalate nuisance calls.
SìMON: (D) I wasnae a nuisance till you found out I wasnae a total stranger. That’s no’ even rational.
LACRIMOSA: You were a nuisance, even when you were funny.
SìMON: The end justifies the means. Just like it did for you.
LACRIMOSA: You kept calling me! I was lying in self-defence!
SìMON: You could’ve hung up. You did, even.
LACRIMOSA: And yet here we still are! You’ve created this whole idea of me in your head that’s not real!
SìMON: Aye, no’ like you’ve any experience of making up fantasies.
LACRIMOSA: Why did you call me?
SìMON: It really was because of the whale thing.
LACRIMOSA: No, I mean why did you call me after I left Dalry’s? – if you weren’t after a job.
SìMON: (PAUSE) I like speaking to you. You speak about interesting stuff, no’ boring shit like soap operas and celebrity gossip. You’re funny. Why did you no’ call me?
LACRIMOSA: You scared me. I don’t know why. Probably my subconscious alarms bells going off: here’s a guy that thinks you’re someone else!
SìMON: You cannae imagine someone just liking speaking to you? OK, listen: I’m sorry for the way the conversation went yesterday – and this conversation seems to be going.
LACRIMOSA: It’s not your fault I’m like this: shit-abled.
SìMON: What I was gonnae say was: it turns out it doesnae matter.
LACRIMOSA: It really does.
SìMON: No’ to me.
LACRIMOSA: You have no id—
SOUND: DOORBELL
LACRIMOSA (CONT’D): How can there be someone at the door?! I used to live a peaceful life then I started getting these nuisance calls.
SìMON: And those were just the ones fae me.
LACRIMOSA: They were all from—
SOUND: DOORBELL
SìMON: You should answer it. Could be important.
LACRIMOSA: No, it won’t be; it’ll be some chancer with a flat-bed wanting to mess up my path or mutilate my trees or ruin the roof or something.
SìMON: Could be Gordon, checking on you.
LACRIMOSA: He just walks in.
SìMON: Still, you should maybe just check.
LACRIMOSA: OK, but it might take me a while.
SìMON: I’ll wait.
LACRIMOSA: No, hang up! I don’t care. I want my life back.
SOUND: DOOR OPENS
LACRIMOSA: (OFF) But you’re on the phone!
SìMON: (OFF) I ken you willnae have much experience of these devices, since you’re no’ ‘mobile’, but—
LACRIMOSA: (OFF) Are those your aunty’s dead daffodils?

ENDS

31/07/2017

Cold Call: Day 18

A series of telephone conversations where truth comes away in layers – begins at Cold Call: Day 1 and ends at Day 19

SOUND: PHONE RINGS, REPEAT, REPEAT
LACRIMOSA: Why did you suddenly decide to call me?
SìMON: (D) I always call about this time.
LACRIMOSA: The first time.
SìMON: Just a spur of the moment thing—well, a spur of twenty hours thing.
LACRIMOSA: Meaning?
SìMON: I was on a boat, aff the coast of Iceland—place called Olafsvik – brilliant, by the way—so I was watching for whales, and that conversation we had – what was it—four, five years ago?
LACRIMOSA: This whole obsession is over a conversation five years ago that I don’t even remember?
SìMON: Aye, you do.
LACRIMOSA: Reading my mind now?
SìMON: You told me the beached whale story then, too.
LACRIMOSA: Norway?
SìMON: No, the rotting carcass.
LACRIMOSA: OK, because Norway was after…
SìMON: Alright? So, anyway, it came into my mind and I wondered if you’d ever been there—Iceland—and seen a live whale. Like, how it’d be weird if you’d been in the same boat or at the same exact point in the ocean. After a while I thought, why am I tantalising myself with ‘what ifs’ and pish? Why don’t I just ask you? Maybe you’d want to come with me somewhere. Maybe see a non-beached whale.
LACRIMOSA: So you just lifted the phone.
SìMON: After the twenty hours on boats, buses, ferries getting back.
LACRIMOSA: You weren’t planning to come back?
SìMON: No’ at that point. I just suddenly felt like, what am I doing here myself?
LACRIMOSA: When you could be making nuisance calls to someone who it turns out can’t go anywhere.
SìMON: No, it—

30/07/2017

Cold Call: Day 17

A series of telephone conversations where truth comes away in layers – begins at Cold Call: Day 1 and ends at Day 19

SOUND: PHONE RINGS
LACRIMOSA: What?
SìMON: (D) Er, how are you?
LACRIMOSA: I’m sure you have a satellite oriented at my window so you can see for yourself.
SìMON: Oh, aye, that’s you gi’ing me the finger, right?
LACRIMOSA: Near enough. Why the Mrs McIver charade? Do you even have an aunty?
SìMON: To prove you could like me, without preconceptions.
LACRIMOSA: Whose? No, I mean: who to?
SìMON: To whom?
LACRIMOSA: Aye, try the grammatical high-ground, since the moral high-ground is crumbling under your feet.
SìMON: Both of us.
LACRIMOSA: How is that fair? You knowing who I was?
SìMON: No’ kenning who I was didnae stop you making up your ‘stories’.
LACRIMOSA: That was fun.
SìMON: That excuses lying.
LACRIMOSA: Congratulations: you’ve taken cold calling to a whole new level of insult. So I’m hanging up now.

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