3.1 – Alternatives

SCENE: DEREK’S TRUCK CAB. Truck is in motion.

WOMAN 1 (on radio)

Law enforcement authorities have repeated their call for any information on the whereabouts of Candace Majeed, Molly Olinger, Kelsie Habcek, or Tyra Valdez. These women, all seemingly unacquainted with each other, and all between the ages of 20 and 30, have been reported missing from the tri-county area during the course of the past six weeks. Absolutely anyone having seen them, knowing of any associate which any two of them have in common, or with any other information about them, should contact the officially constituted authorities immediately. The anonymity and status of any unaltered person providing such information will be carefully preserved.

In other news, local police have arrested two unaltered persons for defacing the front window of a scientific-

Derek switches off the radio, and beats on the back of the empty seat next to him.

DEREK

Hey, we’re pulling in. You awake back there, Nickie?

NICOLE

I am now.

*yawn*

Wow, I slept through the border crossing?

DEREK

Like a babe.

NICOLE

Sorry, I’ve been up late.

DEREK

No problem. You’d’ve just been hiding back there anyway.

NICOLE

Yeah. Did the handoff go okay?

DEREK

Smooth and easy. Have a good sleep?

NICOLE

I was having a dream about strangling that Looker newsreader.

DEREK

Sweet. Wouldn’t mind seeing that.

Truck comes to a stop.

DEREK

Wanna tell me about it over a drink?

NICOLE

Not this time, D. Thanks anyway. I’m meeting someone, and we’ve got some catching up to do.

DEREK

Always seems to be something.

NICOLE

Girl’s gotta keep busy.

DEREK

Sure. Okay. Hasty lumbago.

Doors open.

NICOLE

Yeah, until then.

They exit, and both walk along the gravel to the door of a roadside bar. Canned rock music is heard faintly at first, and then strongly when the door opens.

Nicole navigates over to the bar.

NICOLE

You know I missed you girl, but I’d almost forgotten that fine behind.

MARTHA

Thanks, but do you ever stop?

NICOLE

Only when I don’t have an appreciative audience.

MARTHA
Ha. And here I was just deciding how long to wait on YOUR ass.

NICOLE

Hey, you make a date with a woman of the open road, you know what you’re getting into.

MARTHA

Hmmm. Speaking of which, was that one of our drivers you walked in with?

NICOLE
I believe that’s need-to-know information, CIVILIAN. But yeah, you probably saw him, back in your day.

MARTHA

You two didn’t look very pal-y for people who just faced danger together.

NICOLE

Ehhh. He and I never talk much. ‘Cause when we do it always comes around to him wanting the goods.

MARTHA

Unlike when you and I talk.

NICOLE

Okay, serious moment: Martha: I am hereby officially asking you if I should tone down my flirtation.

MARTHA

No, it’s fun. I’m just flippin’ you shit.

NICOLE

Naturally. How’s Ray, by the way?

MARTHA

Fine, except for having me underfoot most of the day.

NICOLE

I bet he doesn’t mind.

MARTHA
Possible.

NICOLE

Say “Hi” for me.

MARTHA

I will. And I’m sure he’ll appreciate your adherence to sexual harassment guidelines.

NICOLE

I don’t like uncertainty. It’s easy to think the other person is having fun, when in fact they’re just smiling until you stop. That’s probably Derek the Driver’s mistake.

MARTHA
Have you given him a definitive shut-down? I’m sure you could cut through anyone’s self-delusion.

NICOLE

Ughhhhh…no. No telling where things go from there, and I can’t risk us getting unfriendly. There’s always a shortage of drivers with the right papers who are willing to take the risk, so that means we’re always going to be working together again. The last time I got into it with a driver I ended up on the side of the road, and the Major told me not to let that happen again.

MARTHA

If Derek did that, you could report him.

NICOLE

And the Resistance loses a driver, and we spend months while the Lookers vet a new one, who we don’t know, and who might not take risks for us. Or maybe Derek stays on, but they don’t assign him to me. But the next time I need an unscheduled pick-up, he pretends not to see my signal. Or something worse. Regardless, I’ve got it handled. He’ll get a little frustrated, I’ll get bugged, we’ll spend a lot of quiet hours staring at the road, but what needs to be done gets done.

MARTHA

*suppressing disagreement*

Whatever works, I guess.

NICOLE
I think you’ve already forgotten the compromises this work takes.

MARTHA

Speaking of compromises, looks like he’s made a new friend.

NICOLE

A guy with gas rations and newbills would have to be pretty foul to want for company. Who’s the flooze?

MARTHA

Ah, that’s Lorna. She worked in the Commissary in my day. Kind of a perennial fuck-up. And not a great poster girl for the Overlooks as places of tolerance and enlightenment.

Sound mix changes, with Nicole and Martha’s voices receding into the crowd noise and Derek and Lorna’s getting more distinct.

NICOLE

Well maybe they deserve each other then. They can shack up and he’ll be out of my hair.

MARTHA

Might not make a difference.

NICOLE

*weary sigh*

Yeah, true.

LORNA

You’re looking over there again. I’m not interesting enough for you?

DEREK

Sorry. She was my delivery, I’m just curious who her friend is.

LORNA

Oh, that’s Waters. Used to be a big deal in my building. Fired because they thought she was working for the aliens.

DEREK

No shit?

LORNA

Well they knew it was somebody. They got rid of the guy she worked with, too, in case it was him. He wasn’t so bad, but I was glad to see the back of them both. Refugees. Ran here from some college during the Takeover. They always thought they were better than us, and should be living somewhere better. He at least tried to hide it, but it was there.

DESIREE

Hey girl!

LORNA

Des! Great to see you.

Lorna rises, they hug noisily.

DESIREE

Who’s your friend?

LORNA

This is Derek. You’ll like him: he’s buying.

DESIREE
My kind of man! Nice to meet you.

DEREK

Likewise.

DESIREE

What’s the occasion?

DEREK

A job well done.

DESIREE

Nice!

LORNA

Hey, since he’s got newbills, we should blow this dump and hit the Lodge. Drink something off the top shelf.

DESIREE
Hey, maybe. It’s been a while. You up for it, moneybags?

Beat.

LORNA

And we’ve lost Derek again. He’s keeping an eye on that pair at the bar in case they start knockin’ boxes.

DESIREE
Ha! For real?

DEREK

For real I want to watch them? No. For real they’re going to do it? Ask Lorna.

LORNA

No idea. They can do what they want when they’re not in my bar.

DEREK

Damn straight.

DESIREE
Oh, this guy’s dangerous. He’s going to enable all your bad habits.

LORNA
I dunno. He hasn’t seen most of them yet.

DESIREE

And you were just running this place down two minutes ago.

LORNA

Ha. Point. All right, I’m hitting the ladies. You coming with?

DESIREE
Chuck’s supposed to call.

LORNA
Well you two have a fine time then.

DESIREE

Will do.

Beat.

DESIREE

So, you’re a driver?

DEREK

Yeah. What do you do?

DESIREE

Assistant manager at Hy-Vee.

DEREK

Heh. There’s a job that must have changed some.

DESIREE

You know it. “Locally grown” ain’t just a slogan anymore. Were you carrying anything good to eat?

DEREK

A load of paint and paint thinner. And her at the bar.

DESIREE

Ha. She’s kind of thin too. Looks like she spends a lot of time outside. Courier?

Phone rings at the bar.

DEREK

That…is classified.

DESIREE

Righteous.

BARTENDER (from bar)

Hey, Des! Chuck!

DESIREE
Ah, be right back.

DEREK (to bar)

Hey! Total me up, will you?

Bartender approaches.

BARTENDER

Sure thing. There you go.

DEREK

Thanks. And this on top.

BARTENDER
Thank YOU!

Desiree returns.

DESIREE

That was my other half. I’m running him a new inner tube so he can join us here. Tell Lorna I’ll be back.

DEREK

Will do. Nice to meet you.

DESIREE
Likewise.

Beat. Crowd noise, then Lorna returns.

LORNA

Wow, Des was heading out fast. Must be that man of hers.

DEREK

Yeah.

LORNA

Love’s a fool’s game, if you ask me.

DEREK

Yeah. She said she wanted to meet you at that Lodge place you mentioned. I could drive you over.

LORNA
Oh, sweet. You got room for my wheels?

DEREK

I can fit it in the back, yeah.

LORNA
Bitchin’.

Bar noise diminishes as they go outside.

DEREK

You’ll have to tell me the way.

LORNA

You haven’t been to the Lodge before?

DEREK

No, I don’t go out much.

LORNA

Here’s me.

Lorna unlocks her bike and walks it.

DEREK

And here’s me.

He opens up the back of the truck and they put the bike inside.

DEREK

Passenger door’s unlocked.

They get in.

LORNA

Oh wow, so great to sit in a nice private vehicle again. Cushioned seat!

DEREK

Ha. Not so sure about nice.

Derek starts the engine.

LORNA
If you lived here, you’d know what I mean. Those county buses can go straight to hell.

DEREK

They’ve got a bus line to hell here?

LORNA
Yeah! No matter what the front of the bus says, that’s where they go.

DEREK

Well, even this baby can get old after a while. But there’s a flask in the glove compartment, if you want to experience all the amenities.

LORNA

Why thank you, sir.

She opens it and drinks.

LORNA

*Breathing a little heavier as she talks.*

So backing up, why are you going out and sampling our local watering holes when you didn’t before? Seeing as you’re already set for booze.

DEREK

Simple. I wanted to meet someone new.

LORNA

*increasingly out of breath*

And you have…and now I’m going to…wait…this isn’t the right way…

DEREK

We’re going where we’re needed.

LORNA

Where we’re what? What was in that…

DEREK

Something to make sure I get you there. We are ALL the Resistance.

Opening Music.

SCENE: Dreamy non-space.

*Lorna’s narration is, for the most part, even more world-weary and cynical than her speaking voice. She’s talking from a future that’s even grimmer than her present, although with a possibility that she can win freedom and revenge.*

LORNA (VO)

I woke up like I was being unwrapped from a quilt made of giant cotton balls. The first thing I noticed was that I was sleeping in a bad position. My legs were fetal, my body was on its side, but tilted forward just enough that my weight was more on my knees than my shoulders, so my leg-joints ached. My first impulse was to lean backwards, but then I realized why I’d positioned myself like I had. My hands were tied behind my back, and just a few seconds on my left shoulder made my left arm start to fall asleep. I vaguely remembered trying this over and over while I slept.

It now occurred to me to wonder how I’d gotten into this situation. And then it all came back. The bar. The driver. The truck. The drink.

I got mad, and that cut through the cotton. I rolled onto my stomach. A pillow met my mouth, and I could feel a blanket around me. It was only now that I realized I was blindfolded, and that my ankles were tied too.

The pillow was starting to crowd my breathing, so I gave a big exhale and rolled onto my back. My wrists complained right away. This is another thing I’d tried during my nap, before I gave up and went fetal instead.

The exhale did remind me that I wasn’t gagged, though. So immediately…

LORNA

Hey! HEY!!! Is anybody there?!

CANDACE

*Candace is a Looker, with a benevolent, elevated tone.*

You are not alone.

LORNA (VO)

Her words were like honey. They were just exactly what I wanted to hear.

CANDACE

Were you brought here against your will?

LORNA

Yeah. Some guy named…

LORNA (VO)

And then it hit me. That calm tone, indicating that everything would be all right, which had comforted me so much one second earlier. It meant something. Something very bad.

CANDACE

What is wrong?

LORNA (VO)

She was a Looker. I didn’t know if she was my cellmate or a guard or Mother fucking Theresa, but I did know that she was the enemy of the world. The reason why our lives had become so especially shitty. She could turn me into one of Them, if it wasn’t for the blindfold protecting me. And I had almost told her about Derek. Derek who drove for the Resistance. Derek who was saying something about it right as I blacked out. Derek who…

CANDACE

Derek is coming.

Door opens and closes. A heavy wooden door, but sounding more like a barn door than something from a dungeon or prison.

LORNA

You know Derek?

CANDACE

Unfortunately, yes.

Footsteps ascend a wooden ladder.

LORNA

What’s going on? What do you have to do with him?

CANDACE

*whisper shouting*

We will speak later.

DEREK

Okay! Quiet-time, girls! All except our new friend.

Sound of a padlock being unlocked and a creaky wooden door opening.

DEREK

*more sympathetic*

Lorna? Are you awake?

LORNA (VO)

I probably should have been thinking hard about what to do and what to say, all the ways this could turn out good or bad for me. But I just wanted the basics.

LORNA

Yes I’m awake! What the hell is going on??

DEREK

Okay, okay. Calm down. Everything’s going to be fine. We just need you to do a little job for us. Stay still and I’ll untie you.

Lorna’s blanket is pulled back.

LORNA (VO)

His hands were on me and most of me wanted to scream. But another part of me stifled it, because I didn’t want to do anything that would change his mind about untying me.

Lorna’s ropes are untied.

DEREK

There you go…and there’s the blindfold.

LONRA (VO)

He must have seen that I had my eyes scrunched closed, because…

DEREK

You can open your eyes. It’s safe.

LORNA (VO)

I didn’t quite believe that, but I couldn’t just lie there with my eyes closed either. So I opened them, and once they focused, I scoped out my situation. I was in a very plain room, with wooden walls and a high, slanted ceiling. The only light was from a cheap floor lamp. There was a window in the ceiling, but it looked to be night. There was a bookshelf full of paperbacks in the corner, which cast a shadow over a hole about one foot square in the inside wall, which led into dark. I started to notice a bad barnyard smell, and of course Derek. He was standing there, dressed in jeans and a jacket just like I’d last seen him. He looked bigger than I remembered, and that helped me keep a lid on my reaction.

LORNA

Okay, thanks, but I still want to know what the hell this is about.

DEREK

Yeah, you deserve that. Like I said, we have a job we need you to do.

LORNA

By “we” you mean…the Resistance?

DEREK

*confidential*

Yeah. We’re running an experiment here, a critical one. And we need your help.

LORNA

My help doing what? I’m not immune. I shouldn’t be around Lookers.

DEREK

Everybody has to do their part. And these girls are hooded. Keeping them that way is part of your job. So as long as you DO your job, you have nothing to worry about.

LORNA

No. No way. I’m sorry but I just can’t do this. Let me out of here.

DEREK

I can’t let you out. It’s too dangerous.

LORNA
Look, I promise I won’t tell anyone about what you’re doing here. You can trust me. They cleared me to work in the Intelligence Building.

DEREK

You’d tell. You’d have no choice.

LORNA
What do you mean?

DEREK

We’re not in the Overlook.

LORNA
What?!?

DEREK

We’re out in the world. There are Lookers all over. Maybe fifty, a hundred thousand of them between here and the next safe spot. Lock eyes with any one of them, and they’ll have you.

LORNA (VO)

An icy hand reached out and grabbed my crotch from the inside. I felt dizzy, and turned my head in all directions. I was out THERE, in Looker country? The only lucky break I could remember in my entire life was that the podunk town I grew up in had been too podunk for the Look to spread there before the Truce. And now, now I wasn’t there anymore.

I looked up at Derek. I’d hate to see what I looked like: eyes wide and teary, turning to the source of my trouble for protection from it. But I can picture it well enough. I’ve seen it in the mirror plenty of times. I’ve spent a lot of my life talking tough, but I’ve never been brave. I hoped that acting fierce would make people think twice before screwing with me, but knock against me and I fall to pieces. For instance…

LORNA

But…But how…you took me out of the Overlook?

DEREK

Yes.

LORNA

Then you can take me back.

DEREK

I will. But not yet.

LORNA

No, NOW!

DEREK

It’s too dangerous going the other way right now. It would look suspicious.

LORNA

You smuggled that dyke courier, you can smuggle me.

DEREK

I didn’t just do that on a whim. It was part of an operation.

LORNA
And taking me?

DEREK

*stumbling very slightly*

That was an operation, too.

LORNA
*not noticing*

It’s not right.

DEREK

The world’s not right. But everybody has to do their part in fixing it. This is your part.

LORNA

Doing what?

DEREK

Helping me take care of the girls. That’s all. Keeping them going for a while, while I do some tests.

LORNA

Keeping them going?!?

DEREK

Just…take care of them long enough for me to finish my work. Between the testing and my driving I don’t have time to keep them and this place clean. Tomorrow, I’ll bring you a couple changes of clothes.

LORNA

But…what kind of tests?

DEREK

Tests into how to turn Lookers normal again.

LORNA

What? You’re working on that?

DEREK

Yep. And that’s pretty important, don’t you think?

LORNA

Yeah, but…

DEREK

And the Immunes, the ones we can trust, the Lookers know them. They keep track of them, follow them. If one of them disappeared for three months, there’d be a search. And those things are damn tenacious once they get a scent. But they don’t know you’re here, so they won’t look for you.

LORNA

Three months?

DEREK

That’s how long your tour of duty is. Ninety days. Then I take you back.

LORNA

My job…

DEREK

We’ve taken care of that. It’ll be waiting for you when you get back, along with your back pay. And your bosses will know you did us a favor.

LORNA
But…you don’t seem like a doctor, or a scientist.

DEREK

We’re the Resistance, we make do. The two thousand guys who would have been better for this are Lookers now, so we’re stuck with me.

*beat*

If it helps, just keep in mind that you have no choice. I have my orders, and they’re to make sure that you follow your orders. The Resistance can’t afford any slip-ups with this.

LORNA (VO)

As he said that, he gestured with his hand and his jacket rode up. I noticed for the first time that he had a revolver stuck in his pants. My spine turned to jelly. Fierce Lorna melted away and revealed whiny Lorna underneath.

LORNA

I didn’t sign up for this.

DEREK

Neither did the girls. But they’re going to do their part, and so are you.

LORNA

This…I don’t even know where to start with how fucked-up this is.

DEREK

Like I say, it’s a fucked-up world. But we’re going to try to make it good again.

LORNA

Where even are we?

DEREK

A farm. You’re in the loft of a big barn I converted for this. Three partitioned rooms. You get a window, the girls don’t. There’s a bathroom at the other end, just for you. They use buckets.

LORNA

Buckets. Which I get to empty?

DEREK

Yeah. Sorry.

LORNA
Why do it here? Why not in the Overlook, where it’s safe?

DEREK

The Overlook is safe because there are no Lookers there. If I take them in, and a blindfold slips for one second, then they start converting the whole place. It’s the takeover all over again.

LORNA

So instead you’re just risking me.

DEREK

Life is choices.

LORNA

*long breath*

Okay, so I’m up in a barn. And how do I get down from here, a ladder?

DEREK

There is a ladder, but you don’t go down. For the security of the project. I can’t take a chance that you’d run, and spill your brains to the Lookers.

LORNA

What, deliberately?

DEREK

Maybe you’d fool yourself into thinking you’re immune, or that you could avoid them. People forget the odds. They do crazy things.

LORNA

*sighs*

Can’t argue with that.

SILENCE

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