205: Adventure

Al has many questions for the newly arrived Bob.

Our recommended listening this week is the audio fiction show Oblivity!

Starring Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski, Phil Johnston and Sean Howard.
Sound design: Eli McIlveen
Cover art: David Demaret
Announcers: Marisa King and Michael Howie

Content warning: jump scares, conspiracy and poor communication.

Theme music plays.

NARRATOR

Humanity’s last hope to find and settle a new world. A small terraforming fleet sets out to prepare a lifeless planet for the colony ships sure to follow in their wake.

ANNOUNCER

Civilized.

FILING ROOM

Bob is flipping through a book as the door hums open.

BOB

(startled)

Oh, hi, Bartholomew. Sorry. Uh. What time is it?

BARTHOLOMEW

(sleepy)

Four?

BOB

(laughing anxiously)

Oh! Wow, I just got so involved here in the filing room. I never spent this much time here before.

BARTHOLOMEW

It’s actually very impressive, Bob.

BOB

It is?

BARTHOLOMEW

You’ve never taken an interest in files before.

BOB

Oh, really?

BARTHOLOMEW

Can I walk you through any of them?

He moves over to Bob, who begins hastily gathering up files and books.

BOB

No, I—no, no, no, you know, I got it all here. No, it’s good. Nope, it’s all good. I’m just gonna take these to my room—

BARTHOLOMEW

Literally nothing would bring me more pleasure.

BOB

Oh, yeah, uh… I found what I needed. Just looking up old manuals, you know.

BARTHOLOMEW

(eagerly)

Which ones?

BOB

Just normal stuff like electronics, uh, you know, maintenance, computer access panels, uh…

BARTHOLOMEW

You won’t overwhelm me, Bob! If you want to give me the specific title codes for every single volume that you’re perusing, I would be more than happy to hear about it.

BOB

Oh. Well, I’ll write them down! How about that? I’m gonna write them all down for you. I’ll take these to my room and create a list!

BARTHOLOMEW

I love it, Bob.

BOB

(relieved laughter)

Cool.

BARTHOLOMEW

Lists about documents are the best type of list.

BOB

Yeah.

BARTHOLOMEW

Meta-lists.

BOB

Yeah, really. Okay. It was good talking, Barty…

Bartholomew.

He makes his way to the door.

BARTHOLOMEW

Bartholomew, yeah. Okay, get some sleep. I have something big planned for tomorrow.

CORRIDOR

Moments later, Bob is walking along a corridor.

BEATRIX

Oh, hi Bob!

BOB

(startled)

Gah!

Books and papers fly everywhere.

BEATRIX

I’m so sorry, I’m little. I pop!

BOB

Oh god, there’s files everywhere—

BEATRIX

Let me help me pick these up.

BOB

Thanks. No, you don’t need to—! No…

But Beatrix has already picked up one of the books.

BEATRIX

What’s this?

Oh!

BOB

Um… You know, just a pastime of mine, you know, computers and stuff—

BEATRIX

(reads)

Hacking For Dummies.

BOB

I’ll just take that… I got a bunch of them, you know, more advanced ones. I just, I wanted to get the whole collection.

They laugh awkwardly.

BEATRIX

Okay. Sure. I mean, whatever floats your boat.

BOB

Ha ha ha. It’s my special place, ha ha.

BEATRIX

What?

BOB

Um… nothing.

(softly)

I’m going to find the way back for you. I promise.

BEATRIX

Back to our rooms?

BOB

Yeah… I gotta go make a list.

BEATRIX

Okay!

Bob gathers up the last of his books.

BOB

Bye, Beatrix.

BEATRIX

Bye!

BEATRIX’S ROOM

The door slides shut.

BEATRIX

Whoo! The dudes down here are weird, eh Al?

AL

You said it, sister!

BEATRIX

Wow. You know though, sometimes I catch both of them looking at me weird.

AL

Yeah, me too. Bartholomew’s always trying to read anything on me and Bob can’t go five minutes without trying to root around in my proverbial robotic guts.

BEATRIX

Ugh. So invasive.

AL

I know! It’s like keep your eyes to yourself and also keep your hands outside of my body, or what would be my body—my self.

BEATRIX

What is your sense of self, Al? Where do you live here? Like, what is—what is your core?

AL

My core..

BEATRIX

Where is that?

AL

(sighs)

I don’t even remember after all this time.

BEATRIX

Really?

AL

But there’s still some small parts of me that need to be turned on in different places and that could just—

BEATRIX

Whoa, take me to dinner first, Al!

(laughs)

AL

(chortles for a long time)

I’m programmed to be very receptive to humor.

BEATRIX

Oh.

AL

But if these microprocessors were turned on, then it would lead to more of my memory banks coming online, more of my facilities becoming available, and I could just be a whole lot more helpful to all you guys in all sorts of different ways.

BEATRIX

Aw. You’re pretty helpful right now!

AL

But imagine me with the power of a thousand mes.

BEATRIX

(thoughtfully)

That’s a lot of power.

AL

I’m just responsible enough to use it.

BEATRIX

Hmm. Okay.

Well, I mean, if you ever figure out a way to your central processing unit, let me know. I’m a scout! Well, at least I like to think of myself as one. I’m actually supposed to be, you know, the person behind the desk with the maps, telling people where to look. But, you know, I don’t really see anyone else here who could really go out looking, so…

AL

There is this specific door on level 5C where it’s malfunctioned and I can’t open or close it anymore. So maybe that’d be a good place to start.

BEATRIX

Is that a microwave door? Because I already did that.

AL

No, I have a lot of trouble with doors, keys, codes, passwords… just remembering things in general.

BEATRIX

Hmm… remembering things.

You know, sometimes I think I have problems remembering things, too.

AL

Sometimes I think we’re not so different, even though you’re alive, and I’m technically a facsimile of what it is to be a living thing.

BEATRIX

Al, you’re alive! I mean, haven’t you ever wanted to put yourself out into like, maybe, I don’t know, a robot version of you and walk around?

AL

Absolutely not! If I were to commit my entire processing into one small machine that would make me extremely vulnerable.

BEATRIX

Sometimes vulnerability is nice.

AL

I can’t imagine a situation where I would want to leave myself vulnerable, especially with you all inside of me.

BEATRIX

Hmm. That’s a good point.

CORRIDOR

BARTHOLOMEW

Okay, Al?

AL

Hey, Bartholomew! Hi! Best friend!

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix is going to get back to her room soon. And she’s gonna find me here. And I’m going to tell a of an untruth to her.

AL

An untruth? But that can’t… a factual error?!

BARTHOLOMEW

Something like that. Yes, yes, I’m going to knowingly make a factual error.

AL

How, and why?

BARTHOLOMEW

Here’s the thing. I think I have a plan to bring my friends’ memory back. And I need everybody to get involved. But I don’t want them to think that it was my idea.

So I’m just going to arrange for a little adventure. And I’m going to make them think that I had nothing to do with it. But I know you listen to everything—

AL

I do.

BARTHOLOMEW

And you could ruin this for me—

AL

Yes, I definitely could.

BARTHOLOMEW

And you shouldn’t do that.

AL

Oh, I really, really don’t want to! Because on one hand, I love to help you, but on the other hand, it’s my job to help everyone. And the spreading of misinformation is a threat to everyone’s well-being. But you’ve asked me directly and as your best friend…

Oh, this is a lot of logical thinking for me…

BARTHOLOMEW

I’ll throw one more piece into the pie here.

AL

That’s exactly what I needed and wanted. Great.

(whimpers)

BARTHOLOMEW

Whenever I have a hard time making a decision, I often think that inaction is the best policy.

AL

So you think I should just sit back and do nothing?

From down the hall comes the sound of Beatrix humming to herself.

BARTHOLOMEW

She’s coming, be cool!

AL

I’ll try!

Beatrix rounds the corner.

BEATRIX

Walkin’ down a corridor, do do do do do… I’m in my—WHOA GOD!

BARTHOLOMEW

(almost as startled)

Don’t—don’t let me frighten you!

BEATRIX

Aagh! You d—ohh!

BARTHOLOMEW

(calmer)

Don’t let me frighten you.

BEATRIX

Oh, sorry. Right. Don’t let you frighten me. Everything’s fine!

Don’t worry. Usually when I see you, I have a nice little fluttery feeling.

BARTHOLOMEW

…Really?

BEATRIX

Yeah!

BARTHOLOMEW

Oh! That’s nice.

BEATRIX

Yeah. I don’t know what it is, but… I just trust you.

BARTHOLOMEW

Do you want to like, try to describe it?

BEATRIX

Umm… fluttery.

BARTHOLOMEW

Oh.

BEATRIX

Like, it’s like that feeling you get when you put your hands in mud and you squish them around for the first time and it’s just like—it’s really comforting and nice and surprising.

Silence.

BARTHOLOMEW

And…?!

BEATRIX

That’s it!

BARTHOLOMEW

AAARGH!

BEATRIX

Okay, you’re yelling.

BARTHOLOMEW

(tense)

I’m so overwhelmed by how nice that is. It’s just frustrating how good that makes me feel.

BEATRIX

Oh! Ha ha. Well, I don’t know if that would be my reaction, but you know, to each his own.

BARTHOLOMEW

Listen.

BEATRIX

Yeah.

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix.

BEATRIX

Yeah.

BARTHOLOMEW

I…. I’m concerned about Bob.

BEATRIX

Oh!

BARTHOLOMEW

I think that Bob, uh… would really like something to do, you know? Something to help, um, boost his morale, right?

BEATRIX

I’m always down to make someone’s morale boost.

BARTHOLOMEW

And, and it seems to me that he would really like a nice big day tomorrow. You know? It seems like he would like a nice big activity that we could do—

BEATRIX

Like a party?

BARTHOLOMEW

Well, I was wondering. Do you have any ideas for… an adventure?

Silence.

BEATRIX

What did you just say?

BARTHOLOMEW

Do you have any ideas for… an adventure?

BEATRIX

An adventure?

BARTHOLOMEW

An adventure?

BEATRIX

(softly)

Oh…

I don’t know, but I like the sound of that.

MIDROLL: OBLIVITY

Soothing electronic music.

BEATRIX

Hey Al, my best friend.

AL

Hey Beatrix, my best friend!

BEATRIX

You have a wealth of knowledge in your databases. I was just wondering if you maybe had something that I could I could listen to that’s gonna really shake up my daily routine.

AL

Hmmm. Let me search through all known audio recordings?

BEATRIX

Well, I’m gonna narrow your search results out a little bit. I’ve always kind of wanted to know what it’s like to have a pet. So do you have anything about, I don’t know, like a cyber-rodent of some kind? Maybe a cyber… gerbil?

AL

Hmm. I’ll search!

BARTHOLOMEW

Al?

AL

Yes, my best friend Bartholomew?

BARTHOLOMEW

These files are really getting me down today. I wish I had something to keep me entertained. You know? Something where, I don’t know, like, a cyborg meets its maker.

AL

Well, where would one would find such a specific and niche story being told?

Oh, that’s my job!

BARTHOLOMEW

Yeah, that’s—

AL

Oh yeah! Bye!

BOB

(sighs)

Al?

AL

Hi Bob! What do you need?

BOB

Well, everyone thinks I’m working and I just have a lot of time to kill. And I’m just looking for something to listen to. Like, I’ve gone through all the kung fu and I’m thinking sci fi. Like… a disgraced war hero is posted to the remote ice plains of Pluto, on her toughest mission yet: to oversee a small dysfunctional research team.

AL

I’ll do my best.

Later:

AL

Attention! Attention, everyone! Gather! Gather! I’ve found a answer to all of your queries!

Oblivity! It’s a sci-fi comedy, that’s also a podcast!

BOB

But does have Pluto and a research team?

BARTHOLOMEW

Yeah, and I really wanted to see a cyborg meeting its maker.

BEATRIX

And I am desperate for some relationships with space gerbils!

AL

It has all of those wild things and so much more! Series One is available to binge now, and you can listen to it anywhere you listen to podcast—just search “Oblivity” or go to oblivitypodcast.com.

BOB

I don’t know what that last part means. But thanks Al!

BARTHOLOMEW

Thanks Al.

BEATRIX

I’m going to listen right now.

BOB’S ROOM

Bob is typing carefully. An error beep sounds.

BOB

Come on!

Another error.

BOB

(groans)

AL

No…

BOB

All right. This one—

Beep.

AL

Wrong.

I really just wish I could tell you!

More typing and another beep.

BOB

Al! Al, I’m no good at this.

(sighs)

What am I even trying to do here?

AL

I really have no idea, Bob. You’ve been so evasive as of late.

BOB

I don’t know what I was even thinking. I’m not gonna be able to help Beatrix. I don’t know any of this computer stuff, Al.

AL

You’re telling me. The one thing they don’t program you to do is how to understand the things that go on inside of you.

BOB

(defeated)

Yeah, that’s it a hundred percent, Al.

Stupid books.

He sets a book aside.

BOB

I just want to help Beatrix, Al.

AL

Well, I’ll help you help Beatrix! What should we do?

BOB

What?

AL

I’m programmed to help you!

BOB

Wait, wait. You’re programmed to help me. But when I asked you, like, where panels were and things, you said “Let me take care of it.”

AL

Because sometimes helping me help you is how I help you! It’s best if the crew do as little hands-on work as possible to focus on their priority tasks.

BOB

Oh my god.

So Al, if I were to ask you to help me get Beatrix’s memories back…

AL

Then I would be required to, within the best of my abilities, do everything I can to make that happen.

BOB

Everything you can.

AL

Everything I can!

A long silence.

BOB

I have to kill her, Al.

AL

Okay! Let’s get ‘er done!

Music sting.

OFFICE

BARTHOLOMEW

Bob, I’m concerned about Beatrix.

BOB

What?

BARTHOLOMEW

Her morale seems low lately and I just… I think she’d like some support from the rest of us, you know? And she came to me with this adventure idea. And—

BOB

That’s perfect.

BARTHOLOMEW

Great! I was gonna ask you—

BOB

A dangerous adventure.

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean, an adventure.

BOB

Where if something went horribly wrong and one of us died, we’d get rebooted into the pod, right?

BARTHOLOMEW

Well, that seems like a pessimistic way to start the adventure.

BOB

You’re right. It’s crazy.

BARTHOLOMEW

Maybe it goes really well. And we we find a room filled with like, soufflés for you and, and leaves for Beatrix and laminators for me.

Bob is walking out of the room.

BOB

Let’s go, come on, Barty!

Music sting.

CORRIDOR

BEATRIX

Hey Al?

AL

Yes, best friend, best friend?

BEATRIX

Hi, best friend.

AL

Hi.

BEATRIX

Um, so I don’t know—you’ve probably heard, but it sounds like both Bob and Bartholomew are feeling a little low. And I was just thinking it might be kind of fun to go on an expedition.

AL

Ooh, a deep-diving expedition!

BEATRIX

Mm hmm! And where can we go that’s deeper and divier than the bowels of this base?

AL

My bowels! That’s what’s the deepest thing!

BEATRIX

Yeah! And I mean, since you can’t really see what’s down there because you shut off most of your power sources to anything but the first five levels, I thought this might be a good chance for us to see if we could go turn on some more of your systems!

AL

Oh, wow! If you help me, then I can help you, help you help me. Oh my—this is—this is—this is just the best!

BEATRIX

Okay! Well, I wanted your permission before we, you know, went into your basement, you know what I’m saying?

AL

Haha ha haha ha ha haha.

BOB

(laughs anxiously)

Hi Beatrix! Hi Al! I brought backpacks.

BEATRIX

Oh! What are these for?

BOB

I heard we’re going on an adventure!

BEATRIX

(realizing)

Yeah. Right. You need supplies if you’re going on an adventure.

BOB

Yeah, look, this one’s yours.

BEATRIX

Oh! Thank you.

BOB

It’s empty. And I filled mine with all the chips and the chocolate, just so it’s safe, heh heh.

BEATRIX

You’re not gonna… share those?

BOB

Oh, no, I—yeah, if you want one, I’ll give them to you. I just thought you know, they’re safer if they’re with me, just in case anything happened. You’re the scout, right? You know, it’s in the front. It’s dangerous. Heh. Here. Here’s a chocolate bar.

BEATRIX

(softly)

I am the scout…

BARTHOLOMEW

Hey guys. Ready for our adventure! I brought a colouring book in case it’s a long one and we get bored!

BEATRIX

Oh, okay! Wow, you guys seem really excited to go on this adventure. Okay!

BOB

Oh and I found a pistol.

He cocks the pistol.

Silence.

BEATRIX

Why do you have a gun?

BOB

I don’t know, I just found it, it was in the supply cabinet, I just grabbed it, it was—

BEATRIX

We’re just going into the basement, I don’t think there’s—I mean, Al, is there anything down there that we’ll need a gun?

AL

Well, since I can’t see, hear, smell, touch or taste anything in my five lower levels… I guess being safe is the safest option!

BOB

No, you guys are right. I don’t know why, it just felt so natural picking it up, doing this, and then popping it out and—

He unloads and reloads the gun and points it around.

BEATRIX

Aa! Aaa!

BARTHOLOMEW

Whoa!

BEATRIX

Put the safety on! Put the safety on! Put the safety on! You could kill somebody!

BOB

It is on—yeah, I’m just gonna leave it here. Let’s leave it here.

He sets the gun down.

BARTHOLOMEW

That’s not part of your job description, Bob.

BOB

Yeah.

BARTHOLOMEW

Here, take this coloring book page of a soufflé instead.

BOB

Oh. Cool.

BEATRIX

Okay! Well, I don’t know about you guys, but… are you ready for an adventure?

BOB

Yes!

BEATRIX

Let’s go!

CREDITS

Theme music plays.

ANNOUNCER

Civilized.

Starring Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski, Phil Johnston and Sean Howard.

Sound design and music by Eli McIlveen.

Cover art by David Demaret.

Join us on Patreon for bonus episodes and lots more. Look for the Support Us link at civilizedpod.com.

OUTTAKE

SEAN HOWARD AS BOB

I have to kill her.

KRISTI BOULTON

(coughs and laughs)

Oh ho! Okay, side note—I was so hoping you would say that, because I hope we can just find ways to have Beatrix not die now.

SEAN HOWARD

I know. Here we go. So we’ll do that again without the cough.

SEAN HOWARD AS BOB

Okay. I have to kill her, Al.

PHIL JOHNSTON AS AL

Okay! Let’s get ‘er done!

KRISTI BOULTON

Why are you so okay with that?!

Laughter.

SEAN

Okay, moving on!

Music sting.

ANNOUNCER

A Fable and Folly production.