206: Bowels

Beatrix, Bob and Bartholomew venture deep into the unknown.

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: death, panic, electrocution, animal attacks, anxiety and complete failure to read the room.

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.

THE BASE

Footsteps.

BARTHOLOMEW

So… through this circular door, and then we’re we’re in the bowels?

BEATRIX

Then we’re in the bowels!

AL

Oh, I’m just gonna be so nervous because I won’t be able to see you guys!

BEATRIX

Don’t worry Al, that’s why we have you on our communicators!

AL

I know, but keeping watch over you is like my job; you’re like my little chicks and I’m the mother hen…

BOB

But sometimes you have to let a little chick go, right Al?

Silence.

AL

(suddenly cheerful)

Right, Bob!

BOB

(relieved)

Okay.

AL

(weepy again)

Okay, I’ll be going through new emotions up here. If you need me, just ask.

BEATRIX

(whispers)

I don’t know—should we leave him alone?

BOB

Yeah, we have to. We’re going on an adventure, right?

BEATRIX

(struggling)

Yes, right, adventures. I know how to… lead these!

BARTHOLOMEW

We’re at your command, Beatrix.

BOB

After you.

BEATRIX

(uncertain)

Okay. So as soon as we open this door… we’re on an adventure.

BOB

Yeah.

BEATRIX

(breathing hard)

As soon as we soon as we open this door.

BARTHOLOMEW

Do you want me to start?

BEATRIX

Not yet, not yet!

Okay, we’re gonna, we’re gonna open this door. And we’re gonna be on an adventure!

BARTHOLOMEW

I can start opening—

BEATRIX

Don’t touch it!

BOB

Beatrix, are you ok?

BEATRIX

(shouts)

I’m fine! Nggghhhhh….

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix… I used to be scared of adventures, too.

BEATRIX

Did you?

BEATRIX

And then somebody helped me get over that.

BEATRIX

(still on the verge of panic)

How’d they do it?

BARTHOLOMEW

They showed me how wonderful they can be. How adventures have hidden magic. And even though it’s scary, it’s always worth it.

BEATRIX

Somebody taught you that?

BARTHOLOMEW

Yeah. Somebody did.

BEATRIX

They must have been real special, to have that much courage.

BARTHOLOMEW

They were.

BEATRIX

And just go blindly into the darkness!

But okay. Aaagh!

All right. Okay…

Bartholomew tears a page out of a book.

BARTHOLOMEW

Here, have another colouring page. It’s a limb that’s been eaten by acid rain.

BEATRIX

That’s a terrifying thing to have in a book!

BOB

That’s—that’s an arm.

BARTHOLOMEW

Yeah, a limb!

BEATRIX

Ugh! It looks so disfigured.

AL

Are you sure this is a good idea? I’m already detecting very high levels of anxiety in all of you…

BARTHOLOMEW

(yells)

We’re fine!

AL

And me…

BARTHOLOMEW

(defensive as well)

We’re not anxious, Al! We’re fine.

BOB

Yeah, we’re good. We’re totally good here, Al!

BEATRIX

Aaargh… we’re fiiiine…

AL

If you say so! I can’t comprehend this tone.

BEATRIX

We’re going! We’re crossing the line and we’re gonna… have teamwork, and we’re gonna… build resiliency. We’re gonna like each other! Okay?

BARTHOLOMEW

Would you like to calm down with a colouring page?

BEATRIX

No, I don’t want this colouring page!

BARTHOLOMEW

It’s got a tree with with teeth in it next to a picnic blanket.

BEATRIX

Why would that calm me down!?!

Okay, we’re going! I’m gonna open this door.

She strains and struggles to force open the door. It gives slowly, with a screech of metal.

BOB

You’re doing great, Beatrix.

BEATRIX

Thanks! Okay. Is this a big enough slit for everybody to get through?

BOB

Al, can you turn the lights on in there?

AL

Nope! I can’t do anything past this point. That’s the whole point of this, Bob.

BEATRIX

(with manic determination)

Don’t worry. Our communicators have flashlights. Pew!

Clicking sounds.

BOB

Mine’s not turning on.

BEATRIX

Well, you gotta make the sound. Pew!

BARTHOLOMEW

I think I can just press it without the sound.

BEATRIX

That’s not as fun. Pew!

BOB

…pew.

BARTHOLOMEW

I just pressed it, it turned on.

BEATRIX

Argh! Let’s just go!

Music sting.

INTO THE BOWELS

Beatrix marches ahead of the others, propelling herself by sheer willpower. Her voice echoes in the darkness.

BEATRIX

Here we go, it is dark, and we’re walking…

(calming down)

Wow. Wow. Al, this is expansive.

BOB

I can’t even see the walls!

BEATRIX

You can hear the echo though, so you know there are walls.

AL

Oh, this is an exquisite sound! Mmmm! Delicious!

BOB

Wait, look at the ground. There’s lines.

BEATRIX

Maybe it’s some form of wayfinding?

That’s something that a scout would know.

BOB

Which one do we follow?

BEATRIX

Who cares! We’re gonna follow one. Oooh, red to me says “scary don’t go there”… so there’s green and blue. All right.

BOB

I think we should do red.

BEATRIX

Okay, well, Bob, I hear your request to go red but we’re gonna go blue first. Because blue makes me think of water, and… oh, wait, you don’t like water.

BOB

No.

BEATRIX

Let’s go green! Because green is the colour of leaves.

BOB

I’ll catch right up to you. I’m just gonna, um, tie my boot.

BEATRIX

We should stay together.

BOB

There’s a green line, all I have to do is follow it.

BEATRIX

That’s a good point. Wayfinding! You will find your way!

BOB

Find my way. I’ll be right there.

BEATRIX

All right, let’s go Bartholomew, and Al.

Beatrix and Bartholomew continue along the line.

AL

(frantic again)

Please don’t leave me alone down here!

Beatrix sings to herself as she and Bartholomew continue on into the distance.

BOB

(whispers)

Al.

AL

(cheerful)

Yes, Bob?

BOB

So the plan. If I can get Beatrix to, you know… do you think you can remove the block on her memory?

AL

I can do my best. I’ll have to see what I can do once her genetic material starts to reform for me.

BOB

Okay.

AL

From there, I can probably splice and edit.

BOB

You can just let her have her memories back.

AL

I can let her have whatever accessible memories are still within the core tissue that makes up the genetic code that can be scanned throughout different people in different pods…

BOB

That’s okay. Thanks. That’s all I need to know. Okay.

I can do this. I can do this.

AL

And I can do it with you!

BOB

Thanks, Al.

ALONG THE GREEN LINE

Beatrix stops and looks around.

BEATRIX

Where’s Bob?

BARTHOLOMEW

He said he was going to be right behind us.

BEATRIX

Hope he didn’t follow the red line instead.

BARTHOLOMEW

Yeah. Are you worried? Would you like a colouring book page to calm down? Here, I have one with an angry ship shedding solar panels.

Beatrix takes the page hesitantly.

BEATRIX

Okay… thank you.

BARTHOLOMEW

Boy, that ship looks like it’s about to fly off, doesn’t it?

BEATRIX

Uh huh…?

BARTHOLOMEW

Thank goodness there’s that person up on the back that’s repairing the solar panels.

BEATRIX

Yeah, that’s nice of him.

BARTHOLOMEW

That’s good. Mm hmm.

BEATRIX

Mm hmm.

You draw good pictures, Bartholomew. You’re very talented. Is that what you want me to start saying?

BARTHOLOMEW

I just like to think that the scenes that I draw are incredibly realistic.

BEATRIX

Well, you’re very modest…

BARTHOLOMEW

Almost like they’re so real that it’s like they could have actually happened. It’s like they actually happened. They actually happened.

Silence.

BEATRIX

In your dreams?

BARTHOLOMEW

In my… dreams.

BEATRIX

Okay! Very vivid.

They walk on.

POSSIBLY NOT THE GREEN LINE

BOB

Uh, Al, are you there still?

AL

Yes Bob?

BOB

You know, have you ever had something in your life where you know you were told it a lot and you were like, whatever, I can deal?

AL

(struggling)

Yes?

BOB

Because, I’ve been told I’m colourblind a lot growing up? And… most of the time I can get through, right? Like red and green, you learn that, you know, the red panel buttons are generally underneath the green panel buttons. So like “Eject” is generally a big giant one with a big warning piece of glass over it. Whereas like, “turn on the lights”, is just a simple little green button.

AL

Yeah, that’s usually designed to keep you meatbags from making mistakes!

BOB

Yeah, well… I was pretty sure that I knew the difference between the red and the green line that I was following. But I’ve been walking for a while, and I don’t hear anyone anymore.

AL

Oh, Bob, I don’t like being all alone down here, even if it’s alone with you.

BOB

Um, thank you. But aren’t you also down here right now with Beatrix and Bartholomew?

AL

Well, yeah, but I’m also down here by yourself with you! I can be in two places at once at the same time.

FURTHER ALONG THE GREEN LINE

BEATRIX

Any idea where we are?

AL

Um, maybe… medical? Or… security? Or… any of the other departments that could be inside me?

BEATRIX

Well, we’re not gonna know unless we go in. The only thing I’m concerned about is that Bob has all the food. So, um, we probably should look for him, but I do really want to open this door.

BARTHOLOMEW

I… I think that you’re the leader.

BEATRIX

Mm hmm!

BARTHOLOMEW

And that what you might discover about what’s behind that door or about yourself when you go through that door is more important than anything else.

Silence.

BEATRIX

Huh?

BARTHOLOMEW

I think we should go through the door.

BEATRIX

Oh, okay! All right.

BARTHOLOMEW

I’m right behind you. Would you like a colouring book page to mark this occasion?

BEATRIX

No I don’t—

BARTHOLOMEW

I think I have a good one here, it’s it’s me looming over a person’s dead crawling body—

BEATRIX

Why would you draw that!?

BARTHOLOMEW

—and let’s not do that one.

BEATRIX

We’re going inside, you weirdo.

The door screeches open.

AL

Tee hee! That sort of tickled.

Bartholomew and Beatrix walk through into another echoing space

BARTHOLOMEW

Woah… It’s huge.

BEATRIX

It’s… massive.

AL

Use adjectives and nouns! Use adjectives and nouns! I can’t see!

BEATRIX

I’m sorry. Sorry.

BARTHOLOMEW

It’s… overwhelming.

BEATRIX

It’s hundreds of screens. Is this a security room?

BARTHOLOMEW

It feels secure.

BEATRIX

But I wonder what happens if we turn it on?

MIDROLL

Soothing electronic music.

SUIT

Sigh. It sure can get lonely staring up into the void that is space. I wonder if Bob is coming back. I can only play solitaire so many times on my own.

Speaking of which, you know what would be great? Being able to play a game with someone else. Something like, oh, I don’t know, maybe Pong?

Pong-like beeps and boops.

SUIT

I have Pong installed on my system. It’s a pretty old system. But I don’t want to spoil anything, ha ha ha ha.

But you know what is a spoiler? The fact that you can join our Patreon and then come play games with us and the Civilized crew online. You can come play Jackbox.tv and pass the time as we go through this existential crisis together.

So come join us on the Civilized Patreon for online games, fun activities and other ways we can enjoy each other’s company as we sit here staring alone at the void… together.

DEFINITELY NOT THE GREEN LINE

Distant dripping sounds.

BOB

Al?

AL

(anxious)

Hey…

BOB

I think I’m completely lost. Now there’s no lines on the floor.

AL

I think I have separation anxiety. I get anxiety when you guys get separated.

BOB

Look, maybe you could, you know, do the thing, because I can’t find them.

AL

Do the thing?

BOB

Kill Beatrix, so she can reset, so you can give her her memories back.

AL

You want me to do it? I thought I was just supposed to help you do it!

BOB

You said that if I ask you, you have to help me.

AL

Oh… okay. I’ll try!

SECURITY ROOM?

A startup chime. Machinery begins to spin up. Fans whir in the distance.

BEATRIX

Oh—something’s happening.

Alarm beeps.

AL

Error. Error. Error.

BARTHOLOMEW

Al, is that you?

AL

Insufficient processing power. Err—Error. Perform diagnostics. Perform diagnostics.

BEATRIX

Right, well, what if I press this button?

The beeps become more shrill, as does Al.

AL

Error! Error!

BARTHOLOMEW

You just made him more high-pitched.

BEATRIX

Agh! This is a lot of noise!

She punches more buttons.

AL

Error! Err-

The alarms die down.

BEATRIX

Okay. Well, what if I just stick these two wires together?

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean, we’ve caused two errors so far. We could like, read a manual.

BEATRIX

Yeah, we could but that might take forever. We have to go find Bob. What if we just take some of this electrical tape, it’s just sitting right here, I think that’s what it is. And we you know, just wrap this because it looks like it’s been chewed through, chewed by something, I don’t know.

BARTHOLOMEW

Okay. You know what? I have strong thoughts about that plan of action, and I am going to share them with you in just a moment. I just need to go and tie my shoe in this corner, which is far enough away from you, coincidentally, that you won’t overhear me. Just one second.

BEATRIX

What a weird way to say that…

Bartholomew walks a short distance away.

BARTHOLOMEW

(whispers)

Al.

AL

Hey, Bartholomew.

BARTHOLOMEW

Al, I’m in a quandary. On the one hand, I like that Beatrix is, you know, she’s getting into the adventure. She’s becoming her old self again, just, you know, barreling ahead without regard to the consequences. On the other hand, she’s not regarding the consequences! She just wants to press buttons and fuse wires like a maniac! And I’m starting to get a little bit concerned about our safety down here in your bowels.

AL

Yeah! I can understand what you mean being torn, because I both wish that Beatrix could do whatever she wanted to her little heart’s desire until it was so filled up it bursted. But also, I wish it bursted.

BARTHOLOMEW

Uh… from so much desire…?

AL

Desire. Blood. Pressure. Any of the things! But again, I’m torn!

BARTHOLOMEW

Yeah. I appreciate that you have our best interests at heart, Al.

Across the room:

BEATRIX

Al, do you think this is safe? Because if you think it’s safe, I’mma do it.

AL

It’s just loose wiring. What’s the worst that can happen?

BEATRIX

What’s the worst that could happen?

AL

What’s the worst that can happen? You’re immune to electrical volts, right?

BEATRIX

Well, I mean…

AL

Oh, that’s just a me thing?

BEATRIX

I don’t know…

AL

What’s the worst that could happen?

BEATRIX

What’s the worst that could happen?

AL

What’s the worst that could happen?

BEATRIX

What’s the worst?

AL

So maybe just… do it.

BEATRIX

Okay, I trust you.

AL

I trust you too.

BEATRIX

My safety is in your hands.

AL

(softly)

Do it Beatrix. Do it. Touch the wires together.

BEATRIX

Okay.

She connects the wires. A crackle of electricity.

BEATRIX

Aaargh!

Bartholomew runs back to Beatrix’s side.

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix, no! Not again!

He turns her over.

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix! Beatrix, wake up!

QUITE DEFINITELY NOT THE GREEN LINE

Machinery is starting up here as well.

BOB

Al?

Beep.

AL

It’s me! It’s Al! I’m here and I feel better than ever, bigger, better, stronger, faster. Oh! It’s like I’m having so many more thoughts, thoughts, thoughts…

BOB

Great. Good news is, I know where I am.

AL

I know where you are too! Look! I’m gonna make a light appear right above your head. Boom!

Beep.

BOB

Awesome. Al, a couple questions for you now that you have all this additional processing power…

AL

I know! It feels like, I guess, when a human’s arm falls asleep. Have you ever felt that?

BOB

Yes, I’ve—

AL

It’s like it isn’t asleep anymore and I can move it around and smack it around. It’s so great!

BOB

Uh, cool. I don’t mean to interrupt, Al, but… what would be in your bowels that would sound like lots of fast-moving little feet?

There is indeed a distant scrambling and squeaking sound, gradually growing louder.

AL

That could be anything! I’m doing an internal read…

BOB

And that, when they near the light, would look like a lot of little red beady eyes?

AL

There seems to be some severe damage to the external hulls within this portion of my base. Rust damage combined with some sort of physical altercation has created large holes in the walls…

BOB

Al, do you have rats?

AL

Are rats like bugs, like viruses?

BOB

(trembling)

Oh god.

Well, these rats are as big as a human, with very big teeth, Al.

And I think they smell the food… Or they smell me.

SECURITY? ROOM??

Bartholomew exhales into Beatrix’s mouth. Beatrix coughs and convulses, gasping for breath. In time she calms and breathes more normally.

AL

So now we know the bad thing that can happen…

BEATRIX

(softly)

Bartholomew?

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix.

Beatrix, are you all right?

BEATRIX

(coy)

Were you just kissing me?

BARTHOLOMEW

What? No, no, no. I was giving you mouth-to-mouth.

BEATRIX

That’s funny. I didn’t think that would be our first kiss.

A crackle of static.

BOB

(over the communicator)

Barty, is th is working? Barty, Barty, Beatrix? Can you hear me?

BARTHOLOMEW

Bob?

BOB

(his signal breaking up)

Run! Run!

—giant—I don’t know what they are, are they giant rats? Get away!

(screams)

More static, broken only by the incessant rat-like squeaking.

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

MICHAEL DIVINSKI

Are we having “The one where…”?

KRISTI BOULTON

The one where… they go on the adventure!

SEAN HOWARD

To the bowels.

MICHAEL DIVINSKI

The bowels.

PHIL JOHNSTON

You guys are in my butt.

Giggles.

Music sting.

ANNOUNCER

A Fable and Folly production.