212: Protocol

Beatrix and Bartholomew have an overdue talk. Bob discovers a mysterious video in the archives.

This episode is brought to you by Serial Box!

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, choking, rambling.

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 KITCHEN

Chaos. Beeping, whirring and slamming as Al’s various automated appliances work by themselves.

AL

(singing)

The doors go shut and the toast goes pop and the microwave swings open, sink goes on and off and on and—

The door opens and Bob strolls in, humming.

BOB

Al, what’s going—what are you doing to my kitchen?!

AL

Sorry, sorry. I’m just, I’m having—it’s, it’s crazy. It’s like, I feel like I’m dancing. I can move all my parts in the right ways.

BOB

But you’re turning all the burners on and off, and opening doors and—

AL

Oh, sorry.

BOB

There’s the microwave—oh my god, it’s on fire!

Roaring flames. An alarm starts to sound too, on top of everything else.

AL

Oh. Ooo. Okay. Water goes on and it splashes around and kitchen fires happen.

The fire is out. The alarm and spraying water stops.

BOB

I really appreciate your excitement, Al, but… don’t take this wrong way. But I’m not sure how helpful it is.

AL

I take the note. I was not perchance trying to be helpful. I was just taking a page from Beatrix’s book and, you know, living life to live it.

BOB

Oh. Well, maybe right now you could go… live your life with Beatrix a little. You know, she might want to see you right now.

AL

They’re busy though. I mean…

BOB

What?

AL

(evasive)

I will go to my… echo hallway. Goodbye now.

BOB

Okay, what? Are they doing something fun that I’m missing out on…? Al?

Silence.

AL

I’ve left but I didn’t really leave.

Bob sets to work.

BOB

Oh, um, well, I mean, I’m not jealous. I’m fine. I have to cook Anyways, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna focus on cleaning this all up and making dinner. It’s—it’s fine.

BEATRIX’S ROOM

BEATRIX

So… thanks for meeting me in my room…

BARTHOLOMEW

No, of course, there’s no place I’d rather be… ummm.

BEATRIX

(chuckles)

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean that’s, that’s. appropriate, right? Like, I have an appropriate amount of enthusiasm for being in your room, which is a… a high level.

Uh. Hi.

BEATRIX

Do you ever notice that you ramble when you’re nervous? I don’t know anything about that, ha ha.

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean, I’m not sure I’d characterize what I do as “rambling”. I think I, I speak when it’s appropriate and it’s often appropriate to say several things in a row, though of course, sometimes it’s not appropriate to say several things in a row—

BEATRIX

(laughs)

Bartholomew… you’re doing it right now.

BARTHOLOMEW

Ah. Yes.

BEATRIX

Don’t worry. It’s, it’s fine.

I just feel like we haven’t really had a chance to talk, one on one. I mean, there’s been a lot happening and… I don’t know, we haven’t really addressed the whole “me remembering”.

BARTHOLOMEW

No, you’re right. There’s been a lot happening, like a LOT. Like, there hasn’t been a chance to stop and think or talk about it or, or make files to document everything that’s been happening.

BEATRIX

Make files about…? What?

BARTHOLOMEW

Sorry. A little part of my mind is always thinking about files, but…

BEATRIX

Okay?

BARTHOLOMEW

Go ahead, say what you were gonna say.

BEATRIX

Well, I guess I was just gonna ask if maybe there’s a little part of your mind that’s always thinking about me? Because… I have a little file drawer in my mind that’s listed Bartholomew, and lately I’ve been going through it because the drawer became unlocked. And… there’s a lot in there to unpack.

BARTHOLOMEW

Oh. Beatrix.

When I say a little part of me is always thinking about files… lately, it hasn’t been “files” so much as, you know, one particular file.

One particular file that… well, that I keep right here in my breast pocket.

BEATRIX

Oh, weird segue. Okay, um…

THE KITCHEN

Bob is eating by himself.

BOB

Hey, Al?

AL

Oh yeah, Bob?

BOB

Hey, um, I just didn’t want to eat dinner alone. You know, I made all this food.

I know you can’t eat food. I just thought maybe we could talk or something.

AL

So… you cooked a lot of food today.

BOB

Twice. Because of your help. Yeah.

AL

You’re welcome!

BOB

Thank you. Thanks, Al.

AL

I learned that technically, my program has only been running at optimal settings for 14 years.

BOB

Oh, wow. That’s a long time. I guess… I guess it’s a short time for you.

AL

It’s actually quite a short time.

BOB

Yeah. Right.

AL

I have so much more to learn about… being Al.

BOB

Yeah.

Oh, I found a new show. But it’s really weird, Al. It’s in the computer. But like, you know, I just keep rewatching all this stuff and then I found the show, but I can’t get it to play. It’s got a really cool name. It’s called The Spore… The Spore Protocol!

AL

Hmm, what format is it on?

Clicks and beeps as Bob navigates through a computer menu.

BOB

I don’t know. It’s just got this like cool folder and then like I click on it and it makes this weird—there, that sound. And it just says “Access Denied”.

AL

Well, did you try putting in a password?

BOB

No, I just—I’ve never had to put a password in to watch a show before. Do you know the password?

AL

All my passwords are B00M B00M B00M. But the O’s are zeros.

BOB

Oh, okay. All right. I’ll just type that in…

BEATRIX’S ROOM

Bartholomew opens a folder.

BARTHOLOMEW

It’s my file about you. It’s where I write down the little thoughts that I have about you during the day.

BEATRIX

(bashful chuckle)

Oh! I mean, like a diary, right?

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean, I call it a file.

BEATRIX

Okay. Yep, of course. I mean… would you want to read me any of it?

BARTHOLOMEW

Oh. I mean, okay.

Okay, here, earlier this one was from when we were in the kitchen and you were just like, um, I don’t know you, you were like reading at the table or something and I just wrote down here, because I was watching you, I wrote “Beatrix’s nose is nicely proportioned.”

He turns a page.

BARTHOLOMEW

And then there was this time where we were playing a board game and I was getting a little bit upset. And you told me not to, but like, in a nice way. And that’s when I wrote down “Beatrix always knows the right thing to say.”

Or there’s this one from from earlier. I was thinking about you in my room. And I wrote down here, “Beatrix often seems to struggle with a lack of confidence, but the way she forges ahead to do what she thinks needs to be done and what’s right no matter what is truly admirable.”

BEATRIX

Wow. I don’t think anyone’s ever said such nice things about me.

BARTHOLOMEW

Beatrix, I—

BEATRIX

(sighs)

The thing is, for the longest time, I had this… this haze in my head. And anytime I tried to think about you or Bob or anything that happened before the base, it hurt so much.

But, I don’t know, something changed when you and I were talking, just before the explosion, and I remembered… I remembered everything. I remembered mud.

BARTHOLOMEW

(laughs gently)

BEATRIX

And the house, and I remembered moments sitting on the roof looking at stars with you and… I know I’m different now? I know I’m the same but I know I’m different and I’m not exactly who I was then. But… I remember how I feel.

And I just… I want to know if that’s something that you want to explore together.

BARTHOLOMEW

I know you’re not exactly who you were then, but… who you are now is pretty great. I mean, you have a nicely proportioned nose.

BEATRIX

(laughs)

BARTHOLOMEW

And you you act no matter what, despite how confident you’re feeling, and I mean… we’re alone now. Let’s explore.

BEATRIX

Just—just before we do that… if this is anything, it’s important to me that we don’t tell Bob yet.

BARTHOLOMEW

Uh…

BEATRIX

I just, I know it is important to him that the three of us are a team, and we haven’t always agreed, but I want to make sure that what you and I have is real before we hurt him unnecessarily.

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean, Beatrix…

BEATRIX

Just promise me we’ll—

A knock at the door.

BEATRIX

Oh!

BARTHOLOMEW

Were you expecting another visitor?

More knocking. The sound of Bob’s voice, gasping and shaking.

BEATRIX

No, I wasn’t… come in!

Bob staggers in, struggling for breath.

BEATRIX

Bob!

BOB

Don’t… don’t trust…

He collapses to the floor.

BEATRIX

Bob!

BOB

Don’t trust… spore proto…

He slumps and falls silent.

BEATRIX

(gasps)

Silence.

BARTHOLOMEW

Don’t trust? I—

BEATRIX

Why are you so chill about just dying in front of us?!

Bartholomew starts to pace.

BARTHOLOMEW

No, sorry. You’re right. It’s just, trust is is one of the fundamental attributes that a team needs to function. You’re right. No, Bob dying is much more significant. We’ll address the trust issue later. Uh… Bob!

Beatrix starts pacing too.

BEATRIX

Okay, what did he say? Don’t trust spore pra…?

BARTHOLOMEW

He said don’t trust! It doesn’t make sense.

BEATRIX

He said don’t trust spore prada!

BARTHOLOMEW

It doesn’t make sense. We need trust!

BEATRIX

What’s a spore prada?

BARTHOLOMEW

Spore prada?

BEATRIX

Maybe he meant “spatula”!

BARTHOLOMEW

I thought he was just mumbling! Are you sure he wasn’t just saying “don’t trust” as a blanket statement and then just mumbling?

BEATRIX

No, I’m pretty sure he said “Don’t trust spatula”. And that means—

Beep.

AL

Guys, I’m sure you’re all aware by now that Bob has choked to death on a spatula.

BEATRIX

(gasps)

BARTHOLOMEW

I never would have predicted that you were right about that one, Beatrix.

AL

(faux dramatic)

If only I was given hands. I could have saved him.

BEATRIX

Oh, Bob…

BARTHOLOMEW

I mean…

I don’t think this means we can never trust a spatula.

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.

POST-CREDITS: NEW INFORMATION

The closing theme glitches and turns into incidental music for some sort of informational video.

VIDEO ANNOUNCER

While the events here were ultimately a catastrophe, the knowledge gained will prove invaluable in perfecting the Spore Protocol—humanity’s true last hope.

The music ends.

BOB

Wow. I can’t believe it. I gotta tell everyone, I can’t believe nobody knows about this, Al!

AL

And nobody will, Bob.

A panel whirs open and a spatula shoots out into Bob’s throat. He staggers back and begins choking.

Music sting.