If you are looking for ways to support or donate to Native communities, the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society are seeking donations to build a new center. KAFS offers many services and programs for urban-located Indigenous people, such as healthcare initiatives, outreach programs for children and youths, childcare, food hamper and nutrition programs. You can support them at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/newfriendshipcentre, which is linked in the episode description.
ELENA: Everything is at stake: your town, your employment, your privacy, the environment, your friends and family, the strangers on the street. How do you fight for justice when you can’t even fight for yourself? Learn how to grow, strengthen, love, and fight with Piper and her ragtag family, on Null/Void right here on Radio Drama Revival.
[theme music – smooth, jazzy horns playing a mellow, sultry tune that fades out gradually as Elena speaks]
ELENA: Hello, and welcome to Radio Drama Revival, the podcast that showcases the diversity and vitality of modern audio fiction. I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. Today, experience the first episodes of the fiction podcast Null/Void in our showcase; next week, return to join us for the creator interview with Cole Burkhardt.
Piper is depressed, isolated but for her cat, and stuck in a dead-end job that she hates at the corporation that is quickly and effectively taking over her town. One day, she meets Adelaide at a bus stop — and that once chance meeting changes her life. Was it even chance?
Null/Void is a podcast about capitalism and corporate overreach, and how it insidiously makes its way into our lives and takes over. The billionaires in charge are taking over; they have insidious, focused plans for the town for their own benefit. It’s also a story about found family, a loudly and proudly queer and Black story about the way this world keeps people traumatized and pinned down for corporate benefit and how your families — whoever and however that unit looks like to you — can help one another break out of it, heal, and fight back. It’s about how the futures of several generations have been stolen, and the arduous journey to salvage and repair whatever we can.
Null/Void and Radio Drama Revival would like you to donate and support The Trevor Project, a national US organization providing crisis and suicide intervention to LGBTQ+ youth under twenty-five. You can donate to them or become a fundraiser at give.thetrevorproject.com, or donate at the link in our episode description.
Please be aware that the following episodes contain detailed inner thoughts of depression and self-hate, mentions of death and suicide, and a brief deadly traffic incident and descriptions of its aftermath. Take care of yourself.
If you need it, the Trevor Lifeline can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. They also have chat and text services; you can learn about them on their website.
Now presenting, Null and Void, episode one
[begin Null and Void, episode one]
COLE: This episode contains content that may be alarming to some listeners. Please check the show notes for more detailed descriptions and take care of yourself.
Piper’s voiceover (VO) has a reverb, as if she is
speaking in a large but empty room.
PIPER: (VO) You know that feeling, that feeling after you’ve tossed back a shot of vodka or whiskey or rum and you take that first breath, filling your lungs with burning, sweet oxygen and a weight settles in your chest that doesn’t let up until hours later when you’re finally crawling, blitz out of your mind, back into bed. Or that feeling after you’ve taken the last hit from a bong, using the remaining scrapings of resin and you exhale, sinking further and further into the couch, scared to face the reality that you have to face tomorrow sober, because you’ve run out of
medication and you can’t buy more drugs ‘cuz you don’t get paid until Friday and it’s not like you can take anything else from your savings because god knows you need the money to move out of your shitty apartment and go on some grand cross- country adventure with the car you wish you had.
Or even that feeling of walking into your empty apartment, greeted only by the hungry cries of your soot colored cat, echoing down the empty halls, and after you’ve fed her you just sit down on the couch, phone in hand, staring at a blank TV screen cuz, what’s the use of doing anything. And, why are you holding your phone anyways? No one ever calls or texts except for your mother, but you hate seeing her number on the screen so, what’s the use of even picking up. You can’t even do yourself the favor of dying cuz god knows you don’t have any friends who will watch your cat. And yet, nothing interests you anymore, not even the thought of swinging slowly from a rope, your dead eyes turned down, watching your feet sway over the water under the bridge. I forgot where I was going with this.
I forget a lot these days. It might be the weed. It might be the depression, maybe it’s just boredom. I can’t remember the last time I actually spoke to someone, outside of work. Hell, even my brother Alex could barely pick up the phone to talk. It must’ve been years now since I’ve even seen him in person. The friends forced to hang out with me, due to proximity or a shared loneliness finally came to their senses at some point and fucked off. Every dating app that ever decorated the glass on my phone screen had run dry. Masturbating no longer produced enough dopamine to make it worth the effort. I was stuck. And then I met Her. The woman With lips like cherries and storm cloud eyes that pierced my heart and ripped me asunder.
Rain fades in slowly.
PIPER: It was pouring that day. I, of course, had forgotten my umbrella. Or hadn’t bothered with one. By the grace of god, or, I guess, the city transport service, there was a shelter at this particular bus stop, so I was able to get a short reprieve from the rain. I was digging through my purse, looking for the pack of cigarettes I had stuffed deep down, in hopes that I would forget they were there and finally quit. Wiping the rain from my eyes, I ripped the crumpled box from my bag, spilling lip-gloss, a breakfast-bar, and a plethora of trinkets I never used or thought about and, cursing scrambled for the spilled contents, scooping the wet mess into my arms. As I collected my things and my thoughts, I heard someone approaching the stop. I looked up to see a young woman standing there, silhouetted by the harsh streetlight. The woman had no umbrella but in spite of the rain she was completely dry. Her hair was shaved entirely off and I could see the glint of some silver design snaking across the sides of her head. A gentle smile fell across her lips as she looked at my soaking wet form up and down. I stood up, haphazardly shoving everything back into my purse, and gave her a tight smile. Could I smoke next to her? Maybe I should move. I don’t want to bother her. She’ll probably judge me for smoking. God she’s pretty. Who smokes anymore? I need to stop smoking. Stop destroying my lungs. But what does it matter, I’m going to die anyway, might as well get some enjoyment out of it. Not that-
WOMAN: Mind if I bum one?
Piper’s speaking voice is normal, without reverb
PIPER: (SPEAKING) Sorry, what?
WOMAN: A cigarette, mind if I bum one? It’s been a day.
PIPER: (nervously) Uh. Yeah. Sure. Here.
(VO) I handed her a stick and she pulled a lighter from her back pocket. I stuck a cigarette in my mouth, shoving the pack back in my purse as she lit her own cigarette then leaned closer, lighting mine. I inhaled, sucking down the smooth, cool smoke and watched as she did the same. We stood in silence, puffing away, watching the rain pour down.
A pause as the rain continues
PIPER: (VO) Where the fuck is this bus? Is it running late? Fucking rain. Am I even at the right bus spot? That’s stupid, it’s been the same stop for months, they wouldn’t just change it. Maybe it’s been cancelled, and I’ll be stuck here forever, just waiting. I could always walk home. No, that would take me almost an hour. Plus, I don’t have an umbrella. If I left now, I could probably make it before dark but what I get mugged or murder or kidnapped or-
WOMAN: How long have you been waiting?
WOMAN: The bus? How long have you been waiting for it?
PIPER: Oh. Um. Like five minutes?
WOMAN: Are you okay?
(VO) Oh my god stop saying what. What are you a fucking idiot. Just say something normal. Anything normal.
WOMAN: I… um. (pause) Well you had this look on your face like you were upset about something. Are you alright?
PIPER: (VO) What a question. Am I okay? No. I’m not. But do I want to tell a complete stranger that I had no will to live but not enough motivation to kill myself, so now I’m stuck in this gray limbo of will-I-wont-I and oh god she’s staring at me. Say something idiot. God she’s so pretty. Stop making a fool of yourself, I swear to god.
(To the woman, as if suddenly remembering how to speak) Yeah. Yeah I’m fine. Like you said, it’s been a day.
WOMAN: Its okay if you aren’t okay. I know you probably don’t want to soapbox to a stranger. It’s just, you had this look about you, Like, if you kept thinking, your feet would turn to stone, and you’d just be trapped there, thinking and scowling until you withered away. You looked like you needed a friend.
There’s an awkward silence, we hear someone take a drag from the cigarette.
PIPER: I honestly don’t know what to say to that.
WOMAN/ADELAIDE: I’m Adelaide.
PIPER: (Another pause) I’m Piper.
ADELAIDE: Fantastic to meet you Piper. I hope your thoughts will be happy and light.
Her footsteps walking away
PIPER: W-wait! Aren’t you gonna wait for the bus?
ADELAIDE: (laughs) No. I just wanted to make sure you were alright. Thanks for the cigarette!
As she speaks, we hear the bus pull to a stop.
PIPER: (VO) I watched as she walked away, wafts of smoke trailing behind her, shining bright against the streetlight. Something in my soul told me to go after her but as I took my first step in her direction, the bus screeched to a halt in front of me.
The doors to the bus open
PIPER: (VO) I took one last look after Adelaide, but she had disappeared into the rain and the dark.
PIPER: I waited at that bus stop every day for a week, just hoping she would appear, but she never showed. And life went on. And on and on and on and on until it couldn’t any more.
Ringtone, Piper groans, sound of sheets rustling as they attempt to reach their phone.
PIPER: (groggily) Hello?
ADELAIDE: Good morning sleepyhead. It’s time to get up.
PIPER: What? Who is this?
ADELAIDE: (pouting) You’ve forgotten me already? And I thought we had such a nice conversation the other day.
PIPER: Adelaide? How the hell did you get my number?
ADELAIDE: That’s not important right now. What is important is that you Listen. Don’t take the bus home this evening. Call an Uber, walk home. I don’t care. Just don’t take the bus. Now, get out of bed. You’re going to be late for work. I’ll see you soon.
PIPER: Wait! Adelaide, hold on.
PIPER: (VO) And she was gone. I looked through my call history, to save her number but there were no new calls listed. The last one on record was from over two weeks ago, an incoming call from my mother, lasting about five minutes. I groaned and settled back into bed, closing my eyes. Had it been a dream? Had I imagined the call? I must have. No one calls me. No one talks to me or gives me vague warnings about taking the bus.
PIPER: (VO) The bus. FUCK! THE BUS! I’m gonna be late for work.
I leapt out of bed, put on my uniform, threw some food in the general direction of the cat’s bowl and rushed out of the apartment towards my morning bus stop. I turned the corner; my feet pounding the cement and heard the telltale screech of the bus as it rolled to a stop in front of its spot.
I climbed on, gasping for air and took the closest seat I could find.
Bus doors close, and it pulls away
PIPER: As the bus sped away, I shut my eyes, leaning my head back, breathing deep, trying to
prepare myself for the day ahead. In too short a time, the bus pulled up to the tall grey office building that was Void Networks, the largest telecommunications center in the state. More than half the town worked for the company, from cell tower technicians to their own private security force. Granted, I was also a part of the Void workforce, but my job was nothing glorious. I worked in the mailroom, sorting envelopes and packages into different bins and sorting those bins into different rooms to be shipped out to different places to a variety of people I would never see or meet. It was boring, but it meant I could just turn my brain off and work. I didn’t have to focus on things like how I would be stuck in this mailroom sorting papers for ten dollars an hour, 50 hours a week for years and years growing old and miserable until I eventually die. Who resigns themselves to a life like that? Certainly not me, certainly not after I’d wasted my life at business school only to not be able to find any jobs since. And it’s certainly not because I’m not making enough money to actually save any of it. It’s not like my mother is disappointed that I could only get a mailroom job that barely helps to pay rent. Nope, certainly not me. 10 hours later, I dragged myself through Void Networks’ front doors and towards the bus stop. The bus shelter was empty, like always, so I collapsed on to the bench, pulled out a cigarette and lit it, inhaling as much menthol as my lungs could handle. I exhaled, sinking into the smoke as it wafted around me. In no time, the bus pulled around the corner, rumbling towards me. I snubbed out the smoking stick, placed it back in the box and stood up, stretching my arms high above my head. As my back cracked and relief traveled up my spine, I heard her.
ADELAIDE: (urgently, the same audio clip of Adelaide) Piper. Do not get on the bus.
PIPER: Don’t get on the bus? What could happen? It’s a fucking bus? I’ve been riding the same one for years. Hell, I’ve had the same bus *driver* for just as long. I’ll be okay. I could see from the street most of the seats were full. I would have to stand.
The bus pulls to a stop and the doors open
PIPER: I took a step towards the bus and felt a hand tug on the back of my shirt, almost yanking me backwards
ADELAIDE: (yelling, concerned but not angry) PIPER!
PIPER: (VO)I whirled around, frantically searching for her, but she wasn’t there.
BUS DRIVER: Hey! You getting on?
PIPER: (spoken) Oh, uh. No. I totally forgot something at work. I’ll catch the next one.
(VO) He shrugged, closed the door and began to drive away. I stood there, watching my ride as it disappeared around the corner. Well, at least it wasn’t raining.
A crack of thunder and it begins to rain, like pouring down.
PIPER: (VO) Fucking. Perfect. Why had I listened to Adelaide? She might have been some sort of weird hallucination. All it’s gotten me is a long and damp walk home. As I trudged along, I could see the bus ahead of me, idling at a red light a block ahead. Maybe I could catch up to it and beg the driver to let me on. As I was considering whether or not to run after them, the light turned green and the bus began to drive away.
Blaring horn, sound of a large truck hitting the bus, maybe an explosion or two.
PIPER: In the blink of an eye, a semi-truck barreled through the intersection, slamming into the bus. The two vehicles crunched together, sliding into several cars, and landing in a twisted, horrid heap of smoke and metal.
Before I could stop myself, I was sprinting towards the crash, my heart pounding in my chest. Holy shit holy shit holy shit. I was going to get on that bus. I should have been on that bus. I reached the warped lump of metal, searching for something, anything I could do to help. All I could see was shattered glass and bent shapes and blood. oh god, the blood. Whose blood is that? Oh my god oh my god. I didn’t see any movement from inside the bus. The car of the semi looked like a flattened soda can. People were beginning to get out of their cars. I took a step closer, my feet crunching glass. No one was moving, no one cried out. The bus was full of people. Why was no one doing anything? Not a single person attempted to get out of the wreckage or call for help. It was silent. Completely silent. I tried to move forward again but my feet were glued to the pavement. Over the rain, the sound of sirens grew closer, but they were still so far away.
Whoosh of flame
PIPER: Fire raced across the metal and in moments, the bus was alight. I could feel the heat on my face, but the warmth of it could not penetrate the cold that gripped my chest. Bystanders started screaming, filling the silence with noise. So much noise and none of it was helping anyone. Someone lead me away from the wreckage and lips pressed against my ear.
ADELAIDE: Don’t look, dear. Don’t look. Go home. I’ll see you soon.
PIPER: (VO) I barely remember how I got back to my apartment. My brain kept repeating the events over and over again. The crunch as the truck impacted, the screech of metal against metal and the soft flickering of flame that grew into a roar. I imagined what it must have been like, to see the truck barreling into me, to feel the fire lick across my skin, singeing my flesh and charring my broken bones. The local news station reported that the truck driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and most likely died on impact. He left 23 people dead, 11 with serious injuries. Not a single person left unscathed. Except for me, I guess. A list of the deceased was released, and I made sure to memorize each and every name, making sure they were burned into my mind. A mother of four, a volunteer firefighter, someone’s son, someone’s partner, gone in the blink of an eye.
I wanted to stop by the hospital to pay my respects to those who survived. Tell them I was so sorry I couldn’t do anything. I went to the building four times over the course of three days but stopped short of the entrance every time. Who was I to wish them well? I knew something bad was going to happen. I could have warned them, could have stopped this from happening. If I hadn’t taken so long that day, maybe the bus wouldn’t have hit the red light and the semi wouldn’t have hit them. Or if I had actually acted, I could’ve pulled someone from the wreck, could’ve done something, anything, to help. Or if I had gotten on the stupid bus, I could’ve finally been done with this miserable planet. Why hadn’t I died? Because a mysterious voice in my head told me not to get on? I should’ve died with them. Or instead of them. Who was I to have survived? I wasn’t worth anything to the world. I wasn’t a mother, or a volunteer. I ate, I slept, I worked a shit job. I helped nobody. It would’ve been better if I died, if it meant they had lived. I should-
STREET GOER: Excuse me, miss? I think you dropped this.
PIPER: (VO) I reached out and took it without thinking. Mumbling a quick thanks, I looked down at what they had given me. In my hands was a bright pink flyer. Not mine. I would have crumbled it and tossed it away but the text on the flyer caught my eye.
What little awareness I had for my surroundings faded away as the world grew muffled and blurry. I could only focus on the paper in my hand. In big, bold, handwritten letters were the words ‘HAVE YOU HEARD FROM ADELAIDE?’ There was a number scrawled at the bottom, as if it was merely an afterthought, along with instructions to call and ask for Dodger. I nearly ripped my purse in half trying to find my phone. Lipstick, cigarettes, nail file, books, papers. God why did I have so much useless stuff?!
When I finally found my phone, shoved in my back pocket, my hands were shaking so hard I had to dial the number twice. Breathing hard, I pressed the phone against my ear and waited.
Phone rings once, twice, three times, then it picks up.
PIPER: (VO) My voice was caught in my throat. What do I say? ‘Hey, a girl I’m not 100% sure is real saved my life and I want to track her down to prove to myself that I’m not insane’?
PIPER: Hi. Yeah. Sorry. Is this Dodger? I found your flyer and I-
DODGER: Have you heard from her?
DODGER: (irritated) Did Adelaide call you?
PIPER: I- Is she real?
DODGER: Dude, answer the question.
PIPER: Yes. Yes! She called me to warn me. That bus incident, from a few days ago. I was supposed to-
DODGER: We’re meeting tonight. I’ll text you the address.
PIPER: Wait! Is she real?
There’s a silence, as if Dodger is mulling over their answer.
DODGER: We’ll talk in person. Come tonight. I’ll explain everything there.
ELENA: We’ll soon be entering into a season break, where we take some time off to recuperate and pull together new material. I would love and appreciate it if you could support us so that the team, who does so much for this show, can get paid!
One way you can do that is becoming a Patron, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival. We have a special secret Discord server for everyone. We organize digital parties involving powerpoint presentations, relaxed chatting, playing podcasts for everyone, and more. If you can’t come, you can see the content later when we upload it to Patreon!
I’d love to see you there, and talk about podcasts with you. And yes, if you sign up for Patreon, you can see the first dose of blackmail material that Wil has put together of my bloopers. Hooboy.
Let’s find out more about Adelaide in episode two.
[begin Null/Void, episode two]
COLE: This episode contains content that may be alarming to some listeners. Please check the descriptions and take care of yourself.
Piper’s voiceover (VO) has a reverb, as if she is speaking in a large but empty room.
PIPER: (VO) In the weeks before I left for college, I developed an unusual habit. In the dead of night, my semiconscious body would get up, walk downstairs to the front door and just stand there. My brother, Alex, would find me there, a statue in the dark. I remember waking up to his high-pitched screams more than a few times. I don’t know why I started sleepwalking. Alex joked that I was haunted. He was probably right. Mom thought it was because I was nervous about leaving. She was definitely wrong. I was fucking ecstatic to be leaving. I couldn’t wait to get out. Every bone in my body was screaming for it. I was itching to step over the threshold and live my life and finally be happy. I eventually stopped having episodes, and we never did figure out the real reason I started sleep walking in the first place. But when I found myself standing at the looming entrance of Dodger’s apartment, I started to wonder if I had simply been looking for the right door. Maybe my entire life had just been me sleepwalking until I found it. And it was time for me to wake up. Dodger had texted me their address not too long after we spoke. The address they sent belonged to the Lavender Hill Hotel. It was the oldest hotel in the county, and it got its namesake from the giant hill the building was built in to. Although, it wasn’t so much a hill as it was the beginning of a small mountain, completely covered in lavender flowers. When the wind blew through the mountaintop, the whole town smelled of lavender. It was beautiful and a thousand different preservation groups lobbied to keep it standing tall when the city wanted to level it. I arrived at the hotel a little bit before the meeting was set to begin. The lobby was completely empty. There wasn’t even a concierge present. I sent Dodger a text, letting them know that I was here and settled into a large plush chair.
We hear a text alert.
PIPER: After a minute, I got a text back with their room number and some brief instructions on how to get there. I took the elevator up and made my way through the labyrinthine hallways until I was finally standing outside their room. I glanced down at my phone. I was a few minutes late, but I doubt they would mind. I reached out to knock but the door swung open before my knuckles could touch the wood.
In the small space between the door and the frame, dark eyes scanned me up and down.
DODGER: You Piper?
PIPER: Uh? What?
DODGER: Yup, it’s you. Come in. You’re late.
PIPER: (VO) Dodger, or the person I assumed was Dodger, towered above me, a tangle of red hair on their head. They motioned me inside and, after a quick glance behind me, shut the door. Dodger’s room was… not what I expected. The front room was the size of my 500 square foot apartment. The walls were a deep royal blue with splashes of gold, like stars across the sky. There were two other doors in the room, both painted gold along with the ceiling. I was starting to sense a theme. In the far end of the room was a dining table and couch,which was occupied by two others. As I entered, I could hear a soft song, playing from speakers I couldn’t find.
Traffic by Kai Engel begins to play, soft and gentle
DODGER: Come on in. You want something to drink?
PIPER: No, I’m fine. Thanks.
DODGER: Everyone, this is Piper. Piper, this is Chris
CHRIS: Hey there.
DODGER: And Niki
DODGER: Feel free to grab a seat.
PIPER: (VO) They motioned to the table and disappeared into one of the rooms. I could see the edge of a bed and something covered in a sheet, a dark blue shape against yet another dark blue room. Definitely a theme. I glanced back at Chris and Niki. Niki gave me a small smile, which I returned. I thought about saying something, but the silence made my throat dry. I should’ve accepted a drink from Dodger. But what if they had poisoned it? I don’t know these people. What if this is a trap? I’m going to end up on one of those missing child poster walls you see in Walmart. Who would look for me though? Who would look after my cat if I died-
DODGER: Sorry about that guys. You ready to get started?
PIPER: What exactly are we doing?
NIKI: Just talking, I think. Don’t mind Dodger, They’re always serious.
PIPER: You all know each other?
CHRIS: I’ve known Dodger from the internet for about ten years, but we hadn’t met in person before Adelaide’s call. We’ve all been together as a group for, I’d say… almost a year now.
NIKI: What did She save you from?
PIPER: Oh. Um. That bus crash last week. She told me not to get on.
NIKI: Oh Yikes.
CHRIS: That’s rough, buddy. Are you okay?
PIPER: (VO) God what a question. Was I okay? Well, I mean. The answer was No but there was more to it than that.
(spoken) I just don’t know why I was the one she chose to save.
CHRIS: What, like, you wanna know if you’re special?
CHRIS: What? Am I wrong?
PIPER: I just want to know why I am still here and not someone actually important.
NIKI: Who says you aren’t important?
PIPER: Me? I work for Void Networks along with the rest of the town. I sort mail. I went to a shitty community college to get a degree in Business then couldn’t find a job anywhere and had to move back home. I don’t have any special talents or superpowers, or anything cool like that. I’m not important.
NIKI: (under her breath) Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
DODGER: We haven’t really figured out why she called us. Yet. We were hoping you might be able to help us connect the dots.
PIPER: What do you want to know?
DODGER: Got any family? Friends? How about any traumatic experiences? Are you satisfied with who you are? Does your family have a history of any health issues? How about-
PIPER: I’m not sure why my happiness is a relevant question.
DODGER: Is that a hard question for you to answer?
PIPER: I don’t know? Kind of? You’re not my therapist!
CHRIS: Dodger, chill out.
DODGER: Sorry. I’m sorry. Sometimes I get a bit too excited about things. (deep breath)
PIPER: You’re fine. It’s just been-
CHRIS: A waking nightmare?
PIPER: Too much. Just way too much. And I don’t know how to handle all of this.
NIKI: I know what you mean. We all do. I was visiting relatives when she called and told me to get my ass out of Puerto Rico. I grabbed my family and not an hour after our flight lifted off, our town was hit by a 5.3 magnitude earthquake. It destroyed everything.
PIPER: Oh my god.
CHRIS: She called me just as I was about to hop on a train in Washington. Told me to wait for the next one. The train I was supposed to take derailed. Some people got trapped in the cars and burned to death. Others were crushed under the wreckage. Not a whole lot of survivors.
There’s a bit of a silence, the music has stopped.
A shorter pause and then,
DODGER: A mass shooting. Told me to call in sick.
Music starts up again.
PIPER: Christ. How? How could she know all this?
NIKI: Who knows? Dodger thinks she’s a god.
DODGER: I didn’t say that. I said she might be some sort of prophetic spirit or something.
NIKI: Same thing.
CHRIS: No, no, a god is a deity capable of creation. It’s entirely based on faith.
NIKI: I have faith in Adelaide.
CHRIS: Yeah but she manifested before your faith. All I’m saying is that you can’t have a God without…
Chris’ words fade out as Piper begins speaking.
PIPER: (VO) A god wouldn’t do this. A god would have more foresight about who they were picking. Adelaide was different. She was real. And, regardless of how I felt about it, I was alive.
DODGER: So how do we get her to call us again?
CHRIS: Do we want her to?
PIPER: What if we could warn people about critical events? She saved us but what if we could use her to save others.
DODGER: Exactly. She may have saved us but for what? With her help, we could do so much.
PIPER: We could make our lives worth it.
CHRIS: But how do we get a hold of her. If she only calls right before a major accident, there’s no way we can predict that.
DODGER: Unless we start purposefully causing major accidents.
CHRIS: We are not going to kill anyone, dude.
DODGER: I never said we were going to kill anyone.
NIKI: Causing an accident wouldn’t help us save more lives, Dodger. Besides, I’m a nurse. I made a pledge to do no harm.
DODGER: I know that! I was just spit-balling. What do you think we should do?
CHRIS: I have zero ideas. Look, it’s getting late. Why don’t we call it a night? We can meet up again sometime next week.
DODGER: I’m fine with that. We’ll meet here again.
NIKI: Works for me! Here, Piper, give me your number. We can carpool next time.
PIPER: Oh, uh, sure. I can’t drive but I can help with gas, I guess.
CHRIS: Do you need a ride home?
PIPER: Oh, no. I’m not too far from here. I’ll walk.
NIKI: Okay, if you’re sure.
PIPER: I am. Thanks though.
(VO) We parted ways, Niki and Chris left together, their hands finding each other’s as they
walked towards the parking lot. I stood in front of the hotel, watching as they drove away, then began my walk home. My apartment was only about half an hours walk from the hotel and I didn’t mind getting some air. The night was cool and crisp, and the moon was bright enough to light my way. In the far distance, I could see the Void Networks’ building. There was a purple light at the very top, flickering softly in the night. I stopped walking for a moment to dig in my purse for that stupid pack of cigarettes. Just as my fingers brushed the pack, I heard a familiar voice behind me.
ADELAIDE: Hey, mind if I bum one?
PIPER: (Screams in fright)
ADELAIDE: (laughs) Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you.
PIPER: (now laughing with her) You nearly gave me a heart attack.
ADELAIDE: I’m terribly sorry. (laughs)
PIPER: Oh, I’m sure. Here ya go. (speaking, with a cig in mouth) You know they say smoking will kill you.
Clicks of a lighter
ADELAIDE: A lot can kill you these days.
PIPER: Unless a cute girl warns you ahead of time.
ADELAIDE: You think I’m cute?
PIPER: (VO) She looked at me with those cold grey eyes and my throat went dry. I swallowed and tried to say something, anything that wouldn’t make me sound like a total moron.
(Speaking) I… I mean. You’re not what I expected was going to happen to my life.
ADELAIDE: What did you expect was going to happen?
PIPER: I didn’t expect to make it past 25, that’s for sure.
ADELAIDE: Well I’m glad you’re here. You’re pretty important. Come on, I’ll walk you home.
PIPER: I’d love that. It’s this way.
ADELAIDE: Wouldn’t it be faster to go down the main road?
PIPER: I like to take the long way back. Hold on. You know where I live?
ADELAIDE: (she totally does) Kind of…
PIPER: How? Wait. Why?
ADELAIDE: Piper, keep up. It’s like I said, you’re important. I want to make sure you’re safe.
PIPER: Is that why you saved me? Because you think I’m important?
ADELAIDE: Piper, you are one of the most important people on this planet right now.
PIPER: But I’m not. I’m not some anime protagonist who’s going to save the world from Lord Ozai and his giant meteor or Calamity Gannon or-
ADELAIDE: (chuckling) Piper, spare me the pop culture references. I get it. You don’t think you’ll amount to anything. I am here to tell you, without a doubt, You. Are. Wrong. Granted, you have a lot to learn before you’re ready to save anyone. But I believe, with your friends help, you can save the world.
PIPER: (VO) Adelaide reached out and cupped my cheek. Her hand felt so warm against my face. I couldn’t help but lean into it.
There’s a moment of silence as the two stand there.
PIPER: Wait, was that an Avatar reference?
ADELAIDE: (laughs) Look the message still stands. There are plans for you, but I can’t tell you what they are yet.
PIPER: God, I hate that trope. Why can’t you just tell me now? Communication is important for any working relationship.
ADELAIDE: I don’t have it all worked out yet. I’m still waiting on some variables before I can let you know everything. Besides,
(whispering) Certain people have ears everywhere. Even where you least expect it.
PIPER: (VO) Shivers ran down my spine as her lips brushed my ear. She smelled of cocoa butter and something… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I took a deep breath and Adelaide stepped back, bitter cold air filling the space between us.
ADELAIDE: I’ll call you soon, once I have everything worked out. For now, just stay out of trouble. Okay?
PIPER: No promises.
ADELAIDE: (deadly serious) Piper. Please.
PIPER: (shit she’s not joking) Okay, okay. I’ll try to stay out of trouble.
ADELAIDE: Good. Now, get some rest.
PIPER: (VO) I hesitated. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stand under this shady streetlight outside my apartment until the sun rose. She must have noticed my disappointment because she reached out and gave my hand a squeeze. Her warmth traveled through my skin and sunk into my veins. I felt electricity prickling at the base of my skull. She dropped my hand and winked, then strolled away. I paused, my eyes lingering on her retreating form and, with a breath, a tiredness fell over me. I had no idea what time it was. All I knew was that I needed sleep. With a heaviness all too familiar, I pushed open my door. I was greeted by the usual chorus of meows from my soot-ball of a cat, furious that she had been left alone for so long. I made my way to my bedroom, cooing at her as she wound her way between my strides. Not much later, I was in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Despite the weight in my chest, a thought gripped my mind. I was important. I didn’t know how or why, but for the first time I believed it from the bottom of my heart. Just as I drifted off to sleep in the early morning, another thought drifted across my consciousness.
God, I hope I don’t fuck this up
[end Null/Void, episode two]
ELENA: If you liked what you heard, you can learn more about Cole’s work and how to support or hire him at coleburkhardt.carrd.co. Come back next week for our interview with Cole where we talk about capitalism, the importance of Black stories, and the story behind the code in the episode descriptions.
Radio Drama Revival runs on the strength of crows protecting our doorstep and the shiny coins you give to the magpies. If you’d like to help keep us afloat and featuring new, diverse, unique fiction podcasts and their creators, you can support us on Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival.
And now we bring you our Moment of Anne.
ANNE: I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos this week — I know, it’s not podcasts! But I wanted to point you all in the direction of Jarvis Johnson. He’s super funny and has some wild video topics on his two channels. And you can also hear him on the podcast Sad Boyz with his co-host Jordan Adika, who you may know from the ARCS podcast and Atypical Artists, and our interview with him last year!
ANNE: Anyway, you should check out Jarvis’s channel and the Sad Boyz podcast, and listen to our interview with Jordan, and you can find links to all of that in our show notes.
ELENA: That means it’s time for the credits.
This episode was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support or donate to Native communities, the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society are seeking donations to build a new center. KAFS offers many services and programs for urban-located Indigenous people, such as healthcare initiatives, outreach programs for children and adults, childcare, and food hamper and nutrition programs. You can support them at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/newfriendshipcentre, which is linked in the episode description.
Our theme music is Reunion of the Spaceducks by the band KieLoKaz. You can find their music on Free Music Archive.
Our audio producer is Wil Williams.
Our marketing manager and line producer is Anne Baird.
Our researcher is Heather Cohen.
Our submissions editor is Rashika Rao.
Our associate marketing manager is Jillian Schraeger.
Our transcriptionist is Katie Youmans.
Our audio consultant is Eli Hamada McIlveen
Our associate producer is Sean Howard.
Our executive producers are Fred Greenhalgh and David Rheinstrom.
Our mascot is Tickertape, the goat.
I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. This has been Radio Drama Revival: all storytellers welcome.