ELENA: Do you believe, in your heart of hearts, that somewhere else far away there is a planet where we could sustain human life? And do you believe we could start something new there, something different from what we are experiencing now? Imagine a hopeful future with This Planet Needs a Name, 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 This Planet Needs a Name in our showcase; next week, return to join us for the creator interview with Evan Tess Murray and Trace Callahan.
This Planet Needs a Name is a project born from hope, one that happily claimed the label of hopepunk after its inception – a genre which Morgan Givens on NPR’s 1A in 2018 defined as “fiction that recognizes the full aspect of who we are as people while maintaining a rebellious hope for the future, and knowing things can get better if you fight for them.”
A small group of scientists and engineers have been tasked to terraform a planet for the cryofrozen people they have with them on their spaceship. These people, who were meticulously chosen for this task, will never get to experience and live the world that they build. There is a balance here between the joy of science, exploration, the establishment of new places and paradigms, and the deep grief of loneliness and struggling to find happiness when darkness lurks.
Sometimes, the punk is found within, the fight to stay afloat in your own mind and body, a rebellion against the internal.
The following episode is a prologue, composed of several pieces where we meet the crew and learn the history of this universe.
FADE IN: INT. ORBITING SPACECRAFT
ZAHAVA is on the bridge. ZEI is there as well. Both are typing. We hear ZEI stretch and crack her neck. She rises.
ZAHAVA: Heading out?
ZEI: Done for now, I think. More will have to wait until you get down there tomorrow and take a look around.
ZAHAVA: Still sure you don’t want to be first?
ZEI: Why hog all the fun? I have plenty to do up here for now.
ZAHAVA: All right. See you tomorrow.
ZEI: See ya.
Zei leaves; we hear footsteps, a door opening and closing.
ZAHAVA: At least she didn’t tell me to get some sleep. Loose ends to wrap up…
She types something briefly.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Ship, open a channel to –
She pauses. The ship chimes.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Cancel. I need to stretch my legs anyway.
Ship acknowledgement. Zahava clicks a couple of buttons, gets up, and heads out. We go with her – footsteps, door, hallway.
MANDRY: Oh, hey boss.
ZAHAVA: Don’t call me that.
MANDRY: Sure, boss.
ZAHAVA: Have you seen Cyrus or James? I need to catch up with them.
MANDRY: James is in the infirmary. Need me to find Cyrus?
ZAHAVA: I’ll figure it out, thanks.
They move on in opposite directions. After a bit, we hear Zahava push a button. The voice we hear next is a bit distorted – through an intercom.
JAMES: Yes? Who’s there?
ZAHAVA: It’s Zahava. Do you have a moment? I need to check in with you.
We hear the door open. JAMES is now clear.
JAMES: You could just come in? It’s the infirmary, not my private quarters.
ZAHAVA: What can I say? I’m very polite. She goes in, they sit, we hear the door shut.
JAMES: Looking forward to tomorrow, are you?
ZAHAVA: Forward. Down. Some other directions maybe.
JAMES: Did you just make a joke?
JAMES: Good, because it wasn’t funny. [beat] What did you need?
ZAHAVA: You haven’t signed off on the plans for the clinic we’re seeding downstairs. Cyrus needs to finalize it all tonight.
JAMES: Ohhhh. That. I thought it looked fine, I’ll let him know.
ZAHAVA: You might be stuck with it a while. Is it big enough?
JAMES: Unless our plans change cata-fuckin-strophically, it should be fine. More concerned about the limitations on the medical former, but I’ve made do with less in worse places.
ZAHAVA: I’ll get Cyrus on designing you an upgrade.
JAMES: Well, if that’s all you need… I’d like to get back to the rousing conversation I was having with the infirmary’s former.
ZAHAVA: Maybe I should send Cyrus to you directly.
JAMES: Nah, I’m actually pretty fond of the little bastard. The former. Not Cyrus, although he’s all right.
ZAHAVA: All right. Don’t forget to sign off on the plans.
JAMES: On it. Feel free to see yourself out.
We hear the door as ZAHAVA leaves and we leave with her. After a few steps, she pauses and leans against the corridor wall.
ZAHAVA: Ship, open a channel to Cyrus, personal.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Cyrus – where are you? I want to check in.
CYRUS: Oh, hi, boss.
ZAHAVA: Don’t call me that.
CYRUS: Never again, don’t worry. I’m in the kitchen. Come by, you probably didn’t eat anything.
ZAHAVA: I’ll be right there.
Zahava starts walking again.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Anything in particular you’re working on right now?
CYRUS: If you stop interrupting me you’ll see when you get here.
Ship’s chime as Cyrus disconnects.
ZAHAVA: Oyyyyyy. Now which way is the kitchen again? Green line? Green line.
Zahava sets off again. She sings to herself absently as she walks. Then we hear her hand hit a panel and a door slide open. She goes into the kitchen.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Found you. [beat] what do you have there?
CYRUS: I have been making cheese.
Throughout this, Cyrus is editing the cheese program on a handheld tablet device.
ZAHAVA: We already have cheese.
CYRUS: Better cheese.
ZAHAVA: This is what you think is the most important thing to do the night before we go down to the surface for the first time?
CYRUS: Have you ever had truly good cheese? This is Queso Palmero.
CYRUS: As close as I can get without any goats from La Palma.
ZAHAVA: Don’t make goats.
CYRUS: You know I don’t do biologicals.
ZAHAVA: Except cheese?
CYRUS: Food is an exception. It is also not alive.
ZAHAVA: Right. Good. I did want to check in with you about tomorrow, though . . . can you put the cheese programming aside?
Cyrus sets down his tablet.
CYRUS: Of course, boss.
ZAHAVA: You said you wouldn’t call me that.
CYRUS: I’m sure everyone will stop soon.
ZAHAVA: It’s a good thing I love you all. Anyway. Tomorrow. I just got confirmation from James that the clinic is good to go. He said he’d sign off.
Cyrus picks up his tablet, taps it, puts it back down.
CYRUS: He did. I just put the seed into production.
ZAHAVA: Excellent. Any other loose ends?
CYRUS: You tell me?
ZAHAVA: You know that it’s dangerous, right? We might run into some unforeseen horrible circumstances?
CYRUS: Yes, of course.
ZAHAVA: And you’re prepared for that?
CYRUS: Unforeseen circumstances are hard to prepare for. If you can prepare for them, they’re foreseen.
ZAHAVA: . . . yes. So. You’re feeling good about this, then?
CYRUS: It should be very interesting.
ZAHAVA: I’ll take that as an “I’m all set, Zahava, thanks for checking.”
CYRUS: Yes, Zahava, thanks for checking.
ZAHAVA: See you in the morning, then.
Cyrus picks up his tablet.
CYRUS: You didn’t try the cheese.
ZAHAVA: Oy vey iz Mir. Really? The cheese?
CYRUS: It would mean a lot to me if you would sample this cheese. I work very hard on these things.
ZAHAVA: Oh fine.
Zahava takes a sliver of cheese.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Oh, that is good. Very much… cheese. I don’t really know from cheese. But it’s cheese for sure.
CYRUS: Even if it is not quite Queso Palmero.
ZAHAVA: I can almost taste the goat that isn’t there. I’ll take a chunk for the road.
CYRUS: Knowing that you approve makes my life here complete. Boss.
ZAHAVA: Cut it out. See you tomorrow.
Zahava leaves the kitchen, closes the door behind her, and heads for her cabin. It’s a bit of a walk.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): So it’s red back to the bridge and I know my way home from there for sure.
We listen to her walk for a bit.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Ship, general announcement.
Ship chimes. She continues to walk while talking.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Evening all. You should be winding down. As you know, tomorrow Cyrus and I are going down to the surface. Given everything we know, we don’t anticipate any problems, but as he pointed out for me, we can’t prepare for the unforeseen because we can’t foresee it. I don’t want to take this step too lightly.
She walks a few more steps before speaking again.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): If you’re able to meet up tomorrow to see us off, that would mean a lot. You’ll have it in your planners already.
She reaches her door, stands outside it.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): And if you’re secretly harboring resentment that you don’t get to be the first one on our new home, either come talk to me about it right the fuck now, or prepare to live disappointed for the rest of your life. See you tomorrow.
Ship chimes that the transmission has ended. Zahava palms open her door, enters her cabin. She stands inside the door, closes it, lets out a sigh, and then flops onto her bed.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Last evening on board. I feel like I should make it special somehow. But it’s not like the ship feels like home . . . all that time unconscious doesn’t count.
She stretches, gets up, bustles about getting ready for bed. Then she settles down on the bed again.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, Melekh ha’olam, shehakol nih’ye bidvaro.
I think that’s probably the right blessing for former-made cheese you eat after sundown floating above a new world…
Zahava eats the cheese, has a sip of water to wash it down. She takes a deep breath and sings a lullaby. When she’s done, she’s silent for a moment, and then she lies down on her bed and speaks quietly.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): I miss you, still. Tomorrow I’ll do something out of stories – my feet will walk on earth that is not of Earth. And it’s so beautiful from here, so bright! You would be delighted, and the scholars would be discussing it all. So many disputations.
But we have no Talmudic scholars here, just me. No one to dispute with.
What will it mean for all the stories you’ve told me to be alive on a new world?
She gives a small chuckle or snort of laughter.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): If the crew could only hear me now. Tough Zahava, lying around wondering about how long stories live and how we make meaning.
You’d like them, I think. All of them – they’re hard-working, and kind most of the time. I know they’d like you. There are just a few of us, but we’re carrying so many, and I don’t just mean literally. People worried that it would be a lonely existence, but how can I be lonely when I hear you in my mind every day?
There is a pause. We hear her shift.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): I am, though. A bit lonely. Only in the quiet dark parts; we’re all so busy otherwise. But this is the part where I sit and tell you all the stories of my day and you laugh and cry and hold me.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Would you believe the best programmer on Earth, who isn’t on Earth anymore, spent his last evening on this ship replicating some sort of fancy cheese? Oh, and as of today they’re all calling me “boss,” because they know I don’t want them to and they think it’s funny. Funny!
Tomorrow – I’m so excited. I can’t quite believe no one else wanted to be first. Cyrus is coming down too, but it’s just because he needs to do the work – I don’t think he cares very much. But for me – the first feet on our new planet! How could I not be excited?
I hope it’s as pretty up close. Everything indicates we should be able to breathe the air. This is so far from what we planned – we trained for the worst case, for living up here until we could construct a habitat remotely, for all the work of redesigning the atmosphere itself.
Instead it’s something out of a fantasy novel. A whole world, waiting for us. I’m still not sure it feels real. Maybe I won’t believe it until I know what the air smells like down there. Or what the ground under us feels like, where the gravity is real.
She sighs again, this time happily, and snuggles down into her pillow.
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): I need to sleep so I can make history tomorrow with a clear head. Ship, lights out, please.
A gentle ship chime
ZAHAVA (CONT’D): Goodnight, my loves.
ELENA: Radio Drama Revival started as a real radio show in Maine in 2007, and has been showcasing fiction podcasts and elevating the voices of their creators since then. We have a Patreon, and it’s really crucial to keep this show afloat – our team is growing bigger in order to handle all our production needs, and they deserve to be paid fairly for this work.
You can become a Patron at patreon.com/radiodramarevival. You can hear past bloopers from our previous host, David Rheinstrom, and even a blooper file on me already. I’d love to see you in our Patreon Discord, where we ask you for questions for interviews if you have any and talk about podcasts and also whatever weird fact David has come across recently.
Again, that’s patreon.com/radiodramarevival. Any amount helps, really.
Now, back to this planet needs a name.
INT. ORBITING SPACECRAFT
Kolian walks into the room, light steps on a metal floor. They hum absentmindedly, spin a chair, and sit in it.
KOLIAN: Voice memo.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Ship, timestamp, please.
The ship makes a sound of acknowledgment, no words.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Ooooookay, my lovely little satellite arrays – are you up and running as expected? I know, I know, we only just dropped you off, you’ve hardly had time to wake up. But you should be flattered – I just couldn’t sleep until I checked. We are going to be such good friends.
They flip a very definite switch.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Array One, on, lights are green. Excellent. Let me just set up a data relay to my implant…
Clicks, button presses.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): There it is. Sounding good. The sweet harmony of… low-lying cloud cover, actually! Oh, sweet weather data, I’ve missed you so much.
You know, Array One, your name isn’t all that helpful. You’re focused on site… ten. I’m going to just rename you A10, okay?
A few keypresses, another switch.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): All right, Array Two, all green, moving data… [hums] sounds good. That’s site two, so it works out, but let’s go with A2 for consistency.
Flips switch, types throughout.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Array Three, now A5, in the green.
I was honestly expecting to have run into a problem by now. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining – it just seems like too many things have gone well so far. I woke up expecting, if not disaster, at least… complications? I didn’t think we’d just fall into a star, you know? But so far everything is going perfectly.
I really, really don’t trust perfect.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): (Completely offhand, aside) Array Four, A6, green, coming through clear.
I mean, really, what are the chances we got into the perfect orbit without any fuss Mandry has admitted to, came out of suspension without anything worse than some admittedly significant vomiting, and now we’re on schedule to set foot on the planet beneath us?
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Not that it’s a tight schedule… Array Five, A9, green, transferred. Sounds like something interesting is going on there… can’t wait to dig in.
Site 9 is tropical. Hurricane?
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Can’t get distracted.
Array… Six, A7. Green – no – wait, that light is definitely flashing. [sighs] I guess I can relax now that something’s broken. A7, you pesky little satellite array, let’s have a look at your visuals…
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Ohhhh. Oh. No, that’s not the planet you’re pointing at. I’ll just note this for Mandry…
More rapid typing, chair rolls back; Kolian leans back and puts their feet up on the console
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Is it strange that I really do feel a bit better now? It’s just a malfunctioning satellite array. Not even a real problem.
Kolian is silent a moment, then hums a snippet of something. They cut themselves off before it resolves.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Huh. End voice note.
Decisive button click.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Ship, record a voice message for Zei.
Ship acknowledgment chime
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Hey Corenna, I know you’re asleep. I should be too, but I’m talking to myself instead. And to weather satellites…. and to an empty room. So I’m leaving you a message we both know I’ll delete before you hear it.
I know how I’m supposed to feel right now. Hooray for therapy! I should be excited, anxious.
Filled with a combination of anticipation and boredom.
Tomorrow, Zahava and Cyrus will set foot on our new home.
Tomorrow, I’ll start building climate profiles for our build sites. Sometime after tomorrow, you’ll head down to the surface. And sometime after that, once our landing settlement is finished, so will I. I’ll be our spider in a web of satellite transmissions.
You know I like spiders! I’m not complaining. I wish you could see the data the way I do.
Kolian kicks off the console, spins around in the chair – or some other audible movement.
KOLIAN: On the other hand, you’ve always wished I could see sunsets the way you do, so I don’t think you’d want to trade.
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right, feelings.
I can’t sleep tonight, restless energy, but I’m not as nervous as I should be. I’m not really anxious at all. It all feels like we’ve done this before. We’re circling the unknown, and soon you’ll go down into it, and I’ll watch from here. And yeah, I want it all to go well. I care. But all those feelings are – smothered – in a thick layer of static.
I’m glad I managed to pass my psych profile to come along. I guess they didn’t think “too rational given their circumstances” was a problem. And
– I mean, it’s not!
You know, even through the static, I’m glad I’m here, and that you are.
They said the feelings should come back, with time. And that a new place might help, so – well. I might have gone to extremes, there. And I know I’m not the only one on the crew dealing with… this. Probably most of us, really.
I miss… intensity, though. I wonder what it will be like, when I breathe our new air and hear unimaginable animals?
Will I feel joy in the strangeness? Will I be… afraid?
Unimaginable animals. Un-imagin able. Unimaginable Animals! [singing] Unimaginable animals, on a planet’s surface that’s unplannable, filled with unimaginable animals, mmmm hmmm… No, better, new band name.
Kolian laughs out loud.
KOLIAN: (still laughing) All right, I think that about does it. I’ll delete all the rest of this self indulgent shit and check the rest of the arrays…
Kolian moves to hit another button but is interrupted by a chime call.
ZEI: Izley? You there?
KOLIAN: Corenna? You’re supposed to be asleep.
ZEI: So are you. I had a hunch.
KOLIAN: Yeah, couldn’t resist checking the satellites now they’re live.
Kolian hits some buttons quite decisively.
ZEI: Not, maybe, leaving me a weird long voicemail?
KOLIAN: Why would you think that?
ZEI: No reason. You good?
KOLIAN: Just a few more arrays to check, and I’ll get some sleep.
ZEI: All right. See you tomorrow.
Click. Kolian sighs.
KOLIAN: All right, Array Seven, let’s see how you’re doing. [yawn] Switch, typing.
KOLIAN (CONT’D): Looking good… just a few more.
Humming, switches, typing. FADE OUT.
FADE IN: INT. CENTRAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE
Mandry lets out a satisfied sigh and sits back in his chair.
MANDRY: That’s today’s schedule sorted. What do I have for time? [beat] Okay. Ship, record voice message to storage marked Jameel.
Ship chime. A few keypresses.
MANDRY (CONT’D): Hey Jameel. I told you I’d try not to leave out anything important, and since I don’t know what’s going to be important…
I’m trying not to leave out anything.
Most of the landing crew is up now. I’m pulling them out of suspension one at a time, giving everyone a little support while they settle in. I’m getting the last one in a few minutes.
Zahava and Cyrus are on the way to the surface right now. They’re planting the seeds for our landing settlement.
Mandry chuckles to himself.
MANDRY (CONT’D): At this point I can say that like it’s nothing special, which is ridiculous. It’s amazing, man.
They’re growing us a village next to the base of a space elevator on a brand-new planet. It’s exactly what we dreamed of as kids – you know? I live in the future! You’re going to love it here.
Pause; minor tonal shift.
MANDRY (CONT’D): I wish I could see your face, when you wake up and see everything we’ve built.
Mandry checks the time again.
MANDRY (CONT’D): I should go soon. I want to get the timing right for our agriculture guy. He’s sweet –you’d like him. He loves all the plants like they’re his kids.
Even the algae vats. [beat] Speaking of which, there’s something for your history books: all those years in stasis, and the algae vats are still full of green slime. No human oversight needed.
I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that things are going awfully well so far. You know me — I’m not superstitious. Especially for a pilot. Everyone else always had a dozen rituals before take-off, and I just ran through my checklists. I used to pretend I had lucky socks just to get everyone else to leave me alone about it.
Mandry chuckles again
MANDRY (CONT’D): I could never remember which pair were meant to be the lucky ones though. (wistful, thoughtful) I kind of wish I had them now.
Mandry checks the time, stands up
MANDRY (CONT’D): I’m heading over. I hope these recordings help you out… It’s still a little weird to think about how we’ll be your history. Anyway – talk to you soon, friend.
Mandry clicks some things to stop the recording, and leaves Comms. We hear him walking along a corridor for a while, then he enters the recovery room.
INT. RECOVERY ROOM
Mandry closes the door behind him, pauses a moment, and lays a hand on the side of the sarcophagus.
MANDRY: Hey there buddy, ready for this?
Mandry pushes a few switches, finishing up with one that makes a relatively loud ‘thunk’. The pitch of the sarcophagus changes and after a minute we hear it open. A whirring noise indicates something or other happening, and then the sound of the sarcophagus fades away.
We hear a faint series of spluttering coughs from QUILL, escalating to the edge of panic.
MANDRY (CONT’D): Easy – it’s okay, you’re okay. You’re safe, I’m here. Breathe.
The coughing slows and we hear QUILL breathing slowly. He retches suddenly.
MANDRY (CONT’D): There’s nothing in your stomach, I promise. Just hold my hand and breathe through it. You’re coming out of suspension, that’s why you don’t remember anything. It will all come back in a minute.
QUILL: (in a rusty, unused voice) In a minute?
MANDRY: It won’t be long. You’re Quill. I’m Mandry. I’m your friend.
Quill tries to sit up.
MANDRY: Yes. It’s okay, there’s no rush, you don’t have to sit up yet. It will be easier if you don’t try to move until you’re not so dizzy.
QUILL: Did you… feel like this?
MANDRY: You’re starting to remember. Yes, only I was alone, and the Grissom generator was off, so I had amnesia and was floating around and there was no one to tell me not to bother vomiting.
QUILL: That sounds… bad.
MANDRY: It wasn’t the best. That’s why I’m here. Ready to sit up? I’ll help.
Quill sits up, stretches.
QUILL: I think I can stand. Maybe.
MANDRY: Hold on, I’ll get you a robe.
Mandry walks to a cabinet and takes out a soft, fuzzy terrycloth robe, then walks back and holds out his arm for Quill. Quill takes it, stands up, takes the robe.
QUILL: Thank you.
Quill puts on the robe. There is a moment of silence, just long enough to begin to feel awkward.
MANDRY: You can lean on me if you’re still dizzy.
QUILL: A bit, yeah.
MANDRY: Are you ready to try to walk? There’s something you should see.
QUILL: The plants! How are they? Do you need me to –
MANDRY: No – I mean the plants are fine – I mean, they’re alive, it’s kind of a jungle in there because they spent years without any idea about which way is down but they seem to have adapted okay…
QUILL: Wait, no gravity?
MANDRY: I just turned the Grissom back on a bit ago, when I started waking everyone else up.
QUILL: Oh. Oh right, you trained for it.
MANDRY: Right, but the rest of you really like knowing which way is down.
Anyway, the plants can wait, I promise. Can you walk with me?
He takes a few hesitant steps.
QUILL (CONT’D): I’m a little wobbly.
MANDRY: I got you.
They open the door and head into the corridor, walking down it for a while, Quill leaning on Mandry. Then they stop in the hall.
QUILL: Okay, so – what’s here?
MANDRY: Trust me.
Mandry pushes a button and opens shutters on the outside of the ship. They’re staring out a giant window.
QUILL: You brought me to look out the window?
QUILL: It’s all dark. Wait. No stars – is that the planet?
MANDRY: It sure is.
QUILL: …Is there a reason you wanted me to see it in the dark?
MANDRY: Have some patience.
QUILL: I’ve been asleep for decades. How much more patience do you want?
MANDRY: About… here we go.
A moment of silence
QUILL: WAIT. Wait. Is that – are those – clouds?
QUILL: Clouds! Kolian must be so excited. So… it has an atmosphere?
MANDRY: Sure does. Keep watching.
QUILL: It’s so – blue-green? And black? What a pretty turquoise color.
What… is that water?
MANDRY: Actually the black parts are water. We think.
QUILL: Wait. What’s the blue part?
MANDRY: That’s what I wanted to show you. That’s the land. Some of it anyway.
QUILL: And it’s blue?
MANDRY: Well, that seems to be what color the vegetation tends toward here.
QUILL: Are you telling me.
QUILL: THERE ARE PLANTS DOWN THERE???
MANDRY: And animals. We’re looking at – well, that big patch is a forest.
QUILL: A forest. (in awe) A forest?
MANDRY: Well, I don’t know if things are really trees? But… yeah.
QUILL: It’s so beautiful.
MANDRY: Yeah. I knew you’d love it.
QUILL: That’s why you brought me here now.
MANDRY: Yeah. [pause] Do you want me to show you where your cabin is from here? You need some rest.
QUILL: …actually, I want to watch a while longer. If that’s okay.
MANDRY: Of course. [slightly awkward] Um, I think you’re standing on your own okay now – do you want me to go?
Mandry steps away slightly, leaving Quill standing without him. Quill looks over, then back out the window. A long pause, then Quill reaches for Mandry’s hand, takes it.
QUILL: Can you stay a while?
Mandry steps closer again and squeezes his hand.
MANDRY: Yeah. I can stay.
FADE IN: INT. CABIN – DAY
We’re shipboard, in a small personal cabin. ZEI has locked the door and is trying to record a message. Sounds are muted but we might hear a distant rumble or jets firing once in a while. A fist hits a console, something is thrown, something clatters.
Deep sigh, something is picked up and adjusted.
ZEI (CONT’D): Okay. Okay. This isn’t going to get any easier if I wait longer. Come on.
Another breath, shifting, a few buttons.
ZEI (CONT’D): Um. Hi, Landren. I’ve been trying to record this a while, and it never comes out quite right, so this time I’m just going to send it. Your mom promised to give it to you when she thought it was best, so I don’t know how old you are right now, but…
Anyway, I’m Corenna Zeigen. People usually call me Zei. We just got here, and for now I’m in orbit, waiting at Central for the shuttle that will take me down to our first settlement. I’ll be pretty busy, soon.
I can’t stop thinking about the last time I saw you. You were walking, but you weren’t very good at it yet. Every few steps you’d fall down on your butt, and you’d always look so surprised – and offended – like, how DARE gravity think it could have any effect on you? But then you’d look up into our eyes, and you’d laugh. Every time, you laughed.
Sometimes you even clapped and said “yay!”
You were amazing, baby. You didn’t have a lot of words yet, but you called me Zaza.
I know that sometime, far in my future, you’re going to wake up in a new world. You’re going to have to learn to walk all over again, through new grass, under a new sky. Hell, it’ll be your first grass, your first sky, and the only world you’ll ever know.
But. But, Landren, baby. I won’t be there.
Thing is, for you to have this new and better world, I have to stay behind and make it.
I… I just want you to know, baby, that I wish I could be there to see you walking under the bright sky with your mom. I wish I could watch you grow up. It’s… it’s okay that I can’t. It’s worth it, it’s so worth it. Don’t ever worry about that, okay?
I want you to know that you are so loved. You’re the best thing your mom and I ever made together. I don’t know what you’ll do with your life, but I know it will be amazing. And take care of your mom for me, too, okay? We made some hard choices, and it’s too late to take them back now, but I want her to know it’s all right. It will be okay.
So, Landren. Baby. There’s one way I’ll still be with you. My name is on the blueprints for your whole planet. Every time you flip on a light switch, that’s me, okay? You’ll have light because I love you. Every day, always.
Your zaza loves you. Go be amazing.
A shuddering breath, a couple of clicks / button presses, quiet sobbing.
A pinging noise – someone calling on an intercom.
MANDRY: Zei? Your shuttle’s prepped, loading in a few. Are you ready?
ZEI: Oh – hi, yeah, I’m just about good to head out. Got to take a quick detour to storage.
MANDRY: Need a hand with anything?
ZEI: No, this one’s all mine. But thank you. I’ll see you at the loading bay, yeah?
MANDRY: I’m already here. See you soon.
Disconnection. Zei gathers up a few things including the message capsule, opens the cabin door, hesitates.
ZEI: Well. Here we go.
One deep, steadying breath, her footsteps on metal, the door closing behind her.
Produced, Written, and Directed by Evan Tess Murray
Audio Engineering, Sound Design, and Score by Trace Callahan
All characters were developed in collaboration with their actors, who contributed to the writing process:
CAST (in order of appearance)
Zei – Evan Tess Murray
Zahava – Caroline Mincks
Mandry – Trevor Bean
Cyrus – Alexander Endymion Hernandez Diaz
James – Alexander Doddy
Kolian – Trace Callahan
Quill – Saywer Greene
ELENA: If you liked what you heard, you can support this crew on needsanamepod.com/support-us.
Radio Drama Revival runs on dark hot chocolate and selling lemonade out of season. 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 David.
DAVID: Hey. Hi. So I love space operas and space adventures, but the thing about me is that I cannot ever even a little bit imagine myself having a good time among the stars. I love traveling. I find it very romantic, in the capital-r way. Adventurous! I haven’t been on a plane since the pandemic began but I do legitimately love flying. I even love airports! I adore traveling by train. I even enjoy long car trips. But as much as I love embarking, I love disembarking that much more—the security of returning to my own bed after a long time away. The comfort of my bathtub. Knowing where everything is supposed to go in the kitchen. And the idea of going on a space journey? That’s a plane ride where you don’t get off for months or years. So I would have to stock up, not just on goat cheese like in the show, but in memories of Earth, of the outdoors. So, with that in mind. Please enjoy this peaceful moment in the Indiana Dunes earlier this year, as migrating monarch butterflies supped on milkweed ahead of their long journey to Mexico, to give you a piece for the interstellar journey ahead.
[sound of a peaceful dune scene, the soft sound of air rustling through plants, the faint buzzy rumble of insect life]
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.
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 Dianne Tapia.
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.