Episode 14: Craigslist

[SCENE I. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. SARAH is browsing Craigslist for microwaves. MELISSA is inspecting a clearly irreparably-damaged microwave, as if hoping that by looking at it she can fix it.]

SARAH: I wish you’d told me you tried to use the microwave when you were cursed.

MELISSA: I was hungry and depressed! I needed popcorn.

SARAH: You didn’t think that maybe the microwave would explode?

MELISSA: It was a risk I was willing to take. Anyway, maybe it wasn’t my fault. That was weeks ago. It was working fine until you tried to microwave those Chinese leftovers. Maybe you’re eating metallic Chinese food.

SARAH: No, Melissa. (She clicks a listing on Craigslist.) Here’s one that’s actually in town! One microwave, decent size, free to good home. Apply in person.

MELISSA: Free to good home?

SARAH: That means the microwave is well-loved. Should we go?

MELISSA: Sure, why not? Worst case scenario, we don’t get a microwave.

[SCENE II. A house on the outskirts of town. The windows are boarded and there is a microwave on the porch. SARAH looks a little nervous about this, but MELISSA seems to not particularly mind. She knocks on the front door. After a moment, the door opens a crack. A YOUNG MAN who looks like he has not gotten very much sleep looks out.]

MAN: Yes?

MELISSA: We’re here about the microwave?

MAN: Are you trustworthy?

MELISSA: Oh yes.

SARAH: Melissa once saved a bunch of children from fairies.

MELISSA: Yes. We’re practically saints.

MAN: Very well. Take it, and good luck.

(He closes the door quickly.)

SARAH: I think maybe this is a bad idea.

MELISSA: It will be if you don’t help me carry this thing.

(They load it into the car and drive off.)

[SCENE III. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. MELISSA is removing the damaged microwave to make room for the new one.]

SARAH: Farewell, old friend. You were good.

(MELISSA departs with the old microwave. After a moment of silence, SARAH plugs the new microwave in, moves it into position, and looks it over in a cursory fashion. One of the buttons gives her pause, however, and she double-takes and stares at it. Eventually MELISSA returns.)

MELISSA: We should christen it with something appropriately greasy.

SARAH: Huh? Yeah, sure.

MELISSA: (Gives SARAH a long, hard look.) You all right?

SARAH: What’s ‘chaos defrost’ do?

MELISSA: What? (She looks at the microwave. Sure enough, one of the buttons is casually labeled ‘Chaos Defrost.’)

SARAH: Is it like regular defrost, or–

MELISSA: Maybe we should ask our creepy friend for a manual.

SARAH: No, let’s not do that.

(There is a pause while they both look at the microwave curiously. Then, as one, they look at each other.)

SARAH and MELISSA: Want to try it?

SARAH: What should we cook? Or defrost?

MELISSA: I’ve got some chicken in the freezer. That seems kind of mundane though.

SARAH: It’s got to be worth a shot. (MELISSA grabs the chicken and puts it on a plate, then puts it in the microwave. They look at each other. SARAH counts to three, and they press the ‘chaos defrost’ button. The microwave starts making microwave noises.)

MELISSA: Okay, I think maybe we were expecting too much there.

SARAH: Is that chicken even still good?

MELISSA: Maybe! It–

(Just then, the lights flicker and go out, and the room adopts an ominous purple glow. MELISSA runs to the window and looks outside. Where before there was only a mostly cloudy sky, now strange purple clouds and green lightning flicker. Indistinct beast shapes walk the streets of Portland.)

MELISSA: Sarah . . . .

(SARAH runs to the window and looks out, then makes excited sounds.)

SARAH: We did it! We’ve ushered in the apocalypse! (She hugs MELISSA.)

MELISSA: Maybe we should–

SARAH: Wait right there. (SARAH runs upstairs, and comes back down with a bottle of champagne.) I’ve got a dress picked out and everything.

MELISSA: I think maybe it’s a little premature to pronounce the world over.

(The microwave beeps, suggesting the defrosting is done. The lights turn back on and the sky outside clears. MELISSA sighs with relief, and SARAH blinks.)

SARAH: Oh. (She puts the champagne down.) Should we check on the chicken, then?

(They do so. The chicken is no longer there; instead there is a mug of hot tea, complete with tea bag dangling over the side.)

MELISSA: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say we probably shouldn’t drink that.

SARAH: Don’t be a wimp. The tea of chaos is calling!

MELISSA: That’s not funny.

SARAH: (In a funny, crazed-cultist voice.) Drink me, Melissa! Drink me and usher in the end!

MELISSA: (Smiling.) Okay, maybe a little.

(As they are talking, we start to hear sirens in the distance. First just one, then several. By this point the background ambiance is pretty much entirely emergency vehicle sounds.)

SARAH: I think we may have broken Portland.

MELISSA: Whatever else happens, deny everything. We just thought there was a power outage or something.

SARAH: Should we go into hiding? Like, in the woods? Or we could just hit the button again. I don’t want to be arrested for half-assing the apocalypse.

MELISSA: Let’s go for a walk.

[SCENE IV. The streets of Portland. The damage is widespread but essentially random–a line of cars might be fine, with the one on the end overturned and burning in the streets. A window is broken here or there. The most common sign are ominous purple puddles of strange liquid, and large monstrous footprints in any soft ground. MELISSA and SARAH are walking along, admiring the damage.]

SARAH: I just want you to know, it is taking a lot of willpower not to go play in the puddles, weird poison chaos-water or no.

MELISSA: Your restraint is admirable.

SARAH: I will not object if you commission a medal to celebrate my valor, Melissa.

MELISSA: No.

SARAH: I’ll design it for you.

MELISSA: Maybe.

(They continue walking down the street. They pass a few people huddled in the streets but generally ignore them.)

SARAH: So why do you suppose our microwave is actually a powerful artifact of chaos?

MELISSA: Cultists, probably. It’s always cultists. (She shrugs.) We could always ask someone who might know.

[SCENE V. JEREMY’s house. SARAH and MELISSA are on his couch. JEREMY is pacing.]

JEREMY: So your microwave caused this? Are you sure?

MELISSA: These are chaotic times, Jeremy. I am sure of nothing.

JEREMY: Are you reasonably sure within the bounds of the inherent unpredictability of the universe that you may or may not have contributed to?

MELISSA: Oh, yes.

JEREMY: This isn’t the first time this has happened in Portland.

MELISSA: Widespread chaos, sky turning purple, green lightning, puddles of ominous purple liquid? I think I’d have noticed.

SARAH: Maybe we were both asleep! Or drunk. Or–

JEREMY: It kind of erases itself from the timestream after a day or two. But it leaves little . . . blips, if you know what to look for, even after.

MELISSA: So what’s the point?

JEREMY: I don’t know. I think they’re trying to weaken spacetime so something awful can break through. Eventually it’ll be permanent–the storm, the chaos beasts. I’m working on a way to counter it.

MELISSA: So how come you remember?

JEREMY: If you’re exposed to enough chaos radiation you can remember it. We studied it in the lab a while back. If it was coming from your microwave you probably won’t forget this one, either.

MELISSA: That’s good, because I’m pretty sure we’d just keep hitting the ‘chaos defrost’ button until the world was full of tentacles.

SARAH: (Unconvincing.) And that would be bad.

JEREMY: I’ll let you know if I find anything out.

[SCENE VI. The Jaded Old Crone. SARAH and MELISSA are enjoying a cup of coffee.]

SARAH: It’s kind of a shame we never got to see the chaos beasts up close.

MELISSA: Once you’ve seen one eldritch monstrosity you’ve seen them all, Sarah.

SARAH: But we just saw spooky shadows! Those could have just been students in bad costumes.

MELISSA: I’m sure you wouldn’t want to see one up close. They’re pretty hideous. Nothing should have that many eyes and mouths. Especially when those eyes and mouths are on their tentacles.

(At the bar, a CHAOS BEAST in a business suit and fedora is sipping a cup of tea. He glances in their direction, but they don’t seem to notice.)

MELISSA: I know that look. We’re not adopting a chaos beast, Sarah. All they want is to bring about the destruction of this puny world. They smell bad, wreak destruction in their wake, and cost too much to feed. I don’t want them in my house.

SARAH: Just a little one?

MELISSA: No. They’re all monsters. I’m putting my foot down.

SARAH: All right. I guess you can’t really love something that wants to shatter reality, anyway.

(At the bar, the CHAOS BEAST wipes a tear from one of its many eyes. It is evident that it is deeply hurt by these comments. It flags down the barkeeper.)

CHAOS BEAST: A shot of your strongest whiskey.

(The barkeeper pours a shot.)

CHAOS BEAST: Leave the bottle. I’ve got sorrows to drown.

(Fin.)

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One comment on “Episode 14: Craigslist

  1. brought laughter to my throat and a tear to my eye 🙂

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