Under Pressure 1.08 - The Beach House of Asterion
DR JAMIE MACMILLAN-BARRIE
DR SIDNEY PETERSEN
CPT PHAEDRA ASPROS
DR RAMONA RAMIREZ
SCENE ONE: The Bowels of the Amphitrite – Day
JAMIE MACMILLAN-BARRIE These are the audio notes of -- you know what? This is going to be a very special edition of my audio notes. That’s right, what you’ve been waiting for, it’s time to go into the belly of the beast: this week we're coming to you live from the short-term wing of the Amphitrite. I’m a regular Jonah, and I guess that means I’ve got to go fix this damn whale.
SOUND INTRO MUSIC
JAMIE My mother told us that story, a long time ago. Anyway, the problem: there was a system that went off line when the earthquake hit last week, but diagnosing the problem took an unreasonably long time mostly because Jack is...incapacitated. He has a method of determining what is broken and why that actually looks a lot like a dichotomous key, but it doesn’t make any sense unless you’re an Australian ex-marine, I guess.
JAMIE CONT’D OVER
JAMIE CONT’D And he’s too high on morphine at present to be any help in fixing anything.
JAMIE I think, and I wasn’t paying extremely close attention when this was being discussed because I was trying to man the communications array at the same time--not my job. But whatever--anyway, I think that what happened was one of the power cables that keeps the short-term wings in enough power to support life was knocked out of place, and because of that half the station is running on backup power. As previously noted, we can last on backup power for quite a while, but Phaedra wants us to be back to normal operations--that is to say, hosting people in the short term wings--as soon as possible. How she intends to achieve this with Jack out of commission remains a mystery--there are quite a few other problems to fix--but I’m just here to do my contractually-obligated job and look pretty.
JAMIE CONT’D OVER
JAMIE CONT’D So while Mona and Phaedra, AKA the only two people on the station who are a) not doped up, and b) proficient in driving the ROVs, are going out to push the joint back in place on the outside, I’ll be pushing it back in on the inside.
JAMIE I don’t know why, exactly, but the low-power lights are different than the emergency lights. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, because why have two sets of lighting when you could only make one, but the effect is that the station is currently lit up in blues and greens, instead of reds and oranges. Apparently the only time the station is submerged into hell is when we might literally die, so that’s good to know, I guess. It looks pretty cool, actually; all the shadows from the piping are crisscrossing, and I can see my own about a million times, so it does kind of look like, well, like moving water.
JAMIE Can you tell that I am not loving this course of events?
JAMIE Despite that, though, after having the station’s design philosophy explained to me in some amount of detail, using very small words and a couple of comparisons to Legos and Lincoln Logs, I’m actually somewhat less fatalistically terrified than I was a week ago. This minor catastrophe was actually planned for. Things like earthquakes are less devastating when it’s expected, and there’s a comfort in planning. That’s why there’s safety protocol. (PAUSE) That’s also why people write wills.
JAMIE Look, it's been (PAUSE, LETS OUT A BREATH) it's been a rough couple of weeks down here. For all of us. Sidney has to fix Jack, which has made them even testier than normal and an absolute (FUCKING) joy to work with.
JAMIE CONT’D OVER
JAMIE CONT’D And Phaedra has to deal with the station trying its very hardest to fall off the trench wall--if at first you don't succeed, et cetera. Hamish hasn’t slept more than four hours at a stretch in all this time, and Mona---
JAMIE I wish I could--. I wish I could fix this for her, but once again there is just nothing I can do to help the people I-- that I care about.
JAMIE To get back to some kind of point though, being in this deep dark death pit has made me start thinking abo--
SIDNEY (OVER COMMS THROUGHOUT) Barrie, before you start ineffectually lecturing your recorder about some pseudo-scientific philosophical drivel, I want you to hear something.
JACK (OVER COMMS THROUGHOUT) (SINGING) You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with meeee--
SIDNEY --Now I have been listening to that for the last I don’t care to know how many hours, and I am also listening to you bellyache about your crush, and while I can absolutely do both of those things, I cannot do them and hear about (FUCKING) Heidegger, or Plato, or whoever at the same time.
JAMIE (INTERNALLY SCREAMING) I was actually going to talk about Nietzsche, and the void.
SIDNEY Even better.
JAMIE (SMALL) Did you really hear all that?
JAMIE Even the part about--
SIDNEY If you were in my position, Jamie, you would be “””testy””” too.
JAMIE Oh my--
SIDNEY You get to walk around, and move your body, whereas I am stuck here having to constantly monitor this drugged up asshole, so yes I am a little “”testy””
SOUND A LONG PAUSE
SIDNEY It has been a long few days.
JAMIE (You can) say that again. (PAUSE) Wait, have Phaedra and Mona been able to hear everything I’ve been saying?
SIDNEY I don’t know, did you want your boss and your crush to hear you cast aspersions on their ability to do their jobs?
SIDNEY They’re on the two-way, we’re on internal. (PAUSE; JAMIE DOESN’T GET IT) You are on separate system, so no, they can’t hear you, they can only hear me, and I’m on mute. You’ll be able to hear Phaedra when you need to fix the joist.
JAMIE Oh, okay, that’s. That's good.
SIDNEY About Mona though--
JAMIE I don’t think we should really be--
SIDNEY C’mon, Barrie, I’m gonna find out somehow.
JAMIE Why are you bothering to gossip about this? You don’t actually like us.
SIDNEY Correction: I don’t like you. I’m fine with Ramirez. And I’m relentlessly bored.
JAMIE (PAUSE) What do you want to know?
SIDNEY Mostly why she isn’t high-tailing it back to the surface like the most important person in her life just shuffled off the mortal coil. Oh wait.
JAMIE He didn’t want her to.
SIDNEY How does she know tha-
JAMIE He was very specific in his post-mortem instructions. Apparently he’d been in hospice for a while.
SIDNEY Jesus, what with?
JAMIE Hep C.
SIDNEY Good lord.
SINDEY And all the arrangements...?
JAMIE Were made before he died.
SIDNEY So Mona could stay down here and continue her work. Goddamn, Javier.
JAMIE From everything I've heard about it, it’s clear that he really, really loved her.
SIDNEY Did you know that in 30 people over the age of 6have that?
JAMIE That’s...quite a number.
SIDNEY Yeah. There wasn’t really a response to it for the longest time.
JAMIE That sounds a lot like--
SIDNEY Do not even get me started on HIV, Barrie.
JAMIE (PAUSE)(WORDLESS NOISE OF FRUSTRATION). Do you have any tips? About what to do about this?
SIDNEY (DEFENSIVE) Why would I know what to do about this?
JAMIE I don’t know, because you’re a medical doctor? Aren’t you supposed to be trained in this kind of thing?
SIDNEY I’m a (SHOCKED & OFFENDED) I’m a medical researcher, not a family medicine practitioner.
JAMIE Good lord, Sidney, it was a simple question. You don’t have to get so worked up.
SIDNEY I don’t understand why you people think that this is something I would know how to do, it’s not like my parents are dead.
JAMIE I’m sorry, would it kill you to show a little bit of empathy?
SIDNEY Well, why don’t you do that Barrie? Why don’t you think about how you would feel if your parents were dead.
JAMIE If my parents were dead I would probably feel relieved! That’s the whole problem: if I get started on talking about parents I inevitably start wanting to talk about my parents, and they’re just-- they're not a subject to comfort people with.
SIDNEY Why the hell not?
JAMIE I left home when I was 20, Sidney, and I haven’t been back since. Do the math, on that one.
SIDNEY (PAUSE) Wow, Barrie, I think in this one arena you might have me beat.
JAMIE (PAUSE) Well thanks for making me feel like a shitty person here, Petersen.
SIDNEY It’s a genuine (FUCKING) pleasure.
SOUND SILENCE, FILLED WITH JAMIE BREATHING HEAVILY AND THE CRACKLING OF THE COMM
JAMIE Sorry, I shouldn’t have blown up like that.
SIDNEY (AUDIBLE SIGH) You know, Barrie, have you considered just telling her what you told me?
JAMIE What do you mean?
SIDNEY I don’t know, maybe give a reason why you’re being a weird aloof asshole instead of being there when she needs you.
SIDNEY If nothing else, you probably can’t mess it up worse.
JAMIE I guess that’s right.
SIDNEY Shi-- how long have we been talking?
JAMIE I don’t know, about minutes? Maybe a little more?
SIDNEY Crap, okay, okay-- Vernon! (BEAT) Vernon! VERNON!
SOUND SIDNEY KICKING JACK AWAKE
SIDNEY Time to wake up!
JACK (WAKING) Alright--! (SINGING) Once a jolly swagman, camped by a billabong...
SOUND SINGING CONTINUES OVER NEXT FEW LINES
SIDNEY You shouldn't have to listen to that, it should be in the Geneva Convention.
JAMIE Strong words. As a matter of interest, why is he singing?
SIDNEY Because I have to know he’s awake, and alive, and if he’s singing he’s not talking, please stop-- SHUT UP! (JACK FALLS SILENT)
JAMIE That’s (fucking) fair. (PAUSE) Did you mean that? That I should tell Mona about-- all of this?
SIDNEY I really-- have no way of answering that question. Maybe. I might do it, if I were in your situation, but I also might not. I probably wouldn’t. I probably wouldn’t do anything. But you should probably do something.
JAMIE (CONTEMPLATIVE) Yeah, I probably should.
SOUND COMM BUZZES
PHAEDRA (OVER RADIO THROUGHOUT) This is ROV to comm deck, over.
RAMONA ROV to the comm deck, over.
SIDNEY (SIGHS: IT’S TIME TO GET TO WORK) You’re both coming in loud and clear. Still want me to direct this shindig?
PHAEDRA Affirmative, comm deck.
SIDNEY Copy. (ASIDE) Vernon, I need you to be absolutely silent for right now, got it?
JACK (FAR OFF MIKE) You got it, Doc.
SIDNEY ROV 1, are you in position?
SIDNEY ROV 2, are you in position?
SIDNEY Stand-by for further instructions. Alright, Jamie, you should be getting close to the hall with the broken joist, do you see it?
JAMIE I’m just rounding a corner, and-- yeah! The thing that looks disturbingly like a swollen head wound?
SIDNEY That would be where the joist hit the paneling. Alright, you are going to go and pull the panel off, you should be able to pop it without too much difficulty.
JAMIE (WITH DIFFICULTY) Yeah, I--
SOUND THE PANEL POPS OFF
JAMIE There it goes. I can see the joist that's out of place. And the trench wall, that’s not terrifying.
SIDNEY Good. Okay, for the electromagnets to come back online properly, the connection on the inside and outside need to be reestablished within seconds of each other. Jamie, you should be able just to push the joist into place. Do you think you can do that?
JAMIE Yeah, or die trying, I guess. (PAUSE) Alright, I’m in position.
SIDNEY ROV & 2, do you copy?
SIDNEY On my mark, 3, 2, 1, push.
JAMIE (STRUGGLING) And... it’s--
SOUND METAL SNAPS INTO PLACE
JAMIE --in! Go team!
SOUND POWER KICKS IN
SIDNEY Barrie’s got her end in; how’s the outside looking Captain?
PHAEDRA We’re done, over.
SIDNEY Cool. It looks like primary power has been restored to wing one... and wing two. I’m calling this: mission over, come back to base.
PHAEDRA Copy. See you soon, Sidney.
SIDNEY Looking forward to it. (PAUSE) Hey, Barrie, want a tip?
SIDNEY Come back in through the front hall, not the plant. There’s a window, and it’s something to see.
JAMIE I...will. Thanks, Sidney.
SIDNEY Later, Barrie.
SOUND RADIO BUZZES OFF
JAMIE That was odd, but...I'm not going to look a gift asshole in the mouth.
SOUND A LONG PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS
JAMIE My parents didn’t kick me out, for the record. It would be easy to assume that. They just made it clear I wasn’t welcome at home anymore, after I told them I was a lesbian. And they said they were going to stop paying for my education. So I got a scholarship and I moved out. (PAUSE) Honestly I think the biggest issue was probably that I started going to a reform temple instead of the family synagogue, but there were a lot of problems. Everything that went down just...wasn't the kind of stuff we could come back from, as a family.
JAMIE (GASPS) (WHISPERED) Holy-- (PAUSE) (NORMAL VOICE) Okay, so, I’m looking out of this window Sidney told me to go by, and there’s this massive...cloud, of those bioluminescent nematodes Mona showed me a couple of months ago. Or maybe it's some different ones, I’m not up on the specification of nematodes.
JAMIE CONT’D OVER
JAMIE CONT’D But it's like they're dancing. They’re moving in these swirls, like stars caught in a current. It’s faint but it’s absolutely...lovely.
JAMIE I once saw the Aurora Borealis, but honestly, honestly, this is the most beautiful natural wonder I’ve ever seen. I wonder if this is how Mona felt as a kid, looking at those crabs. Or if she feels this way when she looks at Joe, and his brethren. This is just, it's...spectacular.
JAMIE (PAUSE) I’m going to come look at this again, if I can. But right now I have to get back. I have to go see Mona.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS, THEN A HATCH OPENING, THEN JAMIE GOING UP THE STAIRS WITH SOME EFFORT
SOUND MORE FOOTSTEPS, THEN KNOCKING ON A HATCH DOOR
RAMONA (THROUGH DOOR) Who is it?
JAMIE It’s me. Can I come in?
RAMONA I-- yeah. Door’s open.
SOUND DOOR OPENS, CLOSES
JAMIE Uh- Hi.
RAMONA (TRIES TO SMILE, FAILS) Hey.
JAMIE Hi. (PAUSE) I’m sorry I haven’t been--
RAMONA No, no, it’s my... You have your own things, life to deal with, you don’t need to help me through mine.
JAMIE (GENTLE BUT FIRM) No, I should have been here. I said I would be, and I wasn’t. And you shouldn’t-- Now’s a time when you get to be selfish, okay? Everyone needs help sometimes and you need a little more than usual right now, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
RAMONA (QUIET, GENUINELY CURIOUS, BUT ALSO KIND OF WANTING TO BE LEFT ALONE WITH HER GRIEF) Why are you doing this, Jamie?
JAMIE Because you’re-- because you’re my...friend. But I’d be doing it even if you weren’t, because when people die you need someone. (PAUSE, RAMONA DOESN’T FILL IT) When-- when Caroline died. I had never really connected with Rebecca, my mother-in-law. I mean we’d met, obviously, and spent holidays together, but never...really talked. But Caroline died and she saw that I was falling apart at the seams, so she just...stayed with me. For days I just sat and did nothing while Rebecca came to our apartment every day and made sure I ate and slept and at least walked around for a few minutes.
JAMIE CONT’D OVER
JAMIE CONT’D I think it was almost days before I woke up and remembered that I needed to call my Rabbi and get Caroline’s ashes interred. And Rebecca didn’t know me, really, Caroline and I hadn’t been together for long enough for me to love her parents too, but Rebecca stayed with me. So...(PAUSE) I can stay as long as you need.
RAMONA (LIKELY BITING HER LIP AND NODDING) I-- thanks.
JAMIE (PAUSE) Are you-- have you been--
RAMONA Please don’t ask me if I’ve been okay.
JAMIE (LAUGHS RUEFULLY) Yeah, it’s a pretty stupid question.
RAMONA Little bit.
JAMIE Seriously, though, how are you feeling?
RAMONA I-- I don’t think it’s really hit yet, today. Every day it just--
JAMIE --hits you again, that they’re gone.
RAMONA (SOFTLY) Yeah.
JAMIE (SO, SO TENDER) Do you want to talk about it?
RAMONA Can I ask you a question?
JAMIE Yeah, shoot.
RAMONA (GROWING EVER SMALLER) Has it gotten better for you? Does it ever?
JAMIE (PAUSES) It eases, it’s not as sharp after a while. But it's-- you won't notice it all the time, eventually, but he's always going to have died. That's a fact about you that's never going to change. It-- for me, it dulled into an ache I can manage.
JAMIE CONT’D OVER
JAMIE CONT’D (PAUSE) Do you want to get out of here? When’s the last time you ate; we could go to the kitchen.
RAMONA I actually have to talk to the hospice people over skype in a few minutes. The fibre optic cable is only just completely back online, and I need to verbally acknowledge that he’s-- that-- what happened.
JAMIE I mean-- you can do that from my office, if you want. It’d certainly be more private than in here.
RAMONA (PAUSE) Yeah, okay.
JAMIE Come on.
SOUND HATCH OPENING, TWO SETS OF FOOTSTEPS WALKING DOWN THE CORRIDOR, A DIFFERENT HATCH OPENING
JAMIE Here, use the couch. Do you want me to be in here while you’re talking to...the doctor?
RAMONA Chaplain. I'd...like you to be here, but could you maybe put on a pair of headphones or something?
JAMIE (REASSURING) Sure. You should be able to move the terminal over to the couch.
RAMONA Yeah, got it.
JAMIE Alright, I’m gonna go make some tea and get us something to eat while you get signed in.
RAMONA (LIGHTLY JOKING) Again with the tea, Doctor?
JAMIE Everything is a little bit better with a hot mug of tea in your hands. And hey, if you don’t want any--
RAMONA No, bring me the tea.
JAMIE I wouldn't want to push anything on you.
RAMONA Bring me the damn tea, Jamie.
JAMIE Well, would you look at that. A smile. (PAUSE) What do you want to eat?
RAMONA I’m not hungry, but thanks.
JAMIE When was the last time you ate. (A PAUSE: THE ANSWER IS SILENCE). I’ll bring you one of Phaedra’s clif bars, if you want.
RAMONA No, I want you to keep your hands. (PAUSE) I guess a muffin or something would be nice.
JAMIE One cup of tea and one muffin, coming up. I’ll be back in a minute.
SOUND HATCH OPENS, FOOTSTEPS
JAMIE Oh, damn, my recorder is still on. Well. I am not going to be making any more notes right now, and I don’t have anything more to say. I’m sure I can come up with something, but for right now, I guess that these have been the audio notes of Dr Jamie MacMillan-Barrie, signing off.
SOUND EXIT MUSIC
CREDITS Under Pressure is a production of the Procyon Podcast Network. This episode was written by Margaret Clark and directed by Margaret Clark and Phoebe Seiders. The episode was mixed by Erin S. Dominic Wright composed our theme. Madison Schaeffer played Jamie, Georie Taylor played Dr Petersen, Zach Valenti played Jack Vernon, Danielle Shemaiah played Captain Aspros, and Thea Rodgers played Mona. You can find us at underpressurepodcast.com, on tumblr at underpressurepodcast.tumblr.com, and on twitter @U_P_podcast or @ProcyonPodcasts.