Sunday, May 7, 2017

Into the Belly of the Beast!

A short scene by Sarah Gay

Oura: A quirky, witty girl of twelve. Dry and cynical.
Mino: A rough-and-tumble boy. Smart. Oura’s twin brother

(Setting) Inside of a whale.

Mino enters, followed by Oura who carries a book. Mino holds a magnifying glass, a pad of paper, and a pencil in his mouth.

Oura: It smells like fish in here.
Mino: Whale’s aren’t fish, Oura. They’re mammals.
Oura: Still smells like fish.
Mino: Oh, would you stop your whining and let me do my field work? Did I complain last week when we took a trip to Venus?
Oura: Yes, actually. (Mimicking him) It’s way too hot, Sissy! Why couldn’t we have visited Jupiter?
Mino: Oh, shut it! You know Jupiter would have been more interesting anyway. That big red storm looked pretty cool.
Oura: Jupiter is a gas giant, Mino. How would we even explore it in the first place if there’s no surface to explore? We’d just get sucked to the core and be spaghettified!
Mino: (Jokingly) And who doesn’t like spaghetti?
Oura: You’d say anything just to prove yourself right, wouldn’t you?
Mino: (Smiling) Only if it proves you wrong.
Mino begins studying a hairy structure.
Oura: Your stupidity gives me acid reflux.
Mino: Hey, come check this out!
Oura follows and observes.
Oura: That’s the whale’s teeth, right?
Mino: Absolutely not! This is baleen hair!
Oura: Okay, what is it used for?
Mino: It’s what the whale uses to eat. It sucks up a bunch of ocean junk, then filters out plankton to consume. Look! You can even see some leftovers if you look close enough…
Oura: (Looking, then thinking) … So they’re teeth.
Mino: (Exasperated) Honestly, Oura, how did you pass the fifth grade?
Oura: You’re the one that thought we could escape the gravity of Earth by using an old truck engine and diesel fuel.
Mino: But you still tried it, didn’t you?
Oura scoffs and busies herself elsewhere. Mino begins sketching and taking notes.
Oura: (Impatient) Oh, would you hurry up? Mom is going to have both of our hides if we’re late for dinner again! She’ll skin us like seals!
Mino: Whoa, whoa, sensitive topic. (Shifting) And whose fault was it last time?
Oura: Hey, outer space is kind of a big deal.
Mino: (Gesturing to the cavernous space around them) We’re inside of a living, breathing, blue whale. You know, the largest mammal on the planet? More massive than any other dinosaur that ever walked the stinkin’ Earth? Kind of a big deal. (Pause) Just… go sit over there and busy yourself with your reading.
Oura: Yeah. (Observing in obvious disgust) It’s really… fleshy.  But whatever you insist, Darwin.
Oura sits on the whale floor and begins reading.
Oura: (After some time) I don’t get what’s so cool about the ocean anyway. Everything smells like bad sushi and the salt water makes my hair crackle. It’s honestly like… the worst place ever.
Mino: How could you even say that? The ocean is great! Millions of years ago, whatever we evolved from crawled out of the very same waters to form humanity! We came from the oceans, Oura. Don’t you think that’s cool?
Oura: If you think about it, Mino, the oceans are just a byproduct of cosmic activity. You, me, and the ocean our great great great great biological ancestors crawled out of- we were all formed from the remnants of pre-earth supernovae. Isn’t that just a bit more… I don’t know... epic?
Mino: Yeah, it’s pretty cool, but I still think the ocean is cooler.
Oura: Why though? It’s just water and smelly, slimy fish. It’s pretty stupid, really.
Mino: Why do you always do this?
Oura: Do what?
Mino: You’re always invalidating me. At least I support what you do.
Oura: (Defensively) Well what you do isn’t important to human progress, Mino! Why should I support something that doesn’t even matter?
Mino: (Hurt) How could you even say that? The ocean is the most unexplored frontier of the Earth. I want to help discover it.
Oura: I’m not going to even bother explaining why I have you beat there, too.
Mino: Why does it matter? Shouldn’t you just be happy for me or something? Even if you don’t mean it, shouldn’t you at least pretend to care?
Oura: You know I’m not that kind of person. I wouldn’t lie to you.
Mino: Sometimes I wish you would.
Mino returns to his drawing. Oura grows restless and begins tentatively exploring the whale’s intricacies.
Mino: Would you stop fidgeting? It’s distracting.
Oura: Fine. If it gets us out of here quicker.
Oura plops down on an indistinct mass of whale. A loud, rumbling “awoo” resonates through the capacious, mammalian expanse. The whale floor rocks precariously. Oura, frightened, tosses her book off stage in shock.
Mino: Are you okay?
Oura: Yeah, I think so.
Mino: Jeez, Oura! What did you do?
Oura: What you told me to do!
Mino: I didn’t tell you to sit on the whale’s trachea! It probably thought it was choking.
Oura: (referring to the smell) That makes two of us, then.
Mino: Would you just zip it about the smell? I know it’s not the most pleasant scent, but those sulfur volcanoes on Io must have been 300 times worse at least. This shouldn’t even phase you. I mean, if you can stand smelling a farting moon for hours on end, the inside of a whale shouldn’t even-
Oura: (interrupting him) Oh my god.
Mino: What?
Oura: (frantic) Oh my god, no, no, no! This can’t be happening.
Mino: Sissy, calm down. What’s wrong?
Oura: My book! It’s gone! It’s the one dad got me before he left overseas. The one about the conservation of angular momentum in relation to the formation of the solar system! Oh no, no, no!
Mino: It must have fallen into the digestive tract...
Oura: I don’t know what I’m going to do. (Hopeless) That book is everything to me.
For a moment, it’s quiet. Oura cries softly.
Mino: (suddenly) I’ll find it. Give me two minutes.
Oura: What? Are you nuts? What if you get lost in the bowels of the whale?
Mino: I think I know my whale anatomy.
Oura: Oh god, at least let me come with you!
Mino: No way. The whale might be huge, but it’s intestines are a bit too narrow for two people to fit comfortably. And besides, if you think it stinks now… (a shudder) Trust me. You’re better off just staying here.
Oura: Wait, Mino!
Mino has already begun his confident descent into the belly of the beast. Oura sits alone. She hugs her knees.
Oura: I hope he doesn’t take too long. The last time he left me alone like this, he went to explore the bottom of the Mariana Trench. He left me sitting on the precipice for hours, and let me tell you, there’s nothing appealing about watching your brother descend into the unknown darkness of the deep sea. (A pause) I worry about him… but I guess it’s no different than the void of space. (A beat) What’s taking him so long?
Oura begins to pace.
Oura: I really hope he knows what he’s doing. I’d be in deep trouble if I came home without him… again. Mom would be devastated if anything happened to him. And what if Dad came home one day and found out I lost my own brother? He’d never bring me books ever again. I don’t know what I’d do… I’m such an idiot.
Yet another “awoo” bellows from deep within.
Oura: (Suddenly paranoid) What if he’s gone too far? What if he gets sucked into the stomach acid and gets digested? Why isn’t he back yet? He said two minutes. It has to at least have been five already. Ten, even. What if he got seasick? (A realization) How do I get out if he doesn’t come back? I have zero knowledge of whale biology. The teeth - hair, whatever - is way too thick for me to squeeze through. I obviously can’t take the back door… where is the blowhole!? Oh my god… I need a pharmacist.
Oura sits again and begins violently crying. During her episode, a rather sticky Mino returns triumphant, book in hand.
Mino: I’ve got it!
Oura doesn’t hear him through her fit. Mino sits next to Oura and puts his arm around her shoulder.
Mino: Hey, don’t worry! I’ve got your book back. You can stop crying now.
Oura: (Looking up) Oh, thank god!
She hugs him
Mino: Jeez, if this is all it takes to get your affection…
Oura: I’m so sorry, Mino. I’m so so so sorry. I’m sorry I’m such a bad sister. I’m sorry about complaining. I’m sorry about everything. Please don’t hate me. I was so worried…
Mino: Hey, hey, champ. I’m okay. It was just a meter or so inside- at the top of the digestive tract. It was nothing, really. I’m just glad you got your book back. I didn’t mean to scare you by leaving you out here by yourself.
Oura: It’s okay. (A sniffle) I don’t mean this the wrong way, but can we go home now?
Mino: Of course.
Another hug.
Oura: (Pulling away) Holy mackerel, you smell disgusting!
Mino: Yeah, (smiling) I know.


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