Fragments of “Dead Planet”

I believe I originally wrote these “scenes” in early 2017. However, I don’t recall why I elected to script my thoughts about this particular idea in such a way. “Dead Planet” was definitely intended to have action and horror elements, although I never got around to recording any of those imaginings.

Characters

Rubicon Crew
Everett
Walls
Day
McCutchen
Benson
Vaughn
Zamora

Others
Newman – program director

***

NEWMAN
One StarChip made quite a discovery.

EVERETT
Which one?

NEWMAN
Number eight. Transmissions started arriving last month.

EVERETT
Kepler-22?

NEWMAN
That’s the one. And you thought we’d never find anything.
Biosignatures, metal-heavy signatures –

EVERETT
I had hoped we wouldn’t.

Beat.

And just 180 parsecs away. Incredible. This is beyond the most
optimistic projections.

NEWMAN
There’s more.

EVERETT
What?

Beat.

NEWMAN
First contact.

***

WALLS
I want you to seriously think about something for me.

DAY
What’s that?

WALLS
Is this our last mission?

DAY
That’s what we’ve all talked about.

WALLS
This is the last one for me – this has to be the last one. No more readjusting and relearning how to live. I don’t ever intend to leave Earth again once we get back.

DAY
I don’t think anyone will blame you or any of us for wanting a normal life.

WALLS
I want a life when I get back. And I want that life to be with you.

***

NEWMAN
Rubicon will reach the Kupier Belt in ten years. The mass drive will
be activated at that point. Within a few seconds, Rubicon will be
just outside the Kepler-22 system.

POLITICAL ADVISOR 1
How soon can we expect a transmission?

NEWMAN
There can be no transmission before Rubicon has returned to our
system. Ten years out. Six or seven years to approach the planet.
Another six or seven to return to the jump point.

POLITICAL ADVISOR 2
Twenty-five years?

NEWMAN
We should have them home in thirty-five, but, yes, twenty-five years before
we can expect transmissions.

POLITICAL ADVISOR 1
I may well be dead in twenty-five years.

NEWMAN
We all may be. But the crew won’t be. They’d age only a year or so.

***

EVERETT
Kepler-22c was selected for this program due to the belief the planet was
an Earth analog.

DAY
The similarities are amazing.

EVERETT
And the data from the visiting StarChip is even more unbelievable. The
biosignatures are the same you’d expect to see on Earth. Enhanced images
clearly demonstrate artificial patterns on the surface.

MCCUTCHEN
What level of development are we suspecting?

EVERETT
There is a strong suspicion we are essentially dealing with a
Bronze Age culture. Perhaps somewhat more advanced than that. Perhaps not.

WALLS
How did StarChip make contact?

Beat.

EVERETT
StarChip didn’t. Our parameters included no contact unless absolutely unavoidable. We were the proverbial good children in the room – perhaps seen but never heard.

MCCUTCHEN
How did a Bronze Age culture detect StarChip?

EVERETT
We don’t believe Starchip was detected, but there appear to be intentional fires on the
surface – very extensive fires burning in roughly geometric shapes. Some of the images suggest that these patterns were intended to be observed from above. Starchip just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

DAY
Forest fires?

EVERETT
Apparently. But we believe these were intentionally set to burn as a means to communicate.

BENSON
So, maybe like a survivor stranded on a deserted island? You build a fire in the hopes of catching the attention of a passing ship or airplane.

ZAMORA
That’s an interesting thought. But destroy your forests – an invaluable resource for such a civilization – to contact who? Who are you reaching out to?

WALLS
The natives didn’t build fires hoping Columbus would find land.

MCCUTCHEN
I think the natives may have burned everything to stop Columbus from
landing – had they known what was coming.

(to Everett)

Are you sure StarChip wasn’t detected?

EVERETT
Very unlikely.

WALLS
Could be a sign of conflict.

EVERETT
True.

WALLS
How does this look to everyone else?

DAY
A plea.

EVERETT
I agree – an appeal to the gods.

WALLS
Do we intervene?

Beat.

EVERETT
Would God?

Author: joshuajscully

That’s my picture up there. I’m not totally sure why I look so angry. I may be thinking about how much I hated the Crypt Keeper as a child. I grew up faithfully watching reruns of The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt. Unfortunately, I missed the boat in terms of writing for either of those programs. I do consider both to have been wildly influential when I think back to my earliest thoughts about becoming an author and I’m grateful my parents let me watch those shows as a kid (although there were probably some nights early in my childhood my mother wished she hadn’t let me watch those shows). If you’re familiar with either program, then you know what genres are my focus. I thoroughly enjoy science fiction, suspense, the twist ending, and some horror or supernatural elements as well. Honestly, when I was a kid the Crypt Keeper scared the hell out of me. As an adult, I’ve really learned to embrace the puns. Historical fiction is a favorite of mine as well, and the root of that is shared with my profession. I am an educator by trade, and I teach American History. I consider some of the best writing I’ve ever done to be within the realm of historical fiction and I really enjoy saturating my mind in the research end of those projects. I would make the argument that storytelling is in my blood. Even my sister mulled, very briefly (about 45 minutes), launching a career as a screenwriter! My last name is one of those Irish (and, apparently, formally Manx) ones with a wonderfully researched history -“the story-teller’s descendant”. On of the first day of school each year, I do share that “my name is Mr. Scully, and that rhymes with Kelly”, just so I do not hear the myriad of mispronunciations on the first day. Several years ago, I started a blog similar to this one to highlight my middle years as a teacher. If that aspect of my life is of any interest to you at all, you can still find that blog online. During my summers, I really have time to pursue my writing projects and this blog will highlight some of that work. My first attempts to sit down and write extensively occurred when I was 15, but only a few years ago did I make setting time aside to write a priority. I’ve also benefited wildly over the years from many willing readers among my family and friends. The direction and feedback from those individuals has been invaluable. Outside the world of the written word, I am an educator, basketball coach, lecturer, and (very, very occasionally) a landscaper. I have only ever known Western Pennsylvania as my home. Although I love a good novel, I am absolutely unable to resist the power of the short story. The latter is really what I hope to be remembered for one day.

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