The Bottle


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Scene Title The Bottle
Synopsis "Maybe it isn't ever about trying to fix all the mistakes in the painting at all, you know? Maybe sometimes, it's about knowing when you need to scrap the old one, and start all over again from scratch." — Ronald Mallet, The Message and the Bottle
Date June 18, 2011


Somewhere beyond the sea

Somewhere waiting for me

Tinny music from an old record player echoes across the rust-streaked walls of a small office lit by a single articulated desk lamp. Standing in the doorway, breathing heavily and bracing herself against the frame, a young blonde woman with wide eyes and raised brows looks intently at a graying older woman seated at the lit desk. She turns, tucking her pen behind her ear and covering her notebook. There's an expression in her eyes, one of uncertainty and nervousness, seeing her daughter's urgency. "What is it, Ria? Is there a br— "

My lover stands on golden sands

And watches the ships that go sailing

"It's Mortimer. You've— you've got to see this." Without another word, Ria disappears into the hall, booted feet clanking further and further away across the metal floor. Her mother strains a sigh, slowly rises to her feet and looks down at the notebook on the desk. The dark circles under her eyes seem more prominent now, and threading a graying lock of blonde hair behind one ear, she turns for the doorway with trepidation and uncertainty.

Somewhere beyond the sea

She's there watching for me

Down the dimly-lit corridor, past the mess hall, past the hydroponic garden, there's a flight of stairs that winds down into the machine hangar. Here, sparks shower from a welding torch at work. Huge pieces of rusted metal lay scattered across the floor of the work space, wheeled scaffolding has been pushed into place around some cobbled together mechanical monstrosity that looks like it was built from a dozen different machines, none of which were in working condition. It resembles more a sculpture than a device, except that it's humming with power. Leaning off the scaffolding, ten feet up off of the ground where he works on the cylindrical device, Mortimer Ray wears a pair of welding goggles and a leather apron and a pair of bicycle shorts, knee-high tube socks, and a pair of track shoes. Ria stands nearby, head in her hand and apologetically offering a look back to her mother.

If I could fly like birds on high

Then straight to her arms I'd go sailing

"Mortimer!" Ria's mother calls out, looking up at the massive device, to the power cables extending out from it like an octopus. "Mortimer, what the hell is this!?" As she approaches, she notices a faded logo on part of the machine. A blue and white label mostly peeled away and barely legible. But part of the word Common and Institute is visible. Her brows pinch together, and blue eyes square up to the engineer as she shields them from the flare of the welding torch. "Mortimer!" She calls again, louder.

It's far beyond a star

It's near beyond the moon

"Director!" Mortimer stops welding, flips up the lenses of his goggles to reveal mercurial silver eyes. "You came! Oh, you came!" He hangs the welding torch on the scaffolding and clambers down like a monkey, swinging off of the bare before landing with a clap of his shoes on the metal floor. "This is my…" he gestures at the machine, looking back at it with a puzzled expression. "Uhh…" The Director covers her face and nearly starts to walk away. "No, wait! This is my contribution to your work!"

I know beyond a doubt

My heart will lead me there soon

Ria crosses her arms over her chest, looking suspiciously at Mortimer. "What is it, Mort? It this thing blows up like that submarine you tried to build, I'm going to— "

We'll meet beyond the shore

We'll kiss just like before

"No, no…" Mortimer beckons the Director over, and she slowly approaches with a wary look leveled at her daughter. As she comes closer, Mortimer motions up to the machine as a smile spreads across his face. "Do you recognize some of the components, Miss Cardinal?" He leans in, looking at her more intently, and Director Cardinal steps closer to the machine again, tihs time touching the cold metal with one hand. She smooths up one side, then looks at the mechanisms at the center, where a triangular frame of metal bordered by coolant pipes is situated. Her breath hitches in the back of her throat and she wheels around with wide eyes.

Happy we'll be beyond the sea

And never again I'll go sailing

"I told you never to look at my schematics!" Director Cardinal storms over, grabbing the still-smiling Mortimer by the collar with one hand. "You son of a bitch that was my one condition!' Mortimer bubbles with a giggle, gently resting one hand at the wrist of Michelle's grasp. "Mortimer I swear to God, I will put you out a fucking airlock if you— "

I know beyond a doubt

My heart will lead me there soon

In his other hand, Mortimer holds a remote control, which he depresses a button on. At that click, the entire machine begins to come to life, humming loudly and vibrating. Ria makes a soft noise and flickers away in the blink of an eye as she briefly becomes a shimmering field of multicolored light. When she re-materializes, her eyes have focused on a spinning mechanical ring at the middle that clicks and grinds in a way it shouldn't. Warren raises his brows, watching as Director Cardinal unwinds from his collar. She approaches the machine again, looking at the metal ring inside the triangle. "Lasers?" She looks back at Mortimer.

And we'll meet, I know we'll meet beyond the shore

We'll meet just as before

"Not yet," Mortimer admits. "This is just a prototype. You might notice some of the hardware is salvaged?" He gestures to the rusted parts. "I found it on a salvage scow, and I just had to have it. The folks who hauled it out of the ocean had the weirdest story about it. I think it was an offering from the Deep Ones, spewed forth from the depths of Ry'leth so that we supplicants could— "

Happy we'll be beyond the sea

And never again I'll go sailing

Director Cardinal puts a hand over Mortimer's mouth. Then, slowly, she looks back at him. "What story?" Her hand unwinds from over his lips, and Mortimer flashes her a charmed smile.

No more sailing

So long, sailing, sailing, sailing

"They said there was a storm. A swirling spiral of lights in the sky, an aurora?" Mortimer's silver eyes focus up at the machine as he clicks a button, powering it down. "Pieces of a building rained from the sky, which was no doubt falling from Carcosa. I have to imagine the King in Yellow had— " Her hand comes back over his mouth.

Goodbye, farewell, my friend, no more sailing

So long, sailing, no more sailing

Eyes filling up with tears, Director Cardinal swallows audibly and looks with a firm stare at the machine until the last component stops moving. She turns, looking at Ria as her hand slowly lowers from Mortimer's mouth. He says nothing this time. "Go get Don," the Director says in a hushed voice, "and Edward, if he's here. Tell them its important and I need to talk to them at once." Ria nods, once, and disappears in a briefly shimmering field of rainbow light. At that, the Director looks back at Mortimer.

No more, farewell

Auf Wiedersehen to you

"We work on this… together." She points a finger up at him. "But we're not telling them what it is yet. For all they know its a communications device, so we can reach out to the outside world. I don't… want to get anyone's hopes up." Her blue eyes assess the now-dormant machine again, warily, as though it were a wild animal. "For their protection."

No more sailing

No more

"Of course," Mortimer agrees, flashing another awkward smile as he wrings his hands together and flips down the lenses of his welding goggles. "Your secret is safe with me, and Yog-Sothoth, the keeper of secrets." Director Cardinal raises one hand to her brow at that addendum, and nods patronizingly to Mortimer. She doesn't say anything else to him, she just takes her leave of the workshop and heads back up the stairs and into the dimly lit hall. There, she allows herself a moment of vulnerability, slouching against the wall and covering her mouth so as to silence the sob threatening to escape from it.

Oh, no more sailing

No more, no more

Tears stream down her cheeks, cutting clean paths in the dirt and grime collected there. Shakily, she reaches into her pocket and removes her battered wallet, and then unfolds a sun-bleached and weathered photograph from inside. Fat tears dribble off of her bottom lashes as she looks at it, eyes reddening and face flushed with color.

No more sailing

No more, one more time


No more sailing

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