The Way Things Were, Part IV


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Scene Title The Way Things Were, Part IV
Synopsis Else Kjelstrom says what she needs to in order to do what must be done.
Date August 12, 2018

The Archipelago of Manhattan

"I wanna marry a lighthouse keeper and…" A raspy, mumbling voice cuts off mid-brainworm, followed by a throaty, "Fuck."

It's another rainy day in the archipelago of Manhattan, where the cry of gulls and terns mix with the roar of the surf. Leaning against the bow rail, slouched forward with a freshly rolled cigarette between her lips, Carina Harrison studies the way the horizon blends together, where precipitation creates a haze that seamlessly fuses ocean and sky together into a muted gradient.

"Woods!" Carina shouts, turning toward the wheelhouse, plucking the lit cigarette from her lips. "I swear to god if you put that song on again, I'm wrapping you in a chain and making you the new fucking anchor!"

Carina can't see Woods, though she knows he's ducked under the front console, trying to mess with the tangle of wires that connects the radio receiver to the speakers. Huffing a short breath out, Carina shakes her head and threads a lock of hair behind on eear, then pushes off the railing and walks across the deck. "Literally anything else, okay? I've been humming that stupid song for weeks." Leaning into the wheelhouse door, Carina grips the door frame with one hand and brandishes her cigarette with the other. "Did you ever find that Zeppelin tape?"

Woods jolts up, whacking his head on the underside of the console. "Son'f— god— " he splutters, sliding out with one hand clutching his head. "No, I didn't bloody find your Zeppelin tape! The tape deck's been busted for a week!" At the outburst, Carina steps in and slides her cigarette back into her mouth, crosses her arms and just leans against the doorway.

"That song was a broadcast, and we both heard someone try t'radio out t'us on the same signal before we lost it." Woods looks back at the radio, then wipes his brow with his bare forearm. "I swear t'you it was Else. An' if she's still out there… that means Des is too." that last part takes any wind out of Carina's sails, and she sucks in a lungful of smoke and exhales it in thin streams through her nose.

Both she and Woods are quiet for a time, up until she finishes her cigarette and flicks the butt overboard. "Here," Carina mumbles, walking up behind where Woods has crouched under the console again. "What the fuck're you trying to do?"

"I'm tryin' t'attach this battery powered booster, but I can't find the bloody connections an' I don't have a fucking flashlight." Even through his shouting, Carina maintains a steady expression. Though she grabs Woods by the back of his tanktop and tugs him out from under the console, then settles down onto the floor of the wheelhouse and scoots in where he was.

"Give it here," Carina says, holding out an open palm at Woods. The frustrated captain fishes for the cylindrical booster from his overalls' front pocket, then slaps it into her hand. Both of Carina's arms disappear up under the console, and once she's got her hands into position she emits a series of softly audible clicks and sonorous humming sounds from the back of her throat. Woods looks at her, then to the console, and back again.

"Is'at like your sonar?" He asks, and it's mostly rhetorical. Of course it is. Of course she can find her way in the dark. There's a few clicks from inside the console, metallic rather than organic, followed by a scraping sound and then an Aha from Carina.

A moment later there's a loud clap of Carina's hands and she pushes out from under the console. Woods' eyes are wide, expectant, and as Carina gets up onto her knees, then stands up straight while dusting off her hands there's a gleam of something like pride in her eyes. Flipping two toggle switches she turns the radio on, and there's a whine of static and a repeating morse code beeping barely audible under the signal noise.

"Your radio," Carina says with a gesture to the microphone. Woods' astonishment is short-lived, replaced by a look of hopefulness. "I'm sorry if I've been… a little sharp with you lately. It's—" Woods cuts her off by putting a hand on her shoulder, gently.

His smile is all the reassurance Carina needs. He understands. "Come Halloween, we'll put on a right good party," he says softly, before slipping away to the radio. Carina closes her eyes and nods, crossing her arms over her chest as she steps back to lean against the doorway and watch what transpires. Woods picks up the microphone from the console, slides over his chair, and begins to broadcast out.

"Morse signal," Woods begins, "this is the Featherweight responding to your earlier hail. Are you listening?" There's no response at first, just the hiss of static, though Woods doesn't seem deterred. He continues to repeat the same message every five minutes, over the course of nearly a half an hour. When Carina starts to get discouraged for him, starts to slip away out the door, there's a crackle and pop over the radio waves and a voice that erupts from the other side.

«James, James! Oh my God! We need immediate evacuation at 42°20'8"N by 71°42'54"W. We're broadcasting low band so they can't pick it up but there's no telling how long that'll work for! Please!»

Flustered by the sudden eruption of Else's voice, Woods scrambles to hit the call button as Carina walks up to stand behind his chair, both of her hands on the back of it as she leans in to listen. Woods tweaks the knobs on the radio console, trying to find the exact signal and clear up the noise.

« — ames! Please! Pirates hit the bro- -site, we're sh— »

Cursing to himself, Woods adjusts the dial in the opposite direction and looks back briefly to Carina, then back to the radio. "Would you just calm down for a bloody minute? Yer signal is breakin' up." He carefully adjusts the analog dial with a feather-light touch, getting it as close as he can to perfect.

«Woods. I need you t'come out to the tower. I can't stay here any longer. I-– I can't do it. Please.»

At the mention of The Tower Carina lifts her hands off of the back of the chair and takes a step back, blue eyes darting around the corners of the wheelhouse, one hand coming up to rest at her mouth. Woods, in mirror of her movement, leans forward and pulls his chair in. "You've been fuckin' ghost-gone fer three bloody years, Else! I thought you were dead! An' now y'just go'n radio me like nothin' fuckin' happened! Where's Dessa?"

«She's here. She's here. I just— I've gotta get out of here Woods some crazy shit's happening. Don's locked himself in the comms room, they've got some— the thing Warren made and he's just— Woods please.»

Carina continues to listen from by the doorway, and eventually Woods forgets she's even in the room. "Fuckin' what the fuck is goin' on. Who's Don? Who the fuck is Warren? Where the fuck even are you? What bloody tower!?" He fails to notice when Carina slips out of the wheelhouse entirely.

«War— Mortimer. Right he's— on the broadcasts he's Warren. But— Woods the radio tower please. I can get there tonight.»

When Else clarifies radio tower he suddenly realizes just how far off the beaten path they'd gone. There's a look of confusion that crosses his face, and he wheels over to a map of the pre-flood world pinned up to a cork board, marked up by red pen to show where the land still exists and where water intruded inland. He traces his finger north, around red X's and shaded in areas, to a scribbled drawing of a radio tower.

"Wait you're that bloody far north!?" Woods exclaims into the microphone, its cord stretched as far as it will go. "That's fuckin' pirate territory!" He exclaims, wheeling back to the console. "I'm not swinging my dinghy into fuckin' Sawyer's territory!"

The line is silent for a moment, and when Else responds, its hushed.

«I'll convince Dessa to leave with me.»

Woods' brows furrow, and he looks back to ask Carina something, only to find her gone. Snorting frustratedly, he taps the capp button on the microphone again. He waits, trying to form a response. She's there. Odessa. He'd made a promise. "Jesus Christ on a fuckin' bicycle." Woods mutters into the mic. "Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck— Fine! But when I get killed an' eaten by pirates I'm hauntin' you!"

«Fair.» Else's voice crackles through the static. «Tonight, Woods. We leave tonight.»

Tonight. The weight of that hangs on Woods' shoulders. He sweeps one hand over his brow, looks to the map again and, finger still pressed on the call button exhales an exasperated, "Ah, fuck me."

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