I've been meaning to put this up for ages then something in Twitter reminded me. This was my piece for '21 Writers' that was on at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Worked far better than I thought it would and got a good reception from the pro's there.
Anyway, here it is.
(the first part of the play is backed by a low rumble gradually rising in intensity with the dialogue.)
GC: We copy that. We are go for atmospheric insertion of the Eris Mars lander. (Jovially) Close thing there for a while, right?
Oh, we sent some updates. Could you flick the manual override switch and authorise them. Over.
GC: Sorry, Eris Lander, we, err, we didn't quite catch that.
R: That's a negative Ground Control. Over.
GC: Eris Lander, we're reading you as coming in too fast and too deep. If you don't correct you'll burn up in Mars' atmosphere (Jovially) and that's you and a few billion tax payer dollars up in smoke. We'd err,
We'd really like to avoid that. Over.
R: Negative, Ground Control I've checked these figures with Jack and Jenna and The Eris' course is correct. Reading atmospheric entry in T-minus one minute fifty two seconds. Over.
GC: I, err, I thought.
I thought you'd left them behind on the Mothership? Over.
R: (Jokily) Yeah, but I want to make sure I get back to them, right?
yeah, right. Richie, we really need you to flick that switch, our computers /are
R: I can't trust your computers, Ground Control. We've been getting some bad stuff from you up here. Jack thinks someone down there is trying to sabotage us, send a virus.
GC: But you trust me, right, Richie?
R: You've never given me reason not to, Dr. Bethlam.
GC: Well trust me on this, Richie, we check our figures on multiple isolated systems. So if one is corrupt the others will pick it up. You're fine to go ahead and push the switch. You just
Er, just authorise that burn for us, put the Eris back on course.
R: Jack's a clever boy. Trust me on this one, not your systems.
GC: We. Err, we can see the big picture from down here.
R: /You're not up here, Ground, you can't see what I've seen.
GC We need (emphasise) you to trust us on this one, Richie. We're reading a lot of excess heat on the Eris, Richie. Over
R: (Shouts) Of course you are! (calm) I told you, Ground Control. You can't trust your computers.
GC: Richie, if our systems are corrupt then you can't be sure Eris systems are safe. Either. We're definite on abnormal heat build up, Richie, we really need you to press /that button.
R: (blasé) Jack, Jenna and I did our calculations the old fashioned way, Ground Control. Pen and paper. I'm right on this, trust me. Showing T-minus fifty seconds. Over.
GC: We're err
We're checking the numbers by hand now, Richie. Err Doug wants a word.
R: I don't trust /Doug...
GC (Doug): Listen to me Richie. I don't care what you've worked out, you're still coming in too damn fast and too damn deep. We're at T-minus thirty seconds and I can see the heat building up, press the switch /or...
R: You're wrong Doug. I know what I'm doing. You picked me 'cos you knew I was the best. You're not going to part me from them.
GC Richie. Press. The. Switch
R: You have to trust me on this, Doug.
GC: No, Richie, you have to trust us. Wait. Mary's coming back with the numbers.
GC (Mary) We're right, Richie, our correction is right. Push the button.
R: No, you've not had time, /you can't
GC: (Doug) /We have a whole team of the finest minds on Earth here. Push the button Richie.
R: You've missed something.
GC: We, didn't, push the /button.
R: And risk not getting back to them? No! /Atmospheric entry in T-minus ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. I know.
GC: /Push the switch, Richie, goddamit, Richie, push the fucking switch. Richie, can you hear me? Push the fucking switch. They're dead, richie. (continue getting more and more desperate until Richie reaches one).
R: (After the final 'they're dead, just before the explosion) I know.
Newsreader: (Annoyingly smiley.) Welcome to CBNB news. (Goes serious) The top story today is that tragedy struck yet again today on Nasa's first attempt to send a man to Mars. The Eris lander burnt up in the red planet's atmosphere killing its single crew member after what NASA describe as 'a technical failure'.
A memorial will be held for brave pilot, Colonel Richard Palmer, at Los Springs cemetery, California. The same place his wife, Jenna and baby son Jack were buried after the car crash that killed them both, just one week into a two year mission that, some are calling, cursed. (Smiley again) More after these messages from our sponsors.
Lights come down. End.