Episode 5: Meltdown

5 – Meltdown

A door is opened.

Voices in order of appearance: Charles Hubbell as Narrator and Milton; Ro Cornell as Calloway; Kelsey Henry as Argus; Lee Fillingsness as Fyodor; Yasin Elabdi as XO; Andrew Santoro as David.

Cover art by Robert James Algeo. Intro Theme and Score by Just Star Stuff.

Content Notes: Choking. Physical violence. Depiction of extreme emotional turmoil.

Illustrated Transcripts for every episode and in-between are available to all Patreon members.

And here is the plain text transcript:

5 – Meltdown

NARRATOR: I have known love. Love is to lose. And love is to die.

INTRO THEME: Tense strings build then release.

NARRATOR: Episode 5: Meltdown.

FADE IN: Hall ambience. Milton’s footsteps.

MILTON: If I am to open that airlock, I ask that I alone am the one to enter it. I alone will see it open and close.

CALLOWAY: You can lock it again once David is back ship side.

MILTON: That is not a compromise.

ARGUS: You’re not getting out of this.

MILTON: I’m merely setting the terms.

FYODOR: Is anyone else getting butterflies?

Footsteps stop.

MILTON: This is where we part. You can clearly hear the door from here.

ARGUS: This is ridiculous! I’m going to be there. I can close my eyes if you really need me to.

MILTON: This isn’t negotiable.

ARGUS: Neither is opening that door.

MILTON: I have already forfeit what little control I have left.

ARGUS: …So I’m going to be there.

MILTON: Just know this was my last attempt at maintaining full responsibility for…whatever threshold is crossed.

CALLOWAY: If less people at the door makes it easier for you, Milton, I can stand by.

MILTON: Thank you.

FYODOR: I’ll respect the buddy system. Captain.

Milton’s footsteps begin again, slower.

ARGUS: What are you afraid of?

MUSIC: Tense strings slowly enter.

MILTON: I just want to get rid of this terrible feeling. What if we open the door and it’s just David standing there, waiting. Calm. Fine. The tanks are humming along as they should be and he just strolls on by as if everything’s in order. I don’t know why such a thing should terrify me so. I just know that it shouldn’t be. If we open that door and David is standing there… I, I can’t stand it. I have this creeping fear, that I know exactly what awaits us, and if it is what I can feel it is right now, in my heart, down my spine, then we will have entered into things that should not be.

ARGUS: Why are you so worked up about David?

MILTON: How many doors did we already open?

Milton’s footsteps stop.

Milton taps on buttons by the door. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

XO: Cargo Bay access open. Cargo Bay unlocked.

The giant door strains open.

The hum from the tanks spills into the hallway.

Boots approach the door.

Milton gasps. Breathing quick.

DAVID: (DISTANT) Ah, Milton. Buddy.

ARGUS: Are you okay?

DAVID: I’m doing alright.

Milton fumbles to lock the door again.BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

Button press. The cargo bay door slams shut.

XO: Cargo bay locked.

MILTON: David, I–

DAVID: No need to apologize.

ARGUS: What happened between you two?

Milton panics. Hyperventilating. Stammering. He staggers off further ahead.

CALLOWAY: (quietly, to Milton) Milton, you’re trembling. Are you okay?

Milton is having trouble finding words.

CALLOWAY: Can I take you to the infirmary?

DAVID: He and I need to talk.

CALLOWAY: David, I’m glad you’re back–Milton can barely stand.

ARGUS: Yeah, I want to talk to you.

DAVID: I really think it would be best for everyone if I could just have a moment alone with Milton.

FYODOR: Let him catch his old man breath before you duke it out, okay?

Milton jabbers.

CALLOWAY: What are you trying to say?

MILTON: What…What have I done?

CROSS-FADE atmosphere to: Meeting Room ambience.

CALLOWAY: So, I need to ask you a few questions about what happened last night.

Calloway takes a seat.

CALLOWAY: And…and as your captain I’m going to need you to answer truthfully.


CALLOWAY: Even if you think it might get other crew members in trouble.


Fyodor taps Calloway on the shoulder.

FYODOR: Should we be here for this? It seems serious in here. And I light up rooms I’m in. If that’s not desirable in this situation I can leave.

ARGUS: I want to be here. I mean if it’s okay with David. And you, Captain.

CALLOWAY: Do you want them to leave, David?

DAVID: I don’t mind.

CALLOWAY: Were you okay with your time in there?

DAVID: I just spent all night on the floor.

CALLOWAY: Were you injured?

DAVID: No. There’s not much else to do in there but sleep.

CALLOWAY: Were there any repair alerts during the night?

DAVID: If there were I slept right through them.

CALLOWAY: And the tanks, they’re all okay?

DAVID: They seem to be in working order.

CALLOWAY: That’s good to hear. And–

DAVID: Now that I think about it, I had a dream. Of all of you.

FYODOR: I hope they were PG-13, but not R. I’m not ready for that kind of commitment.

CALLOWAY: I had a nightmare last night. It’s been that kind of day, hasn’t it.

Ambience thins. A pulsing drum beats.

DAVID: A thousand doors opened all around me. To heat, and red spilling out. The darkness pulled past me, until I was in someone’s quiet room.


DAVID: The someone held up a statue, they spun it. From every angle, it looked like an elephant. When I woke, that impossible object wasn’t. A simple shape when waking, in a dream I saw its hidden dimensions. And every angle told me on how many planes the shape of things held. Til the doors slammed shut all at once. And now I lost what was an elephant at every angle, replaced with a simple statue. I can’t remember what was so impossible about it anymore.

Argus places a hand on David.

ARGUS: Are you feeling okay?

David removes himself from Argus’s grasp.

Meeting room ambience returns.

DAVID: Just a dream.

CALLOWAY: Do you need medical attention?

DAVID: I don’t think so.

FYODOR: Milton didn’t uh…(tongue clicks) conk you out?

DAVID: No conks here.

CALLOWAY: Can you tell us what happened between you and Milton?

DAVID: In the cargo bay?

CALLOWAY: All of last night.

DAVID: He lured me in there, then shut me in. He didn’t trust me.

ARGUS: But why would he lock you in the cargo bay?

DAVID: Haven’t the foggiest.

FYODOR: It’s the only place Calloway can’t override the lock.

ARGUS: Yeah, but, it’s Milton we’re talking about. And his tanks.

FYODOR: Maybe it’s a cover up.

CALLOWAY: Of what?

FYODOR: Blame any tampering he did on David being locked in there alone. Says he doesn’t trust him, and something turns up, David is likely suspect.

CALLOWAY: We’re not assuming anyone is covering anything up.

DAVID: He could have. I didn’t see anything suspect.

ARGUS: Are you sure?

DAVID: Yep. Everything’s a-okay in the cargo bay.

ARGUS: Alright.

CALLOWAY: Could you maybe help me understand some things Milton said while you were in there?

DAVID: I can try.

CALLOWAY: He didn’t want anyone else nearby when he unlocked the cargo bay.

ARGUS: He didn’t want to unlock the cargo bay at all. Don’t forget that.


FYODOR: He didn’t want us to see what was going on inside.

ARGUS: But I was there when he opened it. It was just David at the door.


CALLOWAY: You can’t think of anything Milton wouldn’t want us to see in the cargo bay?

DAVID: Just me.

CALLOWAY: He said he didn’t think we’d forgive him.

DAVID: He turned against one of his crew.

ARGUS: What set him off though?

FYODOR: You said he lured you there?

DAVID: He asked me to show him the malfunctioning tank.

ARGUS: Did he say anything about it?

DAVID: He left as soon as I stepped inside.

FYODOR: And just like that you let him lock you up?

DAVID: Should I have fought him?

CALLOWAY: Of course not.

FYODOR: The old man usually seemed up to a fight whenever you stepped foot in there.

ARGUS: You’re right.

FYODOR: There is a change in the wind.

CALLOWAY: Milton said he thought you might be a threat.


CALLOWAY: Was there any interaction that would make him say that?

DAVID: He could have been lying.

FYODOR: Could’ve lied about the whole thing, Captain. That would square everything away.

ARGUS: Any of these would be major lies. He wouldn’t do that unless he was hiding something worse.

CALLOWAY: Like what?

FYODOR: A secret stash. A hatchet job of his research. A secret pet he keeps on board. Maybe it just died and he wanted to hold a funeral alone in… His Lab, where he locked himself in and David was a distraction!

ARGUS: Off track.

FYODOR: It’s a pet dinosaur, it’s a failed experiment, it’s a scary dinosaur–a carnivore, and it’s loose. In the cargo bay. David was bait. But it’s stealthy.

CALLOWAY: Milton doesn’t lie, he just keeps most things to himself.

ARGUS: Maybe there’s a motive for him to keep secrets.

FYODOR: Yup, it’s all squared away.

CALLOWAY: No, it’s not!

FYODOR: We find answers in the bio lab. I will search for dinosaur prints. But we cannot forget about ghost we heard earlier.

Fyodor gets up.

FYODOR: Could be an important clue.

ARGUS: This joke’s going on too long.

FYODOR: If Milton’s keeping secrets, it’s in the lab. If he didn’t care if David was in the cargo bay, it’s because he didn’t want him messing with his research in the lab. If he thought David was a danger to the crew, it’s because of whatever he’s hiding in his lab. (catches breath) If he’s lying, then David was a distraction, away from the lab. If he wasn’t lying, David was dangerously close to disrupting something Milton was secretly working on, in the lab.

ARGUS: Okay. Yeah. You confused your point with the what-ifs.

FYODOR: I’m highlighting the certain potential dangers that are so often overlooked.

CALLOWAY: You don’t have to joke for us to listen to you, Fyodor.

FYODOR: Let’s just say it’s my private runaway dinosaur.

ARGUS: But we don’t know what’s up with Milton, so we don’t know what to look for.

CALLOWAY: We can consider what David’s lock up was intended to do.

FYODOR: He’s either the bait or the distraction.

CALLOWAY: Or Milton’s lightning rod for stress.

ARGUS: And nothing’s wrong and everything’s fine.

CALLOWAY: I mean, we want that to be the case.

FYODOR: Speak for yourself. I want to catch a dinosaur.

ARGUS: What do you think, Captain?

CALLOWAY: I need to check on Milton.

FYODOR: Permission requested to ransack the lab?

CALLOWAY: You can search. Be mindful. David?


CALLOWAY: Was there anything else that might help us with Milton?

DAVID: I wish I could be more help.

CROSS-FADE atmosphere to: Milton’s Lab ambience.

Fyodor flips pages of a book. He drops it on the counter.

FYODOR: Not a dinosaur in sight. Not even a stinking mosquito in amber.

Argus types on a keyboard. Mouse clicks.

ARGUS: Ugh, I can’t find anything on his computer. What kind of scientific mind keeps everything on their desktop?

DAVID: Doesn’t look like anything I haven’t seen before.

Fyodor in the distance begins looking through books.

FYODOR: These books may lend an insight into his twisted machinations.

He flips heavy pages. A loose page floats to the floor. He picks it up. Closes the book.

FYODOR: And lo. Milton’s a doodler.

ARGUS: Whatcha got there? Buddy?

FYODOR: It’s… It’s… I don’t know. He’s a scribbler at best.

Argus gets up from her seat and crosses the space. She grabs the sheet of paper.

ARGUS: Let me see.

She flips the page over.

FYODOR: When I look at it from this distance, I see a fuzzy bumble bee.

ARGUS: What do you think these equations are?

FYODOR: Looks like a list of eigenvalues.

ARGUS: That’s what I’m thinking.

Argus sits down at the computer. Types.

FYODOR: But most of them are crossed out.

ARGUS: He’s checking…hold on…I think I know what he’s checking.

Slower typing. Mouse clicks.

ARGUS: Here. That’s the numbers we’re seeing. This sheet is a set of density matrices for something eight months ago. That’d put us right around when we were passing Saturn.

FYODOR: Tell me what you think this means, then we can compare what you know with what I don’t know.

ARGUS: He was checking eigenstates of our tanks. It’s just his scratchwork to make sure the tanks were still entangled with Earth. Seems like it checks out.

FYODOR: So it might as well be a scribble of a bumble bee.

ARGUS: I. Yeah. Basically.

FYODOR: Hmm. He must keep the real juicy secrets closer to his heart.

Fyodor shakes a book.

FYODOR: And where does one keep their heart?

He knocks over a glass tube set.


ARGUS: Calloway’s not going to let you in Milton’s bedroom.

FYODOR: The joke, it’s on you. Calloway doesn’t have to.

He sets the glass tube set down, heavy, final.

FYODOR: It’s unlocked.

ARGUS: I really wouldn’t, Fyodor.

FYODOR: He’s sleeping bear, far, far away from his cave. And what’s honey to a bear–

ARGUS: –Where are you going with this–

FYODOR: –but its heart. The bumble bee is such an obvious metaphor in retrospect.

ARGUS: Oh my god. Just go.

SCHWIPP. Airlock door opens.

FYODOR: (DISTANT) The bees shall be my bread crumbs!

SCHWUPP. Door closes.

ARGUS: He must be worried, he’s been sloppy with his jokes lately. I guess everyone’s starting to show cracks.

DAVID: He’s a real card.

ARGUS: I get why he wanted to check the lab, but if Milton is hiding something, it wouldn’t come to light in a scrap of paper… Are we just kidding ourselves that anything’s happening?

DAVID: Hard to tell.

ARGUS: Milton, I had to argue with him to get you out of the cargo bay. He wanted to wait.

DAVID: I appreciate it.

ARGUS: I got him to open the door, and you heard how weird he was about that, you saw it. He gave in. Something’s terrifying him, and he won’t tell us, but he still opened the door when pushed.

Waits for David to weigh in, he doesn’t.

ARGUS: He told me he was scared to see you, scared that everything would turn out okay? You actually sounded like him earlier.

DAVID: When was that?

ARGUS: When you were talking about your dream. How you felt like you had a revelation, in a dumb dream way, what was it with a statue?

DAVID: An elephant.

ARGUS: And the doors. How did your dream end?

DAVID: All the doors slammed shut.

ARGUS: I didn’t mention anything about Milton’s ranting in the meeting. I feel like Calloway’s already on edge with how everybody’s been acting.

DAVID: That’s probably for the best.

ARGUS: Is there anything you left out, anything you want to tell me?

David sighs.

DAVID: You know, I can’t think of a darned thing. The dream was about as interesting as it got, and dreams are never as interesting to anyone listening.

ARGUS: Well, I’m glad that’s as interesting as it got. And you’re back with me.

DAVID: Mmhmm.

ARGUS: Why do I feel like Milton now? Like we’re on the verge of something horrific and I can’t stand it.

DAVID: Can’t tell ya.

ARGUS: Do you feel anything?

DAVID: Like you do?

ARGUS: Like everything’s falling apart.

DAVID: Maybe you need some time to yourself. To think.

ARGUS: Nothing feels wrong to you?

DAVID: I can’t worry about that just yet. And neither should you.

David gets up out of the chair.

DAVID: Are you going to finish combing through Milton’s files?

ARGUS: Yeah, I think so.

DAVID: I’ll leave you to it for the moment.

He walks to the door. Measured footsteps.

ARGUS: (DISTANT) Are we okay?


Argus is about to say something, stops.


DAVID: Be right back.


Atmosphere shifts to hallway ambience.

He walks into the hall. Measured steps.

FADE to silence.

FADE from silence: Hallway ambience. Measured footsteps.

David breathes ragged. He clears his throat.

Then knocks gently.

SCHWIPP. The door opens.

CALLOWAY: David? How’s the search going?

DAVID: Slow at the moment. Argus needs Captain approval for some files. She’s in the nav now.

CALLOWAY: In the nav? I thought you were in the bio lab.

DAVID: We’re going where the clues take us.

CALLOWAY: Well, if it won’t take long, I could drop by in a sec.

DAVID: That’d be great. Do you need any help in the infirmary?

CALLOWAY: No. Milton’s resting finally. It’s best to leave him be. I just want to be here if he wakes up.

DAVID: Let me watch him.

CALLOWAY: Thank you, David, but you understand, seeing you would set Milton off all over again.

DAVID: I can get you if he wakes. Argus just needs a minute of help.

CALLOWAY: …Yeah, okay. Thank you. I’ll hurry back.

SCHWUPP. Door closes.

CALLOWAY: I don’t think he’ll wake any time soon, but I feel, I feel spread thin a bit right now.

DAVID: No problem.

Calloway rushes down the hall.

SCHWIPP. David enters the infirmary.

Atmosphere shifts to infirmary ambience: deep thrumming.


Milton’s deep, long breaths draw closer.

David clears his throat.

Milton huffs awake, groggy. He shifts on the bed.


Milton sits up on the bed.

MILTON: What’s the matter?

DAVID: I thought we could talk.

MILTON: Right now?

DAVID: You seemed surprised to see me.

MILTON: Are you referring to earlier?

DAVID: Everyone’s rattled by your panic this morning.

MILTON: Yes, well, we’re under a lot of duress aren’t we.

DAVID: We’re combing through files for any leads.

MILTON: Leads to what?

DAVID: What got you so scared. To open the door. And see me.

MILTON: It won’t happen.


MILTON: They won’t find anything.

DAVID: Because it’s private?

MILTON: Because no one needs to know. Not right now, not ever.

DAVID: What do we not need to know?

MILTON: I told you it stays private. Not even the captain can peek.

DAVID: Okay, then. What does everyone else know already?

MILTON: Take it up with them.

Atmosphere shifts slowly. The deep hum thins, long ringing swells.

DAVID: Is it what is in the cargo bay?

MILTON: And what did you see in there?

DAVID: Does anyone else know we have clones on board?

MILTON: So you weren’t alone?

DAVID: Answer my question.

MILTON: Oh my god. It’s real.

DAVID: Does anyone else know?


Atmosphere mutes.

DAVID: Good.

David grabs Milton’s throat. Milton tries to break free. He yells, cut off by David’s grip.Milton smacks the walls. Chairs are knocked over. David pants.

Milton fights for air. Gurgles. His last breaths sputter soundlessly.