10: Consequence, Act I

written by Mischa Stanton

[[SFX: tape recorder starts]]

BILL DONOVAN (BD): October 28th, 1943. People years down the line are gonna remember today. Like the Fourth of July. The day we dig our boot heels in. The day we take our first step taking Europe back from the Nazis, turning the tide in the Pacific, and ending this war once and for all. Today’s the day we test out Project Rainbow.

When President Roosevelt named me Coordinator of Intelligence, he expected me to throw my weight around. He wanted me to be the bully on the playground. He wanted Wild Bill Donovan. But I guess ol’ FDR hadn’t caught on yet: This is the last war we will ever fight with bombs and guns and swords. War’s moving into the shadows. They thought I was crazy when I wired the whole town of Polvo with microphones, but they won’t be laughing when I’ve got dirt on everybody who’s ever been within a three mile radius of that place. That’s what they don’t see. It won’t matter who’s got the biggest gun anymore. You don’t fire until that perfect shot comes along, when the target’s exactly where you want ‘em, and then it all comes crumbling down. [fires an imaginary gun]

And how do I know this? This high school math teacher from Boston... Anthony Partridge. I called him a damn fool when I heard he’d barged into my New York office, shouting like Chicken Little at anyone who would listen. “The Japs are coming! The Japs are gonna hit us! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” We brought him in for questioning, but turns out the guy didn’t actually know anything! He said he’d run world events through some formula... What a laugh! I chucked the report to the bottom of the pile and sent him home.

Yeah well, that was October 1941, and by December I was done laughing. Turns out, Dr. Partridge was revolutionizing mathematics and event analysis and a whole bunch of other 10-cent words. It’s called Predictive Mechanics. He told me the only way we were going to stay afloat was to boost our technology and our intelligence gathering, and fast. He said the Germans were developing rockets and thinking machines, super-soldiers and atomic bombs. I’d go to hell before I let myself get caught with my pants down like that again.

So I gave him access to all the resources at my disposal. I said, track down every scientist working on something new–something new and big. And we’ll give them all the room they need to develop their work for us. I took just about everyone that I could keep my hands on. Mathematicians, chemists, physicists, engineers. Anybody working on the edge, the frontier. And I called it the Office of Developed Anomalous Resources: ODAR.

It took two years. Throwing science at the wall, to see what sticks. We poured money–a whole lotta money–into a little nowhere town in the Southwest. But we finally got what we’re looking for: Project Rainbow.

I’m here in Philadelphia. They’re due to touch down in a few hours. Leslie Groves, Robert Oppenheimer, Eisenhower, Harry Truman... Edgar Hoover. That smug bastard. He’s been at Roosevelt’s ear for months, telling him to shut me down. He’s called Partridge’s work a farce, called the boys in charge of the Rainbow project “loose powder kegs.” Every time I reach up the ladder, his feet are stomping on my fingers. Well, he’ll see. He’ll see what I’m capable of today. I can’t wait to rub his nose in it.

[[SFX: radio tuning; sounds of a harbor]]

BD: Victor Lambert, Ivan Maraczek, may I introduce you to Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI.

IVAN MARACZEK (IM): Pleased to meet you.

VICTOR LAMBERT (VL): A real honor, sir.

J. EDGAR HOOVER (JEH): I’m sure.

BD: These two are the minds behind what we’re demonstrating today.

JEH: Making ships invisible to radar, is that right?

VL: Yes sir, that’s right. You’ll be able to sneak up on targets, observe the enemy unseen.

IM: The generator manipulates electromagnetic waves around an object by catalyzing—

JEH: What was your name again, son?

IM: I am Ivan Maraczek, sir.

JEH: Where’re you from, Ivan Maraczek?

IM: Romania, Mr. Hoover.

VL: Listen buddy, if you’ve got something to say—

IM: Victor, be calm.

JEH: I do, as a matter of fact. I know your side and our side made a deal, but I’m not sure how much of this nation’s future we should be placing in the hands of some flip-flopping Axis-power poindexter! How do we know this isn’t some sort of a trick? Could very well be a bomb on that ship!

VL: All right, listen here, you pompous ass!–

BD: Dr. Lambert! You know, I think it might be a good idea if you took your seats. The demonstration is about to start.

[[SFX: Ivan leads Victor away]]

JEH: That boy’s got quite the temper. You sure he’s fit to be in the hot seat of your little operation? [laugh]

BD: That’s good. Nice. Say anything in front of the brass to get me shut down. Why don’t you at least let them see it before they decide to keep my offices running?

JEH: It’s a waste of money and manpower, Bill. Your fancy gadgets aren’t gonna beat the Germans. The only thing that’ll give you the leg up is more boots on the ground. Roosevelt knows it, Eisenhower knows it, Truman sure as hell knows it. And once we get through this freak show, they won’t have a problem telling you so either.

AMELIA: Alright everyone, the test is about to begin. Take your seats and put on your safety glasses.

BD: Just you wait and see.

JEH: It’s only a matter of time, Bill.

[[SFX: everyone takes their seats; Bill walks up to a podium]]

BD: Good afternoon, gentlemen. You all know I’ve got a penchant for long-winded speeches—

[[SFX: the crowd laughs]]

BD: But I’m as anxious to see this test underway as you are. So I’ll simply say this: What you see today is, without a doubt, the future of warfare in the modern age. Take it away.

AMELIA: Dockside to the Eldridge, come in Eldridge.

CHET WHICKMAN (CW): (over radio) Copy Dockside, engineering reports everything a-OK, all systems go. Permission to proceed.

AMELIA: Permission granted. Good luck, boys.

CW: Project Rainbow test commencing in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four....

[[SFX: the signal drops]]

AMELIA: Hello? Eldridge we’ve lost you, come in Eldridge—

[[SFX: Project Rainbow activates in the distant harbor; all is silence; then, the world returns]]

JEH: I don’t know about you boys, but I definitely saw that. Clear as day.

VL: Shut up! No, that isn’t right. That’s not what was supposed to happen—

AMELIA: Eldridge, come in Eldridge, what happened out there?

IM: Perhaps we miscalculated gravitational lens distribution—

BD: Get them back on comms.

[[SFX: static]]

AMELIA: I’m trying, sir. Come in, Eldridge!

CW: –ockside, Eldridge to Dockside. You’re never gonna believe this... There’s someone on the deck. Someone who wasn’t there before... A woman.

[[SFX: radio tuning; Bill exits interrogation room on the Eldridge]]

CW: So... What did she say, sir?

BD: She’s sticking to her story. The whole future nonsense. Says she’s from the year 20█.

CW: And... Do you believe her?

BD: Do you believe her, Officer...

CW: Whickman, sir. Petty Officer Chet Whickman.

BD: Did you believe her, Officer Whickman?

CW: ...I did, sir. I don’t think anyone that... “out of sorts,” has mind enough left to lie.

BD: She’s got conviction, that’s clear. She believes what she’s saying. Which means she’s either telling the truth, or tricked herself into believing it is. The perfect poker face. An essential skill for a spy.

CW: How can we know? Uh, sir.

BD: We can’t. That’s why you’re gonna get rid of her.

CW: Uh... uh... Yes, sir.

BD: Say what you mean, son.

CW: I don’t mean to question orders, sir.

BD: Speak freely, Officer Whickman. Please.

CW: Well, I just... She’s not a threat, sir. She wasn’t armed, wasn’t doing anything but lying there when we found her. Probably knows about as much as we did about what happened. She’s covered in her own sick and completely defenseless. It just doesn’t feel right to shoot a helpless woman like that, sir.

BD: She appeared out of thin air, son. Out of the aether. She says she’s from the future, I’ll admit she’s got a convincing argument. But if she had just appeared out of thin air, what makes you so sure she won’t just disappear back into it again? Every second we waste talking about it is another second she’s planning her escape. I just can’t take that chance.

CW: I understand that, sir, but I think if she was going to run by now— if she could have run by now, she would have. And while we’ve got her here...

BD: Go on, Petty Officer.

CW: Recruit her, sir. Whatever she’s done, however she got here... It’s something real clever. Something high-tech, right? Like you guys were doing with the ship. And whatever she’s got, it sounds like she’s the one who invented it. That’s what she claims, anyway. I think if she really knows some high-level stuff it could only help us, right? And if she doesn’t... well, then I guess you wasted a week or so.

BD: Recruit her...

CW: It’s just an idea, sir.

BD: Not a bad one. Not bad at all... Tell me, Chet, how would you like a new assignment?

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: –you won’t regret this, John— yeah, I know. It’s a large chunk of change, but the OSS budget has some definite wiggle room. Okay, okay. I know. Thanks. Yeah, you too. Okay. Goodbye.

[[SFX: Bill hangs up phone; Sally storms in]]

SALLY GRISSOM (SG): Okay Donovan, what the hell?!

BD: Dr. Grissom, what do I owe the pleasure—

SG: You can shove it, Donovan.

BD: You know, you really can’t talk to me like that.

SG: Why’d you do it?

BD: Do what?

SG: You’ve... ordered me into solitary confinement! I don’t know why you can’t just trust me that I’m not going to leak future secrets, or whatever. I told you I wouldn’t say a word. But no! You think I’m just gonna take this?!

BD: Sally, I—

SG: It took me a while to catch on, you know. First the tech staff, then it was the commissary workers, the switchboard girls, the calculators—

BD: Sally! What are you talking about?

SG: Why did you order the entire town of Polvo to stop talking to me?

BD: I didn’t!

SG: You... You didn’t?

BD: Of course not! That’s an awful idea. Why on Earth would I order the people you’re supposed to be working with to give you the silent treatment?

SG: I... Um...

BD: Try to play nice with the other children, Dr. Grissom.

SG: Yeah... Will do.

[[SFX: Sally exits; Bill buzzes intercom.]]

BD: Amelia, can you call Dr. Partridge in?

[[SFX: tape fast-forward]]

ANTHONY PARTRIDGE (AP): You wanted to see me, sir?

BD: Anthony, you gotta give Sally Grissom a break.

AP: Wh.... What do you mean?

BD: Don’t play that with me. You’ve been badmouthing the girl behind her back to the rest of Polvo. It’s childish and it’s getting in the way of progress.

AP: Oh yeah, who’s progress are we talking about, Bill–

BD: Her progress, Anthony. I told you. It’s her progress I’m putting my money on just now. And you can either take it personally and pout like a jilted lover, or you can be a man and get to work. Which one is it gonna be?

AP: But come on Bill, this isn’t fair—

BD: Which. One. Is it gonna be?

[[Anthony is silent]]

BD: Good choice. The first call for volunteers she puts out, you’re on her team. Do I make myself clear?

AP: Yes sir.

BD: You’ll see. Once you get to know her, she not that–

[[SFX: Anthony slams the door]]

BD: [sigh]

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Bill. Hi. Yes, it’s you. You need to listen to me, very carefully. This isn’t a joke. Or a hoax. Your father is Timothy and your mother is Tish. You took a piece of shrapnel in the Belgian countryside and you still can’t feel anything in that spot above your left hip. It makes you worry that something’s still wrong with it, even though it’s been that way for decades and you’re probably fine... Hmm. Yeah. The date— my date, is August 1st, 1945. I know, that day hasn’t happened yet. Are you putting it together yet? Good.

If my Whickman gets the tape to Polvo and he can figure out how to work that damn machine, you’ll be listening to this on the morning of July 10th. I won’t bore you with the details, I suppose you’ll find out soon enough. Your Oversight Committee is coming in from Trinity in a few days. The Timepiece isn’t ready, and it won’t be before they get there. Anthony Partridge, in his infinite bitter wisdom, has abducted Sally Grissom and her entire group to run off to Las Vegas, Nevada for the weekend. The Committee’s gonna try to shut you down.

I know you’re angry. You’re frustrated. You wanna fight back. I know. That’s what I did. You’re not gonna do that. Here’s what you’re gonna do instead.

Let them have their weekend. It’s not gonna matter either way. Sally’s right: it’s just damn hard to show someone how the Timepiece works. It’s not flashy, it’s no A-bomb. Instead, you're gonna call up Edgar Hoover, and you’re gonna tell him you’ve gotten in contact with a certain New York businessman named John Monroe. See, I did a little digging around. I found Mr. Monroe, and he was in possession of some... Rather intimate details about our Mr. Hoover. Really rather shocking, rather vivid details of his encounters with our mutual enemy.

Yes, that’s right my friend: J Edgar Hoover is a homosexual. [laugh] Go ahead, enjoy it for a moment.

Now, call Hoover, and tell him about Mr. Monroe. Unless he wants what Mr. Monroe knows to get out, he’ll throw his weight behind you. He’s gonna throw the file he has on you back in your face. Bill, trust me: Don’t worry about it. He doesn’t have as much on you as he thinks. He doesn’t realize that you don’t have anything to lose.

It’s a solid plan, I promise. I’ve had a couple weeks to think it over. He’s not going to want to lose his power just to take you down with him. And as long as he puts his word behind the Timepiece, the Committee will fall in line. He won’t thank you for it, so watch your back, but if we were a betting man—and I know we are—I’d wager he’ll do his part.

Today I’m in a run-down motel. The bed squeaks and the molding has teeth-marks in it. But as soon as this tape gets to you, I’ll be back where I belong. You will, I mean. Guess that Timepiece is pretty useful after all.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: (on tape) ...Guess that Timepiece is pretty useful after all.

[[SFX: tape stops]]

BD: That’s all of it.

CW: And, where did you say you found this sir?

BD: It just... appeared here. I was at my desk, I turned around, and when I looked back, there it was. It’s genuine, son, that much is clear. But I’m not sure what to make of it.

CW: Well sir... Assuming that what you said on the recording is true... It sounds like a solid enough plan. It’s hard for me to believe there’s nothing we could say to the Committee that might make them see it our way, but you sounded pretty certain there wasn’t anything that could be done about it. But I guess, if you had Hoover in your corner, knowing how much he dislikes you... That might be enough to convince President Truman to tip the scales.

BD: We’d have to slow down operations regardless.

CW: Oh no doubt. Probably most of the town, I’m guessing. We might only have enough—

BD: — enough for the Timepiece group.

CW: Exactly, sir. Is that enough?

BD: ...See this? This is only the beginning. If I can warn myself ahead of time, of any danger... This is all we’ll need. The rest will come in time. Chet, I want you to tail them to Vegas. Jack Wyatt’s got a big mouth, and the last thing I need is a gang of reporters poking their noses around Polvo. Get me Brooks, his team just finished a project, and a copy of the Timepiece schematic. Redact anything that ties it to Sally’s team. I want a backup Timepiece up and running in a month. As for me, it looks like I’ve gotta give Mr. Hoover a call.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 2, send date July 17, 1945, aiming for July 10th. This is after I’ve received Tape 1, so I hope I listen to that one before this one. The intel on Hoover was sound. The fairy came through, spoke to Truman for us, but whatever he said wasn’t convincing enough. When you call him this time, make sure to impress upon him exactly how convincing he should be. And if it doesn't work... I guess we’ll keep trying until it does.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 5, send date July 26, 1945, aiming for July 18th. Churchill lost the election. Hell, it’s not even close. Not quite sure how he managed to muck it up so thoroughly... You better call in that favor he owes us, sooner rather than later.

[[SFX: radio tuning; quiet static distortion]]

BD: Tape 7, send date August 10, 1945, aiming for August 4th. Truman didn’t go for it. He went and begged the Soviets for help. Either way, they’re not gonna break their pact with Japan unless Truman commits to the second bomb. The last tape was no lie, Japan did not take Little Boy lying down. Tell Truman to get his head out of his ass. He already dropped one bomb, what’s one more?

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 12, or... I guess 12. September 12th, 1945. I came across an unlabeled tape. Not sure exactly when it’s from, so nuts to trying to keep these things in order, but it’s a recording of Chet Whickman confronting Quentin Barlowe, one of the cryptologists working in Predictive Mechanics for Anthony Partridge. Sounds like Barlowe is some sort of criminal agent, spying on us for... Someone. It’s not really clear. Gotta get Whickman to look into it. Maybe update security clearance for the whole operation... Weed out anyone else stupid enough to try to break into Wild Bill Donovan’s town.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 16, send date December 3rd, 1945, aiming for November 28th. The new Central Intelligence office is coming together. They sent a man to inspect Polvo today, his name’s Cornish–Hank. Seemed like a decent sort of guy. Very interested in what the Timepiece can do. Could be an ally. [sniff]

[[SFX: static distortion]]

BD: I was cold with him, but I’d like you to try the meeting again. Befriend the guy. I think we won’t regret it.

[[SFX: radio]]

BD: Tape 19, send date December 12th, 1945, aiming for the 11th. I’m in a hospital in DC. Some idiot ran a red light and broadsided me on the corner of 9th Ave and F Street. I’ve got a broken collarbone, punctured lung, and my left arm’s basically a loose collection of bone shards. Just... Keep an eye out, would ya?

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

BD: Tape 20, send date December 12th, 1945, aiming for the 11th again. In the hospital. Again, I guess. Waiting at the light doesn’t work. Bastard rear-ended me right into the middle of the intersection. Maybe next time try a different route?

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

BD: Tape 21. Reschedule the meeting. Make them come to you. Stay off the goddamned road.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 26. Tell her, dammit. For God’s sake, tell her what she means to you.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 29, send date December 21st, 1945, aiming for December 20th. Mr. Cornish came back to town today. He told me that he pled my case to the Committee as hard as he could for the Timepiece project, but they’ve decided to shut us down anyway...

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

HANK CORNISH (HC): I’m sorry Bill, I really am, but without something I can show them it’s a pretty hard sell!

BD: Come on! He’s been fine to let us have the run of the place for four years!

HC: That was before the bomb, Bill! That was before they won the damn war!

BD: Hah! “Won the war?” That’s funny. Beat the Germans and the Japs, sure, but the real war’s just getting started.

HC: Don’t I know it. And I know that your Timepiece project’s the key to it all. But it’s not something I can put in their hands and show it to them.

BD: Hmm. Let me work something up.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: Tape 30, December 21st, 1945. Hank Cornish has agreed to announce that we’re shutting down the town at the Christmas party. If all goes as planned, a certain “loose powder keg” tied to the remnants of Project Rainbow might be tempted to… take drastic action.

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

BD: Tape 31. December 21st. Maraczek took the bait, Rainbow Station A is history. Gotta send this quick before Sally starts changing things.

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

BD: Tape 32. Sally’s gone to stop Rainbow Station A from exploding. I’ve got eyes on her still inside the Christmas party, but Cornish still isn’t convinced. Gotta try something else. [cough]

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

BD: Tape 33. Lambert. You hotheaded beautiful son of a bitch. While Sally was fixing one station, he went and blew up the other one. But Sally was there to stop him. Another Sally. This is it. Our opportunity. Make sure Cornish is there to meet Sally at Station A, and you make sure to meet the other Sally at Station B. This oughta show him. One more time.

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

TWO SALLY GRISSOMS: Is that—aaagh...

[[SFX: static distortion]]

HC: Dr. Grissom, are you all right?

BD: Is that enough physical evidence for you?

HC: Get a medic in here!

BD: Get the funding.

HC: What? Donovan, get—

BD: Say you’ll get the funding.

HC: Jesus Christ, are you insane?

BD: I’m running out of time. And so is she. Get. The. Funding.

HC: Fine! Yes, okay? I’ll get you your damn funding! But it’s a moot point without her so get out of my way!

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

BD: One year. We’ve got one year in a tiny little town in Colorado. One year before Central Intelligence straps an iron collar around my neck. I may have come on a little strong to Hank Cornish, but... I did what what I have to do. Have to—Had to do.

[[SFX: static distortion]]

BD: [clears throat] One year in the game, it’s barely enough time to do anything. Of course...I have a lot more time than CI thinks. Better get to work.

[[SFX: radio tuning; buzzer]]

SECRETARY: Mayor Harding, your 10 o’clock is here.

MAYOR HARDING (MH): (on intercom) Send him in.

BD: Thank you darling.

[[SFX: Bill adjusts the microphone; door opens, Bill enters]]

BD: Mayor Harding, Bill Donovan. Nice to meet you.

MH: Pleasure, Mr. Donovan. What can I do you for?

BD: Well, as you know I’ve just moved in with my team.

MH: Yes, I spoke with your colleague, Agent Cornish. Moving into the old Roebuck mill, on the south edge of town, is that right?

BD: Yes sir, and thanks for that building, it’ll do us just fine I think. Just fine.

MH: Well, is there something else I can do for you then, Mr. Donovan?

BD: As a matter of fact, there is. We’re going to need to run a significant amount of power through your mill here. Quite a bit of it, actually. Your one power plant may not exactly cover it. I’ve brought with me here the plans for—

MH: Plans? Mr. Donovan, the electrical needs of our little town here are pretty slight. Ain’t had a need for much more than that. What you’re talking about is ripping up half the town’s copper lines—

BD: More than half, actually. You’re going to need to tear up Elm Street, Baker Street, and this entire stretch of road leading back into the valley. I understand that’s a major route in and out of town, so we’ll need a bypass—

MH: Mr. Donovan, you’re talking about a project calling for three or four crews, working at top speed for a month here. Diverting traffic around Elm alone would be a goddamned nightmare! How’re you planning to pay for all this? Your office must have one hell of a budget—

BD: Actually, Mr. Mayor, you’re going to fund it.

MH: [laugh] Is that right?

BD: Damn right. Unless you want your constituents to find out about the how you stabbed your friend and colleague in the back to get where you are today...

MH: They already know, Mr. Donovan! I made it very public during my campaign. Didn’t want any secrets, so men like you couldn’t bully me into anything! Is there something legal and reasonable I can do for you, Mr. Donovan? Before you use up what little good will you have left in this office?

BD: Yes... This doesn’t seem to have convinced you, has it.

MH: [laugh] It would seem not, sir!

BD: I guess I'll just have to try again.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

MH: Mr. Donovan, the electrical needs of our little town here are pretty slight, ain’t had a need for much more than that—

BD: I’m sitting on the technology that will revolutionize this century and the next. And if it’s all coming from here, if you agree to subsidize... You could stand to make a tidy profit, Mr. Mayor.

MH: Sir! I don’t know what kind of man you think I am, but I will not be bought off by a bully like yourself!

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

MH: Mr. Donovan, the electrical needs of our little town here are pretty slight. Ain’t had a need for much more than that–

BD: You could string the whole place up in lights. It’ll be a marvel, a great attraction! “The Shining City on the Hill!” Think of the money you’ll bring to town.

MH: A flood of fat cats and city slickers come on holiday... Destroy the peace in Point-of-Exile. You and I have very different ideas of what’s good for this town.

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion; sounds of a struggle]]


MH: Unhand me, Mr. Donovan!

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

CW: Sir, what is it you want? I don’t understand.

BD: I want you to start taking funds and putting them into rebuilding the electrical grid in this little town in Colorado. We’ll have moving there— moved there... In two years’ time we’ll be there and it needs to be make... Making... Have to be made ready.

[[SFX: static distortion; radio tuning]]

BD: [coughs]

CW: Sir, why don’t you sit down.

BD: Dammit Chet, I was fine! I... I am fine! I will be fine. I... You needed to— need to talk to... Talked to... Gonna talk—

CW: I know, sir, I know. I’ve gotta talk to Jack Wyatt, he’s liable to get them all killed if he keeps on—

BD: No! Don’t you see? He knows we’re coming. And he knows we know, we knew, we will know all the plans, and— [coughing fit]

CW: Sir, maybe you really ought to—

BD: Whickman, you need to plan. Plan for everything. Everything you think of, every contingency. He’s got some way around. We’ve been... Will be, we will be... We’ve got be ready for him, ready for him...

CW: [sighs]

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

CW: Director Donovan’s condition is getting worse and worse every day. His speech, it’s like he’s not even speaking sentences anymore... Just strings of words! I’m still following the plan he left for us, but... It’s on me now. It’s all on me!

HC: Calm down, son. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to work out the next steps.

CW: Well, it seems to me that everyone on this team’s just decided that the Timepiece isn’t important enough to focus on, sir.

HC: And you’ve told them that whatever they accomplish by the end of the year is forfeit, right?

CW: It’s not going to make a difference, sir. They’re not horses, we can’t just whip ‘em till they run faster. We’ve got… We’ve got to come at it from another angle.

HC: What do you think?

CW: Well… Director Donovan had some ideas. He said we’ve got to reel them back in. Get Wyatt off the sauce and back in the lab. Alleviate the pressure that Helen Partridge is putting on her husband to choose between her and his work.

HC: And to get Dr. Grissom involved?

CW: Sally’s a special case, sir. We don’t want to push her. She’s a valuable asset, and the closer she gets to the project... Well, the higher the chance is that she’ll end up in the same condition as Bill.

HC: Yes, I’ve seen it. We wouldn’t want that.

CW: Isn’t there anything you can do? Buy us more time?

HC: What do you think I’ve been doing, son? I’m at the end of my rope! I’ve let you all have your year, but that window is closing. And someone’s gotta take charge here or it’s all gonna come crumbling down. And if you’re not going to—

CW: I can handle it, sir.

HC: Then handle it!

CW: The problems are Wyatt and Partridge. We need to get Jack some support—someone outside of our office. He doesn’t trust a word we say. It’s gotta be someone he’s found on his own… [snaps] He’s got a girl I can talk to, she’ll get him back on track!

HC: And the Partridges?

CW: I’m not sure there’s anything Mrs. Partridge would love more than to see her husband out of the game. If we’re gonna keep Anthony Partridge around, she’s gotta get gone.

HC: Leave her to me then. Not bad, Mr. Whickman. Not bad at all.

[[SFX: radio tuning; a crowd exits the club]]

HC: Ms. Partridge, can I speak with you a moment?

HELEN PARTRIDGE (HP): Um, sure. By the way, it’s Mrs.—

HC: My mistake, Mrs. Partridge. I just caught your set. You have a simply beautiful voice.

HP: Why, thank you, Mr.—

HC: Oh, forgive me, my name Harry Conway, I’m with Conway, Stevens & Rice. We’re a talent agency based in Los Angeles. I got a call from a buddy of mine who was passing through town a couple weeks back, told me that I have just got to see Helen Partridge singing up on that stage! And I gotta tell you ma’am, my buddy was not wrong. Not wrong one bit.

HP: Oh my— you’re... You’re not serious. In this little podunk hamlet?

HC: Oh but I am Mrs. Partridge, one hundred percent! I’d like to offer you a chance to sing for our company. We’ll get you set up in California, bring you in, record a few tracks, and who knows, maybe you have a contract somewhere—

HP: Mr. Conway, please! I appreciate your offer, but... Gosh, I mean, California?

HC: Don’t let the big city scare you Mrs. Partridge—can I call you Helen? Helen, I tell ya, you come out with me and you’ll be a star!

HP: ...No, no, I’m sorry, I couldn’t. This is just a little hobby. I–I live here, my husband—

HC: Is your husband here, Helen? Can I speak with him, perhaps?

HP: He, um... N-no, he wasn’t here tonight...

HC: Oh. Well, then maybe I can speak to him another night?

HP: You’d have to come and see us at home then, Mr. Conway. My husband hasn’t come to see me perform.

HC: That’s... Well that’s quite a shame. He’s missing something special. Listen, Helen. I know it’s a lot to think about. It would mean giving up all the good things you’ve got here, your quiet mountain life with your husband, all your friends in town here. But if you want my advice, it’d be a shame to let a voice like yours waste away.

[[SFX: Hank pulls out a business card]]

HC: Here. Take my card, take some time to... think things over. It’s an open offer. If you ever want to come sing for us, all you have to do is call. Have a good night, Mrs. Partridge.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

CW: Excuse me, miss, are you Penelope Wise?

PENNY WISE (PW): Um, can I help you?

CW: Hi, you might remember me? I work with Jack Wyatt.

PW: Oh, yes, you’re uh... that security guy. Sorry, Mr...

CW: His performance has been slipping lately.

PW: I’m sorry?

CW: Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. In fact, you’re going to help me fix it.

PW: Now, I don’t think—

CW: He took a hit, a few months back. It’s left him shaken. Seems to have led him to a bit of... Excess. Reckless behavior. I just need you to make sure he’s okay.

PW: Listen here, Mr. Spook. I don’t know what your game is. But what I do or not do with the people I care about is precisely none of your damn business! Jack is close to me, and I don’t much like being harassed by strangers come round asking ‘bout them’s close to me—

CW: Your father.

PW: My... father?

CW: Ethan Wise. Owns a cattle ranch about a mile outside of town? Seems like he’s missed a few mortgage payments here or there. You know... I could help you out with that.

PW: ...What do you want?

CW: Just help him. We want Jack happy and healthy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when he comes in in the mornings. Keep his mind clear of troubles and full of sweet thoughts. Give him something to come home to at the end of the day. Ease him off the drink. Just be yourself, Miss Wise, and I’m sure everyone will get what they want.

PW: Anything else I can do for you?

CW: No ma’am–

PW: –Great. Can I go now?

CW: Of course.

[[SFX: Penny walks away]]

CW: Thanks for your cooperation, ma’am!

[[SFX: radio tuning; static distortion]]

BD: This is bound to be my last recording... It’s December 15th... Or, the 18th... 10th? I... I don’t know anymore. It’s December 1946, I’m pretty sure. I can’t keep the days straight in my head. I can feel myself slipping... The attacks are more frequent, I lose track of my... Some days I spend an hour just repeating words over and over and just repeating words over and over and just repeating—... I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. Dammit Partridge, you were supposed to figure this out! You could have had it all! Why will you can’t figure this out?

[[SFX: static distortion increases; Bill coughs]]

This is it. I know this is it. I’ve gotta... Whickman. He has to run things for me now.

Chet. Listen. Don’t lose heart. Keep them working. They’re so close, and I... If they figure it out, even after I die, you can still save me. You send the plans for the finished model back to me, before I—

[[SFX: a box drops onto the desk; static distortion recedes]]

Hah... Haha! Speak of the devil. There it is. The tapes, the blueprints for a... Looks like some kind of a, a room set up with a Timepiece in it and a...Hah! The CAGE, huh? Oh, Partridge you beautiful bastard, I knew you will— knew you... Know you’ll figure it out!

[[SFX: Bill dials the phone; static distortion]]

BD: Whickman! Back here, get back here now. We’ve done it. Willan have done it. I’ve gotten the... Partridge, he’s gonna have finished— or... [[coughs]] will have had finished—Rrrgh... Partridge, he got—getting closer to— he’s already, and will have sent along... Will... Have will send... Aaaagh! He has will sending...

[[SFX: Bill coughs; drops the phone; faints]]

CW: (over the phone) Don’t worry, sir. I’m on my way. I won’t let you down.

[[SFX: tape recorder stops]]

ars PARADOXICA was created by Daniel Manning and Mischa Stanton.
Episode 10: Consequence, Act I features – 

Rob Slotnick (Bill Donovan)
Reyn Beeler (Chet Whickman)
Kristen DiMercurio (Sally Grissom)

Robin Gabrielli (Anthony Partridge)
Susanna Kavee (Helen Partridge)
Charlotte Mary Wen (Penny Wise)
Dan Anderson (Hank Cornish)

Isabel Atkinson (Amelia Arnault)
Julian Mundy (Ivan Maraczek)
Eric Rafael Ibarra (Victor Lambert)
Pete Lutz (J. Edgar Hoover)
Amanda Bailey (additional voices)

Original music by Mischa Stanton.
ars PARADOXICA is brought to you by The Internet: Recording your every thought since January 1970.

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