21: Jailbreak

written by Daniel Manning

[[SFX: tape recorder starts]]

SALLY GRISSOM (SG): Diary of Sally Grissom, November 1st, 1950. So! Since the last time I checked in, I’ve started working with a group of radicals looking to subvert a top secret division of the United States government. Y’know. In case you needed a verbal confession when we all get put on trial for treason. Classic me, right?

So there’s Lou Gaines, a reporter or teacher or something who got burned by ODAR, and Bridget Chambers, some super-librarian who knows Roberts I think, and there’s Maggie Elbourne and her best friend/pet mouse Pandora, and there’s a kid here who I think was born in the 90s somehow and June Barlowe is here and she still hates me and also, hey, Quentin Barlowe is alive. Only he’s not Quentin, I guess he’s Ben Quigley now... or was before, because he’s younger than the one I knew, wch means Barlowe was from the future. Was he an ODAR spy? An ODAR spy spying on ODAR? That is some heavy espionage shit.

Unlike that nonsense, our plan is pretty simple: if we build a second anchor point, like the one Nikhil Sharma was planning, then we can erode ODAR’s control of spacetime. Another anchor point disrupts their causal models to the point that... well, there’s a lot of math, and that’s, like,  normally my whole thing, but I spent two years making a working model of this clown-shoes system with just one gaping wound in spacetime, and without me to help them I have a feeling a second one ight trip them up a bit.

Of course, we need a Rainbow generator. and I’m not confident we could build one of those safely. The one in Point-of-Exile still has a big ol’ “NO SALLIES ALLOWED” sticker slapped on it from the last time I tried to pull this stunt. So Gaines and Chambers are looking for the original minds behind it, Ivan Maraczek and Victor Lambert, but their probe hasn’t turned up much of anything. Jeez, my kingdom for a blueprint.

It’s times like this I wish I could call Partridge, but we haven’t really talked since we did those boundary tests. Well, I guess if this works–

[[SFX: door opens]]

MAGGIE ELBOURNE (ME): I'm sorry, Sally? Petra says she needs to speak with us.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

PETRA (OP): Hey everyone! Thanks for coming, I’m just gonna get right to it. So you know how because of the way I grew up I’m kinda “special?”

SG: Sure, you’re a time weirdo.

OP: ...Right, time weirdo. So, I may have done something, and it’s not my fault and it’s kinda my fault but I didn’t really do it.

JUNE BARLOWE (JB): Petra, whatever it is you can tell us. We’re all in this together now.

OP: Okay... Hey! You can come out!

[[SFX: door opens; Future Petra enters]]


OP: Look ma, two Petras!

LOU GAINES (LG): What in the.../
SG: That’s not good./
ME: What in Heaven’s name do you think you’re doing!/
BEN QUIGLEY (BQ): Okay, that's pretty nifty.

OP: Don’t be mad! She’s okay!

FP: Yeah yeah! We’re okay! We can do this.

OP: We’re special.

FP: We’re unique.

OP/FP: One of a kind!

BQ: ...Third base!

OP: She showed up last night.

FP: In the coming weeks, you will be tested in ways you never have before. You’re getting thrown into the deep end, and you’re gonna need my help. I had a Petra who trained me for this, and she was trained by a Petra before her, and she was trained by a Petra before her, part of a legacy stretching... well, three weeks, but it’s a lot of different timelines. And I have come to continue the chain.

BRIDGET CHAMBERS (BC): Hi! Excuse me, Bridget here, still new to the time travel business... What?

LG: You’ll have to forgive those of us without extensive time travel operative training, and explain it a little slower.

FP: Okay, so, Petra goes and does the thing right? Some... other Petra. And that mission goes sideways, so she goes back in time and helps out the Petra that’s already there, and trains that new Petra, who goes back in time when hat mission goes sideways. Again and again, forever and ever, until the plan succeeds. Which is hopefully this time.

SG: How does that even work?

FP: Listen: I’ve got the answers from the future that you need. Do you want them, or not?

SG: ine.

JB: It’s not just your decision, Sally. Does anyone object to hearing what she has to say?

ME: I object purely on a medical level! Just by being here Petra, I’d say you’ve put us all at significant risk of paradox sickness–

OP/FP: –Butterfly Syndrome.

ME: [sigh] Yes, fine. That said, everything I know suggests we should all be lying on the floor convulsing in existential horror. And yet... here we are.

BC: Given the nature of what we’re up against and the potential lessons we can learn... I think hearing her out is the obvious answer here. We need all the information we can get our hands on.

ME: [sigh] I suppose that makes sense.

LG: June, you’re good with this?

JB: Well, I mean, Petra’s gotten us this far. It’d be a shame to waste two of her.

FP: Perfect! Alright. If you want to set up another anchor point, you guys need to break Victor Lambert out of prison.

JB: Lambert? Wouldn’t take him for the criminal type.

SG: He assaulted Jack Wyatt with a pipe a few years ago. Almost killed him.

FP: And since Polvo was already on its last legs, they brushed him under the carpet, like they did with June. But then ODAR found him selling RAINBOW technology to General Electric! So they locked him in a cell and threw away the key.

JB: Can’t we just use the anchor point Sally is building?

SG: I’ve hit a wall. I don’t know enough about it to engineer something that’s not going to mess up spacetime even worse.

BQ: But isn’t messing up spacetime exactly what we’ve been working on?

SG: Well, yes, but mess it up without all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

OP: Isn’t that a line from Ghostbu–?

SG: –It’ll be total protonic reversal. I’m sorry, we just can’t do this work alone. I may be a genius but even I don't know everything.

JB: First time you've ever said that out loud?

SG: Haha, cool... grade-A zinger, June{!} The point is, we need to get Victor Lambert.

FP: Yeah, I just told you that.

SG: I know, but you can't just say “because I'm from the future and I told you so-”

FP: I mean, that's kinda why I'm here–

LG: –Okay people! Victor Lambert jailbreak it is.

BQ: Oh joy. Now I get to die twice.

FP: You’ve died a lot more than that, bucko.

JB: Can we not talk about my husband dying please?

BQ: So I’m your husband now?

JB: ...Yes, well, I've decided to ignore the whole “till death do us part” bit.

BQ: I haven’t actually said that bit yet–

ME: [laughs]

LG: So Petra, what’s our next step?

FP: Well, we’re gonna need a key.

SG: Oh! I can pick locks!

FP: It’s not that kind of key.

SG: Aww.

FP: The locks in their prison are controlled by radio. You transmit the right code to the computer, the door unlocks.

ME: Radios. Talking to computers. What’ll they think of next?

SG: [laughs]

BQ: Then it’s easy. We intercept the signal, decode it, and then transmit our own version of the code when we need it.

FP: Listen, we only broke the Enigma code with a pretty beefy cryptanalysis by the greatest minds of a generation! The stuff that ODAR uses is so advanced, it was completely unbreakable, even when I was growing up.

OP: Sally, you didn’t happen to supply ODAR with encryption technology from “20XX”, did you?

SG: You mean 20█? No, I didn’t.

FP: They took the design from the encryption chip on your cell phone.

SG: UGH! Fucking time travel!

BQ: What’s a cell phone?

FP: Actually, I think an iteration of your phone manages the whole network now–

SG: I smashed it and buried it! I thought I was rid of that thing once and for all.

BQ: No, really, what’s a cell phone?

OP: Ohmigod, so aggravating is it talking to these people, right Sally?

SG: You have no idea what it’s like. Actually... I guess you kinda do.

JB: Please, ladies, continue! I never get tired of hearing about how we’re all rubes trapped in the past.

SG: You are trapped in the past!

LG: June! Dr. Grissom, we’ve got better things to do than watch you two duke it out. Now, Petra–

OP: –Future Petra.

FP: Does that make you Past Petra?

LG: Petra–

OP: That just makes me Petra. I’m the Original.

LG: If you could–

FP: Well, from my point of view, you’re the duplicate–

LG: Enough! Whichever one of you nows what we’re doing here, would you kindly tell us how to beat the locks?!

FP: Well, the passcode is refreshed every 12 hours.

ME: So we can’t just steal one now.

BC: Petra, why don’t we use the code your team had?

FP: Because all the computers are controlled through the Blackroom, and they use some sort of quantum uncertainty nonsense to make sure the key is always different. And none of the guards’ passcodes work at night. So unless we want to do this in broad daylight, there’s only one passcode we can use.

SG: Please don’t say Chet Whickman.

FP: It’s Chet Whickman’s.

SG: Come on, really??

BC: So not only are we breaking a prisoner out of Colorado Alcatraz, but we need to break into the Boss's office to do it. Brilliant! We’re up shit creek!

FP: Good thing I brought a paddle. In exactly 21 days... well, 20 days, 7 hours, aaaaaand 36 minutes, the guard rotation of ODAR HQ and their prison matches up, and we’ve got a 20 minute window to get Whickman’s code and break Lambert out.

ME: But there’s no way we could do all of that in 20 minutes!

FP: Not unless we divide and conquer. Half of us infiltrate ODAR HQ, get the code, then radio it to the half of us at the prison. Whickman won’t be there, everyone else will be asleep. You guys, this is our chance.

LG: You’ve sold me. What do we need?

FP: Two vans, some rope, surplus walkie talkies for all of us, and June: you know Sue Perkins, right?

JB: Uh, yeah. Sure. Runs a print shop with her husband.

FP: Get in touch with her. We need her to fake ODAR identification. You can use Sally’s old card as a model. Tell Sue that it’s important for stopping the Communists and she’ll basically do whatever you tell her.

JB: How are you so sure?

FP: Because I’m from the future and I told you so.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

LG: Alright, we leave in an hour. This is it, folks. Make peace with your god, call your mother, do what you need to do. Any questions before we go?

ME: I… I forgot which guard tower we’re targeting. Was it this one?

LG: It’s the southeastern tower. Ben is going to be posted here...

OP: Hey, Petra, can I talk to you for a second?

FP: Oh, um, sure.

[[SFX: the Petras move to another room]]

FP: What is it, Petra?

OP: Listen... You’ve got to tell me what happened. In your timeline.

FP: There’s an ancient legacy of Petras–

OP: No there isn’t. Come on, I know when I'm lying.

FP: ...No, there isn’t.

OP: You weren’t visited by a version of us?

FP: I was. That part was real. The Petra before me, she was... a badass. I wasn’t totally lying. There was a mission, it just... didn’t go any farther than her. But she had done it all. She lived through all this again and again, learning, training, adapting. She had these three weeks down to a cience. You could turn on the radio and she could tell you what’s playing before it warmed up. She’d stop you in the middle of an argument and play your part for you. This was, like, her Groundhog Day or something. You thought we were good... She was the best of us.

OP: ...But she’s not here.

FP: [sigh] I knew something was wrong when they didn’t make it back from the prison. By the time I got there, part of her insides were... outside. Lambert was dead. So I grabbed this Timepiece out of the back of the truck, and came back to now. And she’s gone.

OP: Petra... I’m so sorry.

FP: It’s your loss as much as it is mine. You don’t get a mentor.

OP: I have you.

FP: It’s not the same, and you know it! All that knowledge, all that experience, all that... me. Us. Gone, forever.

OP: She’s not gone. She lives in you. In us. We’re all just the same person. Which reminds me: if we pull this off tonight, what happens to me and you and us?

FP: I don’t know. If it’s done correctly, we get Lambert, convince him to build an anchor, fix it like Nikhil wanted, do the thing. And then there’s no reason for either of us to go back again.

OP: “Two Petras, both alike in dignity in fair Point-of-Exile.”

FP: [laughs] Here’s what I think we should do: we each bring a recorder, and then no matter what happens, we’ll both know what happened.

OP: We’ll sync up. I like that. I can work with that.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

OP: Alright, it’s going. I’ll see you later, Future Petra. Hopefully. I love you.

SG: You like audio diaries, huh?

OP: Only because of you. Your recordings from those first few years in Polvo, they’re... legendary.

SG: You’ve heard them?

OP: Only tales. I think Liam snuck a transcript of one once. You were complaining that nobody liked you in town.

SG: Despite loving the idea that you and your time-buddies used to hang on my every word, maybe you can understand that you having read my diary is a little messed up.

OP: They’ve got every recording you’ve ever made, Sally. Probably a few you haven’t.

SG: ...Huh.

BC: They’re gonna catch us, I’m sure…

[[SFX: car slows; June rolls down the window]]

GUARD 1: Wow-ee! There sure are a lot of you misses here tonight. You sure you’re in the right place?

JB: Yes, we’re sure. Miss Roberts called us into work late.

G1: Did she, now? I’m gonna have to see your IDs–

SG: Hey Nick!

G1: Sally! I mean, Dr. Grissom. I didn’t know you were working with us again.

SG: Sure am! Just got my new ID last week.

JB: Alright, girls, pass me your identification.

[[SFX: they hand their IDs forward]]

JB: Here you go.

G1: Alright, thank you, looks good, looks good... Hmm. Miss, this can’t be your ID.

OP: What?

G1: This can’t be yours. It says here you were born in 1927.

OP: I mean, I was! That’s my birthday, April 28, 1927.

G1: If you’re 24 years old, then how come you don’t look a day over 19?

OP: I... uh... I don’t know, everybody always tells me that I look super young, so I, uh...

G1: [chuckles] Don’t worry about it, Miss Bradbury. Just rattling your cage. Drive on through, ladies.

[[SFX: June rolls up the window and drives on]]

SG: How old re you, anyway?

OP: I don’t want to talk about it...

SG: It’s because you don’t know, is it?

OP: Cool, you got me! I’m the weird girl who doesn’t have a birthday. Let me put it this way, I'm older than every other kid ODAR ever kidnapped, okay? You happy?

SG: ...Sorry.

OP: It's... whatever.

[[SFX: June parks the car; all exit]]

BC: How much time do we have?

OP: It’s 11:43. We’ve got 17 minutes before the door codes refresh.

BC: And we’re just gonna walk in and steal from the desk of the director of ODAR?

OP: As long as you don’t get captured or killed, that is. You’ve got the walkie, June?

JB: Sure do. Ben, you read me?

BQ: (on radio) Loud and clear, honey. Over.

JB: Oh, right, we’re supposed to say over. Over.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

FP: Hey Original Petra, it’s me. We just got here. Uhh, I’m just gonna let this thing run. If I don’t see you again, you know, for whatever reason, carry on the legacy. Know that I love you, and know that you’re doing the right thing. I’m pretty sure.

LG: (Alright, set your watches.) We’ve got 25 minutes, in and out. No one stops for anything.

BQ: Are we sure I have to stay behind?

ME: We need someone to get us out.

BQ: Okay, I guess.

LG: You ready? Okay. Go! Go! Go!

[[SFX: Future Petra runs through a hole in the fence and down toward the prison; radio tuning]]

SG: This is so eerie. Did you ever sneak into your high school after hours?

OP: I never went to high school.

SG: Right. I’m sorry about all of this... what they did to you.

OP: It’s not your fault, even though it kind of is.

[[SFX: Sally drops her pen]]

SG: I appreciate that.

GUARD 2: (from afar) Excuse me, miss?

SG: (whispers) Keep your head down. Walk faster.

[[SFX: they pick up the pace]]

G2: Miss?

SG: When you round the next corner, there’ll be an office on your right three steps ahead, duck in there.

BC: Okay?

G2: Excuse me, miss?

OP: Go go go!

[[SFX: Sally, Petra, and Bridget round the corner; Sally and Bridget duck into offices; Original Petra’s door is locked]]

G2: Miss!

[[SFX: Guard 2 approaches]]

G2: Miss.

OP: Yes?

G2: You dropped your pen.

OP: ...Oh! Thank you so much.

G2: No problem. Have a good night.

OP: You too!

[[SFX: Sally and Bridget emerge]]

OP: It was your pen.

SG: ...Sorry about that.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

LG: Alright, Petra, Maggie. We need that searchlight off or we’re dead.

ME: You start climbing the tower. Knock on the railing once you’re up. Then I’ll cut the power.

[[SFX: Future Petra sneaks up the guard tower; “Clair de Lune” plays on the radio; Petra knocks on the tower, hops the railing into the tower room; the searchlight powers off; Petra strikes the chair out from under the guard; he comes to, draws his weapon; Petra kicks it away; they struggle; Petra slams the guard’s head into a desk; Petra lifts the guard into a chair, gags and binds him]]

GUARD 3: [muffled shouting]

FP: Oops! Sorry about that. Not about the gag. I didn’t mean for your head to hit the desk that hard.

G3: [muffled shouting]

FP: There there. Don’t worry! This’ll all be over soon. Think of it like this! You get a break from work, and you’ll probably get a–little to the left? THERE we go–

G3: [muffled sobbing]

FP: You’ll probably get a few days off or something, right?

G3: [muffled shouting]

FP: Of course I can’t let you go. We’ve got a job to do. Relax, okay? Trust me, It’s got nothing to do with you.

ME: (on radio) You done up there?

FP: Yeah, I got him. He’s not going anywhere any time soon.

ME: (on radio) Oh my word, did you... did you kill him?

FP: What? No! No, he’s fine. Just bound and gagged. I roughed him up a little, but he’s gonna be fine, isn’t that right, ... Barry?

G3: [muffled shouting]

BQ: (on radio) You guys are weird. Over.

LG: (on radio) We can’t enter the main facility without a guard passcode. What have you got, Petra?

FP: Um… 52 84 91.

LG: (on radio) … 8… 4… 9…

FP: Hurry up! Ugh, why couldn’t ODAR invent touch-tone too?

LG: (on radio) ...1.

[[SFX: over the radio, the prison door unlocks]]

LG: (on radio) Alright, Maggie and I are moving in. Ben, what’s Red team’s status?

[[SFX: static on walkie]]

LG: (on radio) I said Ben, what’s their status?

[[SFX: static on walkie]]

FP: Ben!

BQ: (on radio) What is it?

FP: What’s the other team doing?

BQ: (on radio) They’re all okay. I think there was something about a pen?

FP: Lou, Red team is good, but Ben can’t hear you and you can’t hear him.

ME: (on radio) Shit.

FP: It’s fine, I can just relay the numbers to you.

[[SFX: Lou’s radio loses signal]]

LG: (on radio) That’s good thinking, Petra. We’re pressi...urther...ell block.

FP: What’s that?

LG: (on radio) I said...etting clo...Lambert.

FP: You’re breaking up!

LG: (on radio) What?

BQ: (on radio) If they go any deeper, they won’t be able to hear you. Hold on… I have an idea. Petra, tell them to head to the gymnasium. You need to run down and reconnect that spotlight.

FP: Okay.

[[SFX: Petra runs down the guard tower]]

FP: Lou! Lou! You need to go to the gymnasium!

LG: (on radio) ...who?

FP: The gymnasium! Gymnasium!

LG: (on radio) ...ymnasium?

FP: Yes! Yes! Go there.

[[SFX: Petra reconnects the power; runs back up]]

FP: Hey there, Barry. How you feeling?

G3: [muffled grumbling]

FP: So why did I need to turn that back on?

BQ: (on radio) The gymnasium has glass skylights. How’s your morse code?

FP: Decent, but don’t ask for semaphore. Do you have the numbers yet?

BQ: (on radio) Almost. Get the spotlight ready.

[[SFX: radio tuning; lockpicking]]

OP: How much longer on this lock?

SG: If you could just be patient for like, one minute.

OP: We don’t have one minute! We have six. Total.

SG: Lockpicking is hard, okay?–

BC: Shh! People are coming.

[[SFX: Esther and an aide walk by]]

ESTHER ROBERTS: Well I’m thinking, that we totally scrap the coolant system and instead siphon the excess heat so we can utilize it to spool up the turbine quicker...

BC: Oh, Ettie...

SG: She visited you in New York, didn’t she?

BC: Yeah, she did. But Lou caught hold of me a few days before. Warned me, you could say? But it didn't soften the blow.

SG: You two used to be together, didn’t you?

BC: I... yes.

SG: You’re the ex.

BC: If I’m the ex, what does that make you?

SG: A friend. As much as Roberts can have.

BC: Yes, that sounds about right.

[[SFX: the door unlocks]]

SG: We’re in.

BC: So this is where he works.

OP: I expected more, somehow.

SG: What were you looking for?

OP: A wall-sized world map covered in blinking lights. Maybe a wheelchair-bound crypto-fascist.

SG: [laugh] You know what? I wouldn’t be surprised.

[[SFX: teletype starts up]]

BC: Here we go. Ben, you ready?

BQ: (on radio) Tell me.

[[SFX radio tuning; Future Petra tilts the spotlight]]

FP: Ready.

BQ: 4, 8, 1, 5, 1, 6

[[SFX: Petra flips the shutter open and closed in Morse code]]

FP: I did it.

BQ: (on radio) Do you think they got it?

FP: All we can do now is wait.

[[SFX: tape fast-forward; a prison door buzzer in the distance]]

FP: I see them!

BQ: (on radio) Do they have Lambert?

FP: Looks like it!

BQ: (on radio) Get on back to the van and we’re home free!!

[[SFX: tape fast-forward; in the van]]

SG: (on radio) And then the towers, or “lls,” if you catch my drift, carry Alice’s voice traffic, and then the system sends it to the appropriate tower elsewhere, where the signal is picked up by Bob’s phone.

BQ: Makes sense.

SG: (on radio) But we mostly used it for sending, like, telegraphs… Alright, we’re pulling up to the meeting spot.

BQ: See you soon.

SG: (on radio) Later.

LG: How you doing back there, Victor?

VICTOR LAMBERT (VL): Peachy-keen! Who the hell are you people?

FP: [giggles] Petra! We did the thing! We got the guy!

BQ: Hey, we’re here. Are the lights supposed to be off?

FP: Maybe they’re not back yet?

ME: Well I believe that's their van, isn't it?

LG: I've got a bad feeling about this.

VL: [cackles]

FP: What’s so funny?

VL: It’s just you’re walking into a trap, that’s all.

ME: Do you know something we don’t, Mr. Lambert?

VL: I’ve just got perspective. ODAR, they’ve got your number. They’ve got all our numbers.

FP: When did you become a Bond villain? Was it when you got that scar?

VL: You sound like Sally Grissom.

FP: ...thank you?

VL: You have no idea who you people are dealing with.

LG: Save it. Let’s go.

[[SFX: van pulls up, shuts off; the party exits, walks up to the safehouse; Ben unlocks the door; the party enters]]

BQ: June? You there?

[[SFX: a lamp turns on]]

SG: Hey guys...

CHET WHICKMAN (CW): Evening, everyone.

[[SFX: gun hammer clicks]]

LG: Goddammit.

VL: What did I tell you?

CW: So we’ve added the Commie traitor, the rat queen, Quentin Barlowe back from the dead, and... another Petra? I thought we had lost you and now we’ve got a pair! It’s like Christmas come early.

SG: I hate Christmas.

VL: You hate Christmas?

LG: So Mr. Whickman. Now that you’ve got us right where you’ve wanted us this whole time, what is it that you want?

CW: I want us to have a little talk about your future.

[[SFX: tape recorder stops]]

ars PARADOXICA was created by Daniel Manning & Mischa Stanton.
Episode 21: Jailbreak features – 

Kristen DiMercurio (Sally Grissom)
Reyn Beeler (Chet Whickman)
Katie Speed (Esther Roberts) 
Lia Peros (Petra)
L Jeffrey Moore (Lou Gaines)
Lauren Shippen (Maggie Elbourne)
Rebekah Allen (Bridget Chambers)
Hannah Trobaugh (June Barlowe)
Lee Satterwhite (Ben Quigley)
Eric Rafael Ibarra (Victor Lambert)
Billy Finn, Julian Mundy, Mischa Stanton (additional voices)
with special thanks to Isabel Atkinson

Fight choreography by Danielle Shemaiah. Production help from Dan Powell. “Clair de Lune” composed by Claude Debussy. Original music by Mischa Stanton and by Eno Freedman-Brodmann.

ars PARADOXICA is brought to you by The Internet: Where the opinions are made up and the facts don’t matter.

24 20 02 | 09 04 04 07 07 01 | 09 03 08 16 | 11 17 09 16 11 13 | 21 05 18 16