1.13 In Granite
written by Eli Barraza
directed & produced by Mischa Stanton
[[SFX: Peri hums in the kitch. Benny drops an old HAM radio on the table then drops a stack of Gardenia plex comics.]]
BENNY: Took a while but success has been attained. Sort of. Found this bad boy in a box and these beauties under a pile of old clothes. Thanks again for letting me poke around in there. And sleep there. And borrow clothes.
PERI: Oh, yeah. Still weird for me to go in there. Thanks for looking.
BENNY: Hey, earth to Peri, hello? I just found a radio that might work given some juice and the comics you thought had been eaten by the garbage man.
PERI: What? Yeah, holy smokes. That’s awesome, dude. Um, sorry, I’m just… it’s another desert out there.
BENNY: Looks like we, uh, hit its rainy season, lotta puddles. My desert almost never had any rain…... I see some buildings and structures out there… that look like they were built by a cult, what is that?
[[SFX: Benny pulls the curtains.]]
PERI: I don’t know.
BENNY: Wanna investigate? I’d bet money that there’s someone around who might know where we can get a battery. I’ll even lug the radio along so we make sure we can get the right kind.
PERI: Um, yeah. Yeah. Let’s be careful though. I got a weird feeling about this place. Lock all the locks.
[[SFX: Footsteps in damp sand. A puddle splashes. Benny munches on some trail mix then throws it in his backpack and zips it up.]]
PERI: The whole history of the world on spokes of granite that seem like they should turn with the passage of time.
BENNY: What kind of weirdo builds a place like this?
PERI: Someone who wanted to fill a desolate place with a recording of humanity.
BENNY: Looks like it’s still in progress.
[[SFX: Benny kicks some tools.]]
PERI: I don’t see anyone.
BENNY: Uh, well, maybe they’re in that tiny pyramid?
[[SFX: They walk towards the pyramid. Benny touches chains around the door.]]
PERI: I’ve never seen a lock that big.
BENNY: Well there’s gotta be someone around here somewhere.
[[SFX: They shuffle.]]
BENNY: There’s a church up on that hill, wanna check it out?
PERI: You go ahead, I kind of want to read some of these granite panels if that’s okay?
BENNY: Yeah, of course, I’ll holler if I find anything.
PERI: Say hi to Mr. God for me.
PERI: Nevermind, go ahead.
[[SFX: Benny leaves.]]
PERI: “Time-keeping began with the observation of the seasons.” Hm, let’s find something a little more recent. The Olmecs. The Romans. The Islamic Golden Age. Da da da…
[[SFX: She walks along the panels and scoffs.]]
PERI: WWII, what is it with people and world war two…
[[SFX: She steps in a small puddle and trails off.]]
PERI: “The time of her birth was arbitrary to the universe in which there is no time beyond that which is kept by the observer. She was born and her parents named her... Hesperia for the town in which they fell in love.” What is this?
[[SFX: Benny finishes climbing up the steps to the church, breath ragged.]]
BENNY: Oh. My god…
[[SFX: He puts down his bag and approaches the door.]]
BENNY: Nice paint job on the blue door.
[[SFX: He reaches up a hand to knock several times.]]
BENNY: Hello? Anyone home?
[[SFX: He moves to the back of the church, passing through a squeaky gate.]]
BENNY: “Here lies patrons of Little Hill Church. Though the years may forget it, may their worship upon it continue forever in grace.” Alright then. Looking for someone alive. No offense.
[[SFX: Movement on the other side of the church.]]
BENNY: Peri? That you?
[[SFX: Squeaks of a javelina.]]
[[SFX: The javelina snorts but continues. It bites down, shaking the backpack from side to side.]]
BENNY: Shoot, you probably smelled my trail mix.
[[SFX: He slowly approaches the animal.]]
BENNY: Easy now, easy does it, good javelina, nice javelina, step away from the backpack…
[[SFX: Benny takes one last step and the javelina startles, tearing off down the stairs.]]
[[SFX: Benny runs off after it.]]
BENNY: Peri! Peri! It’s headed for the labyrinth thing!
PERI: “She befriended a young girl named Ruth...”
[[SFX: Javelina squeals.]]
BENNY: Shit. Shit shit.
[[SFX: The javelina runs through a puddle and into the labyrinth, Benny shortly behind.]]
BENNY: Shit. Who the hell just builds a labyrinth in the middle of--
[[SFX: Tiny hoofbeats and oinks echo in the labyrinth. Benny stops to listen.]]
BENNY: Left, it went left.
[[SFX: Benny takes off then stops.]]
BENNY: Which way this time which way… muddy hoofprints, oh thank you rainy season.
[[SFX: Benny follows the hoofprints down another corridor.]]
BENNY: And… the hoofprints go up the wall. Great. Just. great. Perfect. Rad. Awesome. Think Benny, think. Walls are too high to climb over but clearly the little guy just walked right… up… it… no. Nope, Not doing that, nope. That’s not how that works. Nope.
[[SFX: Javelina squeal]]
BENNY: Oh, screw it.
[[SFX: He takes a running start, the quality of his footsteps changing as they hit the concrete wall off the labyrinth. Up and over and onto the other side.]]
PERI: “She and her brother Horace travelled along straight roads that pierced fields of pumps then wound around mountains at night, punctuated by yellow buzzing street lamps. Their arrival in the city of tomorrows that never came true was heralded with the bang of their car’s engine…”
[[SFX: She pauses.]]
PERI: Looking a little weathered there, aren’t you? Hm, let’s skip ahead a bit.
[[SFX: Peri takes a few steps.]]
PERI:“Her father’s lungs… her father’s lungs grew hateful of the air they once found refreshing and so her parents set off for kinder climates, ensuring their children would take care of the lighthouse they so lovingly restored. When the crash echoed across the hill upon which the lighthouse sat, shameful horror spread across Hesperia’s face. The lighthouse became just a… house.” How does it know? It was an accident, I didn’t mean it. How does it know?
[[SFX: Benny frantically runs through the maze]
BENNY: Shoot, the mud dried up. Where are you?
[[SFX: Whispers blow through, folding over themselves. Sand shifts.]]
MOTHER: Where are you?
BENNY: Who’s there? Where are you?
MOTHER: There. Where are you?
BENNY: It can’t be her, she’s not here, she’s home.
MOTHER: Come home.
BENNY: Mama? Is that you? It’s Benny, I’m here.
MOTHER: Is that you Benny? Here?
[[SFX: Benny starts up running again on the ground, chasing the whispers. A distant crack.]]
BENNY: Mama, where are you?
MOTHER: Where are you?
BENNY: What is happening?
[[SFX: His breathing grows more erratic and panicked as he picks up the pace. He trips over the backpack and cries out as he falls to the ground]]
[[SFX: Hesperia sniffs back tears.]]
PERI: I didn’t mean it, I…”but her brother bandaged her hands damaged by the attempts to salvage what she’d broken, smiling that they now had a project together”
[[SFX: Peri takes a few steps while reading and skimming.]]
PERI: “The sun set blood over the mountains and the young woman found herself alone with the crashing of the sea. The first night turned into two until it yawned over her life, a chasm of absence.”... “She kept to herself and time grew meaningless without others to comment upon it”... “She awoke as if the day had decided to remain the same as the days before but the dustbowl outside said otherwise”... “The woman at the bus stop commented upon the vanishing star and Hesperia”... “The man of the deep waters was everywhere at once and she found that she too permeated the space”...”a voice appeared on the record”...”curiosity on Mars”... “a game of telephone”...”the Mountain sang the song that... belonged to Ruth in Hesperia’s heart”... “She read her life in stone and wondered what came next”...
[[SFX: Hesperia pauses.]]
PERI: What came next. There’s more? The whole history of… right here before me. I can, I can know if I find him. When I’ll find him.
[[SFX: She turns back to the words, walking along rapidly. The wind and sand blows.]]
PERI: “the lightning struck”... “the tattered woman stood upon the well tread threads of carpet”...”her parents embraced her”...“the child made from memory”... I… focus, find him. Why are these words so hard to read? “The old bones rattled”...”her partner”... “the skies fell, torn from their roots in the heavens” what is all of this…
[[SFX: She pauses.]]
PERI: It’s fading. It’s all fading. ”the winds snatched more than words from the mountaintop”... “he found his way back to”...”her breath still fogged the air as her eyes discovered Horace’s face beneath the years of--”
[[SFX: Hesperia jumps at the sound.]]
PERI: Oh no, Benny?
[[SFX: She lets out a breath then runs a few steps before pausing.]]
PERI: The church… it’s all…
[[SFX: The wind increases.]]
PERI: Everything’s getting more weathered, it’s all getting rubbed away, I’m not gonna have another chance.
[[SFX: She runs back to the panel.]]
PERI: Her breath still fogged the air, her breath still fogged the air, where is that section?
BENNY: HESPERIA, PLEASE.
[[SFX: Peri freezes.]]
PERI: I’m sorry.
[[SFX: She takes off running for the maze. A splash before lavyrinth.]]
[[SFX: Peri runs through, walls crumbling around her. She spots Benny and runs to him.]]
PERI: Benny! Benny, what happened?
BENNY: What happened? What’s happening? It took the backpack and I chased it and the walls, I went up but then her voice, her voice was everywhere and I, and I couldn’t, and I fell, and was so lost.
PERI: You’re not lost now, you’re with me.
BENNY: It twisted and turned and I lost track, Peri I lost track.
PERI: I think we need to go now, Benny.
BENNY: No, no I can’t move, I can’t move.
PERI: Shhh, it’s okay, I’ll help you. Like when you ate the soggy sandwich. C’mon.
[[SFX: She helps him up and they struggle out of the labyrinth. A quiet settles.]]
BENNY: I think the radio got broken.
PERI: It’s okay, Benny.
BENNY: I’m sorry, I should have--
[[SFX: They step in a puddle.]]
BENNY: Why are those tools all rusted?
PERI: Nevermind that, let’s get you home.
The Far Meridian
Created and written by Eli Barraza, directed and produced by Mischa Stanton.
Performed by Eli Barraza as Peri, Noah Gildermaster as Ace, Jose Donado as Benny, and Marissa Tandon as Benny’s Mother. Music by The Album Leaf.
For more information and links to support the show, go to TheFarMeridian.com, or find us on social media @TheFarMeridian.
We’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, may you always find your way.