Hard Drive, From Realities (Day 170)

An ambitious quartet scene for the climax of Act II. The stage diretions describe a split stage, with Anna and Miles on one side, Alex at his computer with Alice on the other. The music is a reprise of “We’re Never Gonna Make It” and “Double Yellow Line” in the first section, followed by a heroic new theme for Alex, “I Have To Stand.” I love this composition, and have tried to rescue it from the trunk on several occasions; there’s even a couple of phrases of it that can be heard in the music for The Brave Little Tailor. The emotions in this music are keyed to the idea of “fac[ing] the thing I fear,” as the principal character faces a crisis of courage.

(Stage left, Miles is driving wildly and wild-eyed. Anna is nervously hanging on in the passenger seat. She suddenly steadies the wheel.)

Anna: Miles, this isn’t VR. Those are real trucks over there.

Miles: (calmly, gaining control) Gotcha…

Anna: You’re okay?

Miles: Total control… (Anna lets go of the wheel. Miles looks at her, then lets go of the steering wheel.) See.

Anna: Miles!

Miles (laughing at her): It’s Alex, isn’t it? The big brain has got you brainwashed.

Anna: Bullshit.

Miles: Then trust me. I’m going to make you a star. Really get to show your stuff. (Miles unbuttons a button on Anna’s blouse.)

Anna: Miles.

(Music up: driving and energetic, like the first-act car ride. Crossfade to Alex in his computer room. He’s working with alice and fretting about the outcome of the evening.)

Alex: We’re never gonna make it,
I know it.
Tonight I blew it for sure.
I treated him shitty
And now she feels pity for Miles.

Tonight they’re gonna make it,
I know it.
I’ve seen it happen before.
They’ll get in the car
And they’ll drive to that bar
But how far they will go?
Alice, I’ve got to know!

Tell me what’s happening. Give me some projections.

(Sfx: computerized calculations. Crossfade to Anna’s car. Miles is driving fast, but that doesn’t stop him from using one hand to caress Anna occasionally when it suits him.)

Miles: Let’s hit the road to adventure!
Are you ready to rock and roll?
We’re gonna travel the fast lane
Where only the bad have control.
I couldn’t tell you what’s out there
But i promise that we’ll be fine
There’s nothing like living on the double yellow line…

Anna: Watch the road, Miles.

Miles: Relax. This isn’t some bogus computer simulation. This is my reality. We’re cruising in Miles Land.

Anna: Miles… Tell me about the accident. What really happened? Why did you leave him?

Miles: I had to. I didn’t know how bad off he was. But i knew how much shit was in the car.

Anna: Shit?

Miles: Drugs. His drugs.

Anna: Alex?

Miles: Yeah, he lived in a different reality back then, too.

Anna: I…I don’t believe it.

Miles: I saw the lights flashing. I grabbed the stuff and rolled out into the woods. If he was dead, at least he’d be buried clean. If he was alive, he certainly didn’t need me.

Sfx: the engine roars as miles picks up speed.

But, hey, that shit’s history! We’re movin’ on!

Anna: We’re never gonna make it,
I know it.
The man’s a menace on wheels!
How can he think,
That with so much to drink,
He can drive?
We’re doing eighty-five!

Miles: Tonight we’re gonna make it,
I know it.
Tonight the karma is mine!
I feel the adrenaline flowing
And everything’s going my way!
Tonight’s my lucky day!

(Crossfade to Alex’s computer room.)

Alex: Alice, Alice, Alice… she looked at me like she really wanted me.   I wanted to tell her. So many times I wanted to tell her. What should I do?

(Music up: behind the screen. Alice, at her most appealing, appears in a phosphor glow.)

Alice (alluringly): Come to me, Alex.

Alex

Tonight we gotta make it,
I know it.
You got to help me somehow.
It’s time for v.r.
To help carry me far, far away.

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight we gotta make it,
I know it.
 

Alice

Behind the screen
Behind the screen
There is a magic world
That no one’s ever seen
Behind the screen
A world serene
A place that shimmers
In a ghostly shade of green
A world of order
A world of light
A world where logic
Makes everything go right…

 

(Lights flicker and Alice’s siren song falters.)

Come on, don’t crash on me now!

(Alex works desperately to get the system running.)

Push a button, throw a switch
Find the problem, fix the glitch
Better virtual sensation
Will cure your sense of isolation
But what’s the link?
Think!

Find the bug, fix the code.
Get this show back on the road.
Improve the simulation.
I need better stimulation.
I need more ram.
Damn!

(Crossfade to Anna’s car.)

Miles: Anna
Leave him behind you
Anna
He’s not for you
Anna
He doesn’t want you
He doesn’t need you
Not like I do
Anna
Try to forget him
Anna
You know what I say is true.

(Simultaneous scenes: lights up on computer room and Anna’s car. Behind Alex, the microchips return, but they whirl in chaotic, disorienting patterns.)

Microchips: One one
Zero zero
One one zero (etc.)

Anna: Oh, Miles, Miles. I’m so confused. I don’t even know what’s real anymore.

Miles: What you feel is real. There is no other deal.

(Miles turns full to Anna. Lets go of the wheel to caress her face. Anna sees the car going out of control.)

Anna: Miles! That truck.

(Miles coolly swerves back into lane.)

Miles: We’re copasetic. Here, baby, this will steady you.

(Miles hands Anna a flask.)

Alex (desperate and bitter.): Take a look at the bottom line:
Anna’s gone and you couldn’t stop her.
Here i sit in this stupid chair
And talk to someone who isn’t there.
Are you, Alice? (Silence.)

Time to face reality.
Time to face reality.

The time has come
For me to face the thing I fear
I can’t just turn and run
It’s clear I have to stand

(Alex keys a phone number on his keyboard. We hear an internal ring.)

Arff (v.o. On phone): Arff?

Alex: Arff, i need your wheels.

Arff: Arff? The c-c-car.

Alex: Now.

(Alex clicks off. Miles swerves left and right.)

Anna (trying to slow miles up, talks over Alex’s singing)

Miles, stop…

Alex: I’m on my own
Computer tricks can’t help me now
I’ve got to make a move somehow
I understand

Anna: Please, Miles, you’ve got to slow down…

Alice (in an admonitory tone): There is a 88% probability that you will fail in your stand.

Alex: She has to choose
It’s him or me
I’ll stop his vain charade
I’m not afraid you see
I have to rise
Perhaps i’ll fall
But if i don’t stand up to him
i stand to lose it all…

Miles (driving wildly): I get a rush of sensation
As body, mind and soul combine,
A surge as we merge with the…

Anna (frantic): Miles…

Alex: I’ll make my move
The first step may be hard to take
But if I don’t my heart will break
I know
I have to stand
I’ll take it slow
I have to stand

(Anna reaches across Miles and tries to grab the wheel the wheel spins out of control.)

And here I go…

(Alex begins to rise, shakily.)

Alice: Alex!

Chips: Alex!

(The car swerves and crashes. Sfx: of crashing car alex, as if he heard the crash somehow, swings his arm around, throwing Alice away from him, breaking her ties on him. The computer crashes… .)

Alex: Anna!!!!!!!!!!!

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