Story is done in script-style. Anything even remotely fact-like, scientific-sounding and military-sounding is completely made up by me.
(Early evening -- Lisa's in her bedroom getting ready, when Heather walks into the house and comes up the stairs)
Lisa: Heather, I'm glad you're finally home. I left dinner for you in the microwave. I shouldn't be gone too long.
Heather: Well, actually Mom, I thought I'd go with you.
Lisa: (baffled) You did?
Heather: Sure, why not. You can do your parental thing and I'll amuse myself.
Lisa: You actually want to go with me?
Heather: Why not Mom? A lot of my friends will be there with their parents.
Lisa: (confused) Your friends? Their parents? Heather, I really don't have time for this. What are you talking about?
Heather: It's parent-teacher night. I told you about it weeks ago.
Lisa: You did?
Heather: Of course! (understanding) You forgot, didn't you?
Lisa: No. (Beat) Yes. (sigh)
Heather: I gave you the blue paper with the words "Parent-Teacher Night" in big bold letters.
Lisa: You did?
Heather: Weeks ago. I told you it was Tuesday, Mom.
Lisa: Tuesday. As in this Tuesday.
Heather: As in today. Tonight.
Lisa: Right. (Beat) Let me go make a quick phone call and we'll leave.
Heather: Where were you going tonight?
Lisa: A real estate seminar. Which is why I was confused when you said you wanted to go.
(Same night -- Dr. Theo is standing at the command center of a large ship, a naval carrier, currently miles off the coast in the Pacific.)
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Mr. Wiseman, can you hear me?
(Michael is strapped into a one-man submersible, which is hooked onto a tether, waiting for release)
Michael: (into mic) Of course I can hear you; you're shouting directly into my ear.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) We will be dropping you into the Eglanis Trench.
Michael: (into mic) How deep did you say it was?
Dr. Theo: (into mic) I didn't. (beat) We will be evaluating your body's ability to withstand extreme pressure. For every mile you drop below sea level, more force will be exerted onto your body.
Michael: (into mic) And how much pressure can a normal body withstand, did you say?
Dr. Theo: (into mic) I didn't.
Michael: (into mic) And how far down do you expect me to go?
(The submersible is released and plunges into the water)
Michael: (into mic) Ahhhhhhh!
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Mr. Wiseman, listen to me.
Michael: (into mic) Okay, I'm listening.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Going down is the easy part. The submersible and gravity will do everything for you. We will, of course, be monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure, brain synapses. If, at any time, the pressure becomes too great, you will need to guide yourself back up.
Michael: (into mic) I don't know how to do that.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) I will give you the instructions.
Michael: (into mic) What if I panic and can't remember your instructions.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) There is a panic button. It's the red button directly overhead and to your left. Do you see it?
Michael: (into mic, muffled) Uhmmm, okay, yeah, I see it.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) It's to be used in an emergency ONLY. If, for any reason, you hit the panic button, we will have to redo this experiment. And neither I nor the United States Government will enjoy that. And believe me when I tell you, I will make sure that you don't enjoy it, also.
Michael: (into mic) Oh, 'cuz I'm having a ball right now.
Dr. Theo: Listen carefully. When you start your ascent, you will first need to stabilize
Lisa: and then I found out he was married. I don't know, maybe I shouldn't have No! I definitely did the right thing by leaving his office that night. Don't you think?
Teacher: (sigh) Your daughter is doing very well in math.
Lisa: (beat) Oh, right.
Teacher: But her mind does tend to wander. Now I know where she gets that from.
Lisa: Really, I'm not always like this (slowly backs out of the classroom) Thank you, Mr. Walter. I'll just leave now.
Dr. Theo: (singing into mic) A ship there is, she sails the sea, she's loaded deep, as deep can be. But not so deep as the love I'm in; I know not how I sink or swim.
Michael: (into mic) Doc? You're not helping me here! Can you NOT mention "sinking?"
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Did you understand all the instructions I gave you?
Michael: (into mic) Yes. Down, then up. Touchdown. Then, maybe we go sunning at one of these tropical islands. What do you say doc?
(Michael is still sinking, quickly)
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Mr. Wiseman, you are currently at 15,000 feet. The amount of pressure you're body is feeling is equal to that of having a small pickup truck sitting on your chest.
Michael: (into mic) You're just a freakin' wealth of information, aren't ya? Maybe we could have some real conversation here?
Dr. Theo: And what would you like to talk about, Mr. Wiseman?
Michael: You know that song you were singing? I remember hearing Marie Osmond singing it years ago. Was it the Ed Sullivan show?
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Am I supposed to understand what you're talking about?
Michael: (into mic) How could you not have heard of the Osmonds? Everyone's heard of them. Now, Marie, she was my favorite. She sang that famous song "Puppy loooove". (beat) No, wait, I think that was the other one. It's easy to get them all confused. There were six of them. (beat) Or maybe there were eight. I can't . remember. (breathing a little erratic)
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Mr. Wiseman?
Michael: (gasping slightly) Okay, I'm definitely feeling some pressure now.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) We're still here, monitoring your vitals. Heart rate is fine, blood pressure's good. Just keep letting us know what's going on. Mr. Wiseman, you are currently at 19,000 feet.
Michael: (into mic) Since you're just going to spout useless information at me, maybe you could have one of those techs get some important information for me.
Dr. Theo: (into mic) I suppose there's no harm in that, since you're stuck for at least the next few hours. What would you like us to have the computer find for you?
Michael: (into mic) Were there six or eight Osmonds. 'Cuz I'm thinkin' there were six, but they just kept popping up, you know? It could be eight.
Lisa: he ended up spilling red wine on me and stepping all over my toes when we danced. (Sigh) Then there was the guy that kept asking intimate questions about my 15-year-old daughter. Yuck. I left early that evening. (Sigh) Maybe I'm just too picky. I don't know. (Beat) Dating, what can you say, huh?
Heather: (walking up) MOM!!
Principal: (clearing his throat) Mrs. Wiseman. (very uncomfortable) Have I said how very sorry I am about your husband.
Lisa: (a little chagrined) Thank you, Principal Phelps. (Principal walks away, quickly)
Heather: How could you?!
Lisa: How could I what?
Heather: It's already all over the school. My mom: the ranting loon.
Lisa: I'm sorry, honey. I don't know what it is. I promise I'll behave.
Heather: Thank you.
Lisa: I just wish that creepy guy would stop looking at me like that.
Heather: What creepy guy?
Lisa: That one, (gesturing vaguely) with the red jacket. He kept hovering around me when I got some punch and cookies a little bit ago.
Heather: (sigh) That "creepy guy" is the school janitor, mom. He's just trying to clean up.
Lisa: (befuddles) Oh. (beat) Then I probably shouldn't have kicked him when he tried to reach for my empty cup and plate.
Heather: You didn't notice the broom and dustpan he was carrying?
Lisa: I just thought he had some weird cleaning fetish.
(Michael is continuing his descent)
Dr. Theo: Mr. Wise. You are currently at 20,000 feet. The amount of pressure you're body's feeling is equal to that of - wait a minute. (muffled voices, then beat) Ahhh, Mr. Wiseman
Michael: (into mic, gasping slightly) Doc, is that hesitation -- maybe even uncertainty - I hear in your voice? Normally I'd enjoy that. Once I'm back on dry land - well, once I'm on land - remind me to enjoy it. But, right now -
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Mr. Wiseman. We're about to experience problems.
Michael: (into mic) What're you, psychic? (beat) Wait a minute. Problems? Now, when you say problems, specifically what problems?
Dr. Theo: (sudden crackling in mic) losing feed breaking up -man
Michael: (into mic, gasping a little more now) Doc? (beat) Doc? (beat) Anyone? Someone? (beat) Okay, I'll just hit the panic button. The doc won't really punish me. He did tell me to use it in an emergency and I think this counts. (hits the button; nothing happens.) Okay, this is not good. (hits the button again; nothing happens; keeps hitting the panic button) Helllllp!!
(Michael is continuing to sink, farther and farther)
(Later that same evening)
Roger: Hello Lisa. (cradling his shoulder)
Lisa: Roger! What are you doing here? What happened to your shoulder?
Roger: Ruth and I had a fight. She kicked me out. It's only temporary, but could you ?
Lisa: Sure, Roger. We'll make up the guest room for you. (beat) Wait a minute. How did you know where to find me?
Roger: Your neighbor saw me tapping on your windows and came after me with a shovel. (gestures his shoulder)
Lisa: Roger! Are you hurt?
Roger: Not one of my best nights.
Lisa: OK, let's find Heather and we'll get going.
Roger: I thought I saw her heading down to the football field.
(Lisa and Roger head toward the field and spot Heather walking toward them)
Heather: Mom. (spots Roger) Uncle Roger?
Lisa: Uncle Roger is going to be spending the night, honey.
Heather: How'd you know where to find us?
Roger: (sarcastically) Your neighbor was kind enough to give this to me. (gingerly shows them a crumpled and dirty blue paper with the words "Parent-Teacher Night" in big bold letters) She found it in her geraniums when she was gardening.
Heather: (surprised) Ohmygosh! I must have dropped it on my way home. Which means
Lisa: I didn't forget, because I never knew!
Heather: Why assign blame, right Mom?
(Michael is continuing to sink. And sink)
Dr. Theo: (crackling)
Michael: (into mic, really to himself) No. This is not happening. Doc? (beat) Doc? (beat) (gasping more pronounced) The panic button isn't working. I'm sinking slowly into an abyss. My life is flashing . (beat) Okay. Okay. Not the time to panic. Take a deep breath, Mike. (tries to breathe) Okay so that's a little hard to do right now. (beat) What I need right now is that guy who puts right the things that are wrong to leap into my body and guide me through this. 'Cuz this is about as wrong as wrong can get. (beat) At the very least, I'll take that guy who pretends to be other people that still manages to have the same first name. (beat) Somebody Anybody?
Dr. Theo: (static crackling)
(Lisa, Heather and Roger are making their way to the parking lot)
Heather: So why'd Aunt Ruth kick you out of the house this time?
Roger: Never mind.
Lisa: Wait - it's the third Tuesday in the month, isn't it?
Roger: Why even discuss it?
Lisa: It's lasagna night.
Heather: Uncle Roger, you didn't!?!
Roger: The woman makes awful lasagna. What's a man to do?
Lisa: The man - namely you - should eat it.
Heather: Like a man!
Lisa: And not say anything.
Roger: But you know how bad it is!
Lisa: Yes, and I eat it. Like a grown-up. Without a fuss.
Heather: Even I manage to eat it without saying horrible things, Uncle Roger.
Roger: If the woman would just stop making lasagna, my life would be better.
Lisa: (spotting someone) Oh, no.
(The school janitor approaches them, carrying his broom and dustpan)
Roger: What's wrong?
(Janitor marches up to Lisa, drops his broom and dustpan to the floor, to confront her)
Janitor: Look, I don't think it was very nice of you to kick me when I was just doing my job.
Lisa: (to janitor) I'm sorry. I didn't know who you were.
Roger: What's going on here?
Lisa: (to Roger) It's fine. (to janitor) My daughter told me who you were. I feel really bad -
Janitor: Well, you should. My shin still hurts.
Roger: (to janitor) The lady apologized. (approaches the janitor) Now, I think you'd better leave us alo-
(Roger hits the dustpan, which flies up and hits Roger on his shin. Turning in pain, he trips over the broom and falls to the floor)
Lisa and Heather: (rushing to help Roger) Roger! Uncle Roger!
(The janitor shakes his head and leaves, while Lisa and Heather help Roger up)
Roger: More pain!
Lisa: (sighing) Oh, Roger. I think that Ruth making lousy lasagna once a month is the least of your problems.
(Michael, unknown to him, has reached a depth of 36,864 feet. Atmospheric pressure has equaled that of a ½ ton force on Michael's body.)
(And he continues to fall, deeper and deeper)
Dr. Theo: (Static)
Michael: (still talking into mic, but now, mainly, to himself) The Doc told me what to do. Think Mike . First I need to make this sucker go up . Thrustors of some sort . Think! . Blue button . Here we go . Then I need to stabilize the cabin? Because if I go up too fast I could explode when I reach sea level ? Or was that in a movie I saw once? Okay here we go
(The submersible gently halts its descent. Thrustors activate and Michael begins his ascent)
Michael: (still into mic) Not bad huh?
Dr. Theo: (static) (static) (into mic) -- at least you were listening.
Michael: (into mic) Doc!
Dr. Theo: (into mic) Your vitals are fine. You're currently at 36,500 feet and climbing.
Michael: (into mic, with a big grin) I love it when you say sweet nothings in my ear!
(Lisa, Heather and Roger have reached Lisa's car)
Lisa: What were you trying to do?
Roger: Ouch! I was trying to help. That's the thanks I get.
(Lisa notices the dim lights on in her car)
Lisa: Heather, did you close your door all the way.
Heather: (checking) No. (sheepishly) Oops. Sorry Mom.
Lisa: Well, the car is dead. We have three choices. We could go back there (pointing to the school) and ask for a jump.
Roger: And run into that janitor again. No way. Oww.
Lisa: We could call Triple-A and wait here for anywhere from an hour to two for a jump.
Roger: While I stand here, bleeding to death.
Heather: You're not going to bleed, Uncle Roger. (to Lisa) What's our third choice?
Lisa: (definitively) Walk!
Heather: And you can pick the car up tomorrow. Sounds good.
Roger: How do you expect me to walk that far? I need a wheelchair. Possibly even a stretcher.
(Lisa and Heather start walking home, while Roger complains and hobbles behind them)
(Michael, still in the submersible, is raised onto the ship. He unstraps himself and gets out of the submersible, while Dr. Theo walks toward him)
Michael: But you have to agree, I did good, right?
Dr. Theo: We heard everything on your end fine.
Michael: (a little chagrined) Uhh, you did.
Dr. Theo: (arching an eyebrow) Divine providence, by way of TV shows?
Michael: (with a big smile) I handled the situation, didn't I? Very well, I might add. While, on the other hand, you messed up.
Dr. Theo: (staunchly) We experienced -
Michael: Yes? "Experienced" what, Doc? "Technical difficulties?"
Dr. Theo: Well, yes. A satellite, which was not even supposed to be anywhere near here, interrupted the feed.
Michael: Good try, but in my book: you blew it, Doc. And I saved the day. Didn't I?
Dr. Theo: (walking away, calls over his shoulder) Mr. Wiseman?
Michael: (calling back) Yeah?
Dr. Theo: (calling out) You hit the panic button. Several times. Didn't you?
Roger: Ouch! Pain. The pain!
Heather: (ignoring Uncle Roger) Well, it was a seriously wicked night, huh Mom?
Roger: I'm in pain here.
Lisa: (also ignoring Roger) You could say that again.
Heather: You kicked the school janitor and then went around telling all my teachers - and my principal - your dating problems.
Lisa: And you forgot to even tell me about tonight, blamed me for forgetting and then left the lights on in the car.
Heather: And Uncle Roger is clutching his shoulder and his shins and his rear at the same time and groaning.
Lisa: What a night!
Heather: (looking up) Hey Mom, look! (pointing up) The full moon's got a ring around it. Doesn't it look neat? (walks into the house)
Lisa: (dazed, looking up) Full moon ?
(Fade to black)
Comments to: email@example.com