Carv's Thinky Blog I'm an author with a focus on satirical sci-fi and agnostic commentary.

Stardust

[LIGHTS UP, but dim: The night sky.
LARRY, 57, sits in a lawn chair and
gazes up at the stars. He seems
preoccupied. CRICKETS chirp. After a
long beat, ENTER AMELIA, 28.
]

AMELIA
There's my favorite astronomy buff. What a beautiful night.

LARRY
Yeah, it's one in a billion. I'm glad you two could make it.

AMELIA
(sigh)
Sorry, daddy, it's just me.

LARRY
Just you? Again? You gotta be kidding. Where is he this
time?

AMELIA
Oh, here we go.

LARRY
"Here we go," nothin'. Why can't that husband of yours ever--

AMELIA
Daddy, I've been out of the car for two minutes and already
you gotta start in on--

LARRY
I'm not starting in on anyone, Amelia. I just want to know
why I never see you and Jeffrey together. I'm beginning to
think your marriage is a hoax.

AMELIA
(annoyed but laughing)
Daddy! It's because we trust each other, that's all. He has
his friends and family, and I have my friends and family,
okay? It's nothing against you or me.

LARRY
He should be here.

AMELIA
Let it go, okay? Please? For me?

LARRY
(after a long beat)
Fine. I just...It was really important to me.

AMELIA
He's important to me, too, daddy. There's nothing going on
that you need to worry about.

LARRY
Of course not. I know. I just--

AMELIA
I appreciate you trying to take care of me, daddy. It's
exactly what Mom would have done.

LARRY
She was a marvelous woman.

AMELIA
An angel.

[It's been two years since she died,
but the loss is still painful.
]

AMELIA
Well. I can't remember the last time you and I had a chance
to sit and look at the stars together.

LARRY
It's about time.

AMELIA
Yep.

[She grabs a chair to sit beside him.

A beat passes.]

AMELIA (CONT'D)
That is so amazing. The radio was going crazy about it on
the way over. It's a supernova. A big star blew up.

LARRY
It burnt up all its fuel, and now it's...dying.

AMELIA
So why does it get so much brighter if it's run out of gas?

LARRY
Good question. The core isn't hot enough to hold it up
against its own gravity anymore, so it all falls in on
itself, which ignites one last explosion.

AMELIA
And now this one star outshines the whole rest of the sky.

LARRY
The explosion does.

AMELIA
It's brighter than the moon.

LARRY
In one second, that supernova will radiate as much energy as
the sun emitted in its entire lifetime.

AMELIA
Well, somebody's got his teacher hat on!

[Larry almost blushes.]

LARRY
You're the teacher in this family, not me.

AMELIA
Yeah, but I got my smarts from you.

LARRY
Your mother was very smart.

AMELIA
(she knows better)
Daddy.

[He gives up and laughs.]

LARRY
Okay, so she wasn't gonna win any prizes in quantum
mechanics.

AMELIA
She got stumped by the TV Guide crossword.

LARRY
Every week. But that doesn't mean she wasn't--

AMELIA
A saint. I know, daddy.

LARRY
She was brilliant at raising you.

AMELIA
And loving you.

LARRY
That she was.

AMELIA
(indicating the sky)
This is your area of expertise. Tell me some more.

[Her good cheer is infectious, and it
finally lightens his mood.
]

LARRY
Did I ever tell you about my work on Voyager 2?

AMELIA
Not so much.

LARRY
Among other fun projects, I was the guy who attached the LP.

AMELIA
What LP?

LARRY
(rolling his eyes)
You know, LP, long-playing record. The vinyl thing with--

AMELIA
(laughing)
I know what an LP is, I meant "Which LP?"

LARRY
The one with the music and ocean noises and all that.

AMELIA
Oh, right, right, in case the probe ever ran into E.T.

LARRY
An introduction to planet Earth...I never told anyone this--
not even Laurie--but before I attached that LP, I etched your
names on the probe right behind it.

AMELIA
(stunned for a long beat)
You're joking.

LARRY
Nope, "Laurie and Amelia Hayden," right there on Voyager 2.
(embarrassed)
I even drew a little heart next to 'em.

AMELIA
Aww!

LARRY
Shush. They're protected by the album, so I imagine they're
as clear as the day I put 'em on there.

AMELIA
Me and mom on the...Daddy, I don't know what to say. That
is so sweet.

LARRY
You had just turned two the week before. You were the most
beautiful little birthday girl in the world.

AMELIA
(glib)
Oh, Daddy, I love you.

LARRY
(deadly serious)
I love you, too, honey.

[Beat.]

AMELIA
See, this is the side you never let Jeffrey see.

LARRY
And I never will.

AMELIA
(amused)
Grrrr. What am I gonna do with you?

LARRY
Let's not talk about him. Life's too short...That explosion
up there...It used to be a star called Beta Geminorum, or
Pollux.

AMELIA
Yeah, they said on the radio it was the head of one of the
Gemini twins.

LARRY
Right, an orange giant, about thirty-five light-years away,
the closest giant star.

AMELIA
It's a shame, isn't it? The sky needs all the stars it can
get.

LARRY
It sure does. One more story.

AMELIA
Okay, and then I have a story for you.

LARRY
Terrific. I'm enjoying this.

AMELIA
(smiling)
Me, too!

LARRY
This is good?

AMELIA
Yeah.

[LARRY takes a beat to look up at the
sky and again seems preoccupied.
]

LARRY
Back in 1977, a radio technician at Big Ear, found--

AMELIA
Whoa, did you say "Big Ear?"

LARRY
It's a radio telescope in Ohio. A big radio, basically, to
listen to noises from the sky.

AMELIA
They probably sat around a table for hours trying to think of
the name "Big Ear."

LARRY
I don't doubt that. Anyway, 1977. The astronomer found a
powerful spike from a star in Sagittarius.

AMELIA
Okay. Like in Contact?

LARRY
It looked coherent.

AMELIA
Meaning rational?

LARRY
Meaning artificial. It lasted for thirty-seven seconds, then
vanished forever.

AMELIA
And it looked like...an alien signal?

LARRY
Hard to say, since we don't know exactly what an alien signal
might look like. But the guy was so convinced it was
important that he wrote the word "wow" on the margin of the
recording tape, and ever since then, astronomers have called
it the "Wow Event."

AMELIA
Did anyone ever figure out what caused it?

LARRY
No, and it never repeated.

AMELIA
Really!

LARRY
A signal as intense as every FM radio on Earth ganged up and
beamed out into space, and then it disappeared like that, in
the blink of an eye.

AMELIA
So what do you think happened?

LARRY
I don't know. Maybe nothing. Maybe something.

AMELIA
Such as?

LARRY
Some catastrophe, maybe. A cry for help, or the last words
of a doomed civilization. One final epitaph in radio waves.

AMELIA
(after a beat)
Geez, you're all about the happy thoughts tonight.

LARRY
You don't think Jeffrey'll come by later?

AMELIA
No, why?

LARRY
He should come by more often. Let me know he's alive.

AMELIA
I'll be sure to tell him.

LARRY
It does me good to see you two happy together. He does make
you happy, doesn't he?

AMELIA
Yes, of course.

[Beat.]

LARRY
Supernovae, see...they tend to cause chain reactions.

AMELIA
Why do you keep asking me about--What kind of chain reaction?

LARRY
One star dies, it takes neighboring stars out with it.

[Beat.]

AMELIA
Neighboring stars.

LARRY
Pollux blew up about thirty-five years ago, and now the light
from that explosion has finally reached the earth.

AMELIA
Okay.

LARRY
Then a giant shock wave'll race in behind it.

AMELIA
And what'll that do?

LARRY
Wreak havoc in the upper atmosphere. Northern lights like
you wouldn't believe. Maybe...I don't know...disrupt the
solar corona.

AMELIA
Which means what, exactly?

LARRY
Ripples in the sun.

AMELIA
That could happen?

LARRY
I don't think so...Probably not. I think we're too far away.
I wouldn't worry--

[The light on stage BRIGHTENS
considerably.
]

AMELIA
Daddy, the moon just got brighter.

LARRY
I love you, Amelia.
(embracing her)
I'm sorry I never told you how proud of you I am.

AMELIA
Is this what I think it is?

LARRY
I really wanted to see Jeffrey again.

AMELIA
I need to call him--Daddy, what does this mean?

LARRY
The moon gets brighter because it's reflecting what's
happening to the sun on the other side of the earth--

AMELIA
No. Tell me what this means for us.

[But of course she understands
perfectly.
]

LARRY
(finally)
It's falling apart.

AMELIA
Daddy, Jeffrey and I are gonna have a baby.

LARRY
(sucker-punched)
A baby.

AMELIA
Jeffrey wanted to name it after you.

[Beat.]

LARRY
(whispering)
Your mother, she...Ah, she would've been over the moon.

AMELIA
How much time?

LARRY
I don't know.

[THUNDER sounds in the distance.]

AMELIA
I have to go call Jeffrey.

LARRY
Wait a second. Baby.

[They touch hands. He pulls her close,
and she nestles against his side like a
little girl.
]

LARRY
I just wanted to tell you...It'll still be out there
somewhere, Voyager 2, with your name still engraved on the
side.

AMELIA
You think it'll ever be found?

LARRY
If it is, I hope they listen to the music...We deserve one
last song.

[There comes a sudden RUSHING NOISE...

The lights FLARE up, stunningly bright,
and all at once, THE CRICKETS STOP
CHIRPING.
]

AMELIA
Wow.

[A long beat, darkening to silent

BLACKOUT.]

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