1.12 Into The Mine
written by Eli Barraza
directed & produced by Mischa Stanton
[[SFX: Peri and Benny’s feet crunch on gravelly terrain.]]
BENNY: That Gina lady the other day. She had a point.
BENNY: It’s weird you’re only now looking for him. Didn’t you do something when he first vanished?
PERI: I didn’t know who to call. I tried the police but when an adult vanishes, there’s not much they can do about it. Especially in a small town like mine. Figured Ace had decided to take off to greener pastures, hopped on a boat and sailed away.
BENNY: How do you just hop on a boat?
PERI: He worked with the fishermen down at the docks. I can’t remember if he actually went out with them or what. He didn’t talk about it much. Did have to leave really early though and always came back smelling like the sea. And fishes. Dead fishes.
BENNY: I take it one day he just didn’t come home.
[[SFX: They continue walking uphill, breathing more heavily.]]
BENNY: I mean, why not take it online now? Log in at an internet cafe or something? You have to land in cities every once in awhile.
PERI: I don’t think that’s how this works.
BENNY: Alright, so you did flyers.
PERI: Actually those didn’t turn out too well. I could probably retry them again but..
BENNY: So no flyers. Broadcasting… what if you did something like what truckers do when there’s a missing kid or whatever.
PERI: Or like sea captains do to lighthouses.
BENNY: I mean… yeah. Basically. Get a HAM radio with a battery.
BENNY: There’s a ton of junk lying around inside, I’d, I’d lay odds we could find one.
PERI: Thanks for calling my family’s stuff junk.
BENNY: Sorry, I didn’t mean to…
[[SFX: They stop before the yawning mouth of a mine.]]
BENNY: That’s not right.
[[SFX: Peri kicks a rusted can.]]
PERI: Doesn’t look like anyone’s worked this mine in a while.
BENNY: Which means we probably shouldn’t go in either.
PERI: There’s no warning signs. It’s not roped off.
BENNY: This place looks like it predates warning signs.
PERI: Do you smell that?
BENNY: Rotting soil?
PERI: No, it-it smells like--
[[SFX: The door opens and Ace enters the lighthouse.]]
ACE: Hey, Peri! Got the dirt you requested.
[[SFX: He puts down his bags and Peri pounds down the stairs.]]
PERI: Did you get the latitude and longitu--
ACE: Longitude, elevation, that whole thing. If I’m gonna do your homework for you, I should at least get paid. Or have my name on your degree.
PERI: You’re just doing the legwork, I gotta do the hard stuff.
[[SFX: Ace takes out tupperware with dirt.]]
ACE: Yeah, because a Gen Ed science class is really the hard stuff.
PERI: If I’m gonna transfer the credits, I need to do well.
[[SFX: Ace mutters under his breath as Peri walks away.]]
ACE: That presumes you’re gonna transfer.
[[SFX: Peri walks towards the entrance to the mine.]]
PERI: Let’s go in.
BENNY: I really don’t think your brother is in there.
PERI: Follow your nose, you know?
BENNY: No, I don’t know, not really.
PERI: Alright. Stand here by yourself outside of a scary. Looking. Mine.
[[SFX: Peri continues into the mine.]]
BENNY: This isn’t gon… I-I’ll stand here...Alright, fine,I’m coming.
[[SFX: Benny follows Peri into the mine.]]
[[SFX: Click of a voicemail.]
RUTH: Hey! You’ve reached Ruth’s voicemail. I’m probably neck deep in calculus so feel free to leave a message after the beep and I will get back to you after finals.
[[SFX: Voicemail beep.]]
PERI: Hey! It’s me. I was working on some stuff for this Gen Ed science course but it’s the type of Gen Ed where the professor presumes everyone is super into it or is a science major which… hello, undeclared here. Anyway, it’d be great to hear your voice and get some help on it. I, um… I guess I just… you seem different lately and I know that’s totally paranoid. Like you said, it’s you and me against the world. But I think… sometimes you say those words but not in a way that sounds like we’re standing side by side. Like, we have to face the world alone, there’s this chasm between us. We’re both against it but not together. Gosh, this is stupid. I’m gonna delete this. I’d say forget I said anything but you won’t even know I said something in the first place.
[[SFX: The beep of deleting a message.]]
[[SFX: Peri clicks on her flashlight.]]
PERI: Now would be a good time for your flashlight.
[[SFX: Benny clicks on his own flashlight.]]
BENNY: Checking my watch, it reads 0830.
PERI: Plenty of time to explore.
BENNY: It looks like a straight chute, I’m not sure what there is to explore.
PERI: Won’t know unless we look.
[[SFX: Their footsteps softly echo in the mine shaft.]]
BENNY: How old do you think this place is?
PERI: You’re the surveyor, you tell me.
[[SFX: They continue walking, quiet for a moment.]]
BENNY: It’s funny, buddy of mine from way back is really into caving. Um. Natural tunnels and-and man made ones long forgotten by progress sort of thing. So there’s this mine, right. And, and by the entrance are all these super old cans. So he gets to wondering if they might be worth something, they’re so old. He takes one, tries to sell it, buyer finds out where he found the can.
PERI: Is somebody about to get exploited?
BENNY: Nah, the opposite. See, this other guy gets the local historical society involved. They lobby about preserving the place as a cultural heritage site. Mind you, no cared about this place before. It was forgotten for so long that it got old enough for people to care about it. So anyway, um the historical society is up in arms when, whaddaya know, the environmental group swoops in.
PERI: To help out?
BENNY: Nope. To clean the place up. They said that the cans were an environmental hazard and should be cleared to let the area be reclaimed by plants and animals.
PERI: So the historians and the tree huggers went to war. What happened to the site?
BENNY: No clue. That buddy of mine and I had a falling out so I never knew what happened.
[[SFX: They continue walking.]]
PERI: It’s like the Roman roads. People tossed out their garbage and we found them as artifacts.
BENNY: Imagine future people revering a candy wrapper you tossed out as a kid.
PERI: Really gunning for them to find my old issues of Gardenia Plex.
[[SFX: Benny stops in his tracks.]]
BENNY: DID YOU THROW THOSE OUT IN THE TRASH?
PERI: Oh gosh.
BENNY: Sorry, it’s just. I know people thought those comics were trash but I loved them.
PERI: Me too. I think it was my brother who threw them out. Or so he claimed.
BENNY: That’s a shame.
[[SFX: They continue on. Peri hums the song Clementine. Benny joins in singing.]]
BENNY: … lived a miner 49er and his daughter Clementine.
PERI: Light she was and like a fairy
BENNY: And her shoes were number nine.
PERI: Herring boxes without topses.
BENNY: Sandals were for Clementine.
PERI/ BENNY/ MOUNTAIN: Oh my darlin’ oh my darlin’ oh my darlin’ Clementine.
PERI/ MOUNTAIN: You are lost now gone forever.
MOUNTAIN: Dreadful sorry Clementine.
PERI: You have a deep voice, Benny.
BENNY: Peri, that wasn’t me.
MOUNTAIN: Led she ducklings to the water…
[[SFX: Their voices overlap with the singing over the Mountain]]
PERI: Where is it coming from?
MOUNTAIN: Every mornin’ just at nine.
BENNY: I can’t tell if it’s in front of us or behind us.
MOUNTAIN: Hit her foot against a splinter..
PERI: Or above us or below us.
MOUNTAIN: Fell into the foaming brine.
[[SFX: A slight pause.]]
MOUNTAIN: Oh my darlin’ oh my darlin’ oh my darlin’ Clementine. You are lost now gone forever, dreadful sorry clementine.
[[SFX: The Mountain falls silent. Peri claps.]]
BENNY: What the hell are you doing?
PERI: It was really nice singing? And I’m trying not to panic.
MOUNTAIN: That man was not a very kind man.
BENNY: I’m sorry who?
MOUNTAIN: The man who sings the song for Clementine.
PERI: It’s kind of mean, he makes fun of her and then says he won’t forget her but he does as soon as he kisses her sister. It made fun of love ballads of the time.
MOUNTAIN: Did you know the man?
PERI: Oh? Are you speaking to me? Uh, no, I didn’t know the man, I… read about him?
BENNY: Who are you? Where are you?
MOUNTAIN: They took my innards and scarred my skin and all they gave me in return were songs of sin.
PERI: That’s a nice rhyme.
MOUNTAIN: Thank you. When all you remember of yourself are songs, things come out in verse on occasion.
BENNY: Peri, let’s go. I don’t think your brother is here.
MOUNTAIN: Did you lose someone?
PERI: Um, y-yes. Yes I-I did.
MOUNTAIN: Why are they gone?
PERI: I-I don’t know.
MOUNTAIN: Did you pick your own heart over theirs? Did you take care of your own veins only to neglect his pain?
PERI: That’s not what happened.
MOUNTAIN: They came and they picked at my skin but I had no blood for a scab so they took my insides, they took my heart and they sang songs so many songs and sometimes the weight of my hollowing would crush their songs until their soundwaves ceased. The quiet filled my innards, where once was stone, still air resided. Then the footsteps came and the voices and then the melodic sound waves of thieves filled my insides again. Are you thieves?
PERI: I don’t think so.
BENNY: W-we were just leaving.
PERI: What are you?
BENNY: Peri, I know you’re feeling this follow your nose thing but my nose smells trouble. We gotta go.
MOUNTAIN: I was raised by turbulent tides and shaped by the turning of time.
PERI: Benny, I think we’re talking to the Mountain.
BENNY: Then say bye to the Mountain, Peri. I don’t know you well enough to die by your side just yet.
PERI: We’re sorry we brought those sound waves to you.
MOUNTAIN: It is not usual for thieves to apologize.
BENNY: We’re not thieves, we’re lost, just, just looking for someone else who got lost.
MOUNTAIN: You are the only heartbeats within my gullet. Not even the mice and the bats reside here.
BENNY: We’re totally not planning on residing here, so we’ll just be on our way now (to Peri) Dude, we gotta hit the road, this doesn’t read right.
MOUNTAIN: I had forgotten how hollow I was. How hollow I am. How hollow I will be. If I tumble into myself, if I change my own face, will I remain? Or will something new arise? I forgot how weary I am. I forgot how tiring it is to reach my peaks up to the heavens to watch the moon rise and the stars wink out. Shall I wait for the water to carve me anew or shall I take it upon myself to be reborn?
BENNY: Ask us when we’re outside?
PERI: I think you might be right about leaving.
[[SFX: A rumble from deep within the mountain. Peri and Benny take off for the exit. The rumbling, crackling, collapsing follows them.]]
MOUNTAIN: In my dreams she still upon me/ Broken garments soaked in brine/ Though in life I used to hug her/ In death I draw the line.
[[SFX: They burst out of the mine as the rocks clash together and settle. They both stand coughing and panting.]]
BENNY: I thought… I thought he said he’d change... his face. But you can’t tell anything happened out here.
PERI: Except the dust in the air.
[[SFX: The forest, the mountain, quiet.]]
PERI: Stupid Mountain! Stupid, stupid, stupid. What am I supposed to do, huh? Follow my instincts, follow my nose, the nose knows, I don’t know anything. I don’t get it! I don’t. Get it.
BENNY: Is this how all outings are gonna be?
BENNY: Look, sorry for the candor but at the past few places, you’ve gotten really frustrated. . So like I said, is this what it’s gonna be like?
PERI: I… I’m sorry. I get frustrated.
BENNY: You're gonna get burnt out before we find anything. I’m gonna get burnt out before we find anything.
PERI: I hadn’t thought about it that way. I’ll work on it.
BENNY: Lookin’ out for you, dude.
PERI: Thanks… dude.
BENNY: Let’s go see if we can maybe find that radio. Or maybe... a copy of Gardenia Plex?
[[SFX: Their conversation fades out.]]
PERI: Only if you promise to be very careful and not read while eating.
BENNY: What? I would never. The sanctity of literature.
PERI: You left a coffee stain on my copy of Great Expectations. I don’t know where or how you got the coffee but you did.
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 James Bachelor as The Mountain. Music by The Album Leaf. “Oh My Darling Clementine” used from the public domain.
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.