by Rhiya Pau
The second instalment of Rhiya’s short film script ‘Waiting for the Tube’, originally posted on her blog Brains, Belief and Revolution.
Click here for Part 1.
Waiting for the Tube – Part 2
Girl (huffs): You’re a sensitive one.
Man: Hardly, its all relative remember… why are you so angry anyway?
Girl ignores him and turns away to see a poster advertising an exhibition on ‘Life in the Universe’ at the Planetarium. Slight awkwardness as they both remember that they’ve only just met.
Man: Have you been to that?
Girl: Not my kind of thing.
Man (slightly sarcastic): The universe isn’t your kind of thing…?
Girl: No, exhibitions… exhibitions aren’t my kind of thing. (pause) Filling your head with other peoples thoughts. Nothing original can come of that.
Man: Coming from the girl who just quoted Nietsche.
Girl: You been?
Man: To the exhibition (pause) yeah… yeah, a few weeks back. You know, everyone goes on about how statistically there must be life on other planets but I just don’t get it, I mean how narrow-minded is it to define life solely by what we observe on Earth.
Girl (nonchalantly): Yeah, I mean for sure there are things out there, living on different material planes or something. (Gets a little carried away, almost superstitiously) We just can’t sense them or interact with them. But.. (waves hands) they’re out there.
For a second, Man pauses. Both realise that have swapped roles .
Man: Bit outlandish for the sceptic.
Girl: Absolutely not. In fact, it’s completely consistent. (Man looks at her questionably) I don’t trust my senses.
Man: So you don’t think we’ll ever have evidence of these ‘beings’?
Girl: Well we might have evidence but we might not consider it to be evidence. Even if we can detect them, what if they’ve been contacting us for so long that we take their signals to be our default, our zero? We might just not know that we know.
Man (finishing off what she has to say): -But realistically they’re all probably communicating with waves on the fringes of the electromagnetic spectrum (subtlely winks).
Man: You know any physics?
Girl scrunches her nose.
Man: Special relativity?
Girl scrunches her nose again.
Man: Einstein came up with this theory… (Girl listens bemused) he basically shows that the faster you travel, with the speed of light being the limit… the slower time goes. Which means that… if you’re travelling really fast, to someone who’s stationary, your actions happen much (pauses and racks his brain and the proceeds unconfidently) quicker.
Girl (bluntly): I know special relativity.
Man: Well then don’t you think that the planets of all these ‘beings’ would be travelling at different speeds? The likelihood is that either our entire civilisation is like a millisecond to them or that theirs is like that to us. I just don’t see how communication on that sort of scale could be distinguished from all that white noise.
Girl (realising that the two finally agree on something): Yeah exactly, I mean, can you imagine a civilisation four billion light years away looking down at Earth through some giant green telescope and saying: (puts on spontaneous American accent) ‘Hey man, check it out. That rock down there looks like it can support life. Maybe we can move there once we’ve destroyed our planet.’ just like-
Man (simultaneously): Us/ Girl: We do.
Man: The other life forms are American?
Girl: If it was good enough for Spielberg, it’s good enough for me.
Man: I’m just not sure these sentient beings billions of light years away would tell each other to (air quotes) ‘check it out’.
Girl (unamused): It’s early.
Gust of wind howls. Awkward pause. Man looks away.
Girl: Fuckin’ cold down here.
Man: It is.
Girl: Fuckin’ train.
Man looks at the time. 5.13 am.
Man: Only been 4 minutes.
Girl (sighs): Feels like at least 10.
Man (trying to keep the conversation going): Maybe time just froze for a bit. (Light-heartedly) Not to worry, happens to me all the time.
Girl (arrogantly): You do realise that if time froze we wouldn’t be able to act independent of it. We wouldn’t be able to think or speak or move; let alone experience a 10 minute conversation. Time could freeze for decades between each moment and we’d never know.
Man: Time freezing for decades? You definitely couldn’t quantify the duration of frozen time.
Girl (mocking): Semantics Neo.
Man: It’s not just semantics! Time is a necessary component for our definition of duration. Absent time, our conception of duration is defunct. It’s a logical inconsistency.
Girl (scoffing): So formal.
Pause. Girl turns back to look at the Planetarium poster. Ray of light shines onto it.
Girl: Don’t you think it’s incredible (as she makes shadow figures with her hands)… sunlight travels millions of miles to reach Earth and you are the first thing to stop it…? the only thing to come in its way?
Man: Aww, such romanticism. Stop or there won’t be a dry eye on the platform.
Girl: Oh please, at least I can appreciate these things for what they are… I don’t need a higher being to marvel at the world. I don’t put it all down to ‘Let there be light’.
Man: You really think you’ve got all the answers don’t you? Come on then smartie, for a gold star: explain creation. Without an infinite regress. What caused the Big Bang?…Go!
Girl: Who says there was causation before the Big Bang? I mean we know its not an intrinsic part of reality.
Girl: Quantum Mechanics?
Man (acknowledges with the shake of his head): You’re one of those are you?
Girl: There’s nothing healthier than denying quantum mechanics.
Girl: Look. Just humour me will you? I had this thought once: What if all matter was just one fundamental particle simultaneously manifesting itself in all material things? And then I thought, what if this entire universe as we know it is just a state of borrowed energy-
Man: What. The. Fuck?
Girl: You know… how quantum particles borrow energy from the future? Well what if the universe is just like quantum blip in something larger? Society could develop fully, invent time travel and then use a time machine to induce creation.
Man: You mean like, we’d create ourselves?
Girl: Why the hell not?
Man: Well for one, if we ever did invent time travel, then there’d be time tourists… Where are the time tourists?
Girl: Finally, a good question. Granted, time tourists should exist, but given the absolute vastness of space-time, the chance of seeing a time-traveller is next to nothing. I mean who’d want to experience 2014 when they could, just as easily, befriend the Pharaohs or help build Stonehenge?
Man: Nahh… If I were a time-traveller I’d definitely just hang about in the shadows to mindfuck myself at moments like these.
Girl rolls eyes.
Girl: Heaven forbid, multiple yous roaming about the universe.
Girl: Would you shut up already! I’m just trying to wait for the goddam train.
Speaker crackles and then blares: There are no Metropolitan line trains running from this platform. Please use the rail replacement bus service from the rear entrance of the station