MOTHER MOTHER OCEAN
A Play By Dawn Riddle
Music by Actual Pearls
Actors: Meghan Filoromo, Patrick Costello, Jenna Pup, Yianni Kourmadas, Andrew Keller, Candy Johnson, Emily Royer, Meghan Dinneen
Sets by everyone above and Taryn Jones
Rachel and Dennis sit on the couch in their small apartment. A TV plays in the background. They are eating Doritos.
Rachel: Dennis, baby I’m feeling down.
Dennis: Honey, what’s wrong?
Rachel: I just feel worn out. I feel like all I do is work and then come home, I’m exhausted and just sit on my ass on this couch with you. Remember when we first got together? You were all romantic, taking me down to the shore to get ice cream, then we’d make love in the back of your car?
Dennis: Oh yeah, I remember
Rachel: Well, I just feel like we’re in a rut, babe. And I don’t know what to do about it.
They sit and ponder this truth. Dennis shrugs, puts his head on Rachel’s shoulder.
Dennis: Rachel, babe, I know you’re right, but I also know I still love you
Rachel (yawns): I know honey....I know
They fall asleep on the couch, the TV goes to static. Light implies the passage of the night to the break of day...
Dennis jumps up suddenly
Dennis: Rachel, wake up sweetie
Rachel: Huh? What time is it?
Dennis: It’s time for us to put a little romance back in our relationship. Call the shop and tell them you’re not coming in today. Girl, I’m taking you down to the shore!
Rachel and Dennis pull up to the beach. The scene is far from a California palm-lined shore. Instead, this Rhode Island seashore is barren and mostly deserted. The small sandy cove is windswept and uninviting. A sign reading DANGER jutts prominently out of the waves in front of them. There is a small pier on one side of the beach, and a few fishermen have assembled there to cast their lines. While walking towards the surf, Dennis trips over a rock.
Rachel: Ah baby, this makes me feel like a teenager. Thank you.
The couple shares a brief kiss and embrace, but Dennis flinches and disengages.
Dennis: Damn, babe, I really hurt my leg back there. How’s it look?
Rachel looks at Dennis’ leg, which we now see is covered with blood
Rachel: Oh my god! You’re bleeding like crazy! Honey, get in the water and wash that off. Salt water kills germs. Better hurry before it gets infected.
Dennis hurries into the water and starts rinsing off his injury, wincing and cursing with each handful of water
Dennis: Damn it all, I ruined our perfect day!
Rachel: No you didn’t, dummy. This was still very sweet. And look (she points to the wound): it stopped bleeding. Now stop whining, grab your gear, and go see if the fish are biting today! I’m going to take a quick dip and then I’ll come find you on the pier.
Dennis: Ok honey
As he starts to walk off, Rachel slaps him on the ass. When he turns around she claws the air and makes sexy cat sounds. Dennis responds with other sexy animal sounds and they briefly share a look that shows years of love, lust, and understanding have passed between them. Then Dennis heads towards the pier.
Rachel strips down to a bathing suit and slathers tanning oil all over herself. She walks up to the water and wades in slowly, wincing in surprise at how cold the water is. As she adjusts to the temperature we see her relax. Throwing caution to the wind she dives under and we see her swimming right past the DANGER sign without a care in the world.
We now see Rachel listlessly floating in the open water, enjoying her first relaxing day at the beach in longer than she can remember. She floats on her back and does a casual backstroke, pausing only to happily wave at Dennis on the pier. He waves back. However, this peaceful respite does not last long for our protagonists. A sudden ripple in the water catches both our gaze and Rachel’s. She frantically looks for the cause of the disturbance, but can see nothing in the murky waters. A splash from behind her causes her to turn just in time to see a large fin appear and subsequently submerge. Her panic is evident as she continues to scan the surface for the beast that is certainly quite near. All of a sudden, in a splash of frothy water, the most hideous of faces appears. The head is the shape and size of a basketball. Teeth protrude from a large mouth surrounded by barnacles and scales. But it is the eyes that truly send horror into Rachel’s heart. The eyes are that of a man, but a man who has no soul or conscience. Rachel stares into these eyes, and though all hope seems to be lost, calls out Dennis’ name. As luck would have it, her voice startles the creature and it sinks into the deep once again.
Dennis, hearing the urgency and terror in his wife’s voice, immediately dives into the water. He reaches Rachel just as the creature reappears. Its body is long and covered in white scales. It slinks through the water like an eel, but with the agility of a seal. It circles the couple, bumping into them. With each contact they both let out screams of disgust. In a last ditch effort to save the love of his life, Dennis grabs Rachel by the ass (rear end) and propels her towards the shore.
Dennis: Swim babe! Swim as fast as you can! Don’t even look back!
As Rachel paddles towards the shore, Dennis faces the creature. Their eyes lock for a moment and the creature starts to hiss and spit water at him. Dennis retaliates and splashes water back in its face. The creature is caught off guard, and in the moment of confusion that follows, Dennis swims frantically towards the sand. He pulls himself onto the safe, dry land and Rachel runs to his side. The creature is nowhere to be seen. The couple hold each other and sob silently.
The first place they head to is the local police station. Rachel describes her near death experience to the chief of police who listens intently, his face showing serious concern.
Chief: How long would you say it was again?
Rachel: I don’t know...around 15 fee-
Dennis: At LEAST 15 feet. Maybe 20 (He gestures to show at his arm span can not even come close to showing the size of the beast)
Chief: Alright ma’am, sir, thank you very much for bringing this to my attention. I’m going to make a few calls, try to find a couple of experts who can identify the thing. You two still seem, understandably, shaken up. I’ll have Officer Martin drive you home.
Rachel and Dennis join hands and leave with the officer.
Rachel and Dennis sit silently at the kitchen table. They are startled by the phone ringing on the wall behind them. Dennis rises to answer it.
Dennis: Yes...yes this is him. Be on the news? Well I don’t know, she’s still really shook up...well...hmmmm...that makes sense. Okay we’ll be down there at 3:00.
Rachel: Who was that? Where are we going at 3:00?
Dennis: Now baby, stay calm...we have to go back to the shore for a news story...about the creature.
Dennis: Listen Hon, we have to let the world know what happened. No matter how scared we are, that creature is still out there. Who knows who it’ll attack next? We have to warn the people baby.
Rachel says nothing, but gives Dennis a curt nod and look full of understanding and dread.
Cameras roll down at the newsroom.
Newswoman: This has been a summer of frightening animals in Rhode Island. A piranha in Coventry, and alligator in Lincoln...and now an unknown “scary creature” in Portsmouth. Whatever it was, it was so big and so scary, a Fall River couple thought they were going to die. Sean Daly joins us now with their amazing ordeal.
Sean: We haven’t heard anything like this around here before. Imagine swimming, mindlessly, in the late afternoon sun, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere a huge, horrifying creature, roughly 15 feet long, rocks your world.
Cameras cut to the beach. They first show the DANGER sign in the water, then show a close-up of Dennis holding Rachel, who is crying softly into his chest
Sean: It’s too hard for her isn’t it
Dennis: It is. We went to a counselor...to talk to a counselor this morning, you know...so...
Rachel steps away from Dennis. She dries her eyes and faces Sean Daly.
Rachel: It’s okay. I’m ready.
Cameras pan over to her.
Rachel: I turned around and I heard a hissing. A hissing sound. So I stopped, looked beside me and all I see is a face come up, with these...big...teeth. And I just remember the face being like shaped like a basketball...and the face went in, and then went like sucked in, and then was like squared off. (She indicates with her hands the shape and size of the head). Then it had all white and it just kept swimming around me. It rubbed up against my leg, so I just stopped and I pretended that I wasn’t moving. That’s when it rubbed up, went down, kept going around me.
Sean: It rubbed up against your legs?
Rachel: Up against my leg
Sean: It touched you?
Rachel: It touched me. That’s how I know it was scaled. Because I felt the scales, plus I’d seen the face. So I started swimming away. I yelled, ‘Dennis, honey help me! Something’s chasing me!’
Sean: Rachel Carney’s fiance, Dennis Vasconsellos, had been fishing on the pier. He raced into the water.
Dennis: It’s gonna get her. But I grabbed her by the ass...uh, rear end, and I whipped her in. I says, ‘Rachel, don’t turn around no matter what you hear. Now I stood there and the thing’s going around me now and stuff, right? And I can see how big it is and it’s GIGANTIC, okay, it has scales and stuff. Now all of a sudden, from me to you away (he indicates the distance between himself and Sean Daly) this big head comes up. Honest to God I’ve never seen anything like this before, it’s like a basketball, it’s like THIS big. It comes up and it’s got these fangs, right, like my fingers, (he mimics the fangs with his hands). It’s got this many at the bottom and like 2 or 3 at the top, and it’s got like layers inside, okay? And it’s blackish on the top and it’s got a couple of scales that you can see, and you can see the white starting under its neck. And it shoots water out of its nose and out of its mouth it goes like this to me, “hhhheeeeehhhh”. And it spit the water out at me. Now I think it’s gonna kill me, you know what I mean?
The camera cuts to a shot of Sean Daly walking up the beach.
Sean: The couple thinks the animal was attracted to blood from a nasty injury on Dennis’ leg. Dennis was out in the water as he is here (Dennis goes out into the shallow waves and mimics how he had cleaned the wound) cleaning his leg. Dennis, how much blood was there?
Dennis: I bled a lot. There sure was a lot of blood.
The camera cuts back to Rachel
Rachel: I will never go in salt water again. Cause I’m that scared. I thought I was dead that day. Honestly, I thought he was going to get me. I thought I was dead. I thought I was a goner.
Dennis: At first I thought it was an eel, because when it was rolling around us it looked like an eel, and you could see the white on it. But when it got to chasing her it went like this (he uses his arm to show how the creature swam), like a hump almost. Like...uh...a barracuda, like that.
Sean: And you’re still in the moment, right now, 2 days later
Dennis: I am still in it. I am flipped over this. I’ve been going to bed with things grabbing me, wrapping around my neck, choking, fighting underground and everything.
Sean: Thank you Dennis, Rachel, for sharing your truly terrifying story with us here at News Channel 8.
Dennis and Rachel sit on the couch, watching the end of their news story.
The camera cuts back to Sean Daly in the newsroom
Sean: This just in: The President has announced an yellow alert while we search for the creature that almost claimed the lives of the two Rhode Island residents. If you have ANY information about this deadly beast, please call the number on the screen.
The number flashes across the screen. Then they cut to a shot of the beach, now swarming with police officers, coast guards, camera crews, and search boats
Rachel: What do you think they’ll do if they find it?
Dennis: Probably kill it
Rachel and Dennis are asleep in their bed. They are awoken by the phone
Dennis: Who the hell is calling at 2 in the freaking morning?
He stumbles out of bed and answers the call
His expression goes from annoyed to excited
Dennis: Yes...okay, we’ll be right down
Rachel: What it is?
Dennis: Honey, they found it. They found that awful creature!
Rachel: Oh my god
Dennis: But babe, they need us to come down to identify it. They have it cornered in a small inlet, but they want to make sure that it’s the creature that attacked you before they take any serious action
Rachel: Denny, I don’t want to go back there. I can’t.
Dennis: You have to. Otherwise they can’t do anything. What if they were to let it go and it attacked someone else! Do it for the next person who decides to swim out there, honey.
Rachel closes her eyes and shakes her head. Then she takes a deep breath, signs, and opens her eyes.
Rachel: Okay. I’ll do it.
Rachel and Dennis are greeted at the beach by a group of law enforcement officials, 2 marine biologists, an old army general, members of the press, and an old salty sailor. The sailor glares at all around him, but says nothing. They recognize Officer Martin, the cop who drove them home the day of the incident.
Officer Martin: Hello again. I’m sorry we have to meet again under these trying circumstances, but after tonight this nightmare will finally be over.
Rachel: I hope it will be.
Officer Martin: Come this way, the coast guard has been kind enough to loan us one of their Cutter vessels
Everyone assembled boards the boat. The old sailor navigates them through the surf and around the cove until they come to other police boats, lights ablaze, blocking the way through the cove’s narrow inlet to the open ocean. Nets have been placed in the water, so that the creature cannot swim to safety deep below the boats. Searchlights shine on the water’s surface, but there’s no sign of the animal except for the occasional ripple. The marine biologists begin changing into diving gear.
Rachel and Dennis watch the search from the side of the ship.
The divers get ready to submerge when the old sailor speaks up:
Sailor: Arrr, this is a fool’s errand. This creature is smart, see? It won’t let you trap it like a simple fish on your line. I’ve been out on the sea many a year and the sea, she don’t take kindly to strangers in her water. She protects her own!
His speech is interrupted by a huge impact against the side of the ship. Rachel, standing at the railing, is knocked into the water. She lets out a chilling scream as she plummets into the depths.
Dennis must be restrained to prevent him from diving in after her. The officers unharness weapons and the old sailor runs off camera.
Rachel sinks down into the sea. She opens her eyes. The glare from the searchlights illuminates the water around her. In front of her, her worst fears are realized. The creature looms into view, huge and wild and commanding. Again it opens its huge, fanged mouth. This time however, it speaks a language that Rachel can understand. It isn’t English, it’s more like music, like the tinkling of a million tiny bells, but Rachel understands it perfectly.
Creature: I am so sorry to have scared you before. I meant no harm. I only approached you because you and Dennis represent something rare in the human world: True Love. Here in the sea we’re not strangers to such things, but rarely do I feel it so close to the shore. I was drawn to your pure hearts as I would be drawn towards an old friend. I only wished to swim beside you, to bask in that love just as you basked in the warm sun. I had no intention of startling you. I am truly sorry.
Rachel does not respond, but slowly she reaches out her hand to caress the white scales on the creature’s neck. They are both still underwater, but Rachel feels completely safe, with no fear of drowning or any attack from this beautiful animal. The scales are cool to the touch, and as smooth as silk. The animal and Rachel circle each other, the animal’s fins and scales lightly brushing against Rachel’s arms and legs. However, this perfect moment does not last. Suddenly the feeling of safety, of wordless communion, is broken. The creature’s eyes search Rachel’s for an answer as red liquid pools around them. It is only then that Rachel sees the harpoon protruding from the creature’s back.
Rachel feels as though she’s being shaken awake from the most wonderful dream. A dream that feels so perfectly right that even once you are fully awake and aware that it is just a dream, you still wish you could return to it, to fall asleep a little longer, because you cannot recreate that feeling in your waking life.
Rough hands grab Rachel’s arms as she screams, saltwater filling her lungs. She sputters as she is pulled back into the air, up a ladder, back onto the boat’s deck. To her side the creature is hauled aboard as well, wrapped in a fishing net. Rachel struggles to stand. Dennis steadies her as she makes her way towards the creature, which is now barely breathing in the net, blood puddling around it.
Everyone turns towards the sailor. He drops the harpoon gun onto the deck and storms away. No one says a word.
Rachel falls to her knees and frees the creature’s face from the netting. Their eyes meet. It opens its mouth slightly, the officers raise and aim their weapons, but Rachel signals them to stand down. The creature emits a soft sweet melody, much like the song of a mourning dove. All are stunned to silence by the tragic beauty of the tune.
And then the creature is gone. Rachel lies down next to its lifeless body and weeps. Everyone else is too shocked to do a thing.
Dennis sits on the couch alone. He flips through the channels on the TV, but doesn’t stay on any program long. He gets up, paces the room, sits down again.
He jumps as we hear the door open, and he quickly gets to his feet. Rachel enters, looking tired, but content.
Dennis: Rach, baby, I was so worried. Where have you been?
Rachel: I’m sorry Honey. I needed some time to think. I think I’m ready to tell you what happened in the water that night.
Their conversation is muted, but we watch Dennis’ face go from shock to sorrow to understanding. When she’s through they embrace.
Dennis: That is the saddest story I have ever heard
Rachel: Even tragic stories can have happy endings
She pauses, looks Dennis in the eyes
Rachel: Honey, I’m pregnant!
Fade to black.