3 Short Dialogues
Writing audition for a game developer (2017). The requirements were to create 100-250 lines of text messaging between two people, with one conversation for each of three storytelling genres.
Title: The Stolen Child
Hook: The fairy folk are still snatching children -- but now they've gone hi-tech.
End: If the child agrees to the fairy's offer, leaving her phone on the ground will seal the deal.
Summary: Faye is a dreamy child who starts texting with a fairy. By way of a found or stolen phone, a fairy called Nyx warns Faye about the dangers of growing up and tempts her with the wonders of life as a nature spirit. The final step of the agreement is putting down the phone to sever her connection with the human world. Faye goes for it... we think.
"Who is this?"
"What friend? I don't know this number."
"I'm Nyx. And I found this phone."
"What kind of name is Nyx?"
"It means sprite in German."
"Cool! My name means fairy in French."
"Where'd you find the phone?"
"On the ground. Under some mushrooms."
"Sounds like a fairy place."
"I know. That's what I was doing there."
"Wait, you were under some mushrooms?"
"Still am. It's nice here. Come check it out."
"I'm too big to get under mushrooms. Wish I could, though."
"It's not hard. I can help."
"So you're like really tiny?"
"Not exactly. Size isn't super important for us."
"Ha ha. OK, who are you really?"
"I told you. I'm Nyx and I'm a fairy."
"Uh-huh. And you're calling me because?"
"You're Faye, and you want to be a fairy."
"How do you know that?"
"I just know. Just like I found the phone and knew to call you. I just know."
"You're not like a Disney fairy, are you? Like Tinkerbell?"
"Good, cause that kind of fairy is so lame."
"What kind would you be? If somebody let you be one?"
"A nature spirit, I guess."
"What would that look like?"
"Curing sick plants. Helping animals who get hurt."
"Not doing stupid stuff like school and chores and piano lessons."
"So no people stuff, right?"
"Well, no grownup stuff."
"You mean like making plants sick and hurting animals?"
"I guess. And also dating guys and getting married and going to a job."
"That doesn't sound like fun."
"It's not. I don't think Mom and Dad have fun."
"We don't do any of that stuff you talked about."
"You said we. How many are you?"
"I don't know. A lot."
"Do you have houses and towns?"
"No, we live any place we want. Sometimes we do stuff together."
"We fix sick or broken things by singing or dancing."
"How does that even work?"
"Come with me and I'll show you."
"OK, this is like stranger danger. I don't even know you. I'm not going anywhere."
"Danger? With us? Faye, it's more dangerous where you are."
"You're crazy. I'm in my back yard. There's a big fence."
"Listen, who hurts the animals and plants?"
"Children or grownups?"
"Bobby Sanchez tortures frogs. Justin Krieger sets trees on fire."
"NO! Can you stop them?"
"I kicked Bobby one time."
"What about the trees?"
"The sheriff talked to Justin's dad, but I don't know if it worked."
"OK, but what about animals going extinct and forests being poisoned?"
"Grownups do that, I guess."
"Cause they're greedy. Or they don't care."
"Can they sing and dance to fix sick and broken things?"
"I don't think so. Dad says it's all science and politics."
"It doesn't sound fun. Actually, it sounds like grownups not having fun."
"So how am I in danger?"
"You'll grow up."
"Growing up is dangerous? I know it's boring."
"You said grownups are greedy, don't care, and don't have fun."
"Yeah, but how is that dangerous?"
"You won't be Faye any more. You won't think about fairies."
"You're crazy. I always will."
"You'll marry Bobby or Justin or someone."
"You'll go to a job. You'll have your own little girl and you won't understand her."
"You'll wait for science and politics when nature gets hurt."
"Stop! You're making me sad!"
"If you were a fairy, we could fix things with songs and dances."
"Is that hard?"
"It's work, but it's fun. And beautiful."
"And if I went with you, could I come back?"
"You won't want to go back to school and chores and your big fence."
"How do you know?"
"The air and water are sweet. The light's better. The animals love us."
"Even snakes and spiders?"
"Yes! Snakes are fun to ride on. Spiders make ropes for us."
"What would I eat? What would I wear?"
"Nature is full of food. And clothing. Tastes great, looks good."
"Well, I'd miss Mom and Dad."
"You could visit them if you didn't forget."
"I'd never forget Mom and Dad!"
"Maybe you're right. So, are you coming?"
"If I came, how would I get there? Where are you?"
"Really close, actually. Walk to the fence. Left corner."
"OK, I'm there. Now what?"
"Bend down and look through that crack in the boards."
"It's dark. The sun isn't shining on anything back there."
"Look at the ground. Past that shiny-leafed bush."
"I see something white."
"Those are my mushrooms."
"Whoa! Is that you waving?"
"Your arm is so little! You really are a fairy! How do I get over there?"
"Come through the crack in the fence."
"Are you crazy? It's smaller than my hand!"
"You can do it. Just put down your phone."
"How's that supposed to help?"
"Trust me, Faye. Just put down the phone."
"And I'll shrink to fairy size?"
"I told you size isn't super important. Put down the phone and you'll see."
"You sure I can get through the fence?"
"YES! Put down the phone, Faye."
Genre: Science Fiction, Crime Drama
Title: Big Fail at Airlock 12C
Hook: In the future, we'll know everything... except for the true identity of our partner in crime.
End: Max botches the kidnapping because his hidden accomplice Coover is actually a cop who's set him up.
Summary: Max is a kidnapper waiting for a smuggler to arrive at the space station on a passenger flight. Coover is his concealed accomplice waiting to transport the unconscious smuggler to their boss. Or so it seems. After Max explains his trap to Coover, the smuggler destroys the tech and it turns out that a cop has been impersonating Coover. The whole operation was really a sting to nail Max.
"You in, Coover?"
"Affirmative. The security on these hatchways is a joke."
"Got the coffin ready?"
"It's more of a sarcophagus, but yeah."
"Whatever. Once I get paid, the pigeon's dead to me."
"You're all heart, Max."
"Excuse me, I'm a businessman. OK, the lander docked. Felt it through the hull."
"Where's this one out of?"
"Alhena 6, Moon 3. I told you. Are you snorting Grumium fish scales or what?"
"Sorry, bro, had something on my mind."
"Girl trouble again? Hold on. Airlock is cycling."
"I thought you said you were done with Geminid ships."
"Why would I say that?"
"Dual personalities, you said. Harder to fix on the data."
"Must've been drunk. Coover, that's superstition. We're just scanning implants."
"Yeah, just saying. So what do we have?"
"Nothing yet. Hatch light just went green. OK. Here we go."
"What's it smell like?"
"What do you mean, what's it smell like? Smells like recycled air is what."
"No, I mean does it smell like money?"
"Ah. Gotcha. Smelling bad lander snacks, night sweat, cheap body wash."
"Nothing Sagitarid? No whiff of the Kaus worlds?"
"Australis, Borealis, Media, I know 'em all. No, none of the expensive scents."
"So our boy or girl is traveling on the cheap. Or maybe they sent a mule."
"We'll find whoever it is. I got scanners triangulated on the sweet spot."
"What'd you do, Max? Draw an X on the floor with a 'step here' sign?"
"Ha ha. Mr. Comedian. I'm dying here."
"Seriously, bro. Talk me through it."
"OK. Floor's angled. There are some access plates that might be slippery."
"Nasukans built this station. Their feet work differently."
"Exactly. So the human retrofit includes a red carpet. Makes us feel special."
"And passengers walk right up the red carpet, yeah?"
"Always have. And our sweet spot is where the floor levels out."
"Assuming our pigeon is human."
"Coover, network intel says it's a human. What's wrong with you, bro?"
"Call it a security review. The Big Guy wants more spot checks, remember?"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."
"So we got our sweet spot. Where are the scanners?"
"Third seam out on the left bulkhead, five meters off the floor."
"OK, that's one."
"Micro drone hovering at the second ceiling vent in from the airlock hatch."
"And this sparkly little topaz stone set in my jacket lapel."
"Full coverage. Nice."
"Thanks, bro. I feel so validated. And here come the passengers."
"Who do we got?"
"Woman with two little kids. Here to meet daddy, I guess."
"Kids can be mules. Short and cute is better. How are your scanners angled?"
"The drone does sweeps. My lapel is mobile. No, they're all clean."
"Man on a mission. Canis Majoris diplomatic corps by his uniform."
"Those guys are usually mercenaries."
"Well, this one just gave me a look. Hey, I can lip-read Murzim cusswords, bro."
"Ha! What'd he call you, Max?"
"I've heard worse. Forget it, he's clean. I'll find him later and pay my respects."
"Aww. Weepy boy. Looks like he just got his first goodbye kiss from someone."
"Could be allergies. Maybe rejecting a bad implant?"
"No, he's got heartbreak written all over his face. Scanners show he's clean."
"And after him?"
"Ooh, somebody's in the money. Tall lady, expensive bad taste. Strut it, girl!"
"Not even close. She's wearing Thuban knockoffs. And I think she's got a slave."
"Now that's tacky. Who's the slave?"
"Skinny little thing in tight livery. Looks miserable, like a former fish scale addict."
"Scanned 'em yet?"
"They're clean. And next we have kind of a joke."
"Yeah? Who's the joke, Max?"
"Looks like a grandpa from one of the Yed worlds. Really bad Ophiuchan tat job."
"And that's funny?"
"Bro, he's staggering like his legs are made of rubber."
"Drunk? High? From a low-gee world?"
"Maybe all three, the way he's grinning."
"The flight stewards are supposed to take care of people like that."
"Yeah, hang on. One of them just grabbed his arm."
"Anybody we know?"
"Never saw her on this run before. But she's got grandpa under control."
"Red buzz cut, maybe about 30 standard years. 60, 61 kilos. Nobody I'd date."
"Thanks for that, Max. How do they scan?"
"Grandpa's flailing around, but wait, no worries, he's clean."
"Hold on, Coover. The scanners are going nuts on redhead. She's the one!"
"Yep. Wait a"
"Bro, you just cut out."
"Where the hell are you, Max? What's happening?"
"Max, I'm aborting the mission."
"Coover, you there?"
"Here for you, bro. What happened?"
"We were hacked. Redhead took out all three scanners."
"Energy weapon. Left bulkhead, ceiling drone, my jacket. She knew, bro!"
"She shot you with an energy weapon?"
"Hit me sideways. Burned the jewel out of my lapel. Like surgery."
"No. I'm lucky."
"So where are you now?"
"Supply closet, I think. Right next door to where you are."
"Thanks, Max. You make it easy."
"What do you mean?"
"First of all, I'm not Dag Coover. Special Agent Cirrus Markand at your service."
"Yes, me. We grabbed Mr. Coover two hours ago and he surrendered his codes."
"And you gave redhead my scanner intel?"
"Yes. Operative Rana Graffias."
"That's her name?"
"Yep. She disabled the scanners before you could switch them to taze."
"She could've killed me!"
"Not a chance. Our mission was to take Maxal Ogmas alive."
"You haven't taken me yet, Markand."
"No? Have you noticed that your supply closet is moving?"
"You're in a lifeboat, Max. Drifting free of the station."
"That's me, the bastard on the other side of this false wall. With the comfy coffin."
"You're putting me in the coffin?"
"It's more of a sarcophagus, but yeah."
Genre: Horror, Music, Comedy
Title: You Killed It, Dude
Hook: Grab your ax and tune up for the band audition from hell!
End: ... and now we know what happened to their last guitarist.
Summary: Fletch is freaked out after his audition for a metal band called The Offal. As he recounts to Mike, a fellow musician, they're a creepy bunch in a subterranean rehearsal room, and they want Fletch to pour his soul, seed, and future into his guitar part. He sees them morph into bloodstained animals as they play, and what he thought was a piece of wall art turns out to be the dismembered remains of the last guitarist still trying to play along. Fletch's amp explodes and he flees the dungeon with growling and snarling behind him.
"Yo, Mike. You still auditioning?"
"Yeah. Got another one in about two hours."
"Please tell me it's not for The Offal."
"Not sure which band. Why?"
"Dude, for the love of God, you do not want anything to do with The Offal."
"Fletch, man, you sound kinda freaked."
"Freaked doesn't cover it. I just got out of that audition. Barely."
"What, they wouldn't let you go?"
"Yeah, you could say that."
"Come on, Fletch, the suspense is killing me."
"OK. Rule number one: a band says it's looking for new blood? Don't go there."
"What are they, vampires?"
"All I know is they're the creepiest guys and girls I ever met. Or want to."
"A metal band with girls? In this town?"
"Just chill, Mike. Even you wouldn't want to date these women."
"Hey, don't be mean."
"Sorry, dude. It was pretty bad. I'm still shaking."
"So what happened?"
"OK, so their rehearsal space is in that big factory thing near Hunter's Point."
"Yeah, I know the place."
"Did you know there's like three stories underground?"
"Two more basements under the basement?"
"You got it. Their space is in the bottom level?"
"What's it even like down there?"
"Really cold, Mike. Like winter at Tahoe cold. Except kinda damp, too."
"Does it smell?"
"Probably. They must have been burning all that incense to hide something."
"OK. And what instruments?"
"Drums, bass, organ, violin, and some kind of weird-ass harp thing."
"And they want lead guitar with that?"
"Yeah, they played me a few tracks with their last guitarist. It was, well, different."
"You're good with labels, Fletch. What would you call it?"
"I don't know, like Nordic troll metal meets belly dance and Chinese opera."
"I feel that. Sounds cool, actually. So what was the issue?"
"They offered me wine, but I like to be sober for auditions. That bothered them."
"So? I've auditioned with bands doing all kinds of stuff."
"Plus, I didn't like the look of this wine. It was thick and heavy, like a stout."
"Wonder what kind of grapes they used."
"That's another thing I don't want to know about these people."
"Did you actually play?"
"Yeah. That was the weirdest part, when they told me what they wanted."
"Put your soul into it. Put your seed into it. Put your future into it."
"The soul part I get. You're right, the rest is hella weird."
"So I set up and they start a riff from the demo. A really different live sound."
"Best I can describe it is really fat music from really skinny people."
"Not sure what that means."
"They're all like anorexic, but it's wall-to-wall sound, all bass and mid-range."
"Even with the violin?"
"She was playing a lot of low tones. And the organ has this thick analog sound."
"I'm thinking Deep Purple, who was it, Jon Lord?"
"Yeah, but way more demonic."
"So where does the guitar go in all that?"
"I jumped in with screaming, high-distortion lead. You had to. It's all that fit."
"Like what the last guy played?"
"Yeah. Like that. Except it was me playing what I play."
"And that's what they meant by your soul, seed, and future?"
"Still not sure what they meant, dude. Not sure what started happening, either."
"What do you think it was?"
"Maybe their stage lighting. I don't know. The room started flickering a little."
"Like a strobe?"
"Yeah, but with colors. And it started getting dark between the flashes."
"But you can still shred on a pitch black stage, Fletch. I've heard you."
"No, the problem wasn't with the music, it was what I saw."
"Slides and video?"
"I wish, Mike. The people in the band started changing."
"What do you mean changing?"
"Well, first they were themselves. Then they were naked."
"The girls, too? Wish I'd been there, man!"
"No you don't! Then they were in these robes and stuff that looked all bloody."
"And they did all this while playing?"
"And then they started looking like animals."
"Costumes and masks?"
"No, like real animals. Fur, feathers, beaks, snouts, teeth."
"And you kept playing your trademark screaming lead the whole time?"
"Dude, I couldn't stop! It was like the music was playing me."
"Yeah, I know what you mean."
"I don't think you do, Mike. It wasn't like blissful. It was like being possessed."
"While staring at these musical animals in bloody robes?"
"Hard to take my eyes off them. Until it got even stranger."
"Stranger than all that?"
"Way stranger. Something on the wall started looking different."
"What was on the wall?"
"When I first got there, I thought it was like a textured mural kind of thing."
"Like a frieze?"
"Yeah, like that. Except when the light went red or orange, I saw something else."
"It looked like a person, sort of. But with parts all detached and spread out."
"Sounds like the kind of art those people would be into."
"And in the middle of it was pieces of a guitar."
"Music-themed art. Well, yeah."
"And the right hand looked like it was moving a little."
"Strobe lights, you said?"
"And I started hearing this other guitar in the mix."
"Delay through your FX box?"
"And it sounded just like the guitar on the tracks they played me before."
"Fletch, man, where are you going with this?"
"Pieces of another guitarist all over the wall! Still alive! Maybe."
"No! That's crazy!"
"And I started feeling like I was spiking a fever. And I pulled off my guitar."
"And then what?"
"And then my amp blew."
"No! That little portable Randall you have in the studio sometimes?"
"Sucker caught fire. Looked like a mini mushroom cloud."
"Way to kill an audition, man!"
"And the music stopped, and I swear I heard growling and snarling."
"Way! Yanked my FX box and some cables, grabbed my gig bag, and bailed!"
"With your guitar, I hope?"
"Still in my hands. But it was warm and the pods were smoking."
"And did anyone come after you?"
"Honestly? I never looked back."
"Whoa! Well, now we know what happened to their last guitarist, anyway."
"Mike, are you laughing at me?"
"Man, I'd never laugh at something like that."
"Cool. And don't audition for these people, OK? I'm serious, dude."
"After a story like that? No worries, Fletch."