Women and Children First – Midgets Last
TERI: The rest of the boats are away.
THOMAS: Who’s left?
TERI: As far as I can tell, just Marvin and Adrian…. And Lyle, of course.
(Teri Melton and Stephen Thomas are aboard the final lifeboat, along with Hortense and JA. Hornet and Poison Ivy are still on deck as they all wait for their friends… and the Red Midget… to emerge from below.
The evacuation had gone as well as anyone could have expected, especially with a voice coming over the loudspeakers every minute to count off how much time the evacuees had. Thomas took to cursing every time the voice came across the speakers, occasionally kicking one of the Hacker’s downed “security” agents that no one had seemed to want to help find safety.
All the CSWAers had made it aboard lifeboats themselves, along with the other cruisers. Surprisingly, JA had become a lynchpin in a time of severe stress, appointing a “captain” aboard each boat and pointing out which way to row to get to nearest island shown on the bridge display.
Ivy had tried to run back belowdecks once the smoke start pouring out from around the ship, only to be held back by Hornet, who might very well be sporting a black eye (among other injuries) in a few hours. The two now stood on deck just away from the lifeboat, watching the nearby hatch as more and more smoke pours out.)
AUTOMATED VOICE: Two minutes remain. Any passengers remaining should immediately board the nearest lifeboat and row out of range of the ship. This is a final warning. Repeating…
HORNET: We have to go.
IVY: I’m not leaving Marvin and Adrian behind. If they had just come with me and left Lyle there... we have to go in and get them.
HORNET: We’ve been over this.
IVY: (swinging to face him and trying to pull out of his grasp) I don’t care! Just let me go and I’ll do it myself. Let…me…GO!
HORNET: And I told you… I’m not letting you run back in there when we don’t even know if they made it out some other way. For all we know they could already be on a lifeboat that left on the other side of the ship!
IVY: But we DON’T know…
HORNET: And I’m not letting you run back into that. You wouldn’t be able to see…let alone breathe…
IVY: Just because you’re…
HORNET: What? Just because I’m SCARED? Just because the last time I ran into a burning building I ended up with a broken back trapped under a pile of rubble… just to find out the person I was saving didn’t need to be saved? You’re DAMN RIGHT I’m scared. I’m not letting you do it. Just like Eli wouldn’t if he were here. It’s not just YOU…do you get that? It’s the rest of us who know you too… it’s Eli and Angel and MJ… and even Sean. Got it? Now it’s TIME TO GO!
(She fights as he drags her over the side onto the lifeboat… but not quite as fiercely as she did before. That doesn’t mean she’ll ever forgive him….)
HORNET: Let’s go.
THOMAS: You heard the man, JA. Start rowing.
JA: Rowing is not in my job description.
THOMAS: It is if you want to keep your job.
JA: Hmmm, lemme think about that. I bet avoid being crushed by wreckage is more important to you than firing me.
HORNET: It’s not gonna kill you, Steve. Mush little doggie.
(As the CSWA’s President begrudgingly takes the oars, the smoke billowing from the PCL II intensifies. Ivy sits in the bow of the boat, staring glassy-eyed at the ship, watching for her friends. Hornet faces the other way, scanning above the waves for the other lifeboats ahead. Hortense is cheering her “Shoog” on as he tries to manage the oars, complaining all the while. JA and Teri sit in the stern, filling each other in on what happened to them aboard the ship.
They are all taken by surprise by a series of large bangs coming from the ship… or more specifically, from above it. In the fading light, a series of fireworks erupts above the ship in an impressive lightshow.)
THOMAS: What the hell? Was that for after PRIMETIME?
TERI: Yes. But who set it off? It wasn’t on a timer?
(The display continues. At the same time, the ship’s engines power on, and the cruise liner begins to move, creating a wake that almost swamps the small lifeboat.)
THOMAS: Hey! WAIT! HEY YOU!
(Hornet begins to laugh.)
THOMAS: What the (bleep) are you laughing at? I don’t see anything funny about being stuck in the middle of the ocean in a lifeboat while our only hope is heading the other way.
HORNET: Don’t you get it, Steve? He suckered you. He got all of us. He’s stealing your ship.
THOMAS: What… no, I saw him fly off in the helicopter.
HORNET: No, you saw video of a helicopter leaving, right? And I’m willing to bet all his “security” stayed aboard too, didn’t they?
THOMAS: They…. We just figured they got in lifeboats on the other side of the ship…
HORNET: He threatened you… and all of us… with blowing up the ship. He knew we couldn’t risk that he was bluffing, not with all the fans on board. And he knew that you wouldn’t doubt it – not after what happened to the first Parsons’ Cruise Liner. He snookered you, Steve… and he pulled off the heist of your boat.
THOMAS: And you somehow find that uncontrollably amusing, huh?
HORNET: No, I’m just happy.
THOMAS: ABOUT WHAT!?
HORNET: It also means that Adrian and Marvin have to be okay. There was no explosion, there was no fire… it means…
IVY: THERE! Turn the boat, Steve!
THOMAS: WHAT NOW?
(Ivy’s eyes have never left the ship. As the others turn, they see a repeat of what she did… a small figure leaping over the side of the huge vessel. Both are pulled underwater as they try to escape the pull of the ship…and avoid being trapped in its aft or wake as it starts to make distance from the lifeboat.)
IVY: We have to get back there and pick them up.
(JA jostles Thomas out of the way, almost knocking him over the side. They change positions and JA begins to row, quickly closing the small gap. Seconds after JA takes over, one head pops up out of the water, then another. Both Adrian and Lyle are buoyed to surface by orange life vests. Within a couple of minutes, Hornet is pulling Adrian out of the water and into the boat. He reaches down to do the same for Lyle, but Thomas objects.)
THOMAS: He knew about all this! We should just leave him there.
HORNET: You know we can’t do that, Steve.
ADRIAN: (shivering) He didn’t know… he thought the ship was on fire like the rest of us did. Even when the fireworks started going off… that’s when he headed for the side and tried to jump off. I stopped him once, but he got away and dove over the edge.
IVY: Where’s Marvin?
ADRIAN: I don’t know. We got separated in the smoke. I tried to go back for him, but Dumbo here decided he wanted to dive over the edge before the boat “exploded.”
(Hornet pulls Lyle over the edge and into the boat. Thomas stands up, then immediately sits-falls back onto the bench due to the rocking of the boat.)
THOMAS: You little…. MIDGET! I swear to you…I will make you wish you never got off that island.
RED: I already do. The two years there by myself…without YOU… were the most peace I’ve had in my life.
THOMAS: I’ll show you peace, you little traitor.
RED: Traitor? TRAITOR!? I HELPED YOU BUILD A RAFT AND YOU LEFT ME BEHIND!
THOMAS: And I’ll do it again right now.
HORNET: ENOUGH! Right now all we have to concentrate on is getting out of the water. The other boats should be close enough by now to make out the small island we saw on the map. We need to catch up. There are going to be a lot of people to take care of when we get there.
THOMAS: Fine. But we’re not done with this, Lyle. Not by a long…or short… shot.
(JA begins to turn them back into the right direction and pushes the oars, sending them towards land and the other ‘castaways’ in the other lifeboats. Hornet leans over to Ivy and speaks quietly.)
HORNET: He’s got to be fine. Marvin’s certainly safer on that ship than he is in this boat with a couple of lunatics.
IVY: He better be alright. This doesn’t make you right, you know. If you had let me go back, I’d be there with him…and I’d be able to find out who’s behind this.
HORNET: I don’t care about being right, Ms. McGinnis. I just care that everyone’s alright.
IVY: He better be.
They sit in silence as the horizon broadens, the setting sun looking huge in the distance as it disappears behind the waves. The lights built into their lifejackets begin to power on as they all take their turns rowing. It is almost completely dark when they hear the sound of surf breaking on the beach and sight two large fires in the near-distance. In a little while, they’ll be surrounded by hundreds of people who aren’t used to life without creature-comforts, who are looking to them for guidance on where to sleep and what to eat and full of questions on what happened and what happens next.
In the meantime, they all savor the sounds of nature in their own way, pondering the series of deceptions they’ve just lived through. What causes a person to become so jaded, so bitter, so conniving and deceiving that they could do something like this?
And if they could go so far as to do this… what else?