Spaceship Phx

A few years ago, around the time of the first season of FFNL, I was also briefly involved as a writer for another late night Firehouse show, Spaceship Phx. Spaceship Phx was the brainchild of poet/artist Jason Allan Davis. It was an odd duck of a show: partly a serial sci-fi story about a crew traveling through the show (Phix: The AI; Dig: The Captain; Bridget Zaida: The Competent One; Foxy: The Dog-Thing), and also it served as an interactive art market, as the crew would be selling their wares during intermission. Most of what I wrote for them has been lost to time and dead computers, but this little segment survives. I will confess that it was inspired by Futurama’s neutral planet, but I still had lots of fun writing it. 🙂

Spaceship Phx 12.2
The Approach

The ship hurtling through the void of space approaches Grayhole I, the most densely populated planet of the Grays, a race notorious for their giant heads, black-slitted eyes, and crash-landing in New Mexico.

PHIX
One hour til planetary approach.

FOXY
Barks.

DIG
What do we know about the Grays? I don’t think we’ve dealt with them before.

BRIDGET
Well, I’m glad you asked! I’ve spent the last two days compiling a report on them-

She pulls out a phone-book sized brick of a file.

DIG
Where did you get all that paper?! I thought we were having a shortage-

PHIX
Yes, we’ve been rationing paper use for the last week of travel-

BRIDGET
Oh, I know. I just gathered up some old papers and re-purposed them for my use.

DIG
Wait a minute, that’s my novel! I can see my table of contents right there! *points angrily at back of her file*

BRIDGET
I had to requisition it for creative re-use. I hope you don’t mind.

DIG
I do, actually.

BRIDGET
Didn’t you get my memo?

DIG
No!

PHIX
You never sent out any memos. I have no record of that in my logs.

BRIDGET
Of course you don’t. There is a paper shortage, after all. Why waste it on a memo?

DIG
Bu-but-

BRIDGET
So… the Grays. An industrious people. Extremely technologically advanced, more so than the humans we dealt with. Soft-spoken with their speech, they like to move at a languid pace.

PHIX
Boring!

BRIDGET
I’ll bore holes into your mainframe if you interrupt me again!

PHIX clears its throat, obviously a litle uncomfortable.

DIG
Ok, they move slow, they talk slow. So what? How is that useful?

BRIDGET
As a race, they’ve established an almost perfect emotional equilibrium. Not a single Therapist has visited their civilization in over 300 years. They are paragons of control, restraint, and relaxation.

DIG
So they’re not warlike?

BRIDGET
Not according to my histories, no. The last war they were in was about a 100 years ago.

DIG
Great! Then they’ll love our art. Relaxed, peaceful people. Not going to steal our goods. Not going to try and take the ship hostage. This is a nice change of pace.

BRIDGET
Yes, this should go off without a hitch.

FOXY
Barks.

PHIX
Captain, we’re being hailed by Grayhole I.

DIG
How far are we from there?

PHIX
Half hour.

BRIDGET
They probably just want to say hello. They’re renowned for their courteousness.

DIG
Patch ‘em through, Phix.

A screen reveals the video image (an actor in a suit? Shadow puppet?) of a Gray whose face fills up almost the entire screen.

DIG
Greetings from the Spaceship Phx! I’m the Captain-

BRIDGET
And I’m Zaida, the ship’s cultural liasion. It’s such a pleasure to meet you..

THE GRAY
For the purpose of this conversation, my name shall be Number 32. It could be a pleasure to make your acquantice.

BRIDGET
32? Such a lovely name-

NUMBER 32
I come from a long and esteemed line of double-digits. But enough about my name; I must ask you to please state your intentions.

DIG
Excuse me? I don’t-

NUMBER 32
Your A.I. sent us your flight plan and confirmation of your arrival to our sensors a half hour ago. We have no record of your ship entering our space in the past. We would just like to know whose coming to visit. We’ve had… some unfortunate visitors recently.

BRIDGET
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that! We can certainly relate, we’ve had our share of unfortunate visitors.

NUMBER 32
I see. I thank you for your sympathy. Now if you could please state your intentions?

DIG
We mean you no harm, we’ve just come to set up a market for our goods!

NUMBER 32
A market?

BRIDGET
Yes, we’re travelling across the universe to sell our wares of interstellar crafts and arts. Each crafted with love & the most exquisite skill!

NUMBER 32
Oh, I see-

DIG
And we do performances too!

BRIDGET
I can dance! Let me sho-

NUMBER 32
No-no-no, that won’t be necessary! Thank you. So your intention is to come to our world, set up a marketplace, and sell art?

DIG
Yes, indeed!

PHIX (suddenly alarmed)
Um… guys, guys, you might want to take a look at this-

FOXY (spooked)
Barks.

DIG
What is it, Phix?

Before PHIX can answer, the Gray chimes in.

NUMBER 32
I hate to be an unaccomodating host, but I must ask that you turn your ship around and leave our solar system immediately. Your flight plan has been rejected. You may not land here.

BRIDGET
What?!

DIG
What’s goin on-

PHIX
They’ve got space missiles locked onto us! Tactical space missiles!

NUMBER 32
I apologize for the vulgar show of force, but I must emphasize that we are unable to let you land at this time. Or anytime.

DIG
This isn’t a trick, we are just trying to sell art, we’re not spies or-

NUMBER 32
I believe you. We Grays have truth-detection wired into all our interstellar communications.

BRIDGET
That’s right, they do. I should have mentioned that.

DIG
Then what’s the problem?

NUMBER 32
Our civilization does not engage in commerce of any kind. Or the making of art. We have no need for the brutal competition of business or for the self-indulgent narcissism of art production. We have transcended the need to consume and create to make ourselves feel better or acquire glory. These things only bring sorrow and unbalance. We have no need for them. Or for you.

BRIDGET
Bu-but if you would just look at these samples! Look at these masks and buttons! The attention to detail, the color-

NUMBER 32
Our race loves all creatures. Except solicitors. Please remove us from future flight plans and interstellar call lists. We appreciate your prompt cooperation.

DIG
Are those missiles still locked onto us, Phix?

PHIX
Oh yeah. They’ve actually doubled the amount of warheads!

BRIDGET
I understand. We didn’t mean to alarm you-

NUMBER 32
You don’t. Nothing alarms the Grays. You are not a threat to us. You are a nuisance. Please leave.

DIG
Pilot, take us out of here.

FOXY
Barks.

BRIDGET
Could we at least leave you our number, in case you change your mind-

The screen cuts out and NUMBER 32 vanishes.

DIG
Was there anything in your FILE about that? No commerce? No art?

BRIDGET
I… I’ve never been wrong before. I don’t like this feeling. I should punch something to make myself feel better.

FOXY
Barks.

PHIX
Sometimes I love not having a physical body.

DIG
Oh, c’mon, you’re not wrong, you-you-you may have missed a detail or 2 here or there-

Stage darkens as Spaceship Phx flees Grayhole 1. We hear Dig shout as Zaida clocks him one.

Me attending the Spaceship Phx art market.
Me attending the Spaceship Phx art market.
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