A Poetic Kind of Hell
Written by T. Peterson
Wray Nerely sits at a desk in his hotel room pouring over a program schedule, shaking his head in the process. In through the door bursts Bobbie declaring “good, it’s about time you arrived.” She grabs the schedule from Wray’s hand, “forget that, there’s a new version of today’s program”. “New version?” asks Wray with a mix of frustration and impatience. “Yes.” Bobbie continues, “After the Q&A part of your panel you will now be judging a poem contest instead of cosplay.” “Poem contest” Wray repeats in growing frustration. “Trust me Wray, I am your talent booker and this is a novel way of promoting the very show you are here for. And the prize is Spectrum memorabilia!” Bobbie declares as she slaps him across his arm. “Why, the fans keep turning up anyway” replies Wray, hands outstretched and attempting to continue to make his argument, “I really don’t see the point….” “Oh come on Wray, you’ll be late” Bobbie shouts as she grabs him by the shirt, leading him out of the room.
Meanwhile in the panel room, Wray has just completed his Q&A session. The host Josh moves towards the centre of the stage, announcing “as you all know, the cosplay contest has been moved to a later part of today’s program and right now we have the first ever Spectrum poem contest!” There is small, low level applause from the audience as Josh continues “right Spectrum fans let’s see a show of hands from anyone with a poem to read”. A few hands rise and Josh selects a small, awkward, geeky girl who slowly stands. “What’s your name sweetie?” asks Josh. “Amy” she replies as she takes the microphone and timidly waves to Wray who is seated on the couch placed centre stage. Wray responds with a quiet hello spoken through a wince like smile. “Ok Amy, let’s hear your poem” encourages Josh, gesturing with his hand. Amy gently clears her throat and begins to speak:
This is a rhyme that is only for you,
You thought Spectrum was dead, but that’s not true.
Your piloting ways have carried you through,
And your haunting good looks contributed too.
The audience moans but Josh encourages Amy to continue. Wray shifts awkwardly in his seat. Amy again speaks:
The adventures and trials we get to relive,
Each time ship Spectrum again arrives at a Con to re-give.
Spectrum a ship on a mission or two,
With a crew braver than Doctor Who.
May the presence of Spectrum live on,
From many a Comic to Sci Fi Con,
That way it will never come to pass,
That we fans will be forced to miss Captain Raaker’s arse.
The audience snicker and then follow the cue of the host, who has begun to clap. Wray thanks Amy for her contribution, wishing he was pretty much anywhere else right now. Josh encourages the next contestant to stand and another woman quickly and enthusiastically raises her hand, simultaneously jumping to her feet. “Ok the lady to the left at the front here, with the long blonde hair and glasses, please go ahead”. She turns and faces the audience:
Come with me if you please, into a Spectrum dream,
You have just returned from mission, from a planet in difficult condition.
Stepping through the airlock door you feel a sense of relief,
And then sink into a cargo bay seat.
Crack the seal on you helmet, you hear a click,
(the woman click’s her fingers)
Close your eyes, breathe deep, your heart beat is becoming less quick.
(the audience responds, closing their eyes, breathing in and out)
Hear my voice, one, two, three…….
As the woman speaks, Wray’s expression hints at familiarity. He is straining against the stage lights to catch a glimpse of the side of her face, finally realising who she is when suddenly her reading is interrupted by a young man standing at the back of the audience. He announces loudly: “Enough of this pseudo cognitive control process that is attempting to achieve a trance like state.” Josh shakes himself back to a level of awareness and interjects, asking if he has a poem to contribute. “Why yes I do” comes back the reply, “and I will commence my presentation now if you don’t mind”. The young man steps into the passage way between the seats, his face gradually revealed by an overhead light. The audience gasps, realising it is Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and they suddenly break into loud applause. Wray is becoming increasing uncomfortable as his panel is seemly hijacked by others. He signals to the host, seemly wanting to bring a halt to the proceedings but Josh is keen to push on. Sheldon straightens his stance and begins his recital:
Although not entirely without a space technology base,
Spectrum did fail in the case,
A ship devoid of any real defensive measures,
But also insufficient system security checkers.
And the starship Enterprise, Spectrum is not,
No warp drive, photon torpedo and nuclear electronics laboratory whatnots.
Instead Spectrum is a repository of stories,
Of hard fought and well won numerous glories?
Superficially the ship passengers and crew,
Are of questionable character and morals too.
But on closer examination a level of intellect show’s through,
Particularly in relation to the multi-cultural aspects and reasonably trained space crew.
And should Spectrum in the future emerge reinvented?
I would recommend consideration of the widely hypothesized multiverse dimension.
And redesign of the ship to incorporate quantum technology,
That enables transportation between multiple universes...
Sheldon begins to fidget, finally muttering “Sorry, but I felt it more important to highlight the need to take a more evolutionary approach to space craft design rather than achieve rhyme…..” After a brief silence, the audience breaks into a sustained applause, which Wray reluctantly joins. Josh turns to Wray asking him to nominate the winner. With a mostly false enthusiasm Wray musters a response, pointing his finger at Sheldon in a gesture that declares his entry successful.
Backstage post the panel Wray confronts Bobbie asking “What the hell do you think you are doing?” “Rehearing” Bobbie replies. “Rehearing. For what?” Wray asks. Bobbie continues, “My new stage production where an actress uses her hypnotist skills to get audience members to play some of the characters in the show. Keeps production costs down, and gets a laugh too.” “And what, you thought you would try it out here?” an exasperated Wray shouts. “Yes, and look it worked” asserts Bobbie. “I had them right in the palm of my hand before that namby pamby speech by the science freak...” Wray raises his hand, signalling to Bobbie to stop speaking. He then turns and storms off, swearing to never attend another Con as long as he shall live………