Monthly Archives: January 2020

Gateways: “The Recipe” by Mike Danovich read by Kim Fukawa and Jasmin Tomlins

TRANSCRIPT:  Mike Danovich could not be happier to be submitting to Gateways again. His other works have been seen at Chicago Theatre Marathon, Ghostlight Ensemble Theatre, and Gorilla Tango Theater. As an actor, he has performed around Chicago with Otherworld Theatre Company, Brown Paper Box Co, Apollo Theater, First Folio Theater, Theatre at the Center, and Kokandy Productions. He is a proud graduate of Columbia College Chicago. This is “The Recipe”.

“Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble…” Bah. Say this phrase
once in front of someone, even in jest, and they label you a witch for life. But it’s much more
than that. Being a witch is a lifestyle. It’s not always making potions, placing hexes, eating small
children…only sometimes, not always.
I’m sure many people would ask: who even cares about the label of ‘witch’ these days?
It’s only a word; a name for something that most people can’t even comprehend. If only they
knew the power in a name. It’s been years since our kind has been able to show our faces.
Decades since we last visited a small town or village. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the last time I
saw a face other than Sharlee.
“It is time, sister,” she cries. I groan, sitting up, and call back to her from inside our hut.
“What’s the point if we make this today or tomorrow? It hasn’t helped over the past sixty years.”
Optimistically, she pokes her head in. “Ah, but today is a different day.” Her normally wrinkled
face looks younger than it has in a long time; it’s amazing what a new attitude can do to your
body. Sunlight eeks into the shack behind her, slightly blinding me. “You need to get up and do
your share.” She stares me down until I begin to slowly get up. She knows me too well. I tend to
stay in bed until she watches me get up; a poor habit stemming from my youth. “Fine, I’ll get
up,” I retort, “but I won’t be happy about it.” She smiles. “Cass, when have you ever been
happy?” She exits the hut once again and I hear her practically skip back over to the fire, ‘skip’
being a relative term for our age. She’s not wrong; I can’t recall the last time I would consider
myself to be ‘happy’.
Moaning and groaning, I roll myself out of bed, giving as quick a stretch as I can without
breaking anything. At my age, it’s a miracle that I can accomplish anything without snapping
like spaghetti. No sense in changing into my dress robes for this; haven’t needed those since the
late 1800’s. The world has become more dramatic over the last century: hotter hots, colder colds.
The fabrics of old won’t help anymore. These days you either let your skin flaps hang out from
the heat or bundle up so tightly nothing can escape. Today is on the crispier side: long sleeves
and something to cover your legs from the chill. Luckily there’s no snow on the ground at the
moment, but the leaves changed color a few weeks ago. Slowly, I step into my warm,
comfortable jeans and wrap myself in my nice-ish shawl. Another day; another attempt.
I step out into the late autumn air and watch Sharlee hovering over the campfire.
Occasionally giggling to herself, I make my way over to stand opposite her. Holding a small frog
in each hand, her gaze is enthralled by the flame. Clearing my throat ever so obnoxiously, I
attempt to catch her attention. Her stare moves from the flame to my eyes, glaring deep into my
soul. Highly unnerving. “Coffee?” she asks, breaking the tension. I’m stunned. I never know
how her brain works; how she can stand there with two frogs in hand thinking about coffee, but
I’m not going to turn it down. “Yes, of course, I’ll take some coffee, but first,” taking the
slippery lumps from her grasp, “I’ll take these.” Muttering something about how she can never
have any fun, she drudges over to the small pile of tin cans next to the hut. Picking up one of the
cans, she lifts the plastic lid up to sniff the contents. It doesn’t smell too pleasant, whatever it
might be. “Hold on, I can fix that,” she says, placing the lid back on top. Shake, shake, shake.
The contents of the can rattle around. A slight pause. Shake, shake…shake. She raises the lid
once more and takes a whiff. “There we are. Notes of cinnamon, tobacco, whiskey, and coconut;
my favorite.” I’ve told her time and time again that if it’s warm and wakes me up, I don’t care
how it tastes.

Coffee brewing over the open flame, Sharlee takes a seat. “Today, we’re attempting
something new.” Oh? It’s been so long since we’ve found new magicks. “Late last night, during
the solstice, I stumbled upon a book I’ve never seen before. No title, but the cover is nice.” She
pulls the book out of the satchel draped across her bony shoulder. It’s a smallish book covered in
what looks like some red leather/yellow leather combination. “I almost tossed it aside after
finding it, but near the back of the book, I came across something rather interesting. It’s easier if
you read it for yourself.” Cautiously, I take the book from her feeble hand. It’s lighter in my
hand than I thought. I flip through the book, page after blank page. For a moment, I assume
Sharlee is pulling my leg, when I flip right past it. I go back to the section she talked about and

Recipe for Happiness

On the morning of the Solstice, you must find:
The hue of Helios, born on a fruit’s rind,
What lands on the feet of a bird once lain,
Do not forget to grab the grain,
Upon the back of hogs, you see
A prize most tasteful, be swift or they’ll flee,
Together all these materials bring,
Smash, sear, knead, present, and sing,
To the Gods above your mortal plight,
This recipe you create tonight.
The last few items will be the worst,
Be glad you gathered the others first.
One element you hunt and seek:
You will know the feeling with no need to speak.
You feel it deep within your heart,
It’s even worse when you’re apart.
The last of these is quite sublime;
I’ve wasted enough, so forgive the rhyme.
Upon a face, you’ll wind three hands
Or in a glass you find the sands.
Go, get along, run, search, make haste;
Do not let this recipe go to waste.

New magick, indeed. No frogs’ legs, no eyeballs, nothing we have in storage in spades.
Items we must travel to find. “This could take all day,” I cry. “No need to fret, Cass; I have
already gathered most of the items.” I’m floored. “Then why would you wake me up? I could
have enjoyed the day in the shack.” She smiles. “But then we would not have enjoyed the day
together.” I hate how right she is. The smugness of her smile is what’s truly infuriating. I enjoy
spending my days with her and I know she enjoys being with me, but to elbow me in the gut with
that smirk? “Alright then, sassy pants, pour me some of that coffee and bring me up to speed.”
The warmth from the coffee hurts as I drink it down, but it’s nice to not feel completely
chilled to the bone. She takes a long sip as well. “While you were asleep, I gathered most of the
items. Honestly, they were pretty easy to find.” There it is; that smugness once again. “Well,

huntress supreme, where are they?” “I have hidden them for later this evening. You read the
recipe; we must wait for this evening before preparing it.” Fine. She’s right; she’s always right.
“All right, what else do we need?” She hesitates (that’s never a good sign). “Well, that is why I
need your assistance. We still need the last two items. I have no idea what they are or how to get
them.” Oh no. She’s the brains, I’m the brawn, and when the brains are stumped, we don’t really
get much done. “The only reference we have is what was given in the recipe, so for now, I say
we start with something solid from the text.” I look back down at the book, reading over the lines
when something catches my eye. “Sharlee, how many instances of three hands have you heard in
your life?” Pondering for a moment, nothing comes to mind. I give that same smirk she always
gives to me; this time, I’m the brains. “How does it feel? To not know the answer when I do?”
She can’t hold back her contempt. “Yeah yeah yeah, what is it then? Out with it.” “Why spoil the
fun? We can walk there from here.” I rise, taking her by the hand and drag her along with me
further into the wood.
We walk for almost an hour when we reach the edge of the wood. “Enough, Cass.
Enough. I am tired from my hike this morning. Tell me where we’re going.” All right, my fun
has come to an end. I turn and point to the village sitting beneath us. In the center of the village,
a tall spire keeps a large clock suspended in the air. “Why would we come to the clock tower?
What does that have to do with—” She answers her own question in silence. All clocks have
three hands: hours, minutes, and seconds, as well as faces. Whatever we’re looking for lies there.
I gently take her hand in mine and we head toward the tower.
After some awful stares and glares from folks as we pass by, we reach the foot of the
clock tower. A small child stands in front of us, agog at the magnificence of the tower. Sharlee
steps up to approach the child. “Excuse me, youngling, might a little old lady ask you a riddle?” I
make a quick confused look in her direction. She whispers back “Children are excellent at
riddles. They have no barriers restricting their thoughts. Any answer makes sense in their eyes.”
The small child turns around; a young girl no more than six by the look of it. She is not scared by
our sight. Ah, the innocence of a child. Sharlee leans in. “Upon a face, you’ll wind three hands
or in a glass you’ll find the sands. What am I?” The tiny creature frowns her eyebrows for a
moment, thinking much too hard for someone her age, then decides her answer. “Time.” Sharlee
and I are astounded; it took this young child no effort at all to think of an answer. “Three hands
and a face; a clock. Glass with sand; an hourglass. Both keep track of time.” Clever girl. I
approach the young one as well. “I also have a riddle for you, dearie. You will know the feeling
with no need to speak. You feel it deep within your heart, It’s even worse when you’re apart.”
Giggling, the creature no taller than my hip answers. “That one was much easier. It’s love. The
heart gave that one away.”
The two of us breath a sigh of relief. The puzzle is solved. The recipe was correct; those
two are a little harder to find, but Sharlee and I have collected each of those tenfold. I couldn’t
imagine living a single day without her. “Well Sharlee, I believe we have our answers.” She
nods. “I believe so, Cass. Now I believe that we have a meal to start preparing for this evening.
Let’s take our prize and we’ll be off.” I take her hand once again in mine and pat the child on the
head. “Thank you, young one.” It smiles. “Glad to help. Do you need anything else?” A smirk
appears on my face. Sharlee’s does the same. “Oh my, yes. We have something in mine.” In a
flash, I take the young child’s hand and the three of us disappear into the æther, ready to enjoy
our newfound recipe alongside our surprise dessert. What can I say? It’s a lifestyle.

Kim Fukawa has been seen all around Chicago. Most recently she has worked with The House Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, and Babes With Blades Theatre Company. She is an artistic affiliate and occasional fight choreographer with Babes With Blades.

Jasmin Tomlins has been making noises with her mouth for 33 years, most recently as a determined vintner on the streets of the Bristol Renaissance Faire and here at Gateways. She is grateful for the opportunity to give voice to these stories, and to receive the meaning that stories give voices.

Gateways: “It’s About Time” by John R. Greenwood read by Gaby Fernandez

TRANSCRIPT: John R. Greenwood is a newcomer to published fiction, though he’s been writing and telling stories since he had lips to speak and fingers to scribble. He earned a bachelors in literature and a masters in writing oh so long ago, and appreciates a chance to put them to good use. This will be his world-premiere and he is thankful to the fine editors, actors, and staff of Gateways and Otherworld Theatre for this opportunity. This is “It’s About Time.”

I’ve been watching the young man in sweat pants through his studio apartment window for 45 minutes now and am having trouble staying awake. My watch buzzes telling me the sun will be up in just two hours. I don’t have time for this. How long does it take to eat a pack of Chicken McNuggets? I’m cramped into the darkest corner of the stairs leading to his garden apartment hoping he doesn’t glance my way. I don’t know his name; only his description, his address, and that he has the thing that can save Daniel. Mr. Cerberus promised.

A November gust from the Lake digs down my neck and I pull my coat closer. He picks up another nugget while staring at the tv—it hovers in the air a second—now he’s putting it back in the pile. Jesus! I stifle a yawn. How long has it been since I slept a full night? Probably not since Daniel was taken to St. Jude. First the fever, then the shakes, then his tiny body started wasting away. He grew smaller and smaller as the machines attached to him grew bigger and bigger. They say it’s “unconventional and accelerated failure to thrive,” whatever that means. All I know is my boy’s life is leaking away and the doctors can’t help. I peek at my watch and grind my teeth. I have everything else, I just need him to fall asleep. I just need more time!

After another episode of “24”, the man nods and falls asleep. I wait 12 excruciating minutes to be sure he’s completely out. Crossing carefully to his door, I insert the key Mr. Cerberus gave me. It clicks. I don’t stop to think as I step inside and close the door behind me. The studio is sparse and mostly unfurnished. The young man in the sweats has an old couch, probably from the curb; a mattress in the corner with a loose sheet, his tv and a cable box. He doesn’t have much. I don’t think about it. He’s snoring.

I unfold Mr. Cerberus’ note and take out “the ingredients,” as he called them, from my backpack. He’d been explicit in his instructions. It’s a bizarre collection: burned cigarettes; nubby pencils; used tampons; an empty pen; spent batteries. All junk I found lying around my house and in the building’s garbage. In his slightly high pitched whine, Mr. Cerberus had said, “Find those ingredients which you have worn with the passage of your life. Those flotsam you have consumed in their fullness.” I didn’t know what he meant, and I didn’t care. Daniel is the only important thing.

I set all the stuff in a circle around the man. Should I put them on the couch? The note doesn’t say, so I decide against it. I drop the last nubby pencil and step back. He’s still snoring, thank God. Taking the note in hand, I start whispering the crisply printed words. Mr. Cerberus’s script is in all caps, like a draftsman. The words are gibberish and mean nothing to me but I speak them as slowly and phonetically as I can. Several short words and a final long phrase. My tongue buzzes oddly and I can suddenly taste cinnamon. With the last word, I place a peach pit on the man’s stomach.

Nothing happens. He just keeps breathing the deep sleep of slumber. A minute passes.

Nothing. I chew my fingernail and watch. Another minute. He startles in his sleep and lets out a soft moan. The peach pit shakes and flips over. There’s something on the underside. Is that peach flesh? More peach appears around the pit. It quickly reforms on his stomach like a highspeed rot in reverse. All around the circle, the junk is reforming. The pencils lengthen and grow like corn. Cigarettes smolder with embers, but burn up instead of out. The tampons whiten and plump. I almost gasp, but cover my mouth with both hands.

He’s growing a beard. I watch it ooze from his cheeks. It’s brown for a few inches and then grows out white and down onto his chest. The skin on his skull tightens and draws back. Blue veins wriggle beneath the flesh at his temples and age spots sprout on his forehead like a ripening banana. His hands wizen and contract, the tendons standing out. His eyes open in shock and they’re milky cataracts. His jaw gapes in a soundless “O” showing teeth turning brown. Then, the peach rolls off his stomach and hits the floor. Everything stops. The man, now ancient, twitches and closes his eyes. His skin is thin and bleached. His hands are arthritic gnarls. 

My body can’t move. I have to move. I have no time. I step forward once, twice; and grab the peach. The old man coughs, and start snoring again. His shriveled body is draped in the too- baggy clothing of man twice his weight and half his age. I rush from the studio, leaving the door open behind me.

The night is waning. It will soon be morning. I’m driving through red lights to get back to the alley behind the Indian Palace restaurant where I first met Mr. Cerberus. The peach is in my coat pocket. I can feel its warmth through my shirt. It doesn’t matter. I have what I need.

I pull into the alley and Mr. Cerberus is waiting for me, leaned against a dumpster. His body is revealed by inches in my headlamps as I idle forward. He’s wearing an umber and grey pinstripe suit with a wide brimmed grey fedorah tipped down. Even in my headlights, his face is shadowed. He holds up a hand, palm out—it’s covered in a lady’s opera glove the colour of burnt pumpkin. I stop the car and kill the engine. The alley returns to darkness.

Not waiting for my eyes to adjust, I throw open the door and rush to him. He smells faintly of lemon-grass. My words slur and stammer as I tell him what happened and ask what the hell is going on and if Daniel will be alright and if we still have time and who was that guy and what have I done and can he still save Daniel? 

Mr. Cerberus holds up his hand, now palm up. My mouth snaps shut. I place the peach in his open fist. He wraps his long fingers around the flesh coloured fruit.

“Ah yes, this is perfect. You have drawn the right time, my dear.” His voice pitches higher and buzzes slightly, like a locust summer. Listening now, I can’t tell why ever I thought it was a man’s voice, or a woman’s. Mr. Cerberus squeezes the peach once, twice and then pops it into a jacket pocket. It turns toward me and a lighter patch appears part way down the darkness under its hat. Is it smiling? “And now, for the last piece. Your last piece. The hardest piece.” Mr. Cerberus’ voice crackles.

The weight of all the sleep I have been missing crashes down on me. First the diagnosis, then all the tests, then the “I’m sorry” from the doctors. Now, these last few hours and that horrible face of the old man in sweat pants. I sit down hard on the ground and hold my head in my hands. A knot tightens in my throat. I’m not stupid, I know what’s coming. I swallow the bile and ask what I have to do. I have a gun, pills, a rope. I know how this goes. I ask where I have to sign.

“Oh merciful Yama, no! What sort of specter do you see in me, my dear,” Mr. Cerberus croons. “Blood and bile are a realm all their own, and I find parchments insecure and signatures unreliable.” It pitches its head back and belts out a cough. Perhaps, it’s a laugh. Within the sound I hear the bells of St. Peter chime softly. But, those are all the way across town.

“Nothing of that sort, my dear. However, Sun soon comes, and we have but a sliver of night left to finish your deed. You brought half of what you need, but have you the fortitude to find the other? Will you give all for Daniel?”

I have no idea what Mr. Cerberus is talking about. I think back to my boy shivering alone in the hospital wrapped in those blue, scratchy blankets. His ribs strain with every breath and his little stomach spasms. In my aching head, I see tubes sinking into his chest, arms, and down his throat. His eyes squeeze shut as his tiny fists beat the air. He’s not making a sound.

I nod and acquiesce. Of course, whatever it is. There’s nothing I won’t do. The tightness in my throat is gone and my cheeks no longer feel hot. I stand and look Mr. Cerberus in its darkened face.

It places a hand on my shoulder. The burden is surprisingly light. “Very well, my dear. Then, walk away. Step into your car, drive onto the street, and away from the City. Never look behind, never think back, never return. That is the last ingredient. All that you would have given him in his life, give it to him now. All of it. Give Daniel all your love, and he will meet Sun and Moon and all their kin to come.”

The hand tightens on my shoulder, “Yet know, my dear. Should you return, should you glance behind to see and find, it is undone. All will fall. Do you understand? Do you offer this last?”

The question hangs between us a moment. I hear a second chime from St. Peter’s church. Time and blood course in my heart, and I understand. A third chime and I see Daniel in my head thrashing against the tubes in his throat. I find myself turning for the car clawing the keys from my purse. The Camry sputters to life and roars down the alley, jumping the curb and racking the suspension with a thunderous crack. I swerve around early morning traffic, earning horns and screams, but I don’t care. I need to get out before sunrise. I hear a fourth chime. Swerving around a Ford stopped at the on-ramp to the highway, I floor it into westbound traffic. Sunlight is just reaching the eastern edge of the Lake and I hear a fifth chime. My eyes are locked forward as the car picks up speed. Behind me, lampposts start winking out and the tallest skyscraper is just reaching into the morning. Ahead, I can see the city limit sign beckoning. The sixth chime strikes; there’s only one more.

I have just enough time for the last piece. I can see Daniel in my head. I see him through all the years all the birthdays and skinned knees and crying fits. The odometer hits 85. I see him through college and a divorce. In the hospital he’s taking an easier breath and relaxes his arms. I see him having his own child and I bounce that girl in my arms. His breathing slows and steadies and the blood stops pulsing at his temple. I see him at my bedside in the hospital where I am the one plugged into machines. His hands unclench and the little fingers flex and ease. I see him one last time as my eyes close and my breath stops and my hand grows cold on top of his. His breathing is easy and he falls into a comfortable sleep.

As I hear the seventh chime, I reach up and tear the rearview mirror from the windshield. The plastic shrieks. Morning streams through my back window and I drive hard into the west.

Gateways: “Alamar Hatcroff – Resident of Post Fall Chicago” by Joe Johnson read by Molly Southgate

TRANSCRIPT: This story is written by Joe Johnson who plays Baaaahb in Improvised Dungeons and Dragons and Joe i n real life. Joe has been reading, watching, and writing sci fiction since the start of grade school. He admits he has given considerable more energy to reading and watching than to writing, and is honored to have his writing read aloud and brought to life… This is “Alamar Hatcroff – Resident of Post Fall Chicago”

Thin whiskers tickled a snoring nose as a creature of fat and fur and shaped like a flattened pear on four legs tried to wake the sleeping form in order to be fed. A grunt and a
dismissive wave is all it got in return, to which it replied with an indignant squeak and a beedied eye stare. The stare lasted long enough for the hunger to creep back into a
surprisingly large stomach for such a small creature. And, whereas other domesticated creatures snort or yip to get attention, this twenty pound creature simply reached out with
a small three-clawed foot and deftly utilized two claws as snore stoppers. It is unknown whether the nose plugging was intentional as most of Eyani’s thoughts were on food.
Alamar’s eyes shot open as his nose was plugged and with a slowness born from experience, slowly leaned back his head in order to slide the two claws out with a minimal
amount of mucus spilling onto his moustache. Once out, Alamar gulped a few breaths to steady his lungs. He had just been enjoying a lovely dream about rath sausage and coming face to
face with dream dinner had startled him quite a bit. Eyani, for her part, slowly backed up to have only one foot standing on his neck. Alamar suddenly remembered he needed to clip her nails.
“If hungry, say ‘food’, Eyani!” Alamar snapped from frustration at being rudely Awakened.
Eyani squeaked in response and swished her thin tail to slap the bed.
“Ah,” he understood. “I dress quickly.”
The tail, nearly as long as she was, slapped the bed again.
“Oh, you didn’t mean food,” a sinking feeling hit Alamar’s stomach about the same time as the smell did. Rath droppings always managed to smell the same regardless of what
Alamar fed them. Eyani was no different. Alamar spotted the odorous pile near the rath door. Puzzled, Alamar looked again between the door and Eyani.
“Maybe we eat less this today?” the long naked tail of the rath slid across the bed as the rodent’s whiskered face turned to her bowl at the word ‘eat’. She jumped with her little
legs as Alamar pushed his blanket off him and swung his naked legs out leaving a small trail of ichor behind it.
“Ah! Leech-roach!” Alamar shot into the air with a scream stifled by a collision with the low ceiling. The leech-roach was dislodged mid jump and landed with a slight crunch as
it’s shell broke. Small black eyes spotted it immediately and Eyani leapt into action as blur of dirty white fur. She scooped it up with a crunch for it could right itself and chewed twice
before swallowing as Alamar watched on feeling a mixture of disgust and awe as his hands rushed over him in search of more leech-roaches. Eyani then leapt a couple times before
getting a good grip and managing to climb onto the bed. She began to lick up the trail of blood and roach guts on the bed to another leech-roach.
“Enough!” he shouted after Eyani had finished. “No more upside trader for Alamar Hatcroff, Eyani. We need to live in Under Tunnel to grow more aljee and to have less roaches.”
Alamar gently rubbed his fingers over the parts of his body covered with aljee.
Unfortunately there was little of the precious parasite repellent and mostly on his chest and arms. Another seeking feeling hit Alamar’s stomach as he thought of Crypt-limb and grew
terrified. He shivered as he dressed himself in his pants and threw on a rath-fur jacket with plastic buttons. His boots were by the door so he quickly cleaned up Eyani’s mess before
stripping his bed.
He carried the bundle of blankets passed his empty pantry, out of his home and down the tunnel towards the stairs leading to the upside and sunlight and promptly through blankets
into the street and set them ablaze.
Eyani relieved herself again nearby while Alamar’s eyes looked around for any changes during the night. Aside from a few small flocks of birds on the hanging cords and
maybe a few more missing bricks from the nearby buildings, the only change was Eyani’s fresh pile and the burning blanket. Alamar’s stomach grumbled to announce it was hungry
and Eyani nipped at his pant as if to show the roaches were not enough to be called a Breakfast.
“Hush,” Alamar softly kicked off the large rodent and went across the street of broken concrete to a vine covered building with the furry rath trailing at his heels.
The morning sun creeped over the Hollowed Mountains, casting long shadows in the gray spring morning. Alamar rapped his knuckles on the door to a three-floor building
covered completely in vines. After a moment, Hren opened the door to greet him. Hren, being the newest addition to his Upside Trader business, towered over him and had to back
down the hallway in order to let him in.
“Armor already?” Alamar asked as he had to push Eyani back out the door before closing it.
“Armor always, Al,” Hren Beddy replied. “Armor always in hostile territory.”
Alamar shrugged, having long given up on explaining the Hatcroffs and Tangs that lived in the area were all farmers and traders and breeders. The Under Tunnel didn’t breed
warriors. But Hren was far from home, so she encased herself like a beetle in a steel shell colored blue and gray with pockmarks and scrapes from before he knew her.
“Your aljee is thinning,” Hren remarked as they broke a piece of bread off a loaf and handed it over to Alamar.
Alamar chose not to respond as he followed his nose to the kitchen for a bowl of soup. Troi and Gwinn Tang already at the table before him, slurping noisily. Alamar chose a
nearby seat and nodded in greeting before eating quickly. Hren offered the best protection for food, so Alamar had convinced nearby forgers to store and cook at their place.
“We’re headed to the Spires today,” Troi spoke between bites, careful to open his mouth over his bowl of soup. “Hren needs things like metal and wire and -”

Troi stopped with a frown.
“Motherboards,” Gwinn chimed in.
“Right, those,” Troi nodded and continued eating. “From before the Fall when these houses had people and not fungus.”
Alamar froze in fear at the thought of the Spires. He had met Hren where the Swaying Spires met the Spoiled River. Alamar made eye contact with Hren through their
“You can stay, Alamar,” Hren’s voice echoed out of her armor. “The hatchery needs tending. As do the rath pins. I have been signaled by Moory Hatcroff that she will be here by
tonight, we will be back by then. Perhaps tonight your food experiments will go over Better?”
Two pairs of eyes and a dark helmet screen looked pleadingly at Alamar as he did his best to look unoffended at that little barb. Sure, Hren had saved his life from the rabid
Coobs in their tattered blue bear uniforms, but he took pride in his cooking and that hurt. He poked at his soup with the bread piece, shoving the boiled vegetables around looking for
more frog meat before giving up and just slurped down the broth.
After agreeing to look for blankets in return for tending to the animals, the Tangs nd Hren Beddy left Alamar behind and made their way further into the derelict city Hren had
called Chicago. Alamar found Eyani chasing little birds as they darted to catch mosquitoes in the morning sun. Together they checked the Hatchery beneath the decaying
theatre. Fungi and bright colored moss grew on the walls nearest the gaping hole in the theatre leading to the Hatchery and Alamar picked and scraped some for dinner that night,
though less than usual as this fungi grew slower in the summer. He scrambled down the hole into the flooded cave that housed their frogs.
“Eyani, no!” Alamar cried in a hushed voice to no avail.
The Hatchery silence broken Eyani splashed in behind him disturbing the frogs and destroying a patch of eggs in her selfish hunger. Angry croaks bombarded him in the
enclosed area as Alamar scooped up a wiggling Eyani to keep her from eating their livestock. Hren had said that the frogs found in cities near the Fall Site were larger than
those in other lands, though still not much meat besides the legs. Alamar had never been outside of Chicago. He’d only know frogs the size of his stomach.
After wrestling Eyani out of the Hatchery, Alamar stomped over to the rath pins on the other side of his tunnel home. The male raths, naked without the fur of the females,
huddled together in a corner for warmth. They were all still too young and small to be used to for dinner. The haze offered by the sunlight shining through the disturbed fungi spores painted the
small naken raths in blue-golden light. Alamar went to the bat traps and found only a pair too small for a dinner that had been caught during the night. He threw them to the pile of raths only
to have Eyani charge in and knock the smaller males out of the way.
“Eyani!” Alamar growled. “That is not your food. That is our food’s food!”
He chased Eyani away from the small and still hungry male raths, wondering if the Tangs’ rath, Rotchi, was big enough for breeding yet.
“Moory is coming,” Alamar reminded himself as he carried a struggling Eyani away from the pieces of bat to let the other raths eat. “Will need a big dinner. Moory comes from
the South Side Under Tunnel. They have better growing pits there.”
Alamar set Eyani down at the top of his stairs as he pondered on what to prepare. He thought to check on the squash and tomatoes after securing Eyani in his room first. He
thought about how many of the skinny rath he would have to prepare. He had already given up on the idea of frog eggs, Eyani had disturbed too many and they would need the
grown frogs come autumn..
Alamar stopped wondering about dinner when he watched a clever and possibly evil Eyani nimbly climb through her door and a particularly bad smell wafted from the other
side. He slowly opened the door to see her cleaning herself while a pile of fresh droppings sat right inside his door. Eyani looked up at a stunned and angered Alamar and slapped her tail
to show she was hungry.
Several hours later a party including Alamar, Moory Hatcroff and her bodyguard, the Tangs, and Hren Beddy all enjoyed spit roasted rath alongside summer squash seasoned with
spring moss and salt. As luck would have it, Rochi was not yet big enough for breeding, but Moory had brought a young female rath to trade. Alamar promptly named her Could-Be-
Dinner and went to bed with a full stomach and a smile.

Molly Southgate is 12 years old. According to her IMDB page, she has performed in 5 films, 1 industrial documentary, 9 Chicago plays, 4 Chicago stage readings, an Iron & Wine music video, multiple commercials, and she has hosted or guested on over 500 podcast episodes. Molly is also a food blogger on Instagram and has Somehow found the time to act in Super Richard World III right here at Otherworld Theatre.

Gateways: “Calisto Base” by Brian Pastor read by Kate Akerboom

TRANSCRIPT: This story is written by Brian Pastor. Brian is a playwright, whose plays have been performed on three continents, including at Otherworld’s Paragon Festival. They aim to tell modern, thought-provoking works that explore familiar relationships in sometimes foreign environments. They also like robots. This is “Callisto Base”


Callisto Base, Earth Year 2112 (I think?), the journal of Dr. Blake Longbottom


Entry 1: I arrived here just over a week ago. Everyone had to be thoroughly rehydrated after emerging from stasis, so it really took awhile to feel like myself again.

The food is better than I thought, but digestion is a bit of an issue. The gravity here seems…I’m not really sure how to put it…forced? There’s plenty of water thanks to the

subsurface lakes. We can even bathe twice a week! Everything else seems pretty much as anticipated. Except that it’s so damned hot!

For a celestial body that’s over 480 million miles from our sun, you wouldn’t think overheating would be a problem. But between the atmosphere-proof domes and the

radiation shielding (not to mention all the artificial lighting), it’s a toasty 32 degrees Celsius in the shade most days.

Anyway, I should probably try to sleep. Circadian rhythms are artificially mimicked here, but it still takes a while for your body to adjust. Call it interplanetary jet lag, I guess.


Entry 2: I can’t sleep. This lousy heat is shockingly oppressive. I wish we could open a window in this place and get some air flowing. I used the latrine six times tonight and

I’ve had at least two gallons of water. But again, my body’s not quite working like I’m used to. I’ll have to remind myself to see about getting a fan. And some Gatorade.


Entry 3: Today, I met the project lead, Dr. Chamberlain. When I complained of the heat, he offered me a suit that would help regulate my body temperature; but like most people

here, I just don’t want to be cooped up in a modified space suit 24 hours a day. All the drilling isn’t helping. Besides the obvious noise concerns, these machines

generate a ton of heat. Apparently, they can dig way down into the moon’s core. Not sure why they’d want to do that, but by the size of them, I believe it’s certainly possible.

Entry 12: I got to observe some of the mineral-rich rocks they’ve dug up here. They don’t look like much…just brown rocks…but they’re light and porous. There are

thousands of little holes that trap all kinds of sediment: minerals, water molecules, bits of organic material…

Speaking of organic material, they haven’t found evidence of any large animals on Callisto, not even in the lakes. Just some simple plant-like structures and a couple

dozen microorganisms. Not a single living creature larger than a dime and no fossilized bones of any kind.


Entry 13: I finally got a communication from Earth. Just when I had resigned myself to thinking interplanetary mail was actually a hoax! An old colleague was enquiring about

my excursion and wondering if I’d frozen my butt off yet. Don’t I wish!


Entry 14: The joke about freezing actually started to depress me. The heat continues to be a problem and I overheard Dr. Chamberlain talking about how they’re having trouble

cooling off the drilling equipment. It requires a great deal of water and everyone’s worried that the “endless” supply of water might not, you know, be endless after all.


Entry 15: So, apparently, they have to cool the water before they flood the machinery or else it won’t work. They’ve built these huge compressors to cool giant tanks of water

each day so they can then, in turn, cool down the equipment at night. Of course, the compressors are just contributing to the heat problem here, so it seems we’re caught in

something of a vicious cycle. 


Entry 46: I’m seriously ready to go blow up a docking bay just to get a taste of the cold night air. Like, how bad could it be? I don’t care if it’s pitch black and full of fatal levels of

carbon dioxide; if it’s cold, I want it. Just for a minute. A second. Hell, a nanosecond. A blast of cold, refreshing air to save my sanity!


Entry 47: OK, things are beginning to make more sense. I heard a rumor from the wife of one of the drillers that the reason they’ve drilled so deep is because they found some

kind of rare metal down there. Ever since, they’ve been running these things 20 hours a day. The ground is starting to crack all around the drill sites, but the bosses don’t seem

to be too concerned. I guess if you can see dollar signs, you can’t see anything else.


Entry 48: According to Dr. Chamberlain, they discovered an incredibly valuable metal in the core. It’s lightweight and can absorb large amounts of kinetic energy. Sound

familiar? That’s right, the bosses here on Callisto believe they’ve found vibranium, or at least its close relative. And you just know some idiot is going to try to make Captain

America’s shield out of some of it! It could be a very valuable scientific discovery…but based on the tenacity of their drilling, the bosses have other things in mind.


Entry 49: With the drills running almost non-stop, the heat has become truly unbearable. There’s no way they can keep this up…well, not safely at least. The cracks

in the ground around the drill sites are more like ravines at this point. We’re registering a lot more seismic activity as well.


Entry 50: People at the barracks have noticed the problems with the drilling as well. The cook over at the mess hall I frequent told me a story about a neighbor’s dog who

was lost when the ground gave way beneath the growing fissures in the ground, and my new friend Marcus says he’s been suffering from painful tinnitus that he attributes to the

incessant drilling. I’ve expressed my concerns to the inspectors, but to no avail. 


Entry 51: I’ve made a decision. I’m going to request leave to go back to Earth. I can’t concentrate on my research and, despite assurances to the contrary, I’m convinced this

place is becoming more and more unsafe. If the heat doesn’t get us, the quakes probably will. And the noise near the drill sites (our research tent is less than two

kilometers from the largest one) is enough to drive anyone mad.


Entry 52: I’ve sent a communication to my department head at the University. I’ve barely scratched the surface of my research, but I can’t stick around here much longer.

This place is a powder keg. I plan on collecting some more samples this week and then getting on the next transport out of here.


Entry 53: Dr. Chamberlain seems disappointed that I’ll be leaving so soon, but said he understood. I think he saw the relief on my face when I told him I’d booked passage

back to Earth. He helped me run some final tests on the soil samples and gave me a hand bagging and tagging the rocks and mineral compounds. He’s truly one of the

nicest people I’ve ever met. I just don’t understand how he stands it here. This is the third year of his residency at Callisto Base and he doesn’t seem ready to leave anytime

soon. I think he’s a bit blinded by the promise of ongoing scientific discovery and doesn’t seem to recognize a situation that is almost certainly spiraling out of control. I

wish him the best, naturally, but I’m anxious as hell to get out of this place.


Entry 54: Oh, fuck…

Kate Akerboom is a multi-creative individual living in Chicago. She loves telling stories, especially about the past, and considers it an honor to tell new ones that people come up with. By day, she talks about animals at Shedd aquarium. By night she creates as much as she can. Kate is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay holding degrees in Theatre Performance and History.

Gateways: “What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Or How I Got Grounded Until Christmas by Eloise McGruff” by Steven Townsend read by Molly Southgate

There is not currently a transcript available for this classic episode.

Please join us on January 14 for our next live reading at Otherworld Theatre.

Gateways: “But There Was Time” by Mike Danovich read by Jordan Piper

There is not currently a transcript available for this classic episode.

Please join us on January 14 for our next live reading at Otherworld Theatre.

Gateways: “Thanks to Time Travel” by Nick Izzo read by Rob Southgate

There is not currently a transcript available for this classic episode.

Please join us on January 14 for our next live reading at Otherworld Theatre.