MOM: Dinner’s ready!
MOM: Markus, here. Take the plates with you to the table.
SOUND: Chairs scrape as the family sits at the dinner table. We hear the rattling of cutlery.
MARKUS: Here Dad.
SOUND: Handing of plates.
MOM: How was school?
MARKUS: Ah, it was alright.
DEVIN: Did you pass that English class or what?
MARKUS: (Chuckling) Yeah, I did.
SOUND: The conversation is interrupted by a text tone; Isa and Markus converse over text. Dialogue in [...] is accompanied by iPhone typing sounds.
ISA: [That’s such a pretty drawing!]
MARKUS: [Thanks! I wish I could send you a photo of the real thing, but I could get in huge trouble if someone saw me taking pictures of the V.A.T.s.]
ISA: [Yeah, I understand. I’ve heard a lot of scary stories about the guards at the Green City.]
DEVIN: What are you doing?
MARKUS: Nothing. Just talking to a friend.
DEVIN: Are you doing nothing, or are you talking to a friend?
MARKUS: A friend, Dad. You just don’t know her.
MOM: It’s a girl?
MOM: (imitating his tone) Markus.
MARKUS: She’s just a friend. We met on Arthole and are just talking over the chat there.
MOM: You’re meeting people online? Markus, we’ve talked about this. Your father could get in trouble for letting you access that. That doesn’t even sound like an approved site—you weren’t finding ways to access Outsider sites again, were you!?
MARKUS: It’s approved—it’s just a HavenLine group.
DEVIN: What neighborhood is she in?
MARKUS: I don’t know.
DEVIN: You don’t know?!
MARKUS: It’s south. She goes to school in the South building.
DEVIN: You’re sure?
MARKUS: Yes, of course. Leave it alone.
MOM: We’re allowed to be worried.
DEVIN: Exactly. I thought I said you could use my account for schoolwork only. Even that’s against guard protocols. And how do you even know she’s from Haven?
MARKUS: She’s not an Outsider, alright? It’s an internal site. She wrote her username on her painting for the art fair last month.
MOM: Okay, okay! Anyway, no devices at the table. Dinner time is family time.
DEVIN: ...So, did anything happen at work today?
MOM: Oh, not really. I was operating the fertilizers all day...were there any intruders today?
DEVIN: No... but I found a dead body.
MOM: Oh my god! Not a citizen...?
DEVIN: No, no no... it was an Outsider. We think he starved waiting for a chance to sneak in.
MOM: Wow, what was he thinking trying to sneak in alone?
MARKUS: Well, maybe the rest of his family had already starved.
MARKUS: Maybe he had nothing, he was born in a wasteland where the only people with food are the ones who refuse to share it.
DEVIN: Markus, please.
MARKUS: Maybe he had one final idea, the absolute last resort. Maybe the Project was his last hope, and we failed him.
MARKUS: We shut our doors on him and we killed him.
MARKUS: Sorry. I thought I was supposed to participate in family conversation.
SOUND: Typing. Skype call sound effect.
ISA: It worked. Finally! I can see you!
MARKUS: Cool! But how much is this costing you?
ISA: It’s not too much—just had to find a guy who actually had access to sell. Last one took my money and it never worked. I need it to post my recipes today anyhow.
Look, one of my tomatoes is ripe!
MARKUS: That’s awesome, Isa!
ISA: I’m so excited. I’m giving it to Raine as soon as he wakes up.
MARKUS: And what’s on the menu with that tomato?
ISA: I was thinking a fresh plating with some mozzarella and fresh basil, a splash of olive oil and a balsamic reduction drizzled on top...(laughing)
MARKUS: (Laughing) When and where are you serving?
ISA: Yeah, I wish. I think I might have a bit of salt and ground pepper tucked away in the cupboard, but it might have to be a straight-up tomato kind of night for Raine...
MARKUS: You’re going to have some too, though, right?
ISA: Well, no, I only have one. Raine’s been bruising really easily lately—he needs fruit. And I do actually have a couple of basil leaves I can eat.
MARKUS: Basil isn’t sustaining, Isa.
ISA: It’s kind of the best I’ve got right now. I had sprouted some spinach, but I couldn’t put it in the sun because someone would take it, and it died.
MARKUS: I’m sorry.
ISA: It’s okay, you aren’t the shade that killed my spinach.
MARKUS: I know, I just wish I could do more. It’s so messed up that I can’t do more. How’s your application going?
ISA: Good, I think. It’s quizzing me on the readings I did yesterday.
MARKUS: That’s good.
ISA: Thank you for telling me about the posting, Mark. I don’t think I ever said that.
MARKUS: You’re welcome, always. You sound like you know what you’re doing in a kitchen and really...I...I just want you safe.
ISA: God, I hope I get picked.
MARKUS: You will.
SOUND: There is a long pause, followed by an alarm clock sound effect. We hear Markus shut off the alarm, brush his teeth, and walk downstairs.
DEVIN: Good morning.
SOUND: Rattling of cutlery, chairs scraping the floor.
MARKUS: So Dad...what does happen to Outsiders at the wall?
MOM: Not this again.
MARKUS: No, I’m serious. What happens when people find us?
DEVIN: We say there’s nothing for them here, and we ask them to head on their way.
MARKUS: But some of them must know, right? There is something for them here.
DEVIN: It’s the same thing. If they come peacefully, they’re sent on their way.
MARKUS: And what do you tell them?
DEVIN: We tell them thet- not to trespass and inform them that they’re intruding on private property.
MARKUS: How often?
DEVIN: Not often. I mean, we keep the peace by keeping quiet.
MARKUS: And what if someone came through the forest with a child?
MARKUS: Like, you’re on guard duty. People always try to sneak in through the forest, right? So say you’re on guard duty in the forest and this woman comes up to you, all skinny and pale and sickly and she’s carrying a skinny and pale and sickly child. You just tell her to piss off?
MOM: Leave it alone, Markus.
DEVIN: I do whatever will protect my family. You have to understand, here. I have two choices. I can do my job and continue to live here, or I can disobey. I can refuse to do my job, and be kicked out, replaced by someone who CAN do my job. And then we are the outsiders. We’re the ones begging guards for food. Look I know it isn’t fair—of course I know it isn’t fair. But I can’t sacrifice myself and my family to allow some stranger to sneak into town when they’ll probably be incarcerated the next day anyway.
MARKUS: They have families, too.
DEVIN: I know! And I hate it. I hate turning them away. (Keys jingling) I have to go to work.
SOUND: Chairs scraping.
SOUND: Pause, followed by a school bell. Background chatter of a classroom, a teacher speaking, pencils scraping. School bell, lockers closing, shuffling of students leaving. Markus walks through a noisy hallway, and out a heavy door. We hear wind and footsteps on gravelly concrete for a few more beats, followed by a phone ringing.
MARKUS: Hey, I’m out of class now.
ISA: Oh! I was hoping you’d get through today—I submitted my application this morning!
MARKUS: Oh my god, really? That’s amazing!
ISA: I’m trying not to get my hopes up, to be honest. Just because I managed to publish a cookbook online doesn’t make me top of the heap. I don’t know what I’m going to do if this doesn’t work.
MARKUS: C’mon! Even I found “Slim Pickins” online! That’s why we started talking, Isa. You are a talented and inventive chef with limited means. That’s exactly what they are looking for! You have got to see that?
ISA: Yeah, I guess...but I’m young. And I don’t have proper training...
MARKUS: But your dad did! Look what you’ve done with what he taught you. And you have so much less to work with than he did. Haven’s going to need someone who can be the chef for years...just like the last one... Hey, are you doing alright? Have you eaten today?
ISA: Yeah. Raine ate the tomato, and I think Mama’s work is providing lunches today.
MARKUS: What about you?
ISA: I’m fine. Tired.
MARKUS: Have you eaten?
ISA: I’m fine.
MARKUS: That wasn’t the question. I understand you want to feed your family, but you can’t just starve yourself.
ISA: I don’t have any food, Markus. The supermarket is empty. I’m hoping they’ll restock by the end of the week. I can survive until then.
MARKUS: Didn’t you say you have some non-perishables in your lockbox? Can’t you eat some of those?
ISA: Those are for emergencies.
MARKUS: This isn’t an emergency? You need to eat, Isa!
ISA: It’s an emergency when Raine and Mama can’t eat. I need to save the non-perishables. I’m sorry if I scared you, but I’m really okay. I have to go now, okay? It’s time for work and it isn’t safe for me to leave the house with my phone.
MARKUS: (Sigh.) Alright. Stay safe, okay?
ISA: (light laugh) I’ll try my best.
SOUND: Phone ringing.
MARKUS: Have you received anything yet?
ISA: I’m checking my email now! (Computer clicks. Long pause.) ...oh.
ISA: (reading) Miss Garcia, thank you for your application for the position of Chef in Haven Project Food Production. Your application and testing were impressive, and we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted as a chef and citizen of the Haven Project.
MARKUS: (delighted) Oh my god!
ISA: (still reading) You are to keep this information entirely secret. If you accept this offer, please respond to this email with confirmation. You, and only you will be privately escorted over the lake on the southeastern border of the Project. We look forward to meeting you. Sincerely, The Haven Project Recruitment Team. (Long, silent pause.)
MARKUS: I’m sorry, Isa. You-
ISA: I can’t.
MARKUS: You have to. There’s-
ISA: I won’t.
MARKUS: There has to be another way.
ISA: I don’t have enough time to find that other way. Mama can barely walk when she gets home from work. Raine is sick all the time. Papa’s gone. I don’t...
MARKUS: We’ll find something.
SOUND: Crickets indicate late nighttime.
MARKUS: Hey. (Footsteps, chair creak.) I’m sorry about this morning.
DEVIN: It’s alright. It’s not...you’re not wrong.
MARKUS: You know the friend I’ve been talking to? She’s an Outsider. I didn’t meet her through a school fair. I’ve been trying to get her hired as the new chef.
MARKUS: She was accepted...and she turned them down. They said she couldn’t bring her family.
DEVIN: I’m sorry, Markus.
MARKUS: They’re starving, Dad. She has a mother and a little six year old brother and they’re starving. She hasn’t eaten in days. I think...I don’t know what to do.
DEVIN: I don’t know if there’s anything you can do.
MARKUS: But there has to be! There’s no reason for her waste away out there just because she wasn’t lucky enough to be born here. There’s nothing about my life that makes it more valuable than hers, and yet I get to live.
DEVIN: Then live long enough to change things.