Ep. 1: Escape Wish
My first two wishes got me a house and car. I made my third wish. The genie sighed, shrugged their shoulders and said, “There’s always one,” and gave me a starship loaded with supplies. On the day I escaped, the genie made their escape with me.
Ep. 2: Hidden planet: Lost Dragon
Convincing an alien race that my starship was not their long lost dragon deity revealed them to be a peaceful people on a eutopian planet. We wiped the exact location of that planet and people from our travel log, and they gave us a cat named Alex as a We’re sorry for capturing/gesture of continued good will toward us. Alex is an intergalactic linguistic expert among other things.
Until we meet again, my dragon-worshipping, feline gifting friends!
Ep. 3: The Ball Pit
There is a room on the ship that is a ball pit, and the balls have children’s faces on them. We had just closed the door and agreed never to speak of this room again when Genie noticed one of the balls had rolled out. They stared at the girl’s face on it before quietly taking the ball to their quarters, presumably for further study.
I wish they hadn’t. I was just starting to forget that the ball-girl was on board when Alex said he was sure he could hear children’s laughter while the door was open. I’m starting to have questions about just what kind of escape vehicle this turned out to be.
Ep. 4: A Night with Genie
They beat The Sandman at Poker when they were young, and they haven’t slept well since. There’s nothing to do most nights but think on what a stupid move it had been to bluff someone so powerful into folding such a good hand when all they had were low cards, but tonight is something different. There is the room that is a ballpit and what came out of it to consider.
Genie looks at the face on the ball. It is a child’s face. A girl’s face. A face they recognize. They even know the name that goes with it, but won’t—can’t look at that right now.
They will use the girl’s name. The ship has an extensive media library that contains, among other things, archives of every news story prior to the ship’s launch. A few keystrokes tells Genie everything they need to know, and they also realize this trip may not be the escape they thought it was.
Okay, they think. I can deal with this. The first thing to do is get the girl out of the ball.
Ep. 5: Beef and Juice
The two space traveling cows haled us, and our first look at their video feed showed them standing at the controls of their craft with a dragon in the background. Once Alex started translating the the cows recognized him as having lived on the dragon-worshiping planet, they were insistent that we give them the coordinates so they could return the dragon.
When we explained that we wiped the location of that planet from our travel log and explained why, the cows said, “Sounds fake, but okay.” Before blasting off again.
Ep. 6: Paige and Genie in That Order
“Good! You’re awake.”
“Where am I?”
“Aboard the Starship Changeling.”
“What is that?”
“Someone’s third wish. Changeling’s to be exact.”
“How did I get here?”
“… Well …”
“I remember you! You’re GeniYou were my imaginary friend.”
“I was your very real friend. Like this ship and everyone and everything aboard, I operate on a different plane of existence. Children see me. Adults don’t. I know how this sounds because of where we are, but it ain’t t here?”
“You were ten, and you decided that as a new ten-year-old, you should conquer your fear of the ball pit.”
“I went by myself.”
“All by yourself. You chased me away.”
“Anyway, you went in. You went all the way to the bottom … You never came out.
“Something else came out of that pit, and it looked like you so no news stories, search parties, etc. I stopped befriending children after that. I should have come with you.”
“I didn’t want you there. I chose to jump into the ball pit. …
“I can’t turn it off. I keep thinking about it.”
“Didn’t I used to sing you to sleep? You know… Before I disappeared and was replaced.”
“You did. Every night. I never actualy slept. Can’t. It just really relaxed me.”
“Okay. Let’s try that.
… … …
“Good. You’re relaxed. I’ll be right here when you wake up. We’ll figure this out.”
… … …
“One more question.””
Is Changeling a child?”
“But it was Changeling’s wish that got us here.”
“I don’t understand why. Changeling is different, I think. I’m here to figure out just how different is different.”
Ep. 7: Changeling, Paige and Genie
I would have gotten my ass kicked if the new girl had meant to do it. She caught me totally unaware. One minute, I was in Genie’s quarters, fiddling with the wifi box and completely alone. The next, a voice behind me said,
“I remember that song. My mom used to sing it.”
I spun the way one will when they are caught humming and they didn’t know they were doing it, and there was a girl holding a stuffed unicorn.
Not just any girl.
Last time I’d seen her face, it had been on a plastic ball.
Didn’t see the ball, but there was the girl. Only one thing to make of that.
“I can’t call you Ball Pit Girl. That just sounds wrong.”
“My name is Paige. I know Genie, and you’re not a cat. You must be Changeling.”
“What’s your unicorn’s name?”
“I never gave him one. I found him and I picked him up, and the next thing I remember is being here.”
I turned to Genie as they stepped in. “Genie,” I said, “this is Paige. She’s the newest passenger on my starship.”
“I was going to tell you, but I didn’t know how. She’s not just from the ball pit. She’s from before I met you.”
“How is it even possible?”
“I don’t know. The ship is, after all, the product of your wish.”
“You’re saying I’m doing it?”
“I’m saying the ship exists through nonconventional means. Therefore, nonconventional things will be possible on it.”
I left then.We’ll have to sort this out, but I can’t do that if I’m not in the loop.
Ep, 8: Another Room, Another Character Behaves Strangely
We found another impossible room on the ship. This one is a long hall of doors that seems to go on forever. Genie said they read about a room like that once, and they seemed reluctant to enter.
We did go in, and we realized the doors opened on a different TV universe. I opened one onto the original “Star Trek”, and then we all spent time trying to assign the main roles to ourselves. Alex said if anything, we were more qualified for the cast of “Spaceballs,” and all of us but Paige had a good laugh at that.
Another door opened on Springfield and the Simpsons, another the set of “Big bang Theory”. We were having fun until Paige opened one on the original “Twilight Zone”. She looked in for a minute, then gasped and closed the door. She backed into Genie who put an arm around her, and she won’t talk about what she saw in there. She just keeps throwing me these little sideways glances.
Anyway, that room is now also off limits. At this rate, we’ll all just have to stay in the common room all the time. I wish I knew what she saw…
Ep. 9: The Beginning Pt. 1
In Paige and Genie’s quarters with just them.
“Why is Changeling always dreaming?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Well, when you sleep, you dream. I can feel you dream.”
“Okay. Well, I only ever saw Changeling awake… But dreaming. I feel it.”
“It’s just us now. But probably.” Genie stands. “I think I know what’s going on. We need to talk to Alex.
“One other thing. When we were in the room with all the doors. What did you see in the last one?”
She tells them.
They repeat the need to talk to Alex.
Paige asks, “What about Changeling?”
“Changeling can’t know. Ever.”
Ep. 10: The Beginning Pt. 2
In Paige and Genie’s quarters with them plus Alex. Genie has just explained the situation and its meaning.
Paige is calm. She jumped into a ball pit when she was ten and woke up on a starship with a talking cat, among other things. She has no sense of normal. And yet, she realizes she has something to lose here.
Alex is confused. He lived on a planet until he was given away. He remembers normal, and he wants to return there one day. What he really wants is to return there one day and bring back his people’s lost dragon, then they’ll never give him away again. If this isn’t handled just right, he won’t get to do any of those things. He says to Genie, “Tell me one more time.”
Genie does. “Changeling is dreaming us. Us and the starship. That’s why Paige got here the way she did. Also, how many starships do you know that have ball pits? Or rooms that open on TV universes?”
Paige adds, “And kitty’s don’t talk.”
Alex nods. “And Paige can feel Changeling dreaming?”
“Yes. Awake dreaming.”
“Isn’t that just daydreaming?”
“Daydreaming is just a fancy ass way of saying you’re not paying attention.”
“And Paige,” Alex says, “tell me what you saw in the room with all the doors.”
“The last door opened and I saw Changeling. In bed.”
“So… normal sleep. Could wake up at any time. Is that what we’re saying?”
Genie shrugs. “Maybe. Definitely possible.”
“And if he wakes up…?”
“Same thing that happens to the people in our dreams when we wake up. At the very least, we stop existing and growing. worse, though, we could just end up forgotten. I’ve had lots of people in my dreams I don’t remember when I wake up.”
Paige and Alex ask, “What do we do?”
“Simple. The players in our dreams—the people, the animals, etc.—all serve the purpose of advancing the dream to a point where we wake up. A monster chases us until we wake up. Someone gives us that toy we’ve always wanted, and we wake up just as we feel that ultimate happiness. So all we need to do is make Changeling not wake up.”
Alex says, “Isn’t this wrong? Real people can die any time. How’s are situation that different.”
“Real people also stop smoking when they learn it makes their life shorter. We’re doing that, but on a slightly different level.
“Also, Changeling believes this is real. He doesn’t even know he’s missing anything.”
“What if Changeling dies?”
“Real people die. No matter what. Even when they stop smoking. How is our situation that different?
“The difference is we’ll be taking control of the situation. But it only works if we all agree.”
They took their time with it.
They agreed to do it.
Genie said, “Okay. We need to get reality farther away from us.”
“How do we do that?”
Paige smiles, “I have an idea.”
This is the end of Act One.