At the Rocks of Radness - Season 1 Episode 2
Dr. Eurus finds a safe haven and meets some locals.
Tides was written by Jesse Schuschu and directed by Jesse Schuschu and Ayla Taylor. It was produced by Ayla Taylor and edited by Bridge Geene. Art by Sarah Durst.
Dr. Winifred Eurus is played by Julia Schifini and Dr. Robert Montague is played by James Oliva.
Tides is the story of Dr. Winifred Eurus, a xenobiologist trapped on an unfamiliar planet with hostile tidal forces. She must use her wits, sarcasm and intellectual curiosity to survive long enough to be rescued. But there might be more to life on this planet than she expected. . .
Find us at www.tidespodcast.com and follow @TidesPodcast on Twitter or Tumblr. You can support our show at patreon.com/tidespodcast.
Music in intro is "Shimmer" by Scott Holms and the ending music is "Drift" by Scott Holms.
Sound effects include:
"Footsteps, Muddy, E.wav" by InspectorJ of Freesound.org
"Water Wading.wav" by Motion_S of Freesound.org
"radio click 4.wav" and "radio click 3.wav" by ERH of Freesound.org
"wave1.wav" by Kayyy of Freesound.org
[Leaning against a rock, looking upwards.]
Dr. Winifred Eurus: Okay, well. Uh- I’ll just record one more thing before I start climbing. Uh- Currently I’m at the base of a pile of jumbled rocks and boulders. It’s part of a massive outcropping of rock sticking out of the tidal plain like a sore thumb. I- I wonder if this is a former island that’s been worn down - I- I can see a few more bumps and generally lumpiness trailing off to the southeast. The mountains aren’t too far of a trek from here, but I think the top of this rise is above the tides with all the gradual climbing I’ve been doing. Which- Famous last words- right?
I spent the “noon” period, maybe four hours, out of direct sunlight under an overhang nearby. The water’s sculpted the rocks at the base into weird fragile archways and mushrooms.
Montague, I’m- psh- I’m no expert, but I think this is basalt? Which would mean it’s volcanic in origin. Right? Some sedimentary bands in the nearest rock face. No fossils that I can see, more’s the pity. The boulders are . . . eh, I’m not that into describing the rocks for you. Maybe I’ll pick up some samples for you to amuse yourself with, with that little hammer of yours. [Smirks]
I- I should mention to Stevens, if he’s listening- which he should be, that you should never assume that details about the environment are unimportant. The rocks here mean a great deal to our work, especially if they are old enough to be from before Fons was captured by Volturnus. Confirming that theory would inform how we view the development of life here. Still, no need to get carried away. Rocks are just rocks, stromatolites notwithstanding.
On the seaward side the mud and sand form a ramp that makes the walk halfway up easier, though it’s still a loose muck that has to be slogged through. Stevens, if you get the chance to come down, bring some good boots and prepare for slogging. It’s been daylight for nearly 48 hours but there’s still water underneath the surface, trickling down to the sea, which makes it nice and mushy.
This region is similar to the high tide zone on Earth - mostly dry, until the tide comes in. I’ve seen a lot of those same shells I saw before. I managed to scrape one off that I think was right on the verge of death. It- it was hanging on very loosely and had a grayness to its shell, and I immediately regretted it, as it turned out to be full of small white worms and pretty much fell apart in my hands. [Shudders] Would have held onto the shell but I’ve got no place to put it.
Other than that, there are a large number of plant or plantlike organisms, mostly simple in structure - the most common type being a tall stalk about five inches thick at the base and four to fifteen feet high with five large, sort of rough ‘leaves’ or fronds that fan outward symmetrically. At the base under the sand there is a very large, dense bulb that I can’t unearth entirely- God knows I’ve tried. Their coloring is green, with blackish spots. At the very top of the shorter ones is a sort of orifice I can’t tell the purpose of. They’re sort of spread out, resembling the distribution of desert plants more than they do a forest.
[Stretches and starts walking again]
I’m going to look around the area a little before heading up.
Stevens, I’ve found a new species of shellfish I hadn’t seen at all further down. Now these, they’re congregated along the edges of the trickling streams that must be somewhat permanent features, especially to either side of this group of stones, ranging in a scattered way up the sides of the rock pile. Their shells are massive, bigger than I am, probably at least seven feet tall and about as wide in diameter. They’re a tan-color, not that different from the sand around, and unreflective and rough. There are a lot of them around, clustered together sometimes so close that their shells are right up against one another and fused together. I counted twelve on one side and fifteen on the other. I kept my distance as best I could though, you know, out of caution.
The plants I mentioned are getting shorter, I think? I thought it was my imagination, but the tallest one is less than ten feet now. Maybe it has something to do with the time of day? I don’t know.
[Takes breath, readying herself]
Further observation will have to wait. I’m ready to climb up now. Wish me luck.
[Resting on a ledge. So far, not exactly a cliff, just a steep hill.]
Hmm, maybe . . . thirty or forty feet up from where I was. Which, you know, not too bad. Lots of ledges, winding back and forth. This next part is more sheer, but there are handholds, and the lower gravity lets me to pretend to be a little more agile than I would otherwise be.
Volturnus is getting higher overhead and I’m just- I’m imagining a tower tall enough to reach it, where I can climb hand-over-hand and reach the gas giant. Somewhere in the middle I could just let go and fall the rest of the way, upwards. honestly that would be nice, gently drifting down the - much longer - other side of the center of gravity.
Anyway, uh- back to work.
Never ask me to tell you about that part. Almost died. Stupid clumsy suit. Stupid, stupid suit. Gotta keep it on though.
There’s a partial eclipse happening. Need to remember not to look at it directly, want to keep my eyesight.
Now I’m on top of the rocks, probably . . . a couple hundred feet? . . . above the tidal plain. Scree pile certainly helped, and the blocks of basalt formed kind of a staircase in places. There was the steep bit but then it rounded off again and was better near the top. Still. Took a while.
It’s just a big lump of igneous rock. A pillar, it seems, of volcanic rock pushing upwards from the ocean floor. More useful for your core theories than my research, Montague. There’s a not-exactly-flat area at the top, which we could drill into it sometime if you’re free to drop by. Maybe find a little of the remains of an ancient seabed. Might be interesting...
By the way Melissa, your calculations were slightly off the mark. Not just for the first wave . . . but also for the one I see coming over the horizon now, holy shit.
I’m lashing down the beacon, and myself, and just praying for the best. I’m . . . probably? . . . high enough up here. If I die -
Oh, I did that bit already.
[Audio cuts out, resumes with Eurus shouting and water rushing in the background]
Holy fuck! Oh Jesus. Fucking. Christ. Wooooooooo!
Can you imagine surfing here? Holy crap!
High tide’s maybe six or seven feet below my position. But the spray from the initial wave went right over the rock, right over me, and then splashed down on top of me. Guess I needed a shower. Still, I stayed on, so that’s something.
This- this is the crest of the wave, right now. Volturnus a bit past peak overhead. So my current position is somewhat tenable. I’ll untie myself from this boulder and set up the beacon.
[Water sounds start to fade away]
So, basically I think I think I screw this into the rock somehow, to hold up the antenna. Or is it this bit? Wait, are these the right screws, there’s supposed to be four -
[Audio resumes a little while later with background noises quieter]
Okay, so I’ve got the antenna up, and it’s got a lot more range than my own transmitter. [softly] Wow. I’ll link it up, and -
Hello? Hello? This is Fred Eurus. Hello?
Mayday, mayday, uh, this is Dr. Winifred Eurus. SOS or- I dunno- some shit.
I’m alive. I’m down here, and I’m alive.
[Brief break in audio. Sound of wind - isolation, loneliness]
[Fred is on her stomach, leaning over and trying to peer down into the water. It’s not too choppy, or this wouldn’t work.]
Interesting local wildlife. Tide is still high. Stevens, these large lumps are not exactly shellfish, in that they are not completely stuck in one place. I’ll give you a rough description.
When I looked down through the water - and it’s pretty deep down, but I can see the higher ones fairly well through the greenish murky seawater - but when I look down through it I saw some of them open up hatches, a single hatch right in the top of each shell. What emerged was first a mass of tentacles, and then a pale grayish body that I guess resembled a slug? It’s hard to see details where I am. Mostly they just protrude from the shells like this, tentacles waving in the backflow of the tide coming down from the mainland. But occasionally one will lug itself completely out and slowly worm their way through the water. Sometimes they even come close enough to the surface that I can see them completely clearly.
All things considered, they’re surprisingly poor swimmers, and their tails don’t end in so much of a fin as a vague tapered point. The tentacles are shortish, maybe a foot long; and there’s a ring of feathery ones on the outside that fan out. To venture a guess I’d say they’re probably filter feeding, same as much of the ocean life here. There’s an inner ring of thicker tentacles around a beaklike mouth, it’s very cephalopod-esque. It’s not the most . . . athletic-seeming? I want to say? Huh.
They never get too close together. Without apparent eyes, they weave around one another. Few are swimming at all, maybe three at a time are active, some individuals never leave the shell. Some go over to . . . I think it’s a shell, an unoccupied one. They rub themselves over its base. It has one opening, that definitely wasn’t open before, which I guess implies someone or something is in it. They also float around those plants I noticed, their stems fully retracted now and just the fronds waving out.
Something’s gliding in from the direction of the ocean, leaving a wake behind it.
[She climbs to her knees and then to her feet, backing away from the water not out of fear but caution.]
It’s- oh. It’s a big shape - maybe schoolbus size? - and dark, a shadow in the sea. It has a lot of- I don’t know- maybe a dozen, thick spikes protruding in all directions.
Other fish have mostly steered clear of the colony. This one came right in and is hovering nearby, just a few yards off. The swimming creatures don’t react much, though they move around it.
A spike moves and touches a shell. Immediately, the protruding creatures draw themselves back in, all at once. Huh. The lids on their shells do not close. The swimming creatures don’t respond much at all. At least not abruptly. Some are heading back to their places.
It floats there, like a massive bulk, and I know this is just my perception, but there’s not much fear or panic going on, like you would see in response to a predator. But they do respond to it. They know why it’s here.
In the end it went away, slowly, with the flow of the tide starting to go back out. The other creatures re emerged. Very few are moving from their spots, and I’m too tired to keep leaning over the edge to stare at them. Sun glinting off the water, and the water is churning around the rocks. Rocks lifting me to the air, air between me and the planet and the sun.
Too tired. Just like a bicycle, my dad would say. Am I a bicycle? It’s been day for so long now. Maybe I was a bicycle all along. When the tide’s low I can check and see whether I left footprints or a long single line. What’s the saying? That’s the part where the bicycle carried me, and the parts with footprints are where I carried the bicycle.
But they’ll be washed away soon anyhow.
[Sighs, trying to think of something to do or talk about.]
Let’s see, how about an inventory? Uh- I’ve been here about sixty-two hours. I have eight emergency rations left. Uhm- eating them while remaining in the suit requires some flexibility which I’ve been able to manage by pulling my arms in, but it’s predictably uncomfortable.
Outside my personal environment I have a small drill that was part of the beacon kit and a tiny folding knife attached to me with a carabiner. A small amount of cable, also part of the beacon kit, that I used to tie myself to the rock earlier. I have my water desalination kit with accompanying extendable solar array that powers a heat source. I have, with reserve oxygen and a fully functioning rebreather, about- hm- six hours of potential air supply if I’m stuck somewhere lower than the tide. At the altitude of the tidal plain beneath me, say if I fell off this rock, that might be barely enough to make it through one cycle. But it doesn’t matter anyway, since the raw kinetic energy of the wave would be enough to kill me just by slapping me against a rock.
The Tellus suit itself is very durable despite being on the heavy side, though quite scuffed from my climb. The viewport is a little bit dusty and it's superficially scratched from the wreck. The water reclamation system is working well with minimal waste. Solid waste, or what little I’ve produced, I’ve placed for now in sealed bags under a heavy stone. Which reminds me, I only have a couple more of those bags, after which you know - too bad, pristine ecosystem, it’s my manifest destiny to come and literally shit all over you.
Oh shit- Sorry about that Stevens and Melissa, if you’re listening.
The internal computer system of the suit is functional, though I’ve been limiting my use of it to the broadcasting and voice recording features only. As long as the sun is shining there will be power for it. I’m limiting my use of the heads-up display just to store the maximum amount of charge for tonight. It’ll get dark for a long time, full darkness for around sixty-six hours. Not looking forward to that. It’ll be cold too. Which, nothing my suit can’t handle. If the battery charge holds out.
Still, the day didn’t get quite as hot as I was afraid it would, so maybe the nights won’t be quite as bad in this region - vigorous currents distributing heat and the influx of heat from ocean vents might counteract the lack of sunlight. The fumes of the far-off volcano are contributing to a haziness in the sky right now. I’m glad for my air filters, once again.
Speaking of volcanism, Montague, I haven’t noticed any of the tremors I mentioned since I came up here. When I was walking, I felt like I passed over a few bands of them - like a very localized tremor. But when I put my head close to the rock beneath me . . . I feel like I can almost hear something? Like a faint, faint song. The microphone won’t pick it up, I’ve tried recording it, but . . . Maybe I’m just going insane.
[Turns back to the water. Static, indistinct voices]
The creatures - I’ll have to think of a name for them - have mostly ducked back into their shells and closed the hatches. Some are over by that uninhabited shell and dipping in their feathered tentacles, bringing them their mouths, eating. Strange. Perhaps cannibalism of a dead comrade?That seems like Unlikely given how they normally eat. Oh. The door just shut. One of them touched it, I think.
And now they’re returning to their places, and the tide is going down. Gradually.
Dr. Robert Montague: [Faintly and with static] I have a lock on her. I have a lock on her. So, maybe she can hear me, maybe she can't.
Eurus: Hello? Hello! Come in Stribog! Can you hear me?
Montague: Winny? Winny, are you there?
Eurus: What did he just call me?
Montague: Please respond. Fred? [static] hearing this? Over. Fred? Can you hear me? Fred, we’re picking up a lot of interference. [static] is that we have a fix on your location now. I’m damn sure this is you- [Static]. We're going to be coming back around. We have a lock on your location. We will be coming to get you. We'll be passing by very soon. . . [Static, dies out]
Eurus: [Speaking over Montague, trying to adjust the becon to get a better signal] The fucking signal keeps breaking up. I need to -- Can I adjust this? I don't even know if he can fucking hear me! What is going on. . . Stupid fucking. . . I can't even hear. . . Is it the magnetic -- ? Come on you stupid pieces of shit, just work for once. Hello? Montague is that you? Fuck, can you hear me? Hello? Stupid fucking. . . why won't you. . . just adjust for once! The fucking button fell off! Dammit, I'm losing the signal.
Signal crapped out. God dammit! But they must be hearing me. I hope.
Okay. It’s no use worrying about it right now. I’m going to set up the automated SOS. And sit here. And listen. And just, wait.
Julia Schifini: Tides was written by Jesse Schuschu and directed by Jesse Schuschu and Ayla Taylor. It was produced by Ayla Taylor and edited by Bridge Geene. The voice of Dr. Eurus is Julia Schifini. Dr. Robert Montague is voiced by James Oliva. Special thanks to Sarah Durst for designing our cover art. You can find us online at our website tidespodcast.com and follow us on Tumblr and Twitter at @tidespodcast. If you like our show and would like to help us keep making it, you can support us on patreon.com/tidespodcast. Thank you so much for listening.
And now, an Ocean Fact.
This is Dr. Winifred Eurus. Ocean facts #2: Sea otters are dicks.