Slaves – Episode 104
White slave James Cooper and black slave Michael Booker are plotting to escape their Mississippi plantation in order to reunite Michael with his eleven-year-old daughter Mae in Philadelphia..
Episode 104 – Thin Air
(The morning after the barn dance — while everybody else is in church — Michael and James are sitting outside the old abandoned barn, staring at the ox cart the Confederates had dragged and left there..)
Cooper: What do you think it is, Mikey?
Booker: It’s a boat, stupid.
Cooper: (rolls his eyes) Yeah, Mike. A boat made of iron. That’ll work.
Booker: Well what do you think it is, smart guy?
Cooper: Alien spacecraft.
Cooper: From the Moon. I read somewhere that there’s a race of aliens on the Moon who look just like us. And they fly here in metal craft. Like a metal hot-air balloon.
Booker: The only hot-air balloon here is you.
Cooper: (eyes narrow) The Moon men are probably nearby, collecting flora and fauna to take back to their Moon land and study. (whispering) They could be watching us right now.
Booker: I say we take it down to the crick and see if it floats.
Cooper: Yeah, I’m down.
(Stanley and Harrison wake up in a ditch a couple kilometers east of the Dukesbury plantation, severely hungover..)
(Michael and James have managed to drag the cart down to the small creek running through the woods at the back of the plantation and push the ship into the water, where it floats and turns back toward them..)
Cooper: (nodding) So, it’s a space boat.
Booker: No, it’s just a regular boat. Ain’t that somethin’. An iron boat.
Cooper: Oh, ye of little faith. This is clearly an alien craft. It has to be made of iron so it can pass through our atmosphere and…go to the Sun and stuff.
Cooper: You talkin’ out yo ass. It’s a warship. It’s iron so it can take enemy fire. See those little holes you can stick a gun through.
Cooper: (shakes his head condescendingly) A warship? Silly Michael. War is on land, not on water. What are we on, the Moon?
Booker: You might be. Let’s get in it, see how this puppy operates.
(Michael climbs on top of the ironclad and unlocks the roof hatch..)
Cooper: Careful. You could get Moon cancer being exposed to their elements.
Booker: (drops in) Oh, wow!
Cooper: What is it? Is it cool?
Booker: This something else. You gotta get in here, Jim.
Cooper: (climbs up, tentatively drops in) Whoa.
(The slaves glance around at the surprisingly roomy ironclad complete with a coal engine in the back, a steering wheel in the front and turrets on the sides for guns..)
Booker: You could take down the whole Confederate Army with this thing.
Cooper: I doubt it.
(James points at a Confederate flag tacked to the ceiling..)
Booker: This could change the entire face of the war, James. We can’t let the Confederacy get their hands on this.
Cooper: (nodding) Or the Moon men.
Booker: (eyes light up) James. This could be our way out. This could be our escape!
Cooper: Ooh. I dunno, Michael. Pretty sure they have a different type of oxygen on the Moon. Not sure we’d be able to survive up there.
Booker: (frowns) Then how are they able to survive down here on their flora mission?
Cooper: (shrugs) Tubes?
Booker: Why am I arguin’ this? No, I mean this could be our way to escape the plantation and head up north. We get this on the Mississippi and ride it ’til we hit the free states. No one will be able to stop us. It’s like a fortress on water.
Cooper: Yeah, but will it float.
Booker: (losing his patience) We floatin’ in it right now, James.
Cooper: Fair point. Well, let’s go.
(James checks his pockets; pulls out a pipe, a pack of tobacco and a flask of leftover Cooper Wine..)
Cooper: I’m packed.
Booker: Not just yet. We gotta wait ’til the time is just right. Can’t go runnin’ off in the middle of the day. Gotta wait ’til nightfall to give ourselves a head start.
Cooper: Just hope those Moon men don’t find it before we leave.
Cooper: (runs to the back of the boat) I’m gonna see if the engine works. (gives the pull crank a hearty rip)
(Harrison and Stanley are trudging back toward the Dukesbury barn..)
Harrison: Why’d we have to go and drink all that whiskey, Stanley?
Stanley: I told you I was thirsty.
Harrison: It’s Sunday. Gen. Lowery’s gonna kill us.
Stanley: We’ll be fine. We just gotta get that cart, steal a horse and ride fast. We’re only a couple miles from Ft. Hagg–uh oh.
(Harrison turns his attention to what Stanley is staring at, white-faced. An empty patch of grass is sitting where the cart had been resting against the barn the night before..)
Harrison: Aw, fubar.
(Michael and James are walking back from the creek, Michael staring daggers at his friend and coworker..)
Cooper: What? I had to know.
(The slaves spot Stanley and Harrison yelling at each other by the barn..)
Booker: (puts a hand up to stop James) Confederates.
(Michael and James duck behind the barn to listen in..)
Stanley: Without that ship, Gen. Lowery’s gonna have us court-martialed! If we’re lucky!
Harrison: Don’t you think I know that!
Cooper: (gasps) Moon men!
Harrison: What was that?
(Michael and James clamor to make a break for it, but the soldiers round the corner and tackle them before they can escape..)
Stanley: (gets up, dusts himself off) Well, well, well. What do we have here? A slave and a… (turns to a smiling Cooper) …really pale slave.
Cooper: I’m white. I’m from Florida. It’s a long story. We don’t know where your boat is.
Harrison: (eyes narrow) Who said anything about a boat?
Booker: You did. Just a second ago.
Harrison: Was I talkin’ to you, boy?
Stanley: Take us to the boat, white slave.
Cooper: (glances at Booker, who stares at him)
Booker: He’s talkin’ to you, stupid.
Cooper: Ooh, the ship? Yeah, about that…
(Cooper points at the tuft of trees down the hill, behind the plantation where a pillar of black smoke is billowing into the sky..)
Harrison: (puts his hand on his hat) Aw, consarnit! Our ship!
Cooper: So guys, level with me. What’s the Moon really like?