The Life and Times of a Zohillian Cargo Inspector
The PGF’s Hottest New Sitcom, “The Life and Times of a Zohillian Cargo Inspector”
Closes-The-Distance: a hard-working but unscrupulous cargo inspector employed by the Zohillian Ministry of Inspection and National Generalized Economic Stability (MINGES), who lives with a chosen family of several other government employees in other sectors
Fetches-The-Coffee: an overworked and frazzled young Sarathi woman who works as an intern for the Office of Unification and Control Handling (OUCH), a national propaganda agency
Sorcar-Kalarkis: a no-nonsense Elzu with a gambling addiction who manages a squad of bumbling counterterrorists who in reality spend most of their time raiding the wrong houses and laying siege to the homes of “insurgents” (people in violation of whatever ridiculous laws have just been put in place) called the Squadron for the Elimination of Xenophilic Entities and Syndicates (SEXES)
Loves-Their-Country: an Elzu who is in reality a spy for the Pan-Gezena Federation and is doing a very poor job of hiding it, but all their housemates fail to notice for contrived reasons, work for the Department of Organizational Logistics and Terraforming (DOLT), which controls the shipping and farming industries
Bitminer: a wisecracking, slightly sociopathic IPC who is secretly rather wealthy and probably a mob boss, but holds a position as a supervisor at the Bureau of Recreational Influence, Construction and Knowledge (BRICK)
PILOT EPISODE OF “THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A ZOHILLIAN CARGO INSPECTOR”
[LIGHTS UP on a grey, peeling-yet-surprisingly-spacious apartment, evocative of a bizarre combination of Soviet architecture and an IKEA showroom. A couch, armchair and coffee table sit in the middle of the room, while a bookshelf leans against a wall next to a small table covered in trinkets. A television sits at an angle from the couch. Behind it, a slate grey door is set into the wall with a coat stand next to it and several pegs on the wall, with one peg holding a longcoat with the DOLT (Department of Organizational Logistics and Terraforming) logo on the back. After a few seconds, the door opens and CLOSES-THE-DISTANCE walks in, wearing the traditional overalls, flannel shirt and flat cap of a MINGES (the Ministry of Inspection and National Generalized Economic Stability in Zohil) cargo inspector. He wears a beat-up leather satchel on his left shoulder. After closing the door behind him, CLOSES puts his flat cap on one of the wall hooks and slings his satchel off his shoulder, before placing it on the coffee table next to the couch. After slumping onto the couch with a groan, LOVES-THEIR-COUNTRY walks in from the kitchen door located across from the front door holding a comically large recording device and facing towards the wall. They wear a white dress shirt, slacks and no shoes.]
LOVES (stage whisper): Today’s Log: As of today, my infiltration of Zohil has gone undetected for one year, two months and three days. My data collection has been extensive, and soon I will be ready to return to the Pan-Gezenan Federation to relay my findings and aid in the liberation of the Zohillian peoples once and for a-
[LOVES turns around with a victorious fist in the air, with their voice risen to a tremendous volume before cutting off in the midst of their sentence upon noticing CLOSES sitting on the couch, giving them a confused look.]
LOVES (lying terribly): It’s, uh, for the book I’m writing.
CLOSES (too tired to really scrutinize): Sounds exciting, Loves. Is it like those Vex Spytacular novel-drivels that the Office of Unification and Control Handling keeps churning out?
LOVES: You could say that.
CLOSES: You shouldn’t quit your day job at DOLT, if you get my meaning.
LOVES (relieved): Well, perhaps you’re right, Closes.
[LOVES hastily stuffs the recording device in between the couch cushions before sitting down in the armchair adjacent to CLOSES.]
LOVES (cont.): How was work at MINGES today?
CLOSES: Meh. Fine. Caught some ridiculous bastard attempting to ship contraband K-AI posters. Can you believe that people go out for those synthetic singers like that? Donating all that money and shit?
LOVES: I mean, I wouldn’t know anything about donating to foreign influencers, no way. That would be…treason!
[They pump their fist in the air dramatically. CLOSES gives them a look of such withering disinterest, it could curdle nut milk.]
CLOSES: Yeah yeah, treason this, treason that. I ever tell you how you’re the only person I’ve ever met who knows the entire Zohillian National Anthem by heart? You really are such a patriot.
LOVES: Well, at least I’m not Sorcar. They’d put you away just for-
[Just as LOVES is about to describe the charge, SORCAR-KALARKIS bursts into the room with a dramatic flourish, perfect posture, and the hailing sounds of the Zohillian National Anthem blaring behind them in such a way that CLOSES is startled out of their seat. SORCAR wears the crisply-pressed dress uniform associated with SEXES, the Squadron for the Elimination of Xenophilic Entities and Syndicates, which they run.]
CLOSES (loudly, whilst covering his ears): WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE DRAGON’S FANG IS THAT RACKET?!
[SORCAR produces a small device from their pocket and turns the dial down on it. The music stops.]
SORCAR (proudly): I was issued this device by my superior officer. We call it the Freedom Caller. When an officer of the Zohillian National Organization for Protection of its Ensconced enters a room, they may activate the Freedom Caller to not only hail their presence, but to remind all who are present of the great glories of our wondrous nation, long may it stand! GLORY TO ZOHIL!
[They perform the Zohil Zalute, an elaborate flurry of movements, stances and noises that include at least one universally acknowledged rude gesture and multiple highly suggestive grunts. It takes at least fifteen seconds to complete.]
SORCAR (cont., out of breath): Oh, and…I will not be able to give you the ten credits I owe you…until next week’s salary comes in.
LOVES: It’s…fine…Sorcar…why don’t you take your jacket off and come sit?
SORCAR: I would, if I didn’t think I’d pulled something in my stomata. I’ll just…limp over.
[SORCAR slowly makes their way around the couch and armchair, before making an attempt to collapse on the couch. Whilst doing so, they accidentally trip on the edge of the coffee table and collapse directly into the lap of LOVES and turning on their recording device.]
RECORDED LOVES: My infiltration of Zohil has gone undetected for one year, two months and three days. My data collection has been extensive, and soon I will be ready to return to the Pan-Gezenan Federation to relay my findings and aid in the liberation of the Zohillian peoples once and for-
[A scrambling LOVES manages to yank the device out of the cushions and slam their finger against the stop button, which seems to have been jammed. They continue frustratedly pushing at the button with increasing force until they finally slam it against the coffee table and cause the battery to fly out with a crash. SORCAR flips around in their lap and gives them an interrogating look.]
CLOSES: It’s for a book they’re writing. They want to be the next Vex Spytacular. Before you pull an energy pistol out of that compact holster you wear everywhere in the hopes of being able to light up a mugger or a protestor or a kid wearing a non-regulation graphic tee-shirt.
SORCAR (still suspicious, but less pointed): Well…they better be the villain, Loves-Their-Country, or we will be having DIRE WORDS!
[SORCAR desperately attempts to stand up from being collapsed on the couch in a dignified fashion, but between their awkward position and previous injuries, they instead roll over and slam into the coffee table, turning back on the Freedom Caller and getting pinned beneath the table and the couch. LOVES is still stuck beneath them, and both they and CLOSES attempt to yank SORCAR out from between them as heavily as they can. While all are screaming and heaving, BITMINER walks in the still open front door, displaying the world’s most non-plussed pictoral graphic. Alongside his smug expression, he also wears a high-vis vest over a set of orange coveralls and a rigid plastic hard hat with two homemade holes for his antenna. The icon on the front reads ‘Bureau of Recreational Influence, Construction and Knowledge’ in bold grey font. He tilts his head, shrugs, places his hard hat on the fourth hook, and closes the door.]
BITMINER: Is this what happens when I, ahem, “requisition” new furniture?
[BITMINER places his hands on his hips in an affectation of displeasure. All three stop moving and glance in his direction. CLOSES, the only one of them not entangled, stands up straight and brushes himself off.]
CLOSES: You, uh, bring home a crowbar?
BITMINER: What, you expect me to carry one around in my pocket all day? What am I, an atmospherics technician?
[He looks at the camera. CLOSES follows his vision.]
CLOSES: Oh, did I forget to cover the surveillance camera again? Goddamnit.