Something’s Fishy With This Play: Part III

All night I was thinking about what “world two” was. Was it a book or video game? Or was it an actual second world? My head was spinning. I think this was the most stressed I’ve been in years. I almost couldn’t focus on the play. The two hour duration of the play went by in a blur, and I never could have expected what would happen afterward.
When the bows were over and we all headed back to the dressing rooms, I was suddenly seized and forced into a small nearby room. When I managed to turn around and look at my captor, I stood face to face with the fish. I audibly gasped and tried to escape from the room, but the door was locked.
“You’re scared,” the monotone voice stated.
“What?” I was confused.
“You have questions. You want to know what’s going on.”
“Yes, I do. Starting with what did you do to my best friend?”
“If you are quiet and stand still, I will tell you everything.” I was so desperate for information that I shut my mouth and leaned against the door.
“Okay. I’ll start with who and what I am. My name is 44501, and I am a Travlr.”
“A what?”
“A Travlr. T-R-A-V-L-R. We are characters who go through worlds, dimensions, universes, in search of knowledge. We do experiments. We do tests. We capture our subjects and let the, go when the experiment is complete. Usually, there is no problem, but since your friend told you about us, you can see us and everything got messed up. We were only giving her a heads up that we were coming, but she just had to freak out and tell you.”
“Is that why only I can see you?”
“Yes. Everyone who doesn’t know about us still see Stephanie.”
“So, where is Stephanie?”
“She’s safe. The experiment will end in two days, and she will return, completely normal.”
“So she’s going to be back in time for closing night?”
“That is correct, but that is also part of why I needed to speak with you. I was chosen to pose as Stephanie during this experiment, but I must pose as another human for an experiment starting tomorrow. This means I will be unable to be Stephanie in tomorrow’s play. I will need you to fill in as Monica.”
“What?! I can’t do that!”
“Yes you can. Your character is unimportant. You can easily play Monica and ignore your character.”
“But I don’t have her lines memorized.”
“Yes you do. You ran lines with Stephanie for hours everyday.”
“I can’t sing. Or dance. Or project my voice.”
“Practice. I must go now. You will play Monica tomorrow. Goodbye, Valentina.” It unlocked the door and waltzed right through it, leaving me scared and confused. I ambled out the door after a few seconds of utter confusion. I found my mom right away. She gave me a flower and halfheartedly congratulated me. I could tell she had no interest in the play, even though she wrote it. She probably couldn’t even tell who I was on stage.
The two of us walked out to her car together. On the trip home, I skimmed over every single one of Stephanie’s lines. I thought about how I would say them, how I would move, how I would look. If I was going to be forced to play the lead role for one day, I was going to do a beautiful job.
Mom pulled into the driveway, sauntered into the house, and went straight to bed. As for me, I bolted for my room and rehearsed every song and dance twice. I learned every last word and step. I don’t think I had ever sounded so motivated. I suppose I was lying to the fish when I said I couldn’t sing or dance. It was time for me to blow the audience away with my portrayal of Monica. I was awake until 12:04 a.m., but I couldn’t care less.
The next morning, I woke up at 9:13. I had less than three hours to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and make it to my school in time. I metaphorically went through my morning routine at lightning speed. I broke my previous shower speed record, now at four and a half minutes. I tore a shirt and pants out of my closet and threw them on. For breakfast, I popped a slice of bread in the toaster and wolfed it down. Mom was still sleeping, so I hurried down the street to the bus stop to catch the city bus. Route 5 stops near my school, so I had a way to get there. I read my lines on the bench and reread them on the bus.
The bus stops one block away from my school at 11:30. I stepped off and trudged towards my destination. The closer I got to the school, the more nervous I felt. This would be the first time I’ve ever portrayed a main character. Would I do alright? Would the audience like me? Would Mr. Mills be proud? When I entered the dressing room, my heart was beating so hard i thought it was going to rip through my chest. I quickly grabbed Stephanie’s mic and her costume and hurried to find an empty dressing room stall. The costume fit perfectly and looked good on me.
We were required to do our own physical and vocal warm-ups, so I found an empty nearby room and warmed myself up. As I finished and stepped out of the room, Mr. Mills called everyone for places. I hurried to my (or rather, Stephanie’s) place on the stage and waited for light to come up. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and the curtain lifted, revealing me and two other cast members. I delivered the first line confidently and turned to look at my “mom”. When I turned my head to the side, what I saw shocked me.
Standing on stage with me was not the girl playing Monica’s mom, but a Travlr. I looked to the other side and saw another Travlr instead of the guy playing Monica’s dad. I stared out into the audience and saw a full house of Travlrs. I stood there, frozen, with a terrified look on my face.