29 - Sam, Setpember 13th
by Lauren Shippen

Chloe: Dr. Bright! Look who’s back. 

Sam: Hi, Joan. Oh, and you must be Frank. Hi, I’m Sam. 

Frank: Hi there, Sam. It’s nice to finally meet you. Chloe told me a lot about you. 

Sam: Likewise. 

Dr. Bright: Sam, you’re back. 

Sam: I’m back. 

Chloe: Okay, Frank, why don’t we get going. You promised mom you’d take a look at the sink today, remember?

Frank: Right. It was nice meeting you, ma’am. And you, Sam. 

Sam: You too, Frank. Chloe, I’ll come by the dorms later?

Chloe: Why don’t you come by the house actually - mom’s cooking dinner, I’m sure she’d love to have you. 

Sam: Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks. I didn’t mean to just show up like this-

Dr. Bright: No, it’s fine. Why don’t you go into my office. 

Sam: Right, yeah. See you guys later.

Dr. Bright: Sarah, would you help Frank set up an appointment time? 

Frank: Ma’am, you really don’t have to do-

Dr. Bright: I’m happy to, Frank. And you don’t need to keep calling me ma’am. 

Chloe: We’ll get him all signed up. Go talk to Sam. 

Dr. Bright: Okay. We’ll talk on the phone later this week. 

Chloe:You bet. 

[sfx: footsteps]

[sfx: closing door]

Dr. Bright: When did you get in?

Sam: Just now. I haven’t stopped at home yet. I-I wanted to check in on Darwin first. Well, and you. It’s been a while since we’ve talked. 

Dr. Bright: It has. Darwin is good. He’s at my apartment right now. 

Sam: Thank you for taking care of him. 

Dr. Bright: Of course. Sam, why didn’t you tell me you were coming back? 

Sam: It wasn’t really planned. I just- the past couple weeks have been bad and then I got back from a long trip last night and I just started driving back here. 

Dr. Bright: Where were you?

Sam: On my trip or where I drove from?

Dr. Bright: Your trip. 

Sam: I don’t know. The mountains somewhere. No people. It’s…been a lot of that recently. 

Dr. Bright: Why was the trip so long?

Sam: I couldn’t get back. I couldn’t calm down long enough to get myself back. 

Dr. Bright: Sam, are you alright?

Sam: Yeah. No. I don’t know. 

Dr. Bright: Do you want to talk about it?

Sam: What, are you still my therapist?

Dr. Bright: No, I think performing a prison break together means we’ve moved past doctor-patient. But I’d like to think we’re still friends. Even though…

Sam: Even though I haven’t contacted you in a month. 

Dr. Bright: Yes. 

Sam: How’s The AM?

Dr. Bright: It’s fine. They had me consult on a few of their projects. 

Sam: Really? What kinds of projects?

Dr. Bright: I haven’t been working with atypicals there. But the Director has shared some research with me. It’s always good to get another pair of eyes on something. 

Sam: And that’s all you are? Another pair of eyes?

Dr. Bright: For the time being. 

Sam: What does that mean?

Dr. Bright: The Director - Wadsworth - wants me back. I’ve told her in no uncertain terms that that won’t happen but I’m not sure it will always be a choice. 

Sam: Jeez. What are you worried they would do?

Dr. Bright: I don’t know. 

Sam: But you are worried. 

Dr. Bright: Yes. 

Sam: Are they looking for Mark?

Dr. Bright: Not exactly. They have feelers out but apparently he’s not a top priority. 

Sam: I find that hard to believe. 

Dr. Bright: Wadsworth says they’re willing to let it go as long as he doesn’t abuse his power. 

Sam: And you believe her?

Dr. Bright: No. But I don’t think they’ll try to imprison him again. Even still, I think it’s important to stay in their good graces. Or at least not actively piss them off. 

Sam: I guess we did get off pretty scot-free considering. 

Dr. Bright: We did. I think your extended road trip was a good idea. They’ve been asking about you. 

Sam: What do they know?

Dr. Bright: That you exist. And that you have things under control. They won’t hurt you. Though you may have Agent Green or someone checking in on you from time to time, which is incredibly annoying. 

Sam: I can live with that, I’m sure.

Dr. Bright: What?

Sam: Just- who would have thought that walking into a therapist’s office nine months ago would have led to this? I just wanted someone to talk to and now I’m tied up in secret government agencies and time travel conspiracies-

Dr. Bright: To be fair, you were always tied up in time travel- 

Sam: -and now trying to track down two super-powered fugitives. I- I just wanted a little bit of normalcy and I got…all this.

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry, Sam. 

Sam: No, don’t be. Things are better now. I think. Or they were starting to be. But it just feels a little doomed, you know? That just by the very fact that I’m atypical, I’m going to have to put up with all this crazy scifi stuff forever. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe said something similar. Do you want a drink?

Sam: What?

Dr. Bright: Well, if we’re just chatting as friends, then we might as well do it over scotch. 

[sfx: Dr. Bright getting scotch]

Sam: Scotch? You keep scotch in your office?

Dr. Bright: I bought it after my second session with Damien. He had a habit of showing up at the end of the day and by the time he left…well, it was nice to have scotch on hand. 

Sam: I get that. 

Dr. Bright: Would you like a glass?

Sam: It’s 3 in the afternoon…sure. 

[sfx: pouring scotch]

Sam:I’ve never had scotch before. 

Dr. Bright:Ah, right, of course. Does alcohol mix badly with your ability?

[sfx: sitting down]

Sam:Not that I know of but…well, I’ve only had a few glasses of wine in my entire life and they’ve all been in the past year. 

Dr. Bright: Yes, the, uh, wine nights with Chloe, correct?

Sam: Right. She likes wine a lot. She says it slows down her “processing speed”. I guess it kind of dulls her ability a bit, makes things quieter. 

Dr. Bright: Yes, Chloe and I have talked about that a little. I cautioned her against drinking too regularly. It can become…a problem with some atypicals. 

Sam: Self medicating?

Dr. Bright: Essentially. It does make some people calmer, dulls the senses enough that their ability isn’t so overwhelming. 

Sam: Yeah, I think that’s what it does for Chloe.

Dr. Bright: Hence my concern. When that’s the case, it’s easy to abuse drinking in order to achieve that calm. But for other atypicals, it exacerbates the problem. Makes them more vulnerable, more prone to outbursts. 

Sam: Right. So you thought that maybe for me…

Dr. Bright: Alcohol isn’t always the best thing for anxiety. And particularly given how physical your ability is…but you haven’t had problems with it before?

Sam: Not on all two of the occasions, no. One glass can’t hurt. And if something goes wrong, you’re here. 

Dr. Bright: Alright. Then…cheers. 

[sfx: clinking glasses)

Sam: (coughing) Good lord! 

Dr. Bright: Not a fan?

Sam: Ugh, that tastes like…gasoline mixed with coal ash. 

Dr. Bright: Okay, so not a scotch person.

[sfx: setting down glass]

Sam: I guess not. I think I’ll stick to tea and the occasional glass of wine. Joan…are you okay?

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Sam: It’s just - you seem a little…I don’t know, agitated. Did everything go alright with Frank?

Dr. Bright: Everything’s fine, Sam. You just uh- you just caught me off guard. 

Sam: Sorry. I should have called first. 

Dr. Bright: No, no, it’s fine. I just wasn’t expecting…

Sam: You weren’t expecting me to come back alone. 

Dr. Bright: Well, I certainly didn’t expect you to track down two people all by yourself, Sam. It’s more important that you got away, explored the country a bit-

Sam: Yeah, I know, but you’d hoped. You’d hoped no matter how unrealistic it was. I know because I hoped too. 

Dr. Bright: Did you find any trace of them?

Sam: No. And every time I stopped somewhere, I tried to ask around, see if anybody had seen them or if anything weird had happened…

Dr. Bright: I’ve been keeping an eye on local newspapers and online forums as well. 

Sam: Online forums? Like, ones for conspiracy theorists?

Dr. Bright: They are not the most reliable sources of information, it’s true. But every now and then something will catch my eye. 

Sam: Yeah, I know what you mean. I talked to a few people who’d seen things they couldn’t explain but it’s hard to know if they encountered an atypical or if they were just…

Dr. Bright: A conspiracy nut?

Sam: Yeah, exactly. Either way, it was stuff like people vanishing or lifting cars - stuff that neither Damien or Mark could do. 

Dr. Bright: Unless they’ve found other atypicals. 

Sam: Do you think that’s likely?

Dr. Bright: I know it’s something that Damien has a great deal of interest in. He was always inquiring about my other patients - what they could do, how powerful they were. He’s fascinated by other abilities. 

Sam: You knew that and you sent him into a facility full of vulnerable atypicals?

Dr. Bright: As has been established, that was not my finest piece of decision making. 

Sam: Sorry. I- I think we both got caught up in rescuing Mark. We didn’t really think it through very much, did we?

Dr. Bright: Not as much as we should have. 

Sam: But surely we’d have heard something if Damien was going around collecting atypicals like Pokemon, right?

Dr. Bright: Presumably. And there’s been nothing particularly suspicious on any of the paranormal subreddits-

Sam: (laughing) I’m sorry, but thinking about you on reddit is just too strange. 

Dr. Bright: I no longer have The AM’s resources at my fingertips, Sam. Sometimes reddit will have to do. 

Sam: You could though, couldn’t you? Have access to their resources?

Dr. Bright: That would mean going back and I-

Sam: Have you really not considered it?

Dr. Bright: I’ve considered it, of course I have, but it would be moving backwards. I can’t be a part of what they do. 

Sam: But they know way more than us, right? I mean…I didn’t realize how small my world was. What with having traveled all over the globe and all through time, I didn’t think I needed to expand my perspective. But these past few months…I’ve had this weird tunnel vision my entire life. Yes, I’ve seen more of the world and history than most but it’s like watching a movie. I don’t actually know what the world is like, what people are like. Every time I went up to someone to show them Mark’s picture my heart would start racing and my palms would sweat and I would have to do everything I could to hold on to the present. Talking to people terrifies me. Being out in the world, in the present, terrifies me. 

Dr. Bright: It’s perfectly understandable to feel that way, Sam. But remember-

Sam: No, don’t- you’re not my therapist anymore, remember?

Dr. Bright: Then what does this have to do with The AM?

Sam: Just that I’m beginning to understand how little I know. Not even just about the world and people but about myself. About this bigger thing that I’m a part of.

Dr. Bright: What do you mean?

Sam: Atypicals. I always thought it was just me. Which, I realize is completely ridiculous because why would I have this unbelievable ability that defies the laws of physics and the universe if everyone else on earth was normal? But I never thought about it before. 

Dr. Bright: You’ve been very isolated for a very long time, Sam. 

Sam: I know, that’s what I’m saying. And now I want to understand other atypicals - I want to know how I fit into this population. I know I’m a Class D but what does that even really mean? What other kinds of abilities fall into Class D? Why are some people atypical? How many of us are there? How did it start?

Dr. Bright: And you think The AM has the answers?

Sam: I’m not saying I want to waltz in there and volunteer, but I just have so many questions. I’ve been on a lot of trips in the past few months, especially in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve seen some really weird stuff. And it’s made me think that maybe I haven’t been paying attention to my surroundings for a long time. 

Dr. Bright: What kinds of things have you seen?

Sam: Well, there was this room where I could actually touch things and there was a man there who could see me and talk to me - I’m still not sure it wasn’t a dream but I guess he was another time traveler? 

Dr. Bright: What?

Sam: Yeah, I- I entered some kind of dimensional pocket or something. Like, an in-between place. I don’t know, I wasn’t there for very long. 

Dr. Bright: A dimensional pocket…

Sam: Yeah, there were no doors or walls or light at all. It was like a vacuum. 

Dr. Bright: That is highly irregular. 

Sam: My life is highly irregular.  

Dr. Bright: Fair enough. 

Sam: And then, last week, I was in a jungle somewhere - maybe the Amazon? I thought I recognized one or two of the bird species…but anyway, I’m not sure what century it was but I came across a group of people, some kind of tribe, and…well, I didn’t understand anything they were saying, they weren’t speaking any language that I recognized but…they were. It was unbelievable, there were seven atypicals with them. At least. 

Dr. Bright: Seven? Out of how many?

Sam: Twenty? Maybe? And the atpycials were just…part of the group. They were lighting fires and moving large branches to make shelters- 

Dr. Bright: A pyrokinetic and a telekinetic- 

Sam: Yeah, and I think some of them could communicate non-verbally, so telepaths too. And it was so seamless - the atypicals and the regular people working together. It didn’t seem to freak anyone out, it was just part of their lives. 

Dr. Bright: Fascinating. 

Sam: Isn’t it? I mean, how many isolated cultures are there around the world like that? Communities that are aware of atypicals and live side by side with them, take advantage of their powers. Or- I don’t know, maybe this tribe wasn’t in a recent time, maybe it was centuries ago, millennia ago, but then how did the human race go from that to just forgetting about atypicals? Was there a major decline in the population at some point, were atypicals only found in certain geographic locations? How did we go from being integrated in society to not existing publicly at all?

Dr. Bright: Okay, Sam, slow down. Have you seen aytpicals in the past before?

Sam: Not that I can remember but…it’s possible? Like I said, I’m not sure I’ve been as observant as I thought I was. But I want to be. I want to find out more about atypicals. 

Dr. Bright: Well, I can probably fill in some of the gaps. I have been studying the subject for most of my adult life after all. 

Sam: You’d do that?

Dr. Bright: Of course. There’s plenty of information I can give you - facts, statistics - without revealing any specifics about my other patients, past and present. 

Sam: That would be great. 

Dr. Bright: Sam, I’m curious - you quit your job before you left, correct?

Sam: Yeah. 

Dr. Bright: Do you have a plan for what to do next?

Sam: Not really. It occurred to me about thirty miles outside of the city that I was coming back to unemployment. And I understand what a luxury that is- to forget that I didn’t have a job but…I do want to do something with my life. Something productive, worthwhile.

Dr. Bright: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Sam: I don’t know. After the trips started, I stopped thinking about the future. But when I was really little…I don’t know, I thought it’d be fun to work in a museum. I don’t much care for them now - I go sometimes to fill in the blanks of a trip - but when I was a kid, I used to love the Natural History Museum. 

Dr. Bright: Me too. 

Sam: I like how ordered museums are, you know? I guess that’s why I went into library science-

Dr. Bright: Find order in the chaos. 

Sam: Exactly. 

Dr. Bright: Have you thought about maybe doing that with atypicals?

Sam: It’s certainly crossed my mind recently, yeah. I wouldn’t know where to start though. And I mean, is that really a job?

Dr. Bright: Make it one. 

Sam: What do you mean?

Dr. Bright: Well, you’re in a very unique position. As I understand it, you don’t need to work for money right now, maybe for a while - so why not take this time to start documenting atpycials through time. We have a good amount of information about atypicals existing in the world today, but having a primary source for how atypical biology has evolved through time would be invaluable. You have the research skill set already. I can guide you on some of the more scientific aspects and tell you what to look for. 

Sam: And then I would take trips and try and find atypicals? 

Dr. Bright: We’d have to figure out a way to determine the best places and times to travel to so you’re not jumping blind but, yes, that’s the idea. 

Sam: That’s…that’s more than I expected. 

Dr. Bright: You didn’t think I’d be on board with you researching this?

Sam: I wasn’t sure. I mean, when it first popped into my head, I thought maybe I’m not objective enough - that the fact that I’m atypical means I’m too close to the subject matter. And then I thought that maybe you wouldn’t want me to get more involved in all this stuff - I mean, this is The AM’s main purpose, right? To find out as much about atypicals as possible?

Dr. Bright: Yes, it is. But, as you said, you are involved by the very fact that you’re atypical. And I think that actually makes you perfect as a researcher - you’re uniquely suited for this work. Well, and you’re one of the only people in the world who could actually do this work. 

Sam: Right. Yeah. So…how do we do this? Make a list of potential time periods? I was thinking that maybe witch trials-

Dr. Bright: Yes, that could definitely be a good place to start. Any time with a high level of suspicion in populations is probably worth looking for. Where have you been going recently? You said you’ve been on a lot of trips - were you trying to begin this research?

Sam: Um, no. Not exactly. The trips…haven’t been on purpose. 

Dr. Bright: Ah. 

Sam: Yeah, that’s partly why I came back, actually. I wasn’t comfortable driving long distances anymore. 

Dr. Bright: Sam…are you alright?

Sam: I don’t know. No. Now I guess I have to find a new therapist…

Dr. Bright: Just because you aren’t officially my patient anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t tell me things. I’m still your friend. 

Sam: Still? Were we ever really friends to begin with? Oh, god, I’m sorry, that was really harsh. I just mean…well, we worked together mostly out of circumstance, right? Because we both wanted the same thing, we needed each other’s help. 

Dr. Bright: Sam…I care about you. Not just as a former patient or someone who cares for my brother, but as a person. 

Sam: You do?

Dr. Bright: That surprises you?

Sam: A little. And not because I don’t care about you too - I do. I…I don’t always trust you. But I do worry about you. I want you to be safe. I want you to be, you know, happy. 

Dr. Bright: Then should it be such a surprise that I want the same for you?

Sam: I’m just not used to that. I haven’t had people in my life who were there just because. When we were planning everything…well, I wasn’t sure if you’d still care to see me once we’d gotten Mark out. Once I stopped…you know, being useful.

Dr. Bright: Relationships aren’t about someone’s usefulness to you. We form relationships with people because we like them, we enjoy their company, we feel good around them. How about Chloe? She’s a good friend, isn’t she?

Sam: Yeah, she is. But…she’s Chloe, you know? She cares about literally every person in the world. She can’t not. 

Dr. Bright: She does have an unbelievably large heart. And Mark?

Sam: He also seems to have a big heart problem. But…I don’t know. I think he cares - really cares, not just because I helped him get out. But I can’t tell if I’m just remembering what I want to. I would understand if he didn’t. I failed him, you know? From the moment I met him all the way through now, I failed him. I wasn’t honest with him, I kept things from him, I couldn’t find him-

Dr. Bright: Sam, you got him out, you kept him company-

Sam: But I should have been better. It was just so new - feeling that way about someone, what you said about feeling good around someone. I didn’t know it was possible to look forward to a person that much - to talking to them, seeing their face, just being near them. And I didn’t know what to do, how to act, what to say. I should have just told him everything, told him I knew you, told him I knew who he was. That would have been the normal person thing to do. But I didn’t. Because I’m not a normal person. And I’m not even talking about the fact that I time travel. I’m just not a normal person in any sense. I’m not a whole, functioning human being. I get nauseous when I have to make a phone call or when I make eye contact with someone on the bus. I don’t know how to talk to people, I don’t know how to tell someone how I feel about them, or figure out if they feel the same way. And Mark made me feel normal because he’s so…so…

Dr. Bright: Nice?

Sam: No…well, I mean, yes, he is nice but that’s not a big enough word for it, is it? He’s deeply kind and compassionate, but not in the way that Chloe is, not in that big, open heart kind of way. It’s quiet and it makes you feel special and…well, I’ve never seen him interact with any other humans, but I bet he’s really good at it. 

Dr. Bright: I would definitely describe him as a people person, yes. Much more so than I. 

Sam: Right, exactly! I could tell that just by being one-on-one with him - he made me feel so comfortable. He smiled at me and asked me about myself and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. He didn’t make me feel scrutinized or judged. And how did I return the favor? I lied to him and let him get kidnapped. 

Dr. Bright: Sam, you can’t take all the blame. You are not responsible for what happened to Mark. 

Sam: But you are, right? You tell me not to put it all on myself but I know you’re doing the same. 

Dr. Bright: You’re right. Can we at least agree that Damien is partly responsible?

Sam: Yeah, definitely. What are we gonna do?

Dr. Bright: I don’t know, Sam. 

[sfx: rain hitting the windows]

Sam: Oh crap, did it just start raining?

Dr. Bright: Looks like. 

Sam: Oh jeez, I left the top down. 

Dr. Bright: Did you- did you actually get a-

Sam: A little red convertible? Yeah, I did. Insane impulse buy. My first ever and probably my last. Not a very practical car but…I thought it’d be fun?

Dr. Bright: Well, don’t let it get ruined-

Sam: Right, yeah, I should go. Um, we’ll talk more? About the research thing? And…everything else.

[sfx: footsteps]

Dr. Bright: Yes, we will. Call me anytime. 

Sam: Okay. Bye, Joan. Have a good night. 

[sfx: door opening

Dr. Bright: You too, Sam. Have fun at dinner. 

Sam: Right, yeah, um, do you-…thanks. I’ll be by to pick up Darwin after. See you. 

[sfx: door closing]

[sfx: click of recorder] 

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: If you’ve ever wished university life was a little more…strange, tune into Alexandria University’s station to hear the unusual stories of this college’s midnight callers. The Alexandria Archives is a podcast that features varieties of horror and weird fiction - one moment it has you laughing and the next has you wondering what other frights the Archives may be hiding. It’s a lot of spooky fun and they also invite user contributions. So if you’re a writer, visit alexandriaarchvies.com for submission guidelines. There you will also find more information about the podcast so make sure to subscribe andthen rate and review the show on iTunes. Once again, that’s alexandriaarchives.com.  

Episode 29 was written and directed by Lauren Shippen, and produced by Mischa Stanton. The voice of Dr. Bright is Julia Morizawa. The voice of Sam is Lauren Shippen. You also heard the voices of Anna Lore and Phillip Jordan as Chloe and Frank. Our music is composed and performed by Evan Cunningham. The original Bright theme was written by Lauren Shippen. To hear the full theme and for other bonus content, please visit thebrightsessions.com and follow us on tumblr and on twitter @brightpodcast. And some exciting news: we also just opened an official merchandise store - click on the merch button on our website to check out our t-shirts, tote bags, and mugs. The Bright Sessions would not be possible without the help of Elizabeth Laird, Anna Lore, Elizabeth and Matthew Harrington, Ken Hertz, Oswaldo Rossi, and Authentic. The Bright Sessions will return with Episode 30 on December 28th. Until then, thanks for listening and stay strange