“#ED7A9E – Pink Carnation“
RELEASE DATE: 06/26/2020
WRITTEN BY: WIL WILLIAMS
Our first episode, #ED7A9E (or Pink Carnation), is a hopepunk story in a world where everyone lives in a virtual reality world, as the Earth as we know it is no longer suitable for most life.
This episode was originally produced to be released on the feed for the Open World podcast, headed by TK Dutes and Rose Eveleth. You can find out more about Open World by following them on Twitter @OpenWorldPod, and we’ll be sure to let you know when Open World launches so you can hear this and more stories with a hopepunk theme!
HEXADEC is an anthology podcast featuring standalone episodes of a variety of themes and styles. It’s not just limited to fiction — we’ll have nonfiction, too! But what makes them a part of the anthology? Every episode is inspired by a hexadecimal color code.
Wil Williams – Writer / Producer / Sound Designer
Anne Baird – Voice of Emery
Katie Youmans – Voice of Kimbra
(Note from the Transcriber: This is the script as it was written, including the writer’s notes. Though the audio follows it very closely, there may be some discrepancies between the audio and this text.)
INT. SKINS-SHOP-SPACE. EMERY is running her skins shop. The bell on the door chimes as a new customer, CUSTOMER, enters with a game-like chime.
EMERY: Hi! Welcome to Shop A46920, Emery’s Everyday Skins. Are you look–
CUSTOMER: NPC or person?
EMERY: Oh, um. Person. Hi.
CUSTOMER: Oh, thank god. I always get so weirded out with the NPC shopkeeps, you know? It feels like if shops were run by robots Back Before.
EMERY: [JOKINGLY] Or like if you bought everything in some kind of weird digital shopspace, and then things just arrived on your doorstep?
CUSTOMER: Yeah, like–oh, hahaha. Yeah, I guess you’re right.
EMERY: But I feel you. Are you looking for anything in particular?
CUSTOMER: Yeah, I was hoping for some buffs on armor? I was helping debug the system, and I was kind of into–do you remember that trend from like, man, I dunno, 2102, where we kinda circled back to the late 2090s and–
The bell chimes again, and a new customer, KIMBRA, walks in with the same ding.
KIMBRA: [QUIETLY, TO HERSELF] Ohh, this place is cute . . .
EMERY is gayly taken off-guard and gasps a little.
CUSTOMER: –I know that’s pretty specific, but . . . are you listening?
EMERY: Huh? Oh. Yeah. For sure. 20, ummm, 2090s, you said? Yeah, I think I’ve got something like that over here . . .
EMERY steps out from behind the counter and walks CUSTOMER up to a specific section of the shop.
EMERY: Here, go ahead and browse around here and see if this is up your alley. If not, I can do custom orders. I’ve gotten the editing capabilities here down pretty well, all things considered. It should snap to the data points on your build, but let me know if anything comes out all janky. Sometimes things clip weird. You know how it goes.
CUSTOMER: Cool cool cool. Thanks.
EMERY walks over to KIMBRA.
EMERY: HiiiiIIIiii um, ahem. Hi. How can I help you?
KIMBRA: Oh, I was just kind of, you know, browsing–but–your detail work here is really impressive.
EMERY: Oh. Thank you.
KIMBRA: I gotta ask–did you paint Back Before?
EMERY: No, no, just graphic design work.
KIMBRA: Ah, makes sense. That’s why the skill translated so well here. I’ve taken up painting, and it’s nice, but it’s not really anything I did Back Before, so . . .
EMERY: What did you do Back Before?
KIMBRA: [SIGH] I was, um, a florist.
EMERY: Oh. Oof.
KIMBRA: Yeah. So. Clearly, that didn’t last long. I lived somewhere that was pretty lush, but, you know. Once it’s gone it’s gone. So I was a pretty early adopter to get in the permanent VR space here because, I mean . . . a girl’s gotta make a living somehow, and nobody was really interested in some shriveled little dandelions.
EMERY: Wow. I’m so sorry. I never really had the chance to see flowers. I think my dad got me some baby’s breath once?
KIMBRA: Oh, that’s sweet. It’s nice that you at least got to see something before everything dried up. Ha, sorry–I didn’t mean to bog you down with my sob story or anything. I was wondering if you had anything that just gave a little boost to DEX? I thought it might help steady my hands when I paint. Here.
KIMBRA pulls her tablet out of her backPACK, scrolls around, and finds a recent piece of art.
EMERY: Ohhhh, wow. Is this your work? It’s gorgeous.
KIMBRA: Oh. Thanks. I hate it. [LAUGHS]
EMERY: What? No! This is beautiful! Is this–did this flower exist, or–
KIMBRA: Yeah. Y’know the color lavender? And, like, the scent? That’s what the flower looked like.
EMERY: Wow. Like a cute asparagus.
KIMBRA: Yeah, kinda! But see the blending here? It’s so choppy. I know I could do better with these hands if they had just a little help to steady them.
EMERY: Well, I think it’s amazing. I can do art, but I’m definitely no painter. I wish I had skills like yours. But I can show you to–
CUSTOMER: Hey, scuse me? Sorry to interrupt, but this jacket just kinda . . .
EMERY: Oh man that just clipped RIGHT through your face, huh? Yeah, I can get on that. [TURNS TO KIMBRA] Sorry, um–oh, I guess I didn’t get your name?
KIMBRA: Kimbra. Nice to meet you.
EMERY: I’m Emery. Nice to meet you too. I’m just gonna go help–
KIMBRA: For sure, for sure. You said you did customs, right? Would it be chill if I just comms’d you some image refs for what I was thinking?
EMERY: Yeah, that would be great. I’d be happy to make something for you. Hit me up, um, whenever.
CUSTOMER: Oh, hey, I think I’ve got–wait, no, now it’s clipping through, um, all of me.
EMERY: On it!
Kimbra–talk to you soon, I hope.
INT. CITY-APARTMENT-SPACE. A door opens as EMERY blips into her apartment with the same ding.
EMERY: Vanta? I’m home, baby!
VANTA, EMERY’s cat, blips in with a meow. EMERY flops down on the couch and starts scratching VANTA.
EMERY: Hi, baby.
EMERY gets out her tablet and starts poking around on it, scrolling through assets.
EMERY: I wonder if they’ve got anything even close to natural fibers in this thing yet, or if I’ll just have to go into the editor and see what I can do.
EMERY gets a comms ping.
EMERY: Oh shit, that’s her.
The ping opens.
KIMBRA: [OVER COMMS DEVICE] Hey, Emery! This is Kimbra, um, we talked earlier in your shop? I was hoping to put in a custom order for a new skin. Just the clothes, preferably, um–honestly, I’ve kinda never really cared much about clothes? Back Before, I just tried to stay comfortable, so um . . . I dunno, I just really liked your work! Sorry, I’m just now realizing how silly this is, um . . . pants? Maybe like, a cardigan? Sorry! Feel free to hit me back if you need any more information or whatever, ummmmm . . . anyway . . . I’m gonna go catch the new overlay they’re doing in the sky tonight. Um! Later!
The comms message ends. Outside, a clock counting can be heard, as if it’s NYE.
EMERY: Oh, shit! The overlay change! I was gonna miss it! Vanta, baby, c’mon, let’s get to the balcony.
EMERY: Oh dang, look at that, Vanta! It’s the, uhhh–amora boreanaz. Allora . . . arboretum. Northern Lights.
EMERY: Yeah, big mood, baby. It’s gorgeous. Hmm. Okay. Yeah, I think I’ve got some inspo for this outfit, actually.
INT. SKINS-SHOP-SPACE. KIMBRA is trying on her new custom skin in EMERY’s shop
EMERY: So . . . do you like it?
KIMBRA: Oh, it’s so cute! I really like the structure. The cardigan is great.
EMERY: Okay, cool cool cool. So, it’s–it’s not quite done, though.
EMERY: So see those weird color swatches on your sleeve there? I wasn’t just being avant-garde. I was thinking that you might want to help me just do some quick finishing touches on the button-up. I know you said your blending could use some help, but I figure–
KIMBRA: Ohhh, the colors! Blending! Is that?–
KIMBRA: To match the???–
KIMBRA: And I could just, what, paint on it?
EMERY: Well, I was thinking I’d get the skin’s actual files for you to paint on. That way, it’d look like it was part of the linen texture instead of just, y’know, paint on a shirt.
KIMBRA: Oh, I’d love that. Wow. Thank you.
EMERY: Pleasure’s all mine. Most people want to look so, y’know . . . cool. I can’t blame them. It’s just not really my scene.
KIMBRA: Yeah, same.
EMERY: So, I can comms you the file, or–
KIMBRA: I might need a little more help, honestly. I’ve got supplies in one of the studio spaces. Would you mind coming with me to show me what I’m doing?
EMERY: Yeah. For sure, for sure. I can just put a little away message on the shop for a bit. Which studio is it?
KIMBRA: B19443. See you over there in a sec?
EMERY: Yeah, def.
KIMBRA and EMERY get to the studio with a blip, a door opening.
EMERY: Oh, wow. I can almost smell the paint in here.
KIMBRA: Right? I got into painting here because I did some painting classes Back Before when I was a kid, and there is just something about it. I do miss the real smell, though. And the, you know. The feeling of it. You can kind of feel it here, but it’s–it’s off, you know? Viscosity just isn’t quite right. [SIGHS] Okay. Sorry. So, how do we do this thing?
EMERY: Lemme open up the file real quick.
EMERY flips through files on her tablets and opens up the skin file.
EMERY: Okay, so I know it looks weird all flat like this, but that’s how mock-ups usually go. So, this section is the button-down–see the buttons and collar there? So, theoretically, you should be able to select the color swatches with your paint brush, set the brush to, I dunno, some other opacity or something, and then go for it.
KIMBRA: Okay. Amazing. Amazing? Amazing. Okay. Did you literally just pull these colors from the aurora borealis they made?
EMERY” AURORA BOREALIS! Oh my god, I could NOT remember what it was called.
The two laugh.
EMERY: Yeah, I figured, like–I figured it’d be a nice touch.
KIMBRA: Yeah, I love it. I might tweak them a little, mix them with some of my paints here. I never saw the actual Northern Lights, but I always loved pictures of them. They did it pretty well in the overlay but, I dunno, it still feels kinda . . . flat. I guess that’s just what we get, though.
KIMBRA starts painting.
EMERY: It seems like the switch to VR was really hard for you, even if you did it early.
KIMBRA: Well, yeah. I mean. I don’t love that this was the outcome. I don’t love that we couldn’t fix it. That we didn’t really try.
EMERY: Yeah. Everything just happened so slowly and then, just . . . so, so fast.
KIMBRA: I wish we hadn’t taken so much for granted. That’s what really got to me when I was still working. When some flowers started going extinct, people freaked out, for sure. Orchids were pretty hard to grow in the first place, but people loved them. Same for hydrangeas. And I’m sure you remember when people freaked out about roses.
EMERY: Oh, god, yeah. I remember that. Must have been a headache for you.
KIMBRA: And a heartache. I mean, roses seem cliched until they’re just gone, and then you realize why they were cliched. I stopped remembering their smell a few years before I switched to VR. I had some candles and stuff, but it was never really real. Same for lavender, but at least lavender was always pretty easy to grow, even in the drier climates. Especially the drier ones. So it lasted for a while longer than everything else. But–okay, so, taking things for granted. Actually, could you hand me that navy paint real quick?
EMERY: Oh, this?–
KIMBRA: No, the–
EMERY: This one?
KIMBRA: Yeah, perfect, thank you.
EMERY hands her the paint. KIMBRA takes it, cleans off her brush in some water, and then starts painting again.
KIMBRA: So. [SIGHS] Taking things for granted. So people freaked out about some flowers going extinct, but then for others, there was just . . . nothing. Like, take the carnation, for example.
EMERY: The what?
KIMBRA: The carnation? Oh, man, okay. So the carnation was this . . . how to explain . . . carnations were really, um, silly. They were cheap flowers even right up to the end. Easy to grow, super easy to color with just some food dye and water. They were kinda, like, they were the kind of flowers teenagers would get for each other for dates. But they didn’t really have a big function otherwise. They were just simple, and nice, and pretty. They didn’t need to be anything bigger than that. The small things always go unnoticed when they leave, I guess.
EMERY: What did they look like?
KIMBRA: Ha. Kind of like little pom-poms. They were layers and layers of petals, pretty thin and delicate, but they had this little jagged edge on their petals that I always loved. They were small, and they were silly, but I dunno, I always loved them. They actually kind of looked like fabric ruffles, just tons and tons of ruffles. But they were really overlooked. Nobody took them seriously. Nobody missed them when they . . .
EMERY: [QUIETLY] You okay?
KIMBRA: Yeah… No… I don’t know. I just–I just miss it, you know? I know we can’t go back. But I just miss things feeling real. I miss flowers. I know that sounds so silly. I know.
EMERY: It doesn’t. Not at all. It’s weird for me. I never really got to experience anything natural, except for stone and wood. I only ever lived in big cities, and by then, even the trees and parks were fake. So, this whole new world feels pretty natural to me, even if I know it’s not. I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.
KIMBRA: Yeah. Thank you. I just–I’m so worried that in another year or two, I won’t even remember what carnations look like, you know? Even if I try to paint them, like I did with the lavender . . . I don’t know. It’s not the same.
KIMBRA: Okay, I think that’s the first draft done. How do we test it out?
EMERY: Let me save the file real quick, and then we’ll just pop it on.
EMERY saves the file, and KIMBRA tries it back on.
KIMBRA: Hmmmmmm! Okay! Wow, I think I actually–yeah, I think I actually really like this.
EMERY: It looks amazing.
KIMBRA: I mean, I guess, if we can just do things like this, maybe I should focus on silver linings more or something.
EMERY: Is this something you’d maybe want to do more of? I’d love to do a profit split or something, if you’d be into that.
KIMBRA: Really? I’d–yeah, I’d love that. I’d love that.
EMERY: Cool. Cool cool cool. Do you wanna, um–do you wanna maybe come back to the shop and see what else you’d want to work on?
KIMBRA: Yeah. Let’s go.
MONTAGE: FADE EACH MINI-SCENE IN AND OUT
Montage scene 1
INT. EMERY’S SHOP
EMERY: . . . and I think this one would look interesting with maybe, like, Grand Canyon colors? Did you ever go to the Grand Canyon?
KIMBRA: No, I never did–my parents always called it a big–
EMERY & KIMBRA: [AT THE SAME TIME] –hole in the ground?
The two laugh.
EMERY: Yeah, everyone out my way did too. I can help you with it, though. Maybe if I describe the colors and textures, we can figure it out together.
Montage scene 2
INT. EMERY’S APARTMENT
KIMBRA: [WHILE EATING] . . . and so my mom had this huge greenhouse growing up, and she taught me and my sisters everything about everything she grew, but I was really the only one who took to it.
EMERY: [WHILE EATING] Are your sisters here too?
KIMBRA: No, not yet. Probably in a few years. I miss them a lot, but–
VANTA appears with a blip and a meow.
KIMBRA: AHH! Oh my god!
EMERY: No begging! Leave Kimbra alone! Oh my god, I’m so sorry.
KIMBRA: [LAUGHING] You named your cat “Vanta?” Like Vanta Black?
EMERY: Listen . . .
KIMBA: You nerd! You absolute art nerd.
Montage scene 3
INT. EMERY’S SHOP
KIMBRA: No, seriously, thank you. Honestly, I’m shocked you even think my art’s good enough–though that buff to DEX really did help. You’re absolutely sure it’s okay if I set up shop here with you?
EMERY: Absolutely. We’re collaborating on just about everything anyway. It’s so much easier! Besides, I get kinda lonely here, just sitting in the shop all day. I get a good amount of customers, but it’s just not really the same as having, like, a friend.
KIMBRA: Mm, mmhm. A friend.
EMERY: Yeah! Is–is that–sorry, am I being–
KIMBRA: Nonono, you’re good, you’re good. I’m happy to be a friend instead of just a coworker.
EMERY: Yeah, of course, Kim. You’re, like, the first person here who . . . God, okay, don’t laugh at me? Promise?
EMERY: I just didn’t get out a lot Back Before, you know? It was really hard to. It was literally too hot to go outside most days. So I had friends in the apartments I lived in, and I had friends in school, but like . . . I dunno. By then, so many people were leaning really hard into the whole apathy thing. And then I came here, and I was hoping that more people would see it as, I dunno, something new. Something to feel something about again. And everyone just . . . anyway. I know that’s not totally the case for you. I know it’s hard for you to be here. But I like that you still care about things, even though it’s hard. Especially because it’s hard. And that’s the kind of person I want to be making art with.
KIMBRA: . . . Oh.
EMERY: Oh, god, sorry, was that–
KIMBRA: No, that–
EMERY: [STARTS LAUGHING] Grossssss I’m such a dorkkkkkk
KIMBRA: [LAUGHING] You care about caaaaaaring! [MOCKING EMERY] Ooh, I’m Emery and I love FEELING FEELINGS! Kimbraaaa paint me a big rain cloud so I can cry but then a big rainbow so I can talk about how hopeful it is!
EMERY: [WHILE LAUGHING] Oh my god, you MEANIE!
KIMBRA: [CONTINUING TO MOCK EMERY] Waaaaahhhh, I just love my cat so much I want to cryyyyy!!!
INT. SKINS-SHOP-SPACE. The bell on the door chimes as KIMBRA enters.
KIMBRA: Hey Em, sorry I was running late, I– What . . . What is all of this?
EMERY: Just a little something I’ve been working on.
KIMBRA: It’s . . . They look . . . they look so real. But Em, you–you haven’t even seen a carnation before. You’ve only seen my paintings.
EMERY: Oh, good, you knew what they were!
KIMBRA: Of course.
EMERY: Did I do them okay? I know the colors are off, but I was hoping that together, we could–
KIMBRA: What do they do?
KIMBRA: Do they add a buff to something if you equip them? Are they consumables? Do they–
EMERY: You can put them in a vase in your home. And you can look at them.
KIMBRA: And that’s all?
EMERY: That’s all they need to do.
KIMBRA: Did–did you do this all for me?
EMERY: Well, I mean, I wanted everyone to be able to look at them and remember flowers. They’ll never be able to be as good as real ones, but I don’t want anyone to be afraid of forgetting. We’re here now, but I want us to remember what it was like Back Before. I don’t want us to take things for granted like that again. I want people to be able to have flowers again. But, um. Like, if I’m being real here, yeah. I did it for you, Kimbra.
KIMBRA and EMERY hug.
KIMBRA: Thank you, Em. Thank you.
EMERY: I’m so glad you like them. And we can make them better, together.
KIMBRA kisses EMERY on the cheek, because I’m a sap.
KIMBRA: I think they’re perfect as they are.
KIMBRA and EMERY start busting up laughing.
EMERY: And I thought I was the corny one!
KIMBRA: I was trying to be suave! It’s my turn to woo you!
EMERY: Your turn to be the nerd, more like!
EMERY: Come on, dork. Let’s start working on the colors on some of these. I know you said the edges of some were, like, red? And like a streak of red? But I don’t really know how to get that across. Do you think we could try . . .
The dialogue fades out.
WIL WILLIAMS: #ED7A9E is a Hug House Productions for HEXADEC, an anthology inspired by hexadecimal color codes.
Emery was played by Anne Baird.
Kimbra was played by Katie Youmans.
Customer was played by Wil Williams.
Edited and Sound Designed by Wil Williams.
Cheering Crowd Sound Effect by xtrgamr.
You can find more about Hug House at HugHouse.Productions.