Buck & Jane
A Death in the Family
Decker & Hayes
Epic Echoes
The Great Muppet Debate
Guard Duty
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Stage Blood



Epic Echoes, Series 4
Episode 9 - Driven to Distraction

By C. Henry Berman


President Restam Salguud
Mr. Martin Rection

Max: Beacons of Life: A Tribute Banquet to the Flashpack.

Molly: I really don't think so, Max.

Drallus: What the hell is a beacon of life supposed to be?

Keane: Well, a beacon is like a lighthou---

Drallus: I know! I'm saying the metaph---

Max: Guys! Let's just get through this. Hmm.

(fx: papers rustling)

Max: There's the Flaspack half-life-sized semi-memorial statue christening, Remembering Julie: A Dinner for the Queen of our Hearts and her Intrepid Team, Hope of the...

Narr: Ever since the tragic events of a few days before, Max Thornfield and his intrepid Flashpack had been inundated with offers of condolences, invitations to elegiac banquets, and summons to official memorials from all the momentous people whose lives Julie had been instrumental in saving. Now Max had finally got around to examining the pile of mail, and the rest of the 'pack were too overwhelmed to continue.

Slotter: Max, I don't think we're interested in any of these. I, for one, would like something to take my mind off Julie-- a distraction. I'm not sure I'd be able to take one of these...

Furtrace: (excitedly) Hey, guys! Is it true all the things people kept saying about a 'Pack rat? Cause I've been looking all over this place and I still can't find it.

Molly: (condescendingly) Well, maybe if you keep looking.

Furtrace: Well, he shouldn't be hard to find if he's real. Apparently he keeps EVERYTHING.

(fx: beep, beep, beep)

Max: The Interplanetary Threat Alert signal! The tributes might have to wait after all. Turn the monitor on, Molly.

(fx: fanfare)

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, you now have the honour of receiving an official live video communique from president Restam Salguud of Falliflax.

(fx: fanfare. Pause.)

Drallus: So where is he?

Max: Shh! President Salguud is about to appear!

Furtrace: Oh, I bet he's just under a table. (pause) See? I was right!

President Salguud: Oh. Sorry. I was looking for my... pen. It was under... the desk. My pen was, I mean. I think I must have dropped it there. I can't think how else it might have got down there, can you? I mean, it's pretty... It's a good pen, though. I've had it for a while...

Max: Erm, Mr. President, why was it you contacted us on the emergency frequency?

Furtrace: Obviously the pen was missing! That's an emergency!

Drallus: For Gods' sake, man! Can't you be quiet for one minute?

Furtrace: CAT-man, that is. (grumbles)

President Salguud: Hmm. Why? Well, I'm sure there must... have been a good reason. Oh! The mail should be here. I really...

Molly: Where'd he go?

Slotter: Max, can you tune into a Falliflax news broadcast or something?

Max: Sure. Just a minute.

News Announcer: really the most interesting the about the world situation right now, because there's no way that the Disunionist Faction will join with the Alabaster Front along the TFF border while Grimley is in power! Did you ever notice that the word power is... They replaced the microphone in here! It used to be a green one, but...

(fx: click)

Jimmy: Max, there's obviously something going wrong there but nobody seems to be able to pay attention long enough to say what it is.

Max: Hm?

Jimmy: I said they don't seem to be able to concentrate.

Max: Oh. You're right. We'll have to go ourselves. I hope we can get there in time to determine what the problem is. Jimmy, prepare the ship. Keane, calculate an ETA. We'll have to hope whatever threat is menacing them is not so imminent that we miss our chance to help. There's no use mourning when there are people whose lives we can save now. Flashpack!

All: Flashpack!

Furtrace: You know, I could just get you there instantaneously if you want to, but not if you've already bothered to start the spaceship.

Max: You can?

Furtrace: Yeah, but you have to agree to my conditions...

Max: Come on, CAT-man, don't you realise lives could be stake? That channel is never used except in dire emergencies! What are your conditions?

Furtrace: Some chiiiiiickeeeen....

Max: You've got it! Now take us to Falliflax.

(fx: cat noises)

Futrace: There. I told you it cold be useful to have a magic cat-man around.

Molly: Look at that!

Drallus: I don't want to.

Slotter: It's huge!

Furtrace: When do I get my chicken?

Max: I've never seen anything like it.

Jimmy: Or anything quite so garish.

(fx: futuristic dialing noises)

Clerk: Falliflax space traffic.

Max: Yes; I'm calling to inquire about the enormous, fluffy red spaceship in orbit around your planet. Is that supposed to be there?

Clerk: Is wha-- I have a fluffy red pillow. I mean, I don't suppose that helps, but it's plush so it's very comfortable. If you're interested I have it at home. My home is very nice; it's Georgian...

(fx: futuristic hanging up)

Molly: They didn't even know it was there?

Slotter: How could the whole planet fail to notice that? I'll see if I can get that ship on the communicator.

(fx: futuristic dialing)

Martin Rection: Martin Rection. How can I help you?

Max: I'm the intrepid Max Thornfield from the universe-famous Flashpack. We received a distress call from the President of this planet, but he seemed unable to tell us what it was about. We were wondering if you could tell us anything about it.

Martin Rection: Aaah! Look over there!

Max: What? Over where?

Molly: You're talking to us over a video screen, Mr. Rection. “Look over there” isn't going to work especially well. “Over there” is out of shot. Why don't you just explain to us what exactly you're doing?

Jimmy: I suspect you're using some kind of Ray of Non-Concentration.

Martin Rection: (proudly clearing his throat) Distractor Beam. It's trained on the planet as we speak.

Jimmy: Hmm. That's clever.

Martin Rection: Thank you.

Max: But why? What are you after?

Furtrace: Yeah! You're making all these dummy humans forget to feed me!

Martin Rection: Hmm. Well, before I explain that, hadn't you better look take care of that mouse that's crawling all over the hang-up button on your communicator screen?

Furtrace: What?! There is?!

(mouse-catching non-supernatural cat noises, followed immediately by a futuristic hanging-up sound)

Drallus: Are you sure you want to keep that cat around?

Furtrace: I'm really, really sorry, Drallus. I think I get it. He was trying to trick me wasn't he?

Keane: Max, with a population of about seven billion, Falliflax must contain about fourteen thousand kilostares of attention.

Jimmy: If he found a way of siphoning that, he could apply himself hard enough to solve almost any problem in the universe.

Max: That's it. Mr. Rection must be stealing attention from the population of Falliflax and using it for his own nefarious ends-- and they're all too distracted to notice. It can't be allowed, and we're the only people who can stop it. Flashpack!

All: Flashpack!

Max: Now, we'll have to find a way of boarding that tasteless spaceship, and finding out what he's using the attention to help him concentrate on.

Furtrace: You know, guys, cats have a lot of spells for dealing floating fluffy spheres. It's one of our specialties. Just in case you were maybe looking for ideas or something.

Max: Of course! Furtrace, it's essential that you grab hold of that big, fuzzy, red, floating ball. With your mind.

Furtrace: You got it! I've been wanting to do that ever since we first saw it! Come here, big floaty thing!

(cat noises, followed by intent and concentrated cat-playing-with-toy noises as he grapples with the red spaceship. Then a whoosh noise)

Molly: Wow.

Drallus: Maybe we should keep this cat.

Max: Thank you, Furtrace. Now, let's call Space Traffic to tell them how we saved their planet from certain dest...

(Fizz, and a transmission starts)

Martin Rection: People of Falliflax, may I have your attention please? Ha, ha, ha. Get it? No, you wouldn't would you? Well, let me explain. I have just deactivated my super-science Distractor Beam and returned your attention spans to you. In the mean time, I used the fourteen and a half thousand kilostares of attention that your planet contained...

Keane: Damn!

Martin Rection: ... to train my attention on one single problems. That's right-- I exploited all your attentions spans for my own purposes, and now my plan has come to fruition. I have created... Mr. Rection's Skim System, the world's most effective method of speed reading, which can be yours for only...

Slotter: How did he get back? Furtrace used his magic to paw the ship away!

Jimmy: Wait-- our readings never showed any kind of distractor beam coming from where that giant fuzzy ball was.

Molly: You mean it was a distraction?

Max: Of course! Can you trace the transmission and cut it, Jimmy?

Jimmy: Yes; I'll just send a jamming signal. Now the population of Falliflax won't be scammed into buying into a rip-off speed-reading scheme. He didn't really have much of a plan, did he?

Max: Not really. Of all the villains we've ever encountered, I have to say that...

(beep, beep, beep)

Jimmy: Agh. The home-work-o-tron. Are you sure we can't look into that speed-reading scheme that Mr. Rection...?

Max: Of course not! You remember what happened that time when Julie... hmm. Well.

Molly: Why did you have to remind us, Max?

Max: Sorry. I wasn't thinking-- but we can continue even without Julie. We showed it today and we can show it again. Flashpack!

All: Flashpack!

Max: Now, Furtrace- take us home!

Furtrace: Um… what do you mean?

Max: You teleported us here. Now we need to go back.

Furtrace: Er… well… about that… I can usually do little teleports, like maybe one or two people, no problem…

Max: You can’t get us home, can you.

Furtrace: I had to use up an ancient Saladonian shoelace-toy! It was a one time use!

Max: All right, gang… let’s get walking.

Jimmy: “Significant villains through the history of space time?” What can I write about that?

Narrator: What will Jimmy write? Will the Flashpack ever stop being reminded of their fallen comrade? Why did that villain sound so familiar? Find out in next week's show, “Voices of Evil.”

Go to Episode 10