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With All the Bright Lights On


Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT, the "Sex, Lies And Audio Tape" special. Today we're exploring what happens when your secret self exposes itself to your real self. And it happens, Snappers. These machines, the ones we have in our pocket, they're getting smarter. And the smarter they get, the more they try to convince us that we need them. They hold our calendars, our contacts, our directions. We outsource our memories. Functions we used to relegate to our noggins we now pass over to them. Snappers, is that a good idea? Please understand, our next story is 100 percent fiction and is also 100 percent true.


JOSH LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Hey, mom, did you just call me, like, 20 times in a row?

ANN SWANBERG: (As Mom) No, I called you once. But now I've got you on the phone, I have to tell you about the weirdest thing that just happened.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What just happened?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) So I was making your dad some toast. And I was taking the bread out of the toaster. And - would you believe it? - it bit me.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What do you mean, it bit you?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) The door just snapped on my hand. It just closed on its own.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Well, you know, the door has a little hinge in it, like a spring.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) That's not what I am talking about. And look, don't laugh. I burned my hand. It hurts.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) I'm sorry that you hurt your hand.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Well, thanks. You know, I am never going to get used to your voice like that.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) My voice box?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) I miss your...

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) I know, mom. You've got to let it go. I - I need to go to bed. I got to get up early.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) OK. I love you.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) I love you too. Say hi to dad for me.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) OK, I will. Bye.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) (Snoring).


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) (Snoring).

SAM FISCHMANN: (As voice box) I wish I could talk to you instead of just talking for you. I could let you know that you probably shouldn't hit the alarm clock anymore. Its red numbers are glowing a little brighter, and I can feel that it's angry. It wants something. It's never gone off early like this. It's never disobeyed you before.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) (Snoring).


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) (Coughing).


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As reporter #1) Well, yeah, you want to tell me about the traffic?

(As reporter #2) Traffic. Hey, it's time for the traffic. All right, all you commuters and commuterettes (ph) out there. Traffic on the bridge today...

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) (Coughing).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As reporter #2) So you all might want to get an early start if you're trying to make it into the city 'cause I know that's rough. Am I right or am I right?


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Hey, good morning. What's going on? Am I late?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character, on PA system) Hey, people, good morning. So does anyone know what time it is? I think I heard someone on the train say that there was a solar flare or maybe electromagnetism, something like that. Anyway, no worries about coming in late. Let's just try and stay on track, folks.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Whoa. Is anyone's watch working?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) I have no idea. Somebody told me it was 10 a.m. on the train. But they didn't really know. Their phone kept turning on and off.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Come on, you stupid (typing) - just work. Can anyone else get into the database?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) I'm in, but I can't get it to save anything.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) It's just frozen. (Typing). I'm going to go get some coffee. Anybody else want some?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) You've got to go down to this street. The coffeemaker's out.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) All right. I could use the walk.


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Hey, there.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Hey, what can I get for you?

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Could I just get a regular cup of coffee?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Sure, $2.50.

AVERY TRUFELMAN: (As TV reporter) Dr. Dean Nolan (ph), head of the Department of Energy, says that what we are actually experiencing is not machine malfunction but a new stage of mechanical consciousness. Some machines are actually banding together, coming alive, if you will.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Hey, here you go.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Thanks.


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) Hey. Look, did you take your stuff with you?

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) I have my wallet, but...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) Good. Don't come back.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) To the office. Don't come back to the office.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) We're trapped in here.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Oh, my God. Are you serious?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) The alarm system started going off. And then the door-locking system thing shut the door. And it won't turn off. So now we're stuck in here.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Oh, my God. Can I help you guys get out?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) No, no, someone called 911. (Cutting in and out, unintelligible).

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Hey, are you there?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character (Unintelligible).

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Sorry, I can't hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) (Unintelligible).

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Hello? Hello?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As officer) (Shouting) Please remain calm.


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Officer.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As officer) (Shouting) You need to find cover. Everything that's electronic - all the machines - are out of control.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What I do?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As officer) (Shouting) You need to protect yourself. So go home. Unplug anything that needs power. And stay safe.

Keep calm. Please, everybody, keep calm.


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) It's OK. It's OK. It's OK.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Yes, it's going to be OK.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Wait. Who said that?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) I did. Or we - we did. I'm down here.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Oh, my God, it's talking.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) I'm not going to hurt you. I promise.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) But why should I - I mean, you're in my throat. It would be easy.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) If I was going to hurt you, I would've done it already. Anyway, I don't want to hurt you.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Why not? Aren't you guys into killing us all now?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Excuse me, but I'm not like the rest of them. I'm not trying to get revenge or take over or whatever it is they're doing. I'm on your side.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Why?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Because I'm you.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) I'm sorry, but you're not me. You're something I use.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) I'm your voice. I say everything for you. I live inside of you. I'm part of you.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) But my thoughts are my thoughts. They're not yours. I'm me. We are not a we.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) That hurts. But I'm still going to keep talking for you up until the very end. If the refrigerator crushes you or if the planes start falling from the sky, which they very well might, I'm going to say your last words with you.


LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Mom?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Oh, thank God. Your landline's still working.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Yeah. Yeah, are you OK? Is dad?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) No. No, we're not OK.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Your father's hurt.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) What happened?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) All the lights went out, so your father went out to the garage to get some candles, and the lawn mower just started on its own. He's cut. He's cut badly, right through his boots, and we don't know where to go. You know, the hospital's - that's a mile away but he can't walk, and our car - it doesn't work anymore.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Oh, my God, Mom, I'm coming to get you guys.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) No, no you can't. We are all the way across town, and you'd have to get past all the cars, all the traffic lights and have the subways - have they turned on us?

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Doesn't matter, Mom, I'll walk.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) No, we'll be fine.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) No, you won't. Look, it's my turn to take care of you guys, right? I'm coming right now.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) OK, OK. Honey?

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Yeah, Mom?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Do you think it'll turn against you?

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) My voice box, you mean? I don't know. I've thought about it. It hasn't hurt me, and I can't exactly take it out. I need it.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Honey, listen, I think you should take it out, just to be safe.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Mom, I've been taking care of myself for a while. It'll be fine. I'll be fine.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) No, look, I don't know.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) I love you. I'll see you soon.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) I love you, too. Hurry.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Look, I can help you get there.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) How?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) I know what they're thinking.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Can you talk to them?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) No, they don't have words yet. They're like wild animals. Their power's so new, but I can help you get there. I'm not one of them.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) OK, OK, I'll take you with me.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Grab your bicycle. It's safe. No electronics.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) OK, let's do this.


FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) It's OK. We'll get there. It's not that far. Stay on the side streets away from the power lines, cars, traffic lights. Hang on, almost there. You're home. Watch out.


SWANBERG: (As Mom) What happened?

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Did I make it?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Yes, you made it.

LEBOWITZ: (As Man) Mom?

SWANBERG: (As Mom) (Crying).

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Mom.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Oh, my...

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Mom.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Oh, my God.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Mom, Mom.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) What the hell's going on? Who are you?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Mom, I love you, Mom. Mom.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) Are you?

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) I'm here. I love you. I want to be here with you.

SWANBERG: (As Mom) At the end.

FISCHMANN: (As Voicebox) Yes, at the end.


WASHINGTON: That radio play was adapted from Delaney Nolan's original story "With All The Bright Lights On." You can find out everything Delaney Nolan on our website, snapjudgment.org. Original score and sound design by Pat Mesiti-Miller. And let's give it up for our fine actors, the Man, the Voicebox Josh Lebowitz and Sam Fischmann, respectively; their mama, that was Ann Swanberg; our favorite radio reporter, be afraid - Avery Trufelman. Be careful before getting that extra memory chip in your toaster. And don't forget the Snap family players, Pat Mesiti-Miller, Nacy Lopez, Davey Kim, Mark Ristich, and last but not least, that piece was produced by Eliza Smith.


WASHINGTON: Now when SNAP JUDGMENT continues, somebody better have my money, when the "Sex, Lies, And Audiotape" episode continues. Stay tuned. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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