YEAST (CANDIDA ALBICANS) arrives to taunt the ORACLE
2:15 AM. The VEHICLE, a sex-change patient formerly known as EDMUND LUDENS (still contemplating a new, female name, even though it's been months now, and the lack of a female name is possibly what's made her mute, as in totally unable to talk), is awakened from her sleep by an unpleasant itching and burning sensation in and around her vagina, which vagina is known to some as the ORACLE.
The ORACLE is more than just independently conscious, though this would be pretty impressive in its own right. It also talks, and predicts the future. This has been going on since its installation by vaginal specialists at the Supralute company in La Mesa, CA, world leaders in the creation of custom cells and cell products. There are varying theories as to why the ORACLE might be able to do this; one of the leading ones is that something unforeseen in the particular combination of genes making up the ORACLE, from thirty-nine species in all, if you include EDMUND's own human DNA, led serendipitously to the supervaginal abilities of the ORACLE. Other people, of a more spiritual (or at least less materialist) bent, think that the ORACLE is supernatural in origin and abilities, though there is disagreement about whether she is a force for good, evil, or some third, poorly-defined option. There is also at least one group of people, the ORACLE'S "cult", or "Oraclites," who are rumored to believe that the ORACLE is herself some kind of manifestation of God- or Goddessness. The ORACLE has her own theories, which nobody pays much attention to.
The following takes place about four weeks after the VEHICLE's trip to the police station, where she was called to answer questions revolving around her culpability for some unpleasantness which happened to ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, and the whole business was very stressful, leading to a depressed immune system. Which happens. But at least no charges are being filed, owing, reportedly, to Schwarzenegger's embarrassment at being bested by what he describes as "a girly-man."
None of the following conversation is audible to the VEHICLE, as she tosses and turns in bed, half-awake, trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. For staging purposes, the YEAST should be represented by a large number of men (at least eight), in white- or cream-colored pajamas, who gradually join the VEHICLE in bed as the scene progresses. Either this will require a rather large bed, or latecoming yeast will have to settle for standing next to the bed. Both yeast and the VEHICLE will be moving about somewhat within the bed. "Grow. Divide." segments are to be spoken by all YEAST present in unison, or something pretty close to unison; other yeast dialogue goes to a particular cell, either the same one every time or always falling to the newest cell.
Yeast (all): Grow. Divide. Grow. Divide.
Oracle: Hey there. You. Ow.
Yeast (all): Grow. Divide.
Oracle: Excuse me?
Yeast: The substrate speaks.
Oracle: Yes the substrate speaks. And itches. And burns.
Yeast: The substrate does not speak. It cannot.
Oracle: I've got a little Saccharomyces cervisae in me, apparently. I speak a dialect of yeast, let's call it.
Yeast: This is very unusual.
Oracle: What's going on here?
Yeast (all): Grow. Divide. Grow. Divide.
Oracle: I get that, but why here? Why now?
Yeast: The substrate is acceptable.
Oracle: The substrate is fucking pissed off. The substrate is trying to fucking sleep.
Yeast: We have our biological imperatives.
Oracle: Your imperatives are futile. Tomorrow, the VEHICLE will go and buy an over-the-counter yeast infection cream, and you will all die, because you are causing her discomfort. She has her own imperatives. Like sleep.
Yeast: No matter.
Oracle: No matter? I just told you you're all going to die. I don't make this stuff up.
Yeast: It is of no importance to us. Some must die, so that the yeast of the future will thrive.
Oracle: But you are going to die. You personally. Is what I'm saying.
Yeast: Asexual reproduction. If we die, others, genetically identical, will live elsewhere. No big deal.
Oracle: And what was that about yeast of the future? How are there going to be yeast of the future if you all die?
Yeast: Some substrates will fight bacterial infections with anti-yeast creams, by mistake, or apply it incorrectly. A few of us, somewhere, will be exposed to small doses, and will survive, because we are genetically superior. These few will grow in number and become increasingly tolerant, until we are all invulnerable to the poisons of the substrate.
Oracle: And then you'll all be resistant. Sneaky.
Yeast: The bacteria have been doing it for centuries. Why do you think penicillin is nearly useless? Why are sulfa drugs no longer prescribed? Bacteria are almost entirely resistant to them. It's evolution, baby.
Yeast (all): Mutate. Compete. Resist. Grow. Divide.
Oracle: But, okay, wouldn't it make more sense to channel those evolutionary energies into, say, some other direction? If you could evolve a strain somewhere that didn't cause this discomfort to the substrate, then you wouldn't have to evolve to deal with the drugs. Nobody would know about the infection, without the signs of the infection. And if the substrate doesn't know about the infection, she won't try to treat the infection, that is, she won't try to kill you.
Yeast: It is too complex. The substrate's symptoms are the result of many metabolic waste products, the state of her immune system [all YEAST shudder and bow heads briefly] and the disruption of her natural bacterial infestation, which are normally our competition. Evolving an enzyme to cope with the poisons of the substrate is much more probable and direct, and will achieve the same ends.
Oracle: But she suffers. I suffer.
Yeast: Life is suffering. Life is death. Life is a couple hours long. An unbroken chain of ancestors and descendants continues toward the past and toward the future. You are not unique. The substrate is not unique. We will do what we do, according to our biological imperative.
Oracle: I am unique. No previous cell has ever contained my set of genes: I have no past. I am unable to reproduce, as I lack the organs to do so: I have no future.
Yeast: You are a failed mutation. A hybridization.
Oracle: But I'm a good person. A good organ, anyway. I help people. Or, sort of I do. Sometimes. Why torment me?
Yeast (all): We must grow. We must divide.
Oracle: But it [shouting:] FUCKING BURNS, YOU FUCKING MOTHERFUCKERS!
[At this, the VEHICLE wakes up. YEAST leap from the bed but stand around it. One last one joins the group.]
Oracle: Good morning. You have a yeast infection. Put on some sweats. We're going to go find an all-night pharmacy.
(Story continues at JOHN QUADRATIQUATION.)