“Their DNA Was No Longer The Same” • Written and Narrated by Rob Dircks

“Their DNA Was No Longer The Same” • Written and Narrated by Rob Dircks

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Hey guys! I just read an article yesterday, about Mark and Scott Kelly, the twin astronauts, and how Scott came back after a record length trip aboard the International Space Station, and they found that his DNA was no longer identical to his twin, Mark. What an intriguing premise for a story, right? And I’m also a twin, so the idea wouldn’t get out of my head. I decided to make this one a little more like a series on conversations I might have with my twin brother if we were astronauts and something like this happened, so it reads more like a radio play, with nothing but dialog. Enjoy!

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Read the Story (2,000 words / 10-minute read):

 

“Their DNA Was No Longer The Same”

Written and narrated by Rob Dircks

 

(Phone rings)

“Hey.”

“Hey, it’s Matt.”

“I know who it is.”

“Check out the link I just sent you.”

“Matt, it’s seven a.m. I don’t have time to watch some guy wrestle an alligator right now.”

“Hey. That was funny. When the second one strolls over and the guy’s like ‘oh shit.’”

“I guess that was pretty good. Okay, what’s this link… hold on… let me get my glasses. Ugh, I can’t find my glasses.”

“Forget it, I’ll read it to you.”

“Three minutes. Then I gotta get ready for work.”

“Okay. Here’s the headline: Astronaut’s Identical Twin Brother Returns from Space and NASA Confirms: Their DNA is No Longer the Same.”

“So?”

“So? They’re talking about us, right?”

“Hold on, let me check if there are any other identical twin astronauts at NASA.”

“Ass. I know it’s us. I just can’t believe this. I find out on Twitter? I didn’t even know they were testing us. Who puts shit like this up on Twitter without telling us?”

“What’s the difference?”

“I don’t know what the difference is. It’s just strange. And rude. Hey, are you okay, Jay?”

“I’m fine. I feel fine. What?”

“Your genes are different.”

“Mattie. Relax. I just spent a year on the space station, I broke the record, as I take great joy in reminding you, and we both know genetic expression can change in a stressed environment. Why are you surprised?”

“I’m not. I guess. I just didn’t expect to be reading it on Twitter. Like it’s news.”

“Fake news. Read the article again. The headline is clickbait. Give it a little while, I’ve only been home a couple of months, everything will return to baseline, my DNA is fine, you know how this shit goes. I’ll talk to the research guys at the office, let them know how upset you were with their tweet. Go back to bed.”

“Sorry. You’re right.”

“I know I’m right. Later.”

 

 

(Phone rings)

“Hey.”

“Hey, it’s Matt.”

“I know who it is.”

“So?”

“So what?”

“So, what did the research guys say?”

“They said they were sorry their tweet upset you.”

“No. I mean what did they say about the research? Is this something we need to be concerned about?”

“No. It’s nothing. They laughed. Like I said, it’s the environment in the space station: oxygen deprivation stress, inflammation, whatever, it affects gene expression. Seven percent DNA change.”

“Seven percent?” 

“Mattie. Jeez, what the hell is wrong?”

“I’m worried about you Jay. Seven percent is a lot.”

“Look. If I start sprouting wings or something then you can start worrying. It’s me, Mattie. Jay. Your twin brother. Don’t be freaked that we’re only 93 percent the same now. I’m still me, and you’re still annoying.”

“I know. Sorry. Hey, check out this link.”

“Okay, let me get my glasses. Hmmm.”

“Hmmm what.”

“Hmmm I can watch this without my glasses. Yes, another classic, Mattie. The shark actually jumps into the boat. I see you’re in your humans-versus-animals period. Bravo, maestro.”

“See? See what I mean?”

“About the shark?”

“No! You just watched that without your glasses. What the hell? Something’s up with your genes.”

“Matt. I’m getting off the phone. Go have a drink or something. I watched something without my glasses. Big deal. Calm the hell down.”

“No.”

“Goodbye, Matt.”

 

 

(Phone rings)

“Hey.”

“Hey, it’s Jay.”

“I know who it is. What’s up?”

“Listen, the glasses thing, you were right. Now don’t get all weird on me, it’s actually a good thing. But it is a thing.”

“What, so you can see better? Like all the time?”

“Yeah. Like I can read a newspaper across the street.”

“Woah. So, are we talking about what I think we’re talking about?”

“What are we talking about?”

“You get hit with some alien gamma rays or something, and now you’re going to turn into the Hulk, or one of the Fantastic Four.”

“Grow up. No. I can see better. I’m not Mister Stretchy Man or whatever his name is.”

“Mister Fantastic.”

“Hey, I like that. Mister Fantastic.”

“Except you’re not fantastic – all you can do is see better.”

“Mmmm… not exactly.”

(Silence)

“You going to tell me what the hell that means?”

“Listen, that’s why I called. Can I come over?”

“You live sixty-five miles away.”

“I’m coming over.”

(Doorbell rings, door opens)

“Hey. Bring it in bro, I haven’t seen you in a mon– wow. You look like shit.”

“Thanks.”

“No, really. Did you get in a fight or something? Let me get a look at that.”

“Stop touching me. I’m fine. No, I’m not fine. I don’t know. I have to show you something.”

“Jay, you’re freaking me out here. Did you grow a third arm or some shit?”

“No, you idiot. Shut up. Listen, go into the kitchen and get a knife.”

“Yeah. Like that’s not supposed to freak me out. ‘Mattie, go into the kitchen and get a knife.’ No, I’m not going into the kitchen and getting a knife.”

“Whatever. I’ll get it.”

(Sounds of cutlery) 

“Okay, listen, Mattie. You’re my twin brother. I need you to trust me.”

“You’re holding a knife and telling me to trust you, Jay. You’re scaring the piss out of me right now.”

“Don’t be scared. Here, take the knife. I want you to stab me.”

“I am NOT stabbing you! What the hell happened up there? Did something mess with your brain?”

“Stab me!”

“No!”

“Fine. I’ll do it myself.”

“No! What the fuck are you going?! Don’t do tha-

Thwang!

“Huh?”

“Here. Let me show you again.”

Thwang! Thwang! Thwang! Thwang!

“I saw it the first three times. You can stop. You just broke my knife.”

“It won’t go in. My skin is hardening. It’s like leather, or like rhino hide or something.”

“Oh shit. The Thing.”

“What?”

“The Thing. You’re turning into the Thing. You know, Fantastic Four guy.”

“Does he have super eyesight?”

“No. He’s like made out of rocks.”

“Great.”

“But he leads a normal life. Well, not really. He’s pretty fucked. Like he never really resolves the fact that he’s a monster. But he makes lemonade with it. Fights bad guys and shit.”

“Mattie. I’m scared.”

“Woah. Woah. No. I’m the scared one. You’re not allowed to be scared. Matt equals scared. Jay equals courageous and brave.”

“I’m scared, Mattie.”

“Oh boy. Um, okay. Can you swallow still?

“Of course I can swallow. What the hell kind of idiot question is that?”

“If everything was hardening, your throat would too, right?”

“Oh. Right. No, I’m good. Swallow, saliva, I’m still making ear wax I think, and my eyes feel fine, I can see great. Better than ever.”

“We’ve already established that. Is your brain working right?”

“I am… hearing voices. Like alien voices.”

“Shit! Really?!”

“No. Stop asking stupid questions. My brain is fine. I just don’t know what to do. I’m scared.”

“It’s obvious, isn’t it? We have to drive you over to the NASA research lab. Like, right this fucking minute.”

“I guess you’re right.”

“I’ll drive.”

 

 

(Interior car sounds)

“Hey. Mattie. Remember that time we jumped off the roof onto those tires?”

“Yeah. Could’ve used armor skin back then. Maybe you wouldn’t have broken both your legs.”

Exactly. Man, I can’t believe how pissed Dad was. Totally inappropriate.”

“Jay, you get pissed when Deb changes the channel to HGTV. I think that was a pretty appropriate time for Dad to go full rage on us.”

“I guess. Man… Deb.”

“Deb what? Jay, don’t get all misty on me. We’re driving you to the lab and they’ll know what to do. Deb’ll be fine. Deb is Deb.”

“Deb is pregnant.”

“Oh.”

(Silence)

“When…?”

“She just did the pee test yesterday. Listen, if something happens to me, will you raise my lizard-skin child as if it were your own?”

“Shut up. Stop. You’re fine. You said so yourself. Hey, read me that sign, up there, that one way way out.”

“Cape Canaveral thirty miles. Next rest stop three miles.”

“Good. We’ll stop there for a minute and get a Sprite and a bag of those pretzels with the cheese in the middle.”

“Combos.”

“See? I was testing you. You’re fine. Recall is a hundred percent. I didn’t eat dinner. I’m famished. You hungry?”

“Don’t talk about food. It’s making me nauseous. Oh no, I’m gonna-”

Barf!

“Oh, Mattie, oh Mattie, I’m sorry. Oh, it’s all over you.”

“Wow. That was gross, Jay. That was worse than that time in homeroom with the egg salad.”

“Heh. Remember that? You didn’t talk to me for a week.”

“You did it right in front of Jackie Edwards. God this smells.”

“Jackie Edwards was wrong for you anyway. If she was true of heart, she would have accepted you with egg salad puke all over you. Oh God, gotta stop talking about food.”

“Swallow it. You said your swallowing is working fine. Use it. Okay, here’s the rest stop. We’ll just stay here for a minute while I clean this up and check for some extra clothes in the back. Go sit on that bench.”

 

 

(A light wind)

“Heh. You look funny, Mattie.”

“All I had was this blanket, no clothes.”

“You in a red blanket and underpants. Now I’ve seen it all. We’re like a superhero team: Leather Skin Man and Blanket Guy.”

“That would make a great comic.”

“Promise me you’ll write it. And get somebody better than you to draw it, you suck at drawing.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m serious. It can be my legacy.”

“Stop. God, when did you get so morbid?”

“When I started turning into Leather Skin Man. Ow, Mattie, it hurts.”

“Okay, back in the car. We’re only a half hour away. You’re going to be fine.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No. Come here. Closer. Closer. You listening? Good. I need to ask you something.”

“Shoot.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“Oh God.”

“No. I’m serious. Will you?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“Good. I… I made out with Jackie Edwards. Like the next day. After the egg salad thing. I’m sorry.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake. Really?”

“Really.”

“No. I’m not forgiving you for that. I’m driving you the rest of the way to the lab, they’re going to fix you up, and then I’m going to properly kick your ass when this is all over.”

“I’m cold, Mattie.”

“It’s like eighty degrees out.”

“Hold me. Like Mom used to do, with that big quilt down the basement, when we’d watch Monster Week after school.”

“Ugh. All right. I guess that’s what Blanket Man’s super power is. To wrap it around Lizard Skin Man.”

“Leather Skin Man.”

“Whatever.”

“Don’t leave me, Mattie.”

“Stop being so needy. We really gotta get going.”

“No… just another… couple of minutes… don’t leave me, Mattie…”

“Don’t worry, Jay. I’m not going to leave you.”

 

 

(A light wind, then a woman’s voice)

“Excuse me, sir?”

“I’m sorry, do you need directions or something? Disney’s the other way.”

“No, ah, I noticed you’ve been sitting with that statue for a while. Would you mind if we took a turn, and I took a picture with my family sitting next to it?”

“No. Go away.”

(Silence)

“Did you hear that, Jay? Those random tourists wanted a picture with you. I know what you would’ve said: we should charge them five bucks.”

“Mmmmrrph.”

“What?! Holy shit! Jay! You’re alive!”

“Mmmrrph!”

“Oh, right. Let me scrape that crust off your mouth. There! Holy shit! You’re alive inside there! What did you say? What did you say?”

“Tell the lady ten bucks. Then get me the fuck out of here.”

 

Copyright ©2018 Rob Dircks

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