Drabblecast episode cover 1977 by Carly HeathThis week, the Drabblecast presents a full cast production of “1977” by Carrie Vaughn.

“Have another one,” the guy said, and Megan did because she was thirsty, though a martini was probably not what she should be drinking. She was too far gone to question.

She downed the drink in three swallows while the guy laughed. Craig. Conner. Whatever his name was. The music changed, and her eyes got wide. She shoved the glass at the bar, knocking something over, but was already turning to the dance floor.


Drabblecast 412 – 1977

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by Carrie Vaughn

“Have another one,” the guy said, and Megan did because she was thirsty, though a martini was probably not what she should be drinking. She was too far gone to question.

She downed the drink in three swallows while the guy laughed. Craig. Conner. Whatever his name was. The music changed, and her eyes got wide. She shoved the glass at the bar, knocking something over, but was already turning to the dance floor.

“This is my favorite!”

Whatshisname laughed. “Baby, you say that every other song!”

So? she thought. Every other one was her favorite.

She’d popped something a little while ago and it was starting to kick in. Everything went away but the music, the lights, and her. Her body became ethereal, and she loved the feeling. She didn’t have to think about moving, she just did, like the music came from her. She danced like she was part of it.

The guy joined her, gluing himself to her, his hand on her thigh, sliding over the silky fabric of her dress. From where he stood, he could see straight down the low-cut neck. Not that she discouraged him. He was a good dancer, and she’d probably go back to his place. Keep the movement going as long as she could.

He pulled her against him like he owned her, a slim little doll in a knee-length lavender dress and white strappy heels. Her brown hair feathered around her cheeks, bouncing as she moved her head in time with the music, becoming damp with sweat. She laid her arms across his shoulders and let him guide her. She was on tonight, and her energy fed his. In moments a space formed around them as people stopped to watch. He took her hand, spun her out, spun her back. She faced out now, snugged close in his arms. Reveling, she looked up as multicolored lights flowed around her.

She was going to be so sick tomorrow, hung over and sore, and she wasn’t going to remember his name, and she didn’t want to see the sun ever again. Two months since she caught Rod in bed with her sister and walked out on him. She ought to be getting over it. She ought to find a job, a place to live that wasn’t somebody’s couch. She ought to ought to ought to. She ought to care, but she didn’t. She only wanted this moment forever.

People cheered them on, and it became just another layer of the music. She and her partner moved in harmony, like it was all planned, but it wasn’t. She looked him in the eyes and challenged him: keep up with me if you can. She looked at a lot of guys like that, and many walked away.

He dipped her, and she curled her leg around his and arced her body toward him. Like she was going to jump him right here in the middle of the club. That got a cheer. It was all part of the dance. She gave him a sultry, half lidded smile.

“Oh my God you are so hot,” he breathed at her.

She traced a line from his throat down the open collar of his shirt to the first button, somewhere below his sternum. Dark hairs peeked out.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said, and she shook her head.

“Not until it’s over.” She always stayed until the music fell silent. He tried to hide his disappointment. Megan only smiled. He wouldn’t be the first guy she’d danced into the ground. The song changed. Her skin burned, her head throbbed, and tomorrow didn’t exist.

“This is my favorite,” she breathed.

At some moment the lights shifted–out of synch with the music, she noticed, annoyed. They’d all turned to yellow on the off beat, then grew brighter. They’d done something funky–the sparklers disappeared, along with the reds and blues.

Everything was yellow and so piercing she had to close her eyes. Her partner had spun her out again, and she was alone, face upturned, watching the back of her eyelids turn red in the lights.

Then the floor disappeared.

This was it. She’d finally done it. Too much booze, too many pills, it had all caught up with her and she was going to die of an overdose right here on the lit-up dance floor. Perfect, she thought, smiling vaguely. This was exactly how she wanted to die. This moment really would last forever. It didn’t even hurt.

For a moment, her body felt weightless. She was leaving it, her mind was flying, and there was a tunnel of light just like the crackpots said.

But she was still standing when the fierce light faded to normal lit-room brightness. She looked at her feet, her pink painted toenails peeking out of the white plastic sandals. She stood on a textured yellow floor. Not the club’s dance floor with its lighted tiles. She looked at her hands, which were shaking. She was going to throw up.

“Hey! It worked!” a voice called.

She looked up to find a guy in a white leisure suit staring at her, bug-eyed. He had dark hair and trimmed sideburns, a couple of gold chains, and too many rings. He looked like someone who was trying way too hard. The club never would have let him in. But they weren’t in the club.

The ceiling was too low, and the walls were too round. The walls were round, Megan observed, blinking. Everything was a buttery yellow. She might have said this was a living room. Around the edges were armchairs and a sofa, a coffee table, all expensive looking and vaguely attractive with soft lines and warm colors. Lava lamps occupied a couple of nooks and they were lit and morphing in an ideal way that seldom happened in real life. In real life they tended to gum up. On the other side of the room, a pair of bucket seats sat before a complicated-looking instrument panel–a sound board times a million–and a cockpit window. The window looked out over black sky and a few pure stars that didn’t twinkle.

She put her hand on her head. “Fuck, I’ve never been this drunk.”

The guy stepped toward her. He wasn’t Whatshisname, was he? There wasn’t anyone here but the two of them. She stepped back.

“Um. . .can I get you something?” he said. “Water maybe?”

“Yeah. Water. Sure.” She was still looking around, off balance. Even the ceiling curved a bit. At least the floor was flat. “Can I sit down?”

“Yeah, anywhere,” he said from a cabinet in the back where he was pouring something that looked like water.

The sofa was the most comfortable seat she’d ever had. The stuffing sank, but not too much. It curved around her, supporting her, but still felt soft as goose down. She could curl up and go to sleep right here.

The guy brought her a glass of water. In his other hand he held out a little white pill. “Take this,” he said.

She shook her head, which made the room spin. “No. No more.”

“It’ll clear out your whole system. Instant sobriety.”

Too good to be true. Did she trust him? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d taken a strange pill from a strange guy. She popped the pill and downed half the water before she felt ready to ask “What. . .where. . .” She closed her eyes, took a breath, started over. “I don’t remember you.”

“No reason you should. We’ve never met.”

“Then what am I doing here?”

He smiled. “You’re from 1977.”

She shook her head. “I’m from Glendale.”

“No, I mean I found you in 1977 and brought you here. To the future. Your future, I mean. This is my ship, the Travolta. We’re in orbit just outside the Asteroid Belt.”

It wasn’t the craziest pick-up line she’d ever heard. He wasn’t claiming to be an alien from Venus. He hadn’t asked her what her sign was. “Why?”

He looked eager. No–he looked crazy, with this fire in his eyes. His hands beseeched. “I want you to teach me to dance.”

She looked over to what for some reason she thought of as the front of the room, and through the window to what might have been night sky. Or outer space.

“You couldn’t find someone. . . local to help you?”

He sat next to her, and she resisted an urge to scoot away. He wasn’t a bad looking guy. Looked like he had muscles under the shirt. He was taller than she’d thought at first. And he had an earnest smile.

“Here’s the thing. In your time, disco’s got another two years of life in it, tops. After that, it’s all kitsch. Sure, lots of people say they like it, there are lots of movies out there that show how it was done. But it’s all missing something. Nobody takes it seriously. So I want to learn from someone who was there. Who understands what it really means.”

“I’m not sure I know what it really means. It’s music, you know? That’s all.” She thought about what he’d said: two years, and the music would all change? She wasn’t sure she could imagine that. She wasn’t sure she’d be alive then anyway.

“You can tell me what it was really like. You can show me. Ever since I heard the Bee Gees in music history class I’ve loved that whole period, that whole style, everything about it. But it’s so hard to find good information, much less anything with any kind of emotion.”

“You learned about disco in music history?”

“Sort of. We only spent about ten minutes on it. But I’ve become a bit of… how would you put it? A fan.”

Her brain felt clearer, like the pill was actually doing what he said it would do. Or it might have been the water. Or both. She suddenly had to go to the bathroom, and this still didn’t make any sense.

She squinted. “Why couldn’t you just go back? You like it so much, and if you really do have a. . .a time machine, or whatever, you could go back and there yourself.”

He gave a shrug. “You know how it is. Everyone loves romanticizing the past, but who’d really want to live there? You probably don’t even realize how dangerous it is. All the wars, no antibiotics, no–

“1977 has antibiotics,” she said.

“It does?” He looked perplexed for a moment, gaze turned inward, maybe to a distant history class. “Twentieth Century America. . .you’re right on the edge, aren’t you?”

She put her head in her hands. “This isn’t happening.”

He hovered near her, but he didn’t touch her, for which she was grateful. “I know this wasn’t really fair of me to yank you out of your life like this. But I can put you back–same exact time and place, no problem.”

Like she would want to go back. She hiccupped a laugh and looked at him. His returning gaze was so profoundly hopeful. So clear. No booze, drugs, or sex. He just wanted to dance.

“What’s your name?” he said.


“I’m Oz.”

She hiccupped again. “You sure are. Do you have a restroom?”

“Through the door.”

She hadn’t seen the door until he pointed. A panel that had been flush with the wall near the closet that was, she supposed now, also kitchen of sorts, slid open to reveal a fully appointed restroom.

She fled.

The fixtures were recognizable enough that she could do what she needed to do. As happy as she was that she didn’t have to ask how to use anything, she was a little disappointed that humanity hadn’t advanced to space-age super sonic bathrooms whatever they were supposed to have. This couldn’t be the future. It was so. . .ordinary. This was some game; she could play along.

There wasn’t a mirror to check how badly her mascara had smeared or to touch up her lip gloss. Not that she had any lip gloss with her. Maybe it was for the best that she couldn’t check. She ran her fingers through her hair and smoothed her dress out as best she could, adjusting the thin chains around her neck so they lay straight. But she didn’t know why she had to be presentable when she was clearly going crazy.

The door slid open when she turned to merely stand in front of it. Nice effect, but it still didn’t make it the future.

Taking a deep breath, she returned to the main cabin.

Oz handed her a thing about the size of a paperback but thin, like a piece of corrugated cardboard. It had a screen on it, and a row of glowing letters. Song titles.

“This is all the music I have on file,” he said. “Here, scroll down by touching that button there.”

She did. He had hundreds of songs. ‘All the music,’ he said, and it sure looked that way. She spotted a Bee Gees title she didn’t recognize. Something that hadn’t been released yet? If this was the future. . .

“Can I play this one?” When she touched the title on the screen, it highlighted. She squinted at it.

“Push the play button, there.” He pointed to a little arrow on the screen. Just like the play key on a tape recorder. She did.  Sound flowed from everywhere. She couldn’t see any speakers. It was like the whole room was a speaker. It enveloped her like a warm blanket, and she didn’t care anymore if it was the future or not. Maybe she really had died, and this was heaven.

There it came, Barry Gibb’s voice, rich and sweet, and a beat to die for. And if this really was the future, she was hearing this song before anyone else in the world. Before the Bee Gees even. At least, before anyone in 1977. What a nice idea.

“I thought maybe you’d teach me some steps before we started with the music. The classes I’ve taken before usually start that way.”

She shook her head. “You have to learn to feel the music before you learn any steps. The steps don’t mean anything if you can’t feel it.”

And she felt it. The steps came naturally, without her thinking, because she’d been doing them for so long. But the important part was still the music and how it ran through you.

It didn’t matter where or when you were. She’d been kidnapped, she thought absently. Didn’t matter who or what Oz claimed to be. She ought to be screaming, breaking down the door. She ought to be too scared to dance, but she wasn’t. She just closed her eyes and there she was— back at the club.

“I have a little piece of 1977 right here on my ship. I feel like I’m going to cry.”

She looked at him; he was watching her with an intensity– an appreciation–she wasn’t used to. She had to interrupt that look.

“Come on, you try it.” She took his hand and led him to the middle of the floor.

She expected him to be clumsy. Something about his enthusiasm didn’t inspire confidence in his abilities. If he’d been good at this, he wouldn’t have needed to kidnap her. But he wasn’t clumsy. Restrained, maybe. Nervous, self conscious. Most people were. They hung out on the edges of the dance floor, eyeing the crowd like they wanted to make sure no one was actually watching them, frowning instead of smiling, pursing or biting their lips in concentration. And they didn’t really move. They might do the steps and pump their arms, but they didn’t move, they didn’t flow.

He swayed from foot to foot but seemed most interested in watching her. He had a nice smile, she realized. And the kind of hair you wanted to run your fingers through. Soft and thick.

She took his hand and tried a spin. He didn’t have to do anything but hold her hand and let her wind herself in and out of his arms, but she knew he would still feel like he was a part of something. His smile brightened, becoming less about wonder and more about happiness.

Part of her rhythm and joy of movement flowed into him. She found a different song on his list. “Let’s try this one– it’s got real easy steps.”

“The Hustle” started playing. The thing about that one was the basic steps were easy, but you could build on them, and make the dance more complex as you went along, as you got better. She added a couple of spins, and Oz said, “See, that’s what I’m talking about, they don’t show that kind of thing on any of the vids!” So she had to do it again, then show it to him, and they did it together.

Then she faced him, putting his hands on her hips and resting hers on his shoulders.

His smile quirked. “I haven’t been able to practice anything like this,” he said, giving a shy little shrug. “Can’t find anyone who’s interested in dancing with me.”

“Well then. This is your big chance.”

They danced. He held back at first, but she was brazen, spinning into him so they were only inches apart, daring him not to back off. She fell and made him catch her in a dip, and he did, and the music pulsed, the singers going on about love and loss and forgetting about it all while you danced.

He righted her from another dip and held her shoulders.

“You could stay here,” he said suddenly. “I–I don’t have to send you back.”

If she’d wanted the escape she thought she did, this was the ultimate. She stared at him, breathing a little hard from the dancing, wondering at the song playing. It was another one she’d never heard before, but nonetheless, it sounded familiar.

Like this whole place. Like him. Never going back sounded like the best thing in the world.

A crash sounded, and an alarm blared through the room.

“Shit!” Oz ran to the cockpit, leaving her standing alone.

Absently, she smoothed out her skirt and rearranged her necklace. While he was doing who knew what, the lights flickered, then a space of air brightened, like a light bulb the second before it burns out. There was a pop, a puff of breeze, and two people appeared from nowhere, standing before her.

They were cops. Even if the uniforms were unfamiliar, their attitudes weren’t. They both wore black boots, trousers, and padded jackets with some kind of insignia, and they both had crew cuts and sunglasses. The short one was a woman.

The man read from a handheld screen. “Osric Nu? We detected the unauthorized use of a temporal transducer along your route at approximately 0341. We’d like to ask you a few questions.”

Oz faced them from the cockpit. “This is an illegal search! I’ll call my lawyer! Where are your idents?”

Then, as if nothing had happened at all, she was standing in the middle of the club, a hundred bodies dancing around her, arms raised, hips swaying, feet stepping, beat throbbing. Whatshisname was dancing with someone else now, and Megan was relieved. Except for that, she was right back where she started. But things were clearer this time. She could see the people, the lights, the speakers, the bar, the drinks.

Everything was so clear.

She could see the future.

She raised her arms straight up and laughed, thinking, I will survive.