Catch Her Soliloquy


Podcast Episode 1: Of Far-Fetched Dreams

Faintly in the background, we hear a pair of footsteps accompanied by light clinking of metal equipment. The noises grow louder as someone travels to the foreground. Then, a pause. Equipment clinks and fabric rustles as belongings are placed on the ground. SHIRLEY settles down with a relieved sigh. It is followed by the crackling static of a recorder. 

After a moment, all noises settle. The recorder clicks.

Static. Rumbling white noise enters, followed by heavy shaking of a huge compartment. It overlaps with the slow, erratic rattling of bus seats. SHIRLEY’s voice is close to the recorder, fuzzing slightly with static. She speaks hushedly but excitedly with slight Singlish.

Shirley: Recording 15! Humans’ slow bus ride home.

The bus’ drones in response.

Shirley: Humans need really large vehicles ‘cause their world is so big! My everyday world is one small neighbourhood, yet walking around it already makes me tired. Imagine if hummits had buses! (Pause) Actually… it’s not wise to stick out like that.

The recorder clicks. Enter the faint sounds of leaves rustling. Recorder clicks.

A moment of the bus’ familiar rattling sounds. Enter the shrill, punctuating alarm of the “Bus Stopping” signal. SHIRLEY whispers into the recorder.

Shirley: What if hummits could help humans press “Stop” buttons? Or adjust the air-con? Or check the EZ-Link cards for the Bus Inspector?

SHIRLEY’s responses are some heavy footsteps inside the bus.

Shirley: Maybe humans and hummits can become closer like that. Maybe we could coexist that way!

A pause. Ruffling of fabric as SHIRLEY brings the recorder close.

Shirley: (Whispering) Keep this between us, okay, but they don’t know I snuck out. They just– just don’t understand that we should get to explore the human world, too, and not just fix stuff all day. Why must humans and hummits always be separated? I don’t think it’s fair… B-But, don’t tell them, ah!

Right after, the automated announcer speaks in a slow, robotic, artificially-pitched voice.

Announcer: Neeeeexxxxttt sssstoooooopp… Booooon Keeeeeng Sssstaaaatiooooonnnn.

Thumping of many heavy shoes faintly booms through the recording. SHIRLEY yelps and frantically dashes away. Rustling is heard as the recorder brushes against her clothes. SHIRLEY whispers into the recorder hushedly.

Shirley: We should really make handrails for hummits!

Humans’ pounding footsteps grow muffled. SHIRLEY stops running, then pants.

Shirley: Thank God hummits can fit under bus seats! (Pause) Wait, where’s this stopping at?

The recording ends with a click. SHIRLEY hums contemplatively. The recorder clicks again. 

Crackling static. Then, echoes of rushing cars flood in. Tires squeak as a car rushes by. The recorder crackles. SHIRLEY whispers loudly.

Shirley: Recording 20: Fixing rounds in a carpark. Another good human-watching location, especially at this time in the evening. 

One second of silence. Then, a loud “Pweep pweep” of an electronic car key. Sound of the car door opening. A moment of shuffling, then the door thuds shut.

Shirley: (With admiration) Humans are constantly evolving. Hummits are… (Subdued tone) Resolved to just fixing, fixing, fixing… They all say humans are only troublesome and destructive… But, what if humans and hummits combine talents? 

From above, enter the rumble of a car engine starting.

Shirley: What if we create a bigger, shared world?

Sound of tires right next to SHIRLEY squeaking slowly against the ground.

Shirley: Maybe, then, I’ll finally be happy.

We hear SHIRLEY’s quick but light footsteps clearly in the foreground, accompanied by the noises of a car driving away. The rumbling engine moves into the background. SHIRLEY’s hurried footsteps continue.

The recorder clicks off. In the background, children are murmuring between themselves. Their voices echo. Then, the recorder clicks back on. 

We first hear the clinking of sharp metal equipment against concrete. After that, SHIRLEY humming a random tune. Small debris crumbles lightly onto the ground. Clinking stops. Hands sweeping debris into a palm. We hear tiny debris trickling into a narrow crack of concrete. The sounds periodically halt before continuing. SHIRLEY murmurs softly to herself.

Shirley: I hope we all can come together like this. Powdery concrete filling up cracks in a staircase.

Sounds stop.

Shirley: (Sighs, in conflict) I need to prove my point to them… Somehow. 

Footsteps descend from a staircase above. KATE’s playful and slightly lower voice echoes.

Kate: Oh, I see it’s coming along fine.

SHIRLEY exclaims, knocking over the recorder. It clacks onto the ground loudly, crackling.

Shirley: (Muffled, surprised) Kate!

The recorder clicks. Not a second later, it clicks again.

Static enters, before dissipating. Sounds of hands patting a hard surface. SHIRLEY’s voice overlaps with the sounds.

Shirley: You here to help me fix this crack?

Kate: (Teasingly) With what, brainpower? Fixing architecture is your talent, Shirley.

Shirley: And singing to plants is yours, Kate.

Kate: If singing helps them feel better after those humans trample on them, then sure, I’ll do it.

Patting noises stop.

Shirley: Humans… are trampling on plants?

Kate: Y’know, mimosas and little ironweeds… Happens more nowadays. I’m not surprised that they always destroy the environment.

Shirley: Well… They’re not always like that!

Kate: (Softly) I know you think so. But they’re still dangerous, Shirley.

A moment of silence. Footsteps approach the recorder. KATE speaks as she settles down.

Kate: Do you… always record during fixing rounds?

Shirley: (Hums) If not, then when? Horace doesn’t like letting me out.

Kate: (Snorts) He’s just being protective. You know that all too well.

She deepens her voice, putting on a Singlish accent.

Kate: “Oi, Shirley, you better not climb up someplace we cannot see, ah! You catch noises–”

SHIRLEY also deepens her voice.

Kate and Shirley: “–The humans catch you!”

They laugh. KATE shushes them despite her own giggling. 

Kate: Any louder and–

Above, a door squeaks open. SHIRLEY tries to control her giggles.

Shirley: I promise I’m doing work, Horace!

A pair of heels clacks into the stairway. Another pair of shoes drag against the concrete floor. KATE and SHIRLEY stop laughing. The pair of footsteps venture down the staircase. Sounds of hasty rustling of fabric. KATE and SHIRLEY speak at the same time. SHIRLEY sounds excited. KATE sounds alarmed.

Kate and Shirley: Humans. 

Fabric rustles as KATE stands up.

Kate: (Hushed) Hide.

Shirley: What? W-Wait, I’m not done–!

The recorder crackles, then clicks off. A deep intake of breath from behind the recorder. Then, click again. 

Immediately, we hear a pair of heels clack pass, followed by dragging shoes. The heels clack down a flight of stairs. The shoes drag along. An abrupt sound of a shoe tripping over a stair. Min Rui’s voice is meek and on the cusp of puberty.

Min Rui: Ah–!

Stumbling footsteps, before regaining balance. His mother’s voice is crisp and authoritative. 

Min Rui’s Mother: (Sternly) Min Rui, don’t read while you walk.

Min Rui: I know, I know. (Pause) But, look at this!

Frantic flipping of pages. The sound stops. Min Rui emphasises every syllable.

Min Rui: “World’s Top 10 Unsolvable Mysteries”. (Catches his breath) How can I not look away–

Min Rui’s Mother: Aiyaaa, show me when we go home, can?

The heels continue clacking until out of earshot. A door squeaks open, before heavily squeaking shut. Beat. Then, sounds of paper crumpling slightly. Min Rui mumbles, his words echoing.

Min Rui: Why won’t anyone listen?

Footsteps drag themselves forward. Door squeaks open. Sounds of distant passing cars flood in. Door slams shut, echoing ominously. 

The recorder abruptly clicks. Shifting of clothes. Anxious tapping on the recorder. Then, it clicks. Static enters again. We hear styrofoam scrape against each other heavily.

Shirley: Recording 22. Finding a–!

SHIRLEY grunts. Styrofoam pieces squeak and scrape against one another. They clatter on the ground haphazardly.

Shirley: –New door! Phew.

Footsteps in the background. SHIRLEY turns away from the recorder, her voice sounding far away.

Shirley: Kate! You got any sturdy materials to fix my door?

KATE calls from a short distance. 

Kate: Finally! It’s been falling apart for ages.

Shirley: Not my fault that styrofoam’s the easiest to find, okay? 

Kate: (Teasingly) A hummit as capable as you? Worrying about resources? I don’t believe it.

We hear footsteps approaching the foreground. Footsteps stop. Fabric rustles nearby. Fabric drops to the ground. KATE speaks from beside SHIRLEY.

Kate: We collected karang guni cardboards, Yakult bottles, plastic containers, and maybe some beer glasses but don’t touch them or Horace will scream at you.

Shirley: I thought so. Can’t even breathe for one second when he’s around!

They chuckle a bit before a third voice joins them from some distance away. HORACE’s voice booms through the recording, gruff with a strong Singlish accent.

Horace: That’s ‘cause you always get into trouble, Shirley.

Hasty rustling of fabric and footsteps approaching the recorder. 

Horace: Like at the staircase. You almost get caught.

Shirley: What?! You were there?

Horace: I’m everywhere.

Shirley: (Disdainfully) I see.

Horace: And I also saw you with that recorder. How many times I need to remind you? You shouldn’t–

SHIRLEY and HORACE speak together. She sounds resigned. He sounds stern.

Shirley and Horace: Record during fixing rounds.

Shirley: But, I was careful!

Horace: The both of you almost got caught.

Shirley: Is that all you care about?

A moment of silence.

Shirley: What about my hopes and dreams?

Kate: (Winces) Shirley, not now.

Sound of fabric ruffling as KATE tugs SHIRLEY’s sleeve.

Horace: Humans destroy. Hummits fix. 

Shirley: And we can’t find common ground?


Horace: (Sighs) Why dream of something so dangerous, Shirley? 

Footsteps as SHIRLEY approaches the recorder. KATE is at the same spot when she mumbles.

Kate: Horace is right. A home will collapse without one of its stilts. We can’t lose you to your dreams.

The recorder crackles as SHIRLEY holds it.

Shirley: Why… won’t any of you listen?

Recorder clicks. Static stops buzzing. SHIRLEY sighs heavily. Enter the muffled laughter and chatter of children. In the background, a koel cries. SHIRLEY’s tone begins firm, but gradually turns desperate.

Shirley: I need to prove myself. I need to show them how brilliant humans can be. I need to make them see what I see, feel what I feel! I-I need to be–!

KATE speaks from nearby. We hear her footsteps.

Kate: Earlier than usual for fixing rounds?

Shirley: Kate…! If you’re here then…

Enter multiple footsteps and clinking metal shuffling from the background to the foreground. The sounds stop. A pair of heavier footsteps step forward.

Horace: Good, we’re on time.

Fabric rustles and metal clinks as SHIRLEY lifts her belongings.

Horace: Today’s fixing round is only ten minutes.

Shirley: Only?

Horace: It’s either ten minutes or ten hummits get caught.

Shirley: Woah, no need to be so harsh.

Horace: It’s a safety precaution. Especially for your antics.

SHIRLEY grumbles.

Horace: We meet here after ten minutes. Got fix or not, doesn’t matter. Returning is always top priority. 

Enter the sudden chime of a bicycle’s bell. 

Horace: A human. (Commanding) Everyone against the wall.

We hear hurried footsteps sliding to one side. SHIRLEY gasps delightfully, but yelps when she is dragged along. The noise of bicycle wheels scraping on concrete rushes past. The bicycle runs across a drain, and it clangs. The sounds fades into the background.

Horace: (Exasperatedly) Shirley, now’s not the time. Focus on your duty.

Shirley: This (Crackling of recorder) is also my duty–

KATE snatches SHIRLEY’s recorder.

Shirley: Kate!

Horace: Enough! We got no time. Let’s go.

Footsteps scatter in all directions.

Shirley: (Grumbling) What’s that for?

Kate: (Sighs) To spare you a scolding.

The recorder is placed in SHIRLEY’s hand, audibly slapping against them.

Kate: Let’s go.

A pair of footsteps run on concrete for a few seconds. Metal clinks along. They run through grass and it rustles. They emerge and run across the playground’s rubber flooring. Their footsteps are muffled. A faint “Tag!” and giggles in the background. KATE and SHIRLEY stop running. They speak together. KATE sounds anxious. SHIRLEY sounds awestruck.

Kate and Shirley: So many humans.

SHIRLEY’s shoes scrape against the rubber flooring.

Shirley: You need to fix the bushes, right?


Kate: Um, yeah. Near the slides.

Shirley: Then, I go first, ah!

SHIRLEY walks forward.

Kate: Wait.

Footsteps pause.

Kate: I should… supervise you.

A moment of silence.

Shirley: Did Horace ask you to?

Kate: Does he need to? Can’t I just be worried for you?

Shirley: (Slightly exasperated) I’m not as reckless as you think.

SHIRLEY’s shoes scrape against the flooring as she continues on. KATE grabs her wrist. SHIRLEY’s sounds increasingly frustrated.

Shirley: Let go.

Kate: Not when going near humans is a… a death sentence.

Shirley: What death sentence?

Fabric rustles as SHIRLEY pulls against KATE’s grip.

Shirley: Humans haven’t killed hummits!

Kate: They… have.

Ambient noises suddenly fade out. Enter a faint, incessant ringing.

Kate: Horace didn’t tell you?

Shirley: …About?

Kate: A hummit getting trapped and… killed… 

SHIRLEY’s shoes drag against the rubber flooring.

Shirley: Y-You trying to scare me, is it?

Kate: No! I-I heard he snuck around some humans’ house. And they noticed and set up a trap. They got him and they… (Strained) Y’know… 

Shirley: …After that?

Kate: A few months later, a hummit from that neighbourhood came to visit. Horace received the news like that.

The ringing continues.

Shirley: What happened to the humans?

Kate: (Breathlessly) Are you kidding me?

Shirley: (Defensively) There’s a reason for everything, right?

KATE exhales shakily.

Kate: I don’t know about them… I do know that they were, like, conspiracy theorists, or something. People probably didn’t believe them when they said they found hummits. Maybe that’s how we haven’t been hunted down… But…

Shirley: Horace thinks… my recordings could make that happen.

Kate: He’s getting more paranoid. And, I’m saying this as your best friend, but you’re causing him more trouble than necessary.

Shirley: (Frustratedly) Then, why didn’t he tell me?

Kate: ‘Cause it happened in a neighbourhood far away! He thought no one here would slip up. 

A moment of silence. Then, the crackling of SHIRLEY’s recorder.

Kate: What are you doing?

Shirley: I’m going to show Horace that things are different now.

Kate: And risk everyone’s safety? Do you hate being a hummit so much?

Shirley: No, I hate living in a world where we can’t be as free as humans, can’t live without fearing everything that happens.

SHIRLEY turns on her heel. She starts walking away.

Kate: Shirley.

KATE steps forward.

Kate: Shirley, don’t you dare

Something hits a metal pole. MIN RUI winces loudly. KATE and SHIRLEY freeze, sucking in their breaths.

Min Rui: (Mumbling) Ow… Since when got poles here… 

In the distance, MIN RUI’S MOTHER yells.

Min Rui’s mother: Only ten minutes, hor!

Min Rui yells back.

Min Rui: I know already, no need to scream!

MIN RUI’s footsteps ascend, shoes tapping on plastic steps. As he walks, his clothes ruffle. KATE speaks uneasily.

Kate: I know you’re trying to do… something, but please… Can we all just be safe?

A moment of silence. Children unintelligibly argue in the background. 

Shirley: Staying safe won’t help.

SHIRLEY walks ahead. The loud chatter and laughter of children gradually increases in volume.

Shirley: It’ll just hold us all back.

Kate: Shirley!

The children’s voices overpower KATE. They intensify. Then, enter multiple stamping footsteps of children. The footsteps pass by, before fading into the background. Silence, then distinct clinking of metal equipment enter the foreground. Overlapping sound of a taut rope creaking. SHIRLEY sounds frustrated.

Shirley: How to fix when you’re dangling in mid-air?

More creaking and erratic clinking. SHIRLEY sighs heavily. Immediately after, enter the muffled sound of a documentary in the background.

Shirley: A… human?

The documentary’s unintelligible commentary grows louder. The rope suddenly creaks from jerking movements.

Shirley: (Gasp) A chance! 

Rustling of clothes, then crackling of SHIRLEY’s recorder. It clicks. SHIRLEY urgently whispers.

Shirley: R-Recording 23! Fixing rounds at the playground…

The documentary continues playing faintly in the background. Crackling of the recorder. More creaking of the rope. The documentary grows louder. We hear MIN RUI humming a random tune. 

Shirley: (Strained) Unless hummits try… We’ll never find peace with humans. With our lives. 

Rope creaks dangerously.

Shirley: (Desperate) K-KateHorace… Everyone…

White noise intensifies.

Shirley: Let’s stop running away.

Rope creaks – then, snaps. SHIRLEY lets out a bewildered shriek. We hear rushing wind. Then, a thud with light clattering sounds. SHIRLEY winces. The documentary’s volume slowly increases. The NARRATOR is a British man with a neutral tone.

Narrator: No one has solved the mystery of these beings… Maybe one day, they’ll emerge from their hiding…

Rustling clothes as SHIRLEY stands. She pats down her clothes, then gasps.

Shirley: (Shakily) Wh-Where’s my recorder?

Enter a bright and playful “Dong”. The documentary in the background stops playing. MIN RUI’s voice sounds far away.

Min Rui: He…llo? Is someone there?

SHIRLEY sucks in a breath. She quietly runs, her clothes rustling for two seconds. Silence. Then, faint crackling of the recorder. 

Min Rui: (Inquisitively) What’s this?

Crackle as the recorder is picked up. In the distance, MIN RUI’S MOTHER yells muffledly.

Min Rui’s mother: Min Rui! Time to go!

Recorder emits barely-audible beeps. MIN RUI makes confused sounds. It beeps three more times before clicking. Enter faint sounds of static, then SHIRLEY speaks from the recorder.

Shirley: (Staticky) R-R-R-Recording 23! Fixing rounds at th-th-the playground.

MIN RUI gasps.

Shirley: Unless hummits t-t-try… peace with hu-hu-humans…

The recording clicks. MIN RUI breathes with barely-hidden excitement. In the distance, MIN RUI’S MOTHER yells.

Min Rui’s mother: Oi! Chen Min Rui!

Rustling of clothes and faint crackling of recorder. Thumping but erratic footsteps as MIN RUI runs down the playground. Distant running footsteps. MIN RUI exclaims in the background.

Min Rui: Ma! I found a real mystery!

Leaves rustle in the background. SHIRLEY’s laboured and anxious breaths gradually grow louder. 

Shirley: (Hushed) What have I… done?

Wind howls in the distance. MIN RUI’s unintelligible chatter echoes in the background. It grows louder. He laughs. All noises suddenly fade out.

Quek Chie (Class of 2025) reveals her ever-changing, introspective world through stories and poems about tumultuous self-acceptance, unlikely camaraderie and idealistic perceptions of metamorphosis. Benign natural imagery permeates Chie’s writing, creating a sentimental writers’ voice inviting readers into her world.