Episode 11: Treasure Hunting

[SCENE I. The creepy remote church. MELISSA is in the REVEREND’s study, drinking a cup of hot cocoa. The REVEREND is reading. MELISSA looks bored.]

MELISSA: I’m bored, Reverend.

REVEREND: You should pass the time in meditation and quiet contemplation, Miss Xenakis.

MELISSA: I tried that, but you don’t have any drugs and I didn’t bring mine on account of destroying everything I touch.

(The REVEREND sighs.)

MELISSA: You never said why you couldn’t get the relic yourself.

REVEREND: The . . . dark force that stole it cursed me. I can’t go near it.

MELISSA: And this is your special curse-lifting relic?

REVEREND: Yes. Why don’t you run along and explore? I’m sure there’s something in this church to keep you busy.

MELISSA: Fine. (She departs. The REVEREND sighs again and returns to his reading.)

[SCENE II. The woods, which are a typical western Washington pine forest, except more apt to be described as ‘spooky.’ SARAH and CELESTE are walking along, off the beaten trail. CELESTE is armed with a map and compass and is leading the way.

It is probably worth noting that neither of them are really dressed for a serious hike. SARAH wears shorts, a tank top, and some canvas sneakers; CELESTE is wearing traditionally impractical goth regalia, though arguably her chunky goth boots are fairly practical.]

SARAH: So, I’ve been wondering about how you sold your soul to the devil.

CELESTE: It was a minor demon, and I didn’t sell my soul. I just made a deal.

SARAH: Right, that. Are you sure it was a hell demon and not a fairy?

CELESTE: (Exasperated.) Sarah, everyone knows the Christian religion has been taking the fairies and old gods of native tribes and turning them into demons since they started–

SARAH: I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about fairies. It sounds like a deal with fairies, is all.

CELESTE: What are you even talking about?

SARAH: Giving up your ability to enjoy Justin Bieber or whatever–it sounds like a fairy trade. Hell demons are more about servitude and corruption, not so much about trading intangibles.

CELESTE: I didn’t know fairies did that sort of thing.

SARAH: Sure, all the time. Melissa traded her ability to experience joy for beautiful, silky soft hair, for example.

CELESTE: You’re making this up.

SARAH: I am not! Have you ever felt her hair?

CELESTE: (Sighs.) All right, fine.

SARAH: So, what did your hell demon look like?

CELESTE: Oh, you know, the usual. Small, wings like a moth, antennae.

SARAH: Usual for a fairy, maybe.

CELESTE: Okay, maybe it was a fairy! Does it matter?

SARAH: Well, I was thinking, maybe if the Reverend can’t tell the difference between a fairy and a hell demon, it won’t even be hell demons we’re dealing with here.

CELESTE: (After a long pause.) Okay, that is actually a good point.

SARAH: I have my moments.

[SCENE III. The woods, sunset. CELESTE and SARAH are inexpertly setting up a camp.]

CELESTE: If this map is right, we should be close.

SARAH: Oh, that’s good.

CELESTE: And if I’m reading it right.

SARAH: I’m sure you are!

CELESTE: I guess we’ll find out in the morning.

(After some effort, they manage to get a fire going. After a few moments of the fire, a pair of sinister eyes starts watching the camp, unnoticed by either of them. Eventually they go to sleep with the fire still burning.)

[SCENE IV. The woods, sometime after sunrise. Somehow, their unattended fire did not burn the forest down. Now it is little more than a few smoking embers, if that.

SARAH yawns, stretches, and leaves the tent. We see a fuller view of the former campfire now: there is a little green man sitting on a rock and poking the remnants with a stick.]

SARAH: Um, hello.

GOBLIN: Ah, good morning, fellow human! (Beat.) Ha ha ha, sorry, just my little joke. (Beat.) I am not a human.

SARAH: Oh. Well, my name is Sarah. Can I, um. What can–

GOBLIN: I have been tracking a friend of mine that got lost in these woods! He is attracted to shiny things, and to fire. His name is Cedric. I had hoped that your fire . . . . you haven’t seen him?

SARAH: Like, a magpie? A particularly intelligent moth?

GOBLIN: No, he’s more like–hm. (He looks around.) It looks like he came here last night, but he must have left. He’s . . . very large.

SARAH: (An idea strikes.) Hang on, I’ve got something.

(SARAH ducks back into the tent. CELESTE is just beginning to wake. As SARAH rummages around in her messenger bag, she opens her eyes and watches her.)

CELESTE: What’s going on?

SARAH: Goblins! At least, I think he’s a goblin, I didn’t ask. I hope it’s not rude to call someone a goblin if they aren’t one.

(SARAH grabs a folded paper from her bag pops back outside. The GOBLIN looks at her curiously, until she shows him the paper. It depicts a monster–sort of like what bears would look like if they had been designed by someone who was completely insane. There are dripping needle-like teeth, completely mad eyes, and big pointy ears, like a cat’s. Mistaking it for a bear might be possible if all one sees is a fleeting glimpse, or if one’s evening has consisted of a great deal of drugs or alcohol.]

GOBLIN: That’s him! Have you seen him?

SARAH: No, er, we actually came here to look for him. We think he might have taken something that belongs to a friend of ours.

(CELESTE emerges from the tent.)

CELESTE: Oh, there actually is a goblin.

GOBLIN: Ah! Dark lady!

(CELESTE preens. Sleeping in a tent without access to running water or mirrors has not been kind to her gothy look, though, mercifully for her, she also can’t see this. The GOBLIN is stricken nevertheless.)

CELESTE: I’m Celeste.

GOBLIN: I never expected–dark one, I must beg your aid. My friend is missing. The one Sarah has a picture of. She believes he has something you are looking for!

CELESTE: The relic?

GOBLIN: Relic? Not the Mushroom of Perpetual Flames?

SARAH: I think the Reverend called it the Truffle of St. Alex.

GOBLIN: One and the same! Cedric could never resist such a prize. But such things are dangerous for him! We must find him before it’s too late.

[SCENE V. The church. MELISSA and the REVEREND are eating lunch. From her expression, it is about as bland as it looks.]

MELISSA: So, you said the hell demon cursed you so you couldn’t go back.

REVEREND: That’s right.

MELISSA: What will happen?

REVEREND: I . . . my mind is not my own when I’m near it.

MELISSA: So you’d start worshiping the Devil?

REVEREND: No, I simply . . . am overcome with fear so total I can do little but flee.

MELISSA: So the curse is that you are, in fact, a big sissy.

REVEREND: You are lucky that the Lord grants me patience, Miss Xenakis. I think the poison is in my blood. (He pushes his plate forward.) I think I’ve had enough. I will be in my study, meditating. Try to avoid needing anything.

MELISSA: All right, I get it. I’m just worried about Sarah. Trying to take my mind off the fact that she’s braving mortal danger for me.

REVEREND: Yes, your friend has a good heart. Now, if you’ll excuse me. (He departs. MELISSA continues eating alone.)

[SCENE VI. The woods. SARAH and CELESTE are walking along, with the GOBLIN on CELESTE’s shoulders. They are laughing quite loudly and seem to be in very good spirits. It is very possible that the wineskin the goblin is passing around has something to do with this.

They reach the top of a hill, which is completely free from trees.]

GOBLIN: Ah, we’ve found it! Come, friends, we will build a grand fire!

(They do so. Soon there is an enormous bonfire roaring on top of the hill.)

GOBLIN: Cedric will have a hard time resisting that!

SARAH: It’s a very pretty fire. (As she sits down to watch, she stares into the fire, entranced.)

(The GOBLIN chuckles. CELESTE sits down, letting him off her shoulders.)

CELESTE: There won’t be any problems dealing with him, will there?

GOBLIN: Cedric’s an old softy at heart.

CELESTE: Only, the Reverend thought we’d have to fight him.

GOBLIN: He can be a bit . . . ornery when riled, but he’s a gentle soul. He’d certainly never give violence to you!

(They wait for a while, occasionally throwing more wood on the fire, though it shows no sign of dying out. Eventually, as the sun is beginning to set, CEDRIC emerges from the trees, poison dripping from his needle-sharp teeth, making awful mad snarling noises.)

GOBLIN: There you are, Cedric! I’ve been looking all over for you.

(The beast makes some inaudible growling noises. They do not sound remotely friendly, but the GOBLIN laughs.)

GOBLIN: It’s good of you to say, Cedric! Now, these are my new friends, Sarah, and the Dark One. They helped look for you!

(CELESTE is watching CEDRIC in something approaching absolute terror. SARAH has a beatific smile as she watches and waves. CEDRIC, for his part, growls as if he would like nothing more than to devour them both.)

GOBLIN: (Eyeing CELESTE.) Yes, she is, isn’t she? Anyway, I promised them that you’d give them the Mushroom of Perpetual Flames if they helped me find you. They need it to help a friend.

(With an awful howl, Cedric produces a flaming mushroom and hands it to CELESTE. We get an admirable view of his hideous claws as she reaches out to take it, automatically.)

GOBLIN: And now, we must be getting along! It’s a long way home. But take this with my thanks! (He tosses SARAH the skin of fairy wine. CEDRIC picks up the GOBLIN and carries him off into the woods.)

CELESTE: That was horrifying.

SARAH: Oh, I don’t know, he seemed quite nice. (She hands the skin to CELESTE.) Thirsty?

CELESTE: No, thank you. (Glances at the sky.) Already getting dark. Come on, we’ve got to find a place to make camp.

SARAH: (With a shrug, slipping the wine into her bag for future consumption.) What’s wrong with right here?

CELESTE: I–the–oh, fine.

(They set up a tent in the shadow of the hill.)

[SCENE VII. The church, the following day. MELISSA is asleep on a couch in a back room somewhere, drooling. Her hair is unkempt and she’s been wearing the same clothes for a couple of days. The REVEREND walks in and shakes her awake.]

REVEREND: Wake up, your friends have returned. They have the Relic.

MELISSA: And you were so excited to get rid of me you couldn’t just let me sleep?

(SARAH and CELESTE enter shortly thereafter. CELESTE is holding the Mushroom of Perpetual Flames, which is basically a mushroom that is on fire. The REVEREND takes it and says a few mystical/Latin-sounding words over it, then drops the mushroom in a thurible. The thurible fills the room with some sort of smoke or steam.)

REVEREND: It is done. Go in peace.

MELISSA: I . . . huh. I actually feel better.

REVEREND: The grace of God has protected you.

MELISSA: It’s like I can finally go home after being trapped in a creepy church all weekend.

REVEREND: (Pointedly.) Go in peace.

(They depart. MELISSA very noticeably does not trip over anything or have any other sign of bad luck.)

CELESTE: I think you’re cured. Sorry my friends got you into this.

MELISSA: Hey, it’s okay, Gotharella. You risked dismemberment at the hands of hell demons for me. I think we’re even.

SARAH: Oh, it was so great! I have to tell you about it later.

CELESTE: You should drop me off at home. I haven’t seen my parents since Friday. They’ll be furious enough as it is. (Beat. As if this is a big revelation.) Wait, that means it’s Sunday today.

SARAH: Oh hey, it is! That’s so weird! (Beat.) Wait, no, I don’t get it.

CELESTE: Shouldn’t there have been people at the church?

SARAH: Oh! (Beat.) Oh.

MELISSA: I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m curse-free, the priest has his magic mushroom. Life is good!

(They drive off into the distance. Meanwhile, focus returns to the church, which remains steadfastly abandoned throughout the day and into the night.)

(FIN.)

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