Episode 15: Canyon Road

[SCENE I. Somewhere in the middle of eastern Washington. SOPHIE is asleep on her bed, and the sun is rising over the rocky wasteland. Eventually she stirs, removes her sleep mask, and blinks at the horizon. It takes a moment for everything to settle in, but when it does, she sits bolt upright.]

SOPHIE: I thought–oh, fuck.

[She gets out of bed and takes inventory. She doesn’t have much: just her pajamas, which are pink and fluffy, her sleep mask, and her bed.]

SOPHIE: God damn it, the Devil.

[She sets off through the desert towards what appears to be a town in the distance. She shuffles through fields of sagebrush and through rocky, impassable terrain for the better part of a day before she reaches civilization. By this time her fluffy pink pajamas are dirty and torn and infested with cheatgrass, and she has a wild look in her eye. If the stereotypical mad prophet wore pink pajamas she would look like one right now.

She enters the town tavern, mad-eyed and pink-clad, and declares that she has come from the desert before collapsing. Several patrons gather around her to make sure she’s all right.]

MALE PATRON: Who is she? Does anyone know her?

BARTENDER: She said she came from the desert!

FEMALE PATRON: Could it be? Has the Prophetess returned to us?

[An older patron in the corner produces a book that has the look of a holy book.]

OLD PATRON: And lo, the Pink Prophetess returned from the desert, having faced the devil himself. And she brought wisdom and guidance for the perils yet to come.

OTHER PATRONS (in unison): Hail the Pink Prophetess!

[SCENE II. SOPHIE is in an unfamiliar bedroom. From the decoration it looks like it once belonged to someone who has since moved away. She is being tended to by a kind-looking NURSE, who has been giving her water and wild honey while she sleeps. There is a bowl of locusts on the coffee table. SOPHIE stirs.]

NURSE: Oh, you’re awake. Are you well? The village is eager to hear you speak.

SOPHIE: Where am I? I was in the desert . . . .

NURSE: Yes. You’re safe now.

SOPHIE: Why do they want to hear me speak?

NURSE: (Shocked.) You’re the Pink Prophetess. We have been awaiting your arrival for so very long.

SOPHIE: The Pink Prophetess, right. Do the prophecies mention the Devil, by any chance?

NURSE: Oh yes. He set you to your wandering, where you learned the great wisdom you will impart to us.

SOPHIE: Maybe I could have some real clothes? I don’t want to . . . overwhelm you with my pinkness.

NURSE: Of course. I’ll have them brought up. (Pause. Hopefully.) I’ve prepared some locusts to go with your wild honey if you’re feeling hungry.

SOPHIE: I think I’ll just have a cheeseburger, if it’s all the same to you.

NURSE: Of course. (The NURSE departs.)

[SCENE III. The town tavern. SOPHIE is wearing some borrowed, ill-fitting clothes, which do nothing to ameliorate the mad-eyed prophetess look about her.]

BARTENDER: The Pink Prophetess has come from the desert to speak!

SOPHIE: I have? Er. Yes, I have. Er. (She clears her throat. The crowd looks on expectantly.) Um. Before I came here, I was, uh, confronted by the Devil himself. He, uh, warned me to stop doing what I was doing. Um. And what I was doing was reporting the truth! (She seems to hit her stride here.) Sinister plots abounded, and only I and my trusted friend could get to the bottom of them.

(The crowd begins making appreciative noises.)

SOPHIE: We were beset by enemies and danger, but we persevered!

(An audience member calls out.)

PATRON: What should we do with the troubled times ahead?

SOPHIE: (Pretty much drunk with adulation here.) Never stop searching for the Devil! He is always in your midst, trying to undermine your every move! Seek him out and cast him out! Grant him no power!

(Applause. SOPHIE is led from the impromptu stage to the bar, where she is handed a beer and thanked for her wisdom.)

BARTENDER: You’ll be around for the trials, aye?

SOPHIE: What? Yes, of course! Anything you want. I am your Prophetess after all!

BARTENDER: This town’s been full of wicked spirits. We need someone like you to help make things right.

SOPHIE: Well, making things right and kicking the Devil’s sorry ass are what I do best.

BARTENDER: Aye. The prophecies expected no less.

[SCENE IV. The same unfamiliar room, though SOPHIE is no longer attended. She is wearing her pink pajamas and sleep mask again. Meanwhile, a GOODWIFE enters.]

GOODWIFE: Prophetess?

SOPHIE: No, I think it’s brilliant. (Wakes up, removes sleep mask.) What? Who’s there?

GOODWIFE: Sorry to disturb you, Prophetess. I was hoping for your help.

SOPHIE: Of course! Always happy to help.

GOODWIFE: There’s a terrible witch hunt going on in this city. I support that the Devil should have no place, but we’re a peaceful village, full of good people.

SOPHIE: So what should I do?

GOODWIFE: Speak against these trials! Innocent lives may be lost in the name of rooting out the Devil!

SOPHIE: Don’t you hate the Devil?

GOODWIFE: I do but–

SOPHIE: Then perhaps you shouldn’t be trying to spare Devil-worshipers! Leave me! Your Prophetess needs rest! She’s had a hard time of it in the desert!

GOODWIFE: I–very well, Prophetess.

[SCENE V. The town square. A mob has formed, focused mostly on a few individuals with hands bound and a very witch-burning sort of stake. SOPHIE stands with the official-looking humans, looking decidedly uncomfortable. There is the distinct threat that people will start being burned at the stake at any moment.]

INQUISITOR: Abigail Williams! You stand accused of worshiping the Devil and practicing devil-voodoo! What have you to say in your defense?

ABIGAIL: I saw Martha Corey with the devil!

INQUISITOR: We have in our presence the Pink Prophetess. Prophetess! What have you to say? Shall we let this one free in exchange for having helped us root out the devil in our midst?

SOPHIE: Oh, yes, absolutely. Oh, I just realized I forgot my . . . crucifix . . .  in my room. I’ll be right back.

(She flees the scene towards the highway and begins hitchhiking. It’s not long before a stranger in a semi truck offers her a ride.)

TRUCKER: Where you bound, miss?

SOPHIE: Portland. Uh, the one in Washington. Just–get me as far west as you’re going and that’s enough.

(A few of these exchanges occur. Each time the driver looks confused but is willing to take her along. Eventually she finds someone bound for Portland, who drops her off in front of the Jaded Old Crone.)

SOPHIE: You’re a life-saver! Well, possibly.

DRIVER: Hey, no problem. Good meeting you.

SOPHIE: Yes, it was. Thank you again!

(The DRIVER departs. SOPHIE walks her way back to the offices of the Portland Examiner, which she enters dramatically.)

SOPHIE: I’m back!

(MICHAEL and ERIC are in the front room, chatting. They look up.)

MICHAEL: Isn’t it your day off, Sophie?

ERIC: Where did you go? You didn’t tell me about a trip!

MICHAEL: Though since you’re here, would you help me write this story? It’s not local, but apparently there’s been a dozen or so deaths in some Eastern Washington witch trials. Something about a Cult of the Pink Prophetess, and devil-worship?

SOPHIE: I, uh. I’m afraid I am far too tired from my vacation that I didn’t tell anyone about to write any stories. But thank you for your consideration! I am going home now to sleep, in my bed, which I still have. (She departs. MICHAEL and ERIC exchange looks.)

ERIC: I’d say that was incredibly suspicious, but I’ve come to expect it from Sophie.

MICHAEL: The cost of brilliance, Mr. Connell. The cost of brilliance.

(Fin.)

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