[SCENE I. Portland, outside. The sun is setting, and in the distance we see a figure on a motorcycle approaching. As the figure draws closer it becomes apparent that he is wearing a wizard hat and robes. There is a smartphone hovering a few inches above the dash.
He drives along the main street of downtown Portland for a while. It is indeed the same WIZARD that left Portland some months ago. The hat and robes are the same, but he has adopted a pair of motorcycle goggles in the meanwhile. He pulls alongside MELISSA, who is walking along.]
WIZARD: Excuse me, young lady?
(MELISSA looks up and gives the WIZARD a puzzled look.)
WIZARD: Do you know a Gavin Roderick?
MELISSA: Who’s asking?
WIZARD: An old friend. He helped me out in a difficult time.
MELISSA: He’s at work. (Looking the WIZARD up and down.) But he should be off in half an hour or so. I’ll tell him to meet us at the Jaded Old Crone.
WIZARD: Excellent. (He dismounts from the motorcycle, which vanishes in a puff of smoke. He removes his motorcycle goggles and slips them into a pocket.)
MELISSA: I’m Melissa, by the way.
WIZARD: You may call me . . . the wizard.
[SCENE II. The Jaded Old Crone. MELISSA and the WIZARD are drinking coffee–or the WIZARD is. MELISSA is staring at him in fascination, leaving her beverage largely untouched.]
WIZARD: But ultimately my travels took me back to the Northwest. I figured I owed Gavin a visit before I continue on.
WIZARD: Yes. Next, it’s north to your fabled “Canada.”
[GAVIN arrives at this point, and approaches the table. He stops and laughs when he sees the WIZARD.]
GAVIN: It’s you! I got Melissa’s text and figured–well, not you. How have you been, my wizardly friend?
WIZARD: I was just telling Melissa about some of my travels.
(GAVIN looks at MELISSA, who blinks and shakes her head as if to dislodge a thought.)
MELISSA: Gavin! Hi!
GAVIN: I worry so much when you’re in a good mood.
MELISSA: You never told me your wizard friend was so awesome!
GAVIN: Yes, well. (To the WIZARD.) I know you don’t know her, but has she been at all snarky, sarcastic, or rude since you met her?
WIZARD: Not at all. She’s been a very good listener.
GAVIN: Really? Melissa? She’d be the first to admit she’s in love with the sound of her own voice.
WIZARD: Hmm. (He looks at MELISSA, who still has a distant look in her eye.) It looks like she’s been exposed to a lot of magic lately.
GAVIN: So? Shouldn’t she have built up a tolerance for it or something?
WIZARD: In the long run, perhaps. But–well, think of it like alcohol. Over the long term your body becomes more tolerant, but if you are exposed to enough before your body processes it all–
GAVIN: Right. Okay, I think I get it.
WIZARD: (Still looking over MELISSA.) This is remarkable, though! Demonic curses, chaos energy, fairy enchantments. I didn’t know Portland was so magically charged!
GAVIN: Neither did I. But Melissa–I think I told you about her. If there’s something occult going on, she’s probably involved, just to stave off boredom.
WIZARD: Normally I’d say that this would subside with time, but–well, with so much magic, and so many different kinds, who knows how long it would take?
GAVIN: Is there something we can do?
WIZARD: Find me the most boring spot in town. Somewhere where absolutely nothing interesting or magical has ever happened. Meanwhile, keep her somewhere safe.
GAVIN: All right. (He touches MELISSA on the arm.) Hey, Mel?
MELISSA: (Suddenly focused.) It’s Melissa. What do you want, Gavin?
GAVIN: I wondered if you wanted a ride back to your place.
MELISSA: (Confused, trying to piece together the events of the past hour. She is fading already.) Sure, that would be good.
(He leads her outside, though not before picking her pocket and leaving a very generous tip for a table that has ordered no more than two coffees.)
[SCENE III. The offices of the Portland Examiner. SOPHIE is at her desk, typing up a story. GAVIN knocks on the open door and enters.]
SOPHIE: Gav! It’s been a while.
GAVIN: Yeah. Hey, I need a favor.
SOPHIE: Sure, sure! What do you need?
GAVIN: I need to find the most boring place in town. A–uh, a friend of mine has been entranced and we need to take her there. I thought you could help us look through the archives and–
SOPHIE: Of course. Is it for Celeste?
GAVIN: . . . yes. Yes, Celeste has been dabbling with forces man was not meant to understand and it has temporarily fried her brain.
SOPHIE: Well, the archives are just down the hall. I’ve got to finish this report and then I’ll be right there.
GAVIN: Thanks, Sophie.
SOPHIE: Hey, anything to help a friend.
(GAVIN cringes a little as he departs for the archives.)
[SCENE IV. The archives of the Portland Examiner. SOPHIE, ERIC, and GAVIN are digging through old papers, and making lists on a map. They work at this for a while before GAVIN steps back and looks at the map.]
GAVIN: I think I’m starting to see a pattern here.
ERIC: Is it the fact that all of Portland is boring? Because that’s what I’m seeing.
GAVIN: No, look at the map. (He points at a spot.) That’s the Examiner. The most boring place in Portland is right here!
SOPHIE: Listen, I know you don’t read the paper but that’s no reason to–
ERIC: (Looks at the map.) No, he’s right. This is like the heart of all the boredom in Portland.
SOPHIE: Well, Celeste is welcome to stay here until she stops being bewitched.
(GAVIN suddenly looks troubled, but pulls out his cell phone and walks out of the room.)
GAVIN: Hey, this is Gavin. Yeah, we’ve found it. Go ahead and bring her to the Examiner. (Beat.) Yes. The Examiner. (Beat.) I know. I’ll try to work something out. (Beat.) Didn’t she have a goth phase in high school? (Beat.) Does she still have her gothy things? (Hysterical laughter can be heard faintly over the phone. He holds it away from his ear.) Try not to enjoy yourself too much.
[SCENE V. Outside the offices of the Portland Examiner. SARAH is driving MELISSA’s car, with MELISSA riding shotgun and the WIZARD in the back. SARAH and the WIZARD get out, then lead MELISSA out. It appears she still has enough gothy things in her wardrobe to be presented in full-on goth regalia–chunky boots, fishnets, corset, pale makeup, very dark eyeliner. SARAH looks exceedingly pleased with herself–she is also wearing her gothiest clothing, though this consists of a deep red hoodie, black jeans, and chunky boots. The WIZARD looks uncomfortable.]
WIZARD: Are you sure this will work?
SARAH: No! But Sophie hates Melissa and this is extremely hilarious.
(They hurry inside. GAVIN meets them.)
GAVIN: Great! You’ve brought Celeste.
WIZARD: Yes, I can feel the boringness of this place. We should take her to the basement.
(SARAH, the WIZARD, and MELISSA hurry past. SOPHIE and ERIC come out.)
SOPHIE: Was that Celeste?
SOPHIE: She’s a lot taller than I remember.
GAVIN: Well, goth boots add a few inches.
SOPHIE: And thinner.
GAVIN: The wonders of corsetry, I guess.
SOPHIE: And she curled her hair.
GAVIN: (A very what-can-you-do? shrug.) Women.
SOPHIE: And didn’t that girl she was with look exactly like Sarah Ames?
ERIC: All goths look the same to me, Sophie. I think you’re just imagining it.
SOPHIE: (Not buying it.) Hmm.
GAVIN: The wizard said to not disturb him, though. So, we’ll wait until she comes out.
[SCENE VI. The basement of the Portland Examiner. The WIZARD is casting some sort of spell, with MELISSA standing idly at the center of a circle drawn on the ground. SARAH is leaning against the wall, watching. Eventually the spell is complete, and the room seems to drain of color for a moment. MELISSA focuses slowly and blinks with some confusion.]
WIZARD: You may have a bit of a headache. This is normal.
MELISSA: Normal for what? (Looks around.) Why am I at the Examiner offices? (Glances at herself.) What am I wearing? (Looks at SARAH.) You too? Did Sophie cast a spell on us that turned us into . . . goth journalists?
SARAH: Um, no. You’re–the wizard just, uh. Look, you basically overdosed on magic and fried your brain. He made you better! By taking you to the most boring place in town.
MELISSA: And dressing me like a goth.
SARAH: No, that was me. We had to get you past Sophie.
MELISSA: By disguising me as a goth.
SARAH: The only other solution was violence!
(From outside the room, SOPHIE’s voice becomes audible.)
SOPHIE: I’m just saying, the Celeste I remember was short and round. The woman you brought in here was neither of these things.
GAVIN: Why can’t you just trust me? And she’s not round, she’s curvy. She has ample curves!
(SOPHIE comes into view and stares at MELISSA. They exchange icy glares; MELISSA’s is probably aided by the goth makeup.)
SOPHIE: I knew it! Gavin! You tricked me!
GAVIN: She needed help, Sophie.
SOPHIE: Yes! Psychological help! She’s batshit insane! Both of them are!
MELISSA: Haven’t you taken this stupid grudge long enough?
SOPHIE: Haven’t you been a stupid bitch long enough?
(The WIZARD clears his throat. The room falls silent.)
WIZARD: (Icily.) I believe we were just leaving. I was going to buy my friends a round of drinks. It was nice meeting you, Sophie.
(They walk out. As SARAH passes by SOPHIE, she ‘accidentally’ stomps on her foot with one of her goth boots. SOPHIE yelps, but is held back from retaliation by the disapproving gaze of the WIZARD.)